KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


TERRITORIAL HISTORY, Part 19

[TOC] [part 20] [part 18] [Cutler's History]

THE BIG SPRINGS CONVENTION.

The work of the two conventions being done, there was held in the public hall in Lawrence, on the evening of the 15th, a "Ratification Convention." It was a regular "love feast." New specific allusions were made in the speeches to the two conventions which had been held. It was a general ratification of all that had been done by everybody during the past two days, and showed most conclusively that thereafter there was a united force in Kansas pledged to freedom which no opposing powers could intimidate, nor inward dissensions divide. The report of this convention is given as it was published in the Herald of Freedom of August 18, 1855:

Agreeably to notice, a meeting of the friends of freedom assembled at the public hall in Lawrence on Wednesday evening, the 15th inst., and organized by appointing C. K. Holliday, Esq., President, and G. W. Brown, Secretary.

The President introduced the business of the meeting by referring to the action of the people of Kansas during the last two days, and the prospects before us. He referred to the division of sentiment which had existed when the convention was called together on Tuesday morning, and the perfect unanimity which now existed. "There is not," said he, " dissatisfied mind in all this assembly with the results of the recent deliberations."

Frederick Brown, of Mill Creek, one of the five Browns alluded to at the late convention of radical Abolitionists at Syracuse, N. Y., was in favor of military organizations for the purpose of resisting invasion and aggression.

Dr. Barnes, Judge Curtiss, Rev. Mr. Blood, Gen. Pomeroy, Judge Schulyer, Messrs. Fitch, Conway, Smith of Wakarusa, Dr. Hunting, Emery Warren, Robinson, Hutchinson, Powell, Bacon and Lincoln were severally called upon and addressed the convention in five-minute speeches in the order in which their names are given above. But one sentiment prevailed, and that was a determination to act together harmoniously. The necessities of the times showed that all must work together; that divisions was defeat. By common consent it appeared to be understood that those matters which had divided us in the past should be ignored in the future, until the other great issues are disposed of. One thing at a time seemed to be the general expression.

The convention adjourned about half-past 10 o'clock, with three hearty cheers for Kansas and three cheers for freedom.

C. K. HOLLIDAY, President.
G. W. Brown, Secretary.

MINUTES OF THE BIG SPRINGS CONVENTION.

The Big Springs Convention convened at the time appointed, Wednesday, September 5, at 11 o'clock A. M., and temporarily organized by calling W. T. Roberts to the chair, and appointing D. Dodge, Secretary.

Committee on Credentials was appointed and instructed to report immediately. It consisted of the following-named gentlemen: John Hutchinson, R. Riddle, A. Hunting, P. C. Schuyler, P. Laughlin, W. Pennock, John Fee, A. G. Adams, John Hamilton, J. N. Tuton, R. Gillpatrick, J. M. Arthur and Isaac Wollard.

Committee on Permanent Organization - S. D. Houston, G. F. Warren, J. D. Barnes, William Jessee, A. G. Adams, E. Fish, John Hamilton, William Jordan, B. Harding, Isaac Wollard and S. Mewhinney. Recess until half-past two.

AFTERNOON SESSION.

After a short speech from Judge Curtiss, the Committee on Credentials reported the following list of delegates:

First District. - G. W. Smith, J. H. Lane, John Curtiss, J. Emery, John Hutchinson, Turner Sampson, M. Hunt, R. G. Elliott, J. D. Barnes, William Yates, A. Still, H. Barricklow, B. W. Miller, W. Duncan, James McGee.

Second District. - J. M. Tuton, J. A. Wakefield, A. Curtiss, H. Y. Baldwin, H. Burson, William Jessee, Samuel Walker, T. Wolverston, J. C. Archibold, Charles Wright.

Third District. - William Y. Roberts, William Jordan, A. G. Adams, James Cowles.

Fourth District. - S. Mewhinney, J. F. Javins, E. G. Scott, A. J. Miller, W. Moore.

Fifth District. - A. P. Wyckoff, James Osborne, James M. Arthur, D. F. Park, William G. Nichols, Dr. R. Gillpatrick, G. W. Partridge, Isaac Wollard, Charles A. Foster, James Todd, Robert H. Brown, Enos Show, William R. Vail, Enos Strawn, Hamilton Smith.

Sixth District - John Hamilton, James Johnson, F. M. Morris.

Seventh District. - P. C. Schuyler, George Braton, Dr. J. D. Wood, Dr. A. Bowen, E. Fisk.

Eighth District - J. E. Hohenick, Daniel H. Hiatt.

Ninth District - S. D. Houston, William S. Arnold, James P. Wilson, Lucke P. Lincoln, Dr. A. Hunting.

