|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
THE ELECTION OF MAY 22, 1855.
The supplementary election called by Gov. Reeder before his departure proved quite as much a one-sided affair as that of March, except in the single precinct of Leavenworth, which, being adjacent to Missouri, was overrun by citizens of that State, who did the voting and ran the election as before.
The Pro-slavery plan was that of non-intervention - to ignore the contested election cases, and the consequent election, trusting to the members declared elected to seat those less fortunate on the convening of the Legislature. The abstract of the returns, with names of persons elected, are shown in the table following:
=================================================== District No. 1 - Lawrence Precinct. Free State Candidates: Phillip P. Fowler - House John Hutchinson - House Erastus D. Ladd - House Pro-Slavery Candidates: None. Free-state Votes Polled: 288. Scattering: 18. Total Votes Polled: 306. ---------------------------------------------------- District No. 2 - Douglas Precinct. Free State Candidates: John A. Wakefield - Council August Wattles - House William Jessee - House Pro-Slavery Candidates: None. Free-state Votes Polled: 127. Scattering: 0. Total Votes Polled: 127. ---------------------------------------------------- District No. 3 - Stinson's (Tecumseh) Precinct. Free State Candidates: Cyrus K. Holliday - House Jesse D. Wood - Council Pro-Slavery Candidates: None. Free-state Votes Polled: 148. Scattering: 1. Total Votes Polled: 149. ---------------------------------------------------- District No. 7 - "110" Precinct. Free State Candidates: Jesse D. Wood - Council Pro-Slavery Candidates: None. Free-state Votes Polled: 66. Scattering: 13. Total Votes Polled: 79. ---------------------------------------------------- District No. 8 - Council Grove Precinct. Free State Candidates: C. H. Washington - Council Pro-Slavery Candidates: None. Free-state Votes Polled: 33. Scattering: 0. Total Votes Polled: 33. ---------------------------------------------------- District 16 - Leavenworth Precinct. Free State Candidates: None. Pro-Slavery Candidates: W. G. Mathias - House A. Payne - House H. D. McMeekin - House Free-state Votes Polled: 140 Pro-slavery Votes Polled: 560. Scattering: 15. Total Votes Polled: 715. ----------------------------------------------------
The May election resulted in the selection, to fill the vacancies, of six Free-state members of the House and two of the Council, viz.: House - Philip P. Fowler, John Hutchinson, Erastus D. Ladd, Augustus Wattles, William Jessee and Cyrus K. Holliday. Council - John A. Wakefield and Jesse D. Wood.
These, with Councilman M. F. Conway, and Representatives A. J. Baker and S. D. Houston, constituted the Free-soil members elected to the first Territorial Legislature, which assembled, in accordance with Gov. Reeder's appointments, at Pawnee, July 2, 1855.
FIRST TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE.
The members of the Legislature holding certificates of election from the Governor were as below stated - Pro-slavery members in Roman, Free-state in Italics:
First District. - A. S. Johnson.
Second District. - Philip P. Fowler, John Hutchinson, Erastus D. Ladd.
Thirds District. - Augustus Wattles, William Jessee.
Fourth District. - Cyrus K. Holliday.
Fifth District. - A. J. Baker.
Sixth District - Joseph C. Anderson, S. A. Williams.
Seventh District - W. A. Heiskell, Allen Wilkinson, Henry Younger, Samuel Scott.
Eighth District. - S. D. Houston.
Ninth District. - F. J. Marshall.
Tenth District. - William H. Tebbs.
Eleventh District. - John H. Stringfellow, R. L. Kirk.
Twelfth District. - Joel P. Blair, Thomas W. Watterson.
Thirteenth District. - H. B. C. Harris, J. Weddell.
Fourteenth District. - William G. Mathias, H. B. McMeeken, Archibald Payne.
First District. - Thomas Johnson, Edward Chapman.
Second District. - John A. Wakefield.
Third District. - Jesse D. Wood.
Fourth District. - A. M. Coffey, David Lykins.
Fifth District. - William Barbee.
Sixth District. - M. F. Conway.
Seventh District - John W. Forman.
Eighth District. - William P. Richardson.
Ninth District. - D. A. N. Grover.
Tenth District. - Lucien J. Eastin, Richard R. Rees.
The Legislature assembled at Pawnee Monday, July 2, 1855. The provisions for their convenience, according to the testimony of Gov. Reeder, were ample, after they had reached the spot, which was quite remote from the residences of a majority of the Legislators, some of whom were citizens of Missouri, and most of whom lived near the eastern border of the Territory.
The Pawnee Association had built a "capitol" of stone, two stories in height and 40x80 feet in size. "well provided with seats and writing tables." Maj. Klotz had established a boarding house capable of accommodating forty boarders. Mr. Teeples had room for twenty boarders, and Mr. Knapp for as many more. Mr. Lowe, at Fort Riley, two miles distant, could accommodate fifteen more, and had arranged to run a "bus" to and from Pawnee for the convenience of his boarders. These arrangements were entirely ignored by the members of the Legislature. They came in with tents and all the paraphernalia of travelers in an unsettled and inhospitable country. The preparations made by the Pawnee Town Association for the Legislature were totally ignored, except that it occupied the building provided for the first convening of the Legislature, until it could effect a removal to Shawnee. Many of the delegates came in with similar camp equipage to that of their Missouri constituents who had come in to elect them a few weeks before. They had no idea of remaining in the enemy's country long, more than had the amateur settlers who elected them. It was too far from their base of supplies, and the early adjournment to the Shawnee Mission on the Missouri border was a foregone conclusion.
The two Houses met in the building provided at Pawnee, Monday, July 2, 1855.
The House of Representatives was called to order, and the roll of members called by Hon. Daniel Woodson, Secretary of the Territory. The following members, holding certificates of election, answered to their names: Johnson, Hutchinson, Ladd, Wattles, Jessee, Baker, Anderson, Williams, Heiskell, Wilkinson, Younger, Scott, Houston, Marshall, Tebbs, Stringfellow, Kirk, Blair, Watterson, Harris, Weddell, Mathias, Payne, McMeeken; absent, Fowler and Holliday. The temporary organization of the House was effected by the election and appointment of the following officers, pro tem.: Chairman, Joseph T. Anderson; Chief Clerk, J. M. Lyle; Assistant Clerk, John Martin; Sergeant-at-Arms, T. J. B. Cramer; Doorkeeper, Benjamin P. Campbell.
Members holding certificates of election were sworn by Hon. Sanders W. Johnson, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
The House being thus temporarily organized, the deliberations were opened by prayer by Rev. Mr. Stateler.
Permanent officers were then chosen as follows: Speaker of the House, John H. Stringfellow; Chief Clerk, James M. Lyle; Assistant Clerk, John Martin; Sergeant-at-Arms, T. J. B. Cramer; Doorkeeper, Benjamin P. Campbell; Speaker pro tem, Joseph C. Anderson.
The first business of the organized body was the appointment of a committee of five to inquire into the credentials of sitting members. The committee appointed consisted of the following: Messrs. Heiskell, Houston, Mathias, Watterson and Johnson. The committee was instructed to report by 8 o'clock on Tuesday (to-morrow) morning.
The Council showed, on the calling of the roll by Secretary Woodson, the following-named gentlemen as present, holding certificates of election from the Governor, to wit:
Thomas Johnson, Edward Chapman, John A. Wakefield, Jesse D. Wood, A. M. Coffey, David Lykins, William Barbee, John W. Forman, William P. Richardson, D. A. N. Grover, L. J. Eastin, R. R. Rees; absent, M. F. Conway.
The proceedings were opened by prayer by Rev. Thomas Johnson.
Officers pro tem were chosen as follows: President, R. R. Rees; Chief Clerk, John A. Halderman; Assistant Clerk, Charles H. Grover; Sergeant-at-Arms, Carey B. Whitehead; Doorkeeper, William J. Godfroy.
Messrs. Coffey, Johnson and Richardson were appointed a Committee on Credentials.
The committee reported forthwith favorably on all except members from the Second, Third and Sixth Council Districts, on which they asked further time for consideration, which was granted.
The permanent organization was then completed by the choice of the following officers:
President, Rev. Thomas Johnson; President pro tem., R. R. Rees; Chief Clerk, John A. Halderman; Assistant Clerk, Charles H. Grover; Sergeant-at-Arms, C. B. Whitehead; Doorkeeper, W. J. Godfroy.
The organization of both branches being thus completed, and His Excency the Governor informed that they awaited his message, the two Houses adjourned.
During the following four days, the Legislature received the message of the Governor and referred it to the appropriate committees, purged itself of all obnoxious Free-soil members, and voted to remove the seat of Government, temporarily, to the Shawnee Manual Labor School, over the veto of the Governor.