Tenth District - William Pennock, J. B. Pennock, J. H. Byrd, George F. Warren, P. Dowlin, R. H. Phelan, D. Dodge, H. M. Hook, James Salisbury, E. Castle, J. Parrott, John Wright, A. Guthrie, R. Riddle.

Eleventh District - M. F. Conway, C. Junkens.

Twelfth District - James Wilson, John Anesworth, Nathan Adams.

Fourteenth District - S. Collins, John Fee, P. Laughlin, N. Carter, George W. Bryan, Benjamin H. Brock, William Poepges, B. Harding, A. Grooms, C. W. Stewart.

Fifteenth District*. - William Crosby, H. J. Stout, J. C. Ridgeway, Elijah Pierce.
(*One report has this the Sixteenth.)

Seventeenth District - R. Mendenhall, D. W. Mendenhall, G. P. Lowrey.

The Committee on Permanent Organization reported: For President, G. W. Smith; Vice President, J. A. Wakefield, John Fee, Dr. A. Hunting, James Salsbury; Secretaries, R. G. Elliott, D. Dodge, A. G. Adams.

Report adopted, and officers took their seats.

The following committees were appointed on recommendation of the various district delegations:

Committee on Platform. - P. Laughlin, S. Collins, J. A. Wakefield, James H. Lane, A. Still, D. Dodge, J. H. Byrd, J. Hamilton, W. Crosby, W. Y. Roberts, M. F. Conway, C. A. Foster, R. Gillpatrick.

Committee on State Organization. - B. H. Brock, A. Grooms, J. N. Tuton, R. C. Elliott, R. Mendenhall, H. M. Hook, E. Castle, J. Hamilton, H. J. Stout, A. Bowen, S. D. Houston, J. M. Arthur, Isaac Wollard.

Committee on Late Legislature. - John Fee, N. Carter, W. Jessee, J. S. Emery, H. Barricklow, W. Pennock, J. Wright, M. Duncan, P. C. Schuyler, E. Pierce, Dr. A. Hunting, W. G. Nichols, G. W. Partridge.

Committee on Congressional Election - G. W. Bryan, B. Harding, H. Burson, W. Yates, G. P. Lowrey, G. F. Warren, R. H. Phelan, J. Johnson, J. C. Ridgeway, J. Cowles, W. S. Arnold, J. P. Wyckoff, I. Osborne.

Committee on Miscellaneous Duties - C. W. Stewart, W. Poepges, C. Curtiss, S. Mewhinney, J. Curtiss, J. Parrott, R. Riddle, W. Jordan, J. P. Wilson, J. Todd, D. F. Park, F. M. Morris.

Business rules were reported for the government of the convention. After a discussion on their adoption, the convention adjourned to Thursday morning.

SECOND DAY.

Convention convened at 9 o'clock A. M. Minutes read and approved. Some unimportant discussion, participated in by Col. Lane, Mr. Conway, Mr. Foster and others, ensued on the rules.

Col. Lane, as Chairman of the Committee on Platform, reported. The report was adopted unanimously with enthusiastic cheers. The following as adopted is

THE FIRST FREE-STATE PLATFORM.

WHEREAS, The Free-state party of the Territory of Kansas are about to originate an organization for concert of political action in electing our officers and molding our institutions; and whereas, it is expedient and necessary that a platform of principles be adopted and proclaimed to make known the character of our organization and to test the qualifications of candidates and the fidelity of our members; and whereas, we find ourselves in an unparalleled and critical condition, deprived by superior force of the rights guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Kansas Bill; and whereas, the great and overshadowing question whether Kansas shall become a free or a slave State must inevitably absorb all other issues except those inseparably connected with it; and whereas, the crisis demands the concerted and harmonious action of all those who from principle or interest prefer free labor to slave labor, as well as of those who value the preservation of the Union and the guarantee of republican institutions by the Constitution; therefore,

(1) Resolved, That, setting aside all minor issues of partisan politics, it is incumbent upon us to proffer an organization calculated to recover our dearest rights, and into which Democrats and Whigs, native and naturalized citizens, may freely come without any sacrifice of their respective political creeds, but without forcing as a test upon others. And that when we shall have achieved our political freedom, vindicated our rights of self-government, and come as an independent State upon the arena of the Union, where those issues may become vital where they are now dormant, it will be time enough to divide our organization by those tests, the importance of which we fully recognize in their appropriate sphere.

(2) Resolved, That we will oppose and resist all non-resident voters at our polls, whether form Missouri or elsewhere, as a gross violation of our rights and a virtual disfranchisement of our citizens.

(3) Resolved, That our true interests, socially, morally and pecuniarily, require that Kansas should be a free State; that free labor will best promote the happiness, the rapid population, the prosperity and the wealth of our people; that slave labor is a curse to the master and the community, if not the slave; that our country is unsuited to it, and that we will devote our energies as a party to exclude the institution and to secure for Kansas the constitution of a free State.

(4) Resolved, That in so doing, we will consent to any fair and reasonable provision in regard to the slaves already in the Territory, which shall protect the masters against total loss.

(5) Resolved, That the best interests of Kansas required a population of free white men, and that in our State organization we are in favor of stringent laws excluding all negroes, bond and free, from the Territory, but that, nevertheless, such measure shall not be regarded as a test of party orthodoxy.

(6) Resolved, That we will discountenance and denounce any attempt to encroach upon the constitutional rights of the people of any State, or to interfere with their slaves, conceding to their citizens the right to regulate their own institutions, and to hold and recover their slaves without any molestation or obstruction from the people of Kansas.

(7) Resolved, That the stale and ridiculous charge of abolitionism, so industriously imputed to the Free-state party, and so pertinaciously adhered to in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, is without a shadow of truth to support it; and that it is not more apparent to ourselves than it is to our opponents, who use it as a term of reproach to being odium upon us, pretending to believe in its truth, and hoping to frighten from our ranks the weak and timid who are more willing to desert their principles than they are to stand up under persecution and abuse with a consciousness of right.

Mr. J. S. Emery presented the report of the "Committee on the late Legislature." The resolutions reported were as follows:

Resolved, That the body of men who, for the last two months have been passing laws for the people of our Territory, moved, counseled and dictated to by the demagogues of Missouri, are to us a foreign body, representing only the lawless invaders who elected them, and not the people of the Territory - that we repudiate their actions as the monstrous consummation of an act of violence, usurpation and fraud, unparalleled in the history of the Union, and worthy only of men unfitted for the duties and regardless of the responsibilities of Republicans.

Resolved, That having, by numerical inferiority and want of preparation, been compelled to succumb to the outrage and oppression of armed and organized bands of the citizens of a powerful State of the Union - having been robbed by force of the right of suffrage and self-government, and subjected to a foreign despotism, the more odious and infamous because it involves a violation of compacts with sister States more sacred than solemn treaties, we disown and disavow with scorn and indignation the contemptible and hypocritical mockery of a representative government into which this infamous despotism has been converted.

Resolved, That this miscalled Legislature, by their reckless disregard of the Organic Territorial Act, and other Territorial legislation, in expelling members whose title to seats was beyond their power to annul, in admitting members who were not elected, in altering the pre-emption laws and the naturalization laws, and in legislating at an unauthorized place - by their refusal to allow the people to elect any of their officers - by imposing upon us their own appointees, down to the most insignificant officers, many of whom were unquestionably residents of Missouri at the time - by leaving us no elections save those prescribed by Congress, and therefore beyond their power to abrogate, and even at these, selling the right of suffrage at our ballot-boxes to any non-resident who chooses to buy and pay it, and compelling us to take an oath to support a United States law, invidiously pointed out, by stifling the freedom of speech and of the press, thus usurping a power forbidden to Congress, have trampled under foot the Kansas Bill, have defied the power of Congress, libeled the Declaration of Independence, violate the Constitutional Bill of Rights, and brought contempt and disgrace upon our republican institutions at home and abroad.

Resolved, That we owe no allegiance or obedience to the tyrannical enactments of this spurious Legislature - that their laws have no validity or binding force upon the people of Kansas, and that every freeman amongst us is at full liberty, consistently with all his obligations as a citizen and a man, to defy and resist them if he chooses so to do.

Resolved, That we will resist them primarily by every peaceable and legal means within our power, until we can elect our own Representatives, and sweep them from the Statute-book, and, as the majority of the Supreme Court have so far forgotten their official duty - have so far cast off the honor of the lawyer and the dignity of the judge as to enter, clothed with the judicial ermine, into a partisan contest, and by an extra-judicial decision giving opinions in violation of all propriety, have pre-judged our case before we could be heard, and have pledged themselves to these outlaws in advance, to decide in their favor, we will therefore take measures to carry the question of the validity of these laws to a higher tribunal where judges are unpledged and dispassionate - where the law will be administered in its purity, and where we can at least have the hearing before the decision.

Resolved, that we will endure and submit to these laws no longer than the best interests of the Territory require, as the least of two evils, and will resist them to a bloody issue as soon as we ascertain that peaceable remedies shall fail, and forcible resistance shall furnish any reasonable prospect of success; and that, in the meantime, we recommend to our friends throughout the Territory, the organization and discipline of volunteer companies and the procurement and preparation of arms.