The message was received July 3. Its discussion of the slavery question was as follows:
Claiming as we do the same capacity for self-government as our fellow-citizens of the State, with a far greater, if not an exclusive interest in the institutions and laws which are to exist among us; compelled alone to bear their burdens, and entitled alone to claim their benefits; wisdom, justice and fairness would dictate that those laws and institutions inside of the Constitutions of the United States, should be holded by ourselves, stimulated by the absorbing interest we must feel in them, rather than by the representatives and citizens of other States, who are no more competent to the task that we - who have no stake with us in the results, and who would most indignantly repel any offer of reciprocity from us in assisting to manage their affairs. The provisions of our Territorial organic act secures us this right, and is founded in the true doctrines of Republicanism. It may be exercised in various degrees and in various ways, and whenever it is called into action it cannot be legitimately attended with that excitement, which is incident to the agitation of the slavery question in the direction of an attack upon constitutional rights. An agitation of that kind, such as we have seen industriously prosecuted in the past history of our country by the destructive spirit of abolitionism, can never be productive of aught but evil, and is calculated in an eminent degree to obscure the glories of the past, to evoke the foulest spirit of discord among the citizens of our common country, and also to mar our brilliant future, if not endanger the existence of our cherished Union. A want of fidelity to the solemn compacts of the constitution, and an attack upon the rights of the States which are guaranteed by it, can have no justification or excuse. This view of the case is not, however, to be confounded with the discussion and settlement of the slavery question in our Territory, with its bearings upon the formation of our institutions. That has been referred to us as an open question by the legitimate action of the nation, and here it is not only the privilege, but the duty of every man to speak his opinions freely, and enforce them peaceably and fairly. Advocate and opponent stand on the same ground, and must mutually concede to each other the identical measure of right which they claim for themselves. Freedom of opinion and freedom of discussion without license, are of the very essence of republicanism at all times, and are to be peculiarly respected here. The permanent character and high authority of a State constitution, and the fact of its submission to a direct vote of the people of the Territory indicate that event as a signal occasion for the decision of that peculiar question. In the meantime, however, a Territorial Legislature may undoubtedly act upon the question to a limited and partial extent, and may temporarily prohibit, tolerate or regulate slavery in the Territory, and in an absolute or modified form, with all the force and effect of any other legislative act, binding until repealed by the same power that enact it.
The message further pointed out the objects for which the Legislature was convened, defined its duties and recommended legislation. The boundaries of counties were to be defined; the terms of court in the different districts decided upon; County and Probate Courts established; the levying of taxes considered; schools established, and a Territorial militia organized. The selection of a permanent seat of Government was also one of the duties devolving upon the Legislature. The Passing of an efficient law regulating the sale of intoxicating liquors, and prohibiting its sale to Indians, was recommended.
The message was referred to committees, and 1,000 copies ordered to be printed.
THE UNSEATING OF THE FREE-SOIL MEMBERS.
It is well known, before the assembling of the Legislature, that no member elected at the May election would be allowed to hold his seat. With the members elect and their constituents, their expulsion was deemed inevitable. Whether they should take their seats, thus recognizing the legislative body by becoming a part of it, or whether they should absent themselves entirely, was a question earnestly discussed. The course finally adopted, to take their seats and go through the form of a contest, was not decided upon until after long and earnest discussion. Jesse D. Wood, from the beginning, advocated a square contest that should put the iniquity fully on record, and, as appears, succeeded in bringing the whole Free-state delegation to a like view. So, as has been seen, at the opening of the session, all the Free-state members were in their seats, with the exception of Cyrus K. Holliday, elected to the House form the Tecumseh District, who was unavoidably absent in Pennsylvania, attendant on a sick wife; and M. F. Conway, of the Council, who resigned before taking his seat. The first business in order, as preconcerted, was the purging of both branches of the objectionable members. No legislation was attempted until it was done. The Committee on Credentials appointed by the House did their work thoroughly and give their reason to the House, their constituents and the country, in an elaborate report, as follows:
TO THE HONORABLE THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE TERRITORY OF KANSAS:
S. D. Houston, the only Free-state member of the committee, submitted a minority report, in which he said:
I cannot agree that this body has the right to go behind the decision of the Governor, who, by virtue of his office, is the organizing Federal arm of the General Government to evolve and manage a new government for this Territory, for the obvious reason that Congress makes him the sole judge of qualifications of membership.Mr. John Hutchinson spoke for nearly two hours against the report, and at the end was complacently informed by Speaker Stringfellow that, "although the House had no objections to indulging the members in free speech, it might, perhaps, shorten their remarks in some degree to know that their speeches would not change a single vote."
The majority report was accepted, whereby Messrs. Hutchinson, Fowler, Ladd, Wattles, Jessee, Holliday and Baker ceased to be members of the House.
The following protest was made by four of the retiring members:
We, the undersigned members of the House of Representatives of Kansas Territory, believing the organic act gives this House no power to oust any member from this House, who has a certificate of election from the Governor, that this House cannot go behind an election called by the Governor, and consider any claims based on a prior election, we would, therefore, protest against such a proceeding, and ask this protest to be spread upon the journal of this House.
In the Council, the committee made a report equally elaborate on the case of Jesse D. Wood and John A. Wakefield, depriving them of their seats and assigning these to Andrew McDonald and Hiram J. Strickler, who has been elected according to the returns of the March election. The ousted members retired, leaving their protest spread upon the journal. It was the Fourth of July, 1855, and Judge Wakefield, as he rose to leave, gave vent to his indignation in the following prophetic speech: "Gentlemen, this is a memorable day, and may become more so. Your acts will be the means of lighting the watch-fires of war in our land."
Thus the two Houses were purified of all members having the taint of Abolitionism in their garments, except S. D. Houston, who resigned July 23. M. F. Conway never took his seat in the Council. He sent in a lengthy letter of resignation July 3, while the contested cases of Wood, Wakefield and himself were pending.