Resolved, That we cannot and will not quietly submit to surrender our "Great American Birthright" - the elective franchise; which, first by violence, and then by chicanery, artifice and weak and wicked legislation, they have so effectually accomplished to deprive us of, and that with scorn we repudiate the "Election Law" - so called - and will not meet with them on the day they have appointed for the election, but will ourselves fix upon a day for the purpose of electing a Delegate to Congress.

Col. Lane objected to the resolution impeaching the action of the Territorial Court, and moved that it be stricken from the report. His motion did not prevail.

The report was accepted and the resolutions adopted, with but one dissenting voice.

The Committee on State Organization reported as follows:

The Committee, after considering the propriety of taking preliminary steps to framing a Constitution and apply for admission as a State into the Union, beg leave to report that, under the present circumstances, they deem the movement untimely and inexpedient.

The report was the first really discordant element in the convention. It was the same that disturbed the harmony of the convention held in Lawrence three weeks before. The same men were there to advocate the formation of a State government, and they persistently pleaded and argued until the desired point was gained. The discussion on the adoption of the report elicited speeches, pro and con, from Messrs. Lane, Houston, Wakefield, Vaill (sic), Curtiss and Schuyler. After a recess of one hour, the discussion was continued by Messrs. Tuton, Hutchinson, Guthrie and Smith. The report was not accepted, but in it s place, the following resolution, offered by Mr. Hutchinson, was adopted:

Resolved, That this Convention, in view of its recent repudiation of the acts of the so-called Kansas Legislative Assembly, respond most heartily to the call made by the People's Convention of the 15th ult., for a Delegate Convention of the people of Kansas Territory, to be held at Topeka on the 19th inst., to consider the propriety of the formation of a State Constitution, and such other matters as may legitimately come before it.

The Committee on Congressional Election offered the following report, which was accepted, and the resolution adopted:

WHEREAS, The citizens of Kansas Territory were prevented from electing members to a Territorial Legislature, in pursuance of the proclamation of the Executive on the 30th of March last, by armed mobs who came into the Territory and forced upon the people the votes of non-residents and others inimical to the interests of the resident voters of Kansas Territory, thereby defeating the objects of the Organic Act, which, among other things, provided that after the first election the Legislature should provide for the election of a Delegate to Congress. And,

WHEREAS, The legislative body lately sitting at Shawnee Mission were not at a place where valid laws could be made, and consequently where no valid provisions for the coming election could be made, the people are driven to the necessity of meeting in their sovereign capacity to provide for said election. Therefore,

Resolved, By the citizens of Kansas in convention assembled, that an election shall be held, in the several Election Districts in this Territory on the second Tuesday of October next, under the regulations prescribed by the Election of the 30th of March last in reference to the places and manner of holding the same and the manner of making the returns, as well as all matters relating to the formula of the election, excepting the appointment of officers and the persons to whom returns shall be made, which shall be determined by this convention, for the purpose of electing a Delegate to represent this Territory in the Thirty-fourth Congress of the United States.

The reasons given by the committee for recommending a separate election were several, and were stated in their report, which was adopted, with the resolution above quoted, as follows:

First, To vote upon the same day at the same polls would be an acknowledgment of the right of the late Legislature to call an election. This objection might be obviated, should we go to the polls in obedience to the decision of this convention only, but then another difficulty arises: From evidence going before us, we are convinced that a large portion of the Free-state party will decline to vote at the expense of an oath to support special named laws; nor is this sentiment confined to the opposers of the Fugitive Slave Law and others mentioned, but extends to the believers in the justice and propriety of that enactment, among whom are some members of your committee.

Second, Should we be disposed to vote on the day appointed by the Legislature, past experience tells us that we shall by force be prevented from exercising that right of freemen, while, by the adoption of a second day, we avoid unnecessary disturbance, and may send our Delegate to claim his seat, taken with the various legal grounds why the Legislature was incapacitated from making binding laws, will claim the favorable attention of Congress.

We would also recommend the appointment of a committee to draft a memorial to Congress, setting forth more elaborately the reasons which have induced this course, and which may be placed at each poll on the day of election finally appointed by the convention, so it may be signed by ever voter. We also recommend that duplicate copies of the returns be made, and that one copy be presented to the Governor of the Territory for his signature and the seal of the Territory, and if he refuses, the other duplicate copy may be sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The committee further recommended that the convention, in nominating a candidate for Delegate to Congress, vote viva voce After objections, and an ineffectual effort to have the nomination made by ballot, the recommendation was adopted, and the nomination made in accordance therewith.

Prior to the nomination of Congressional Delegate, the Committee on Miscellaneous Business, through the Chairman, Mr. Parrott, reported a series of resolutions reciting the alleged cause of the removal of Gov. Reeder, showing the specious character of the charges on which he was removed, condemning the means employed, and recommending that a copy of the proceedings of the meeting be present to the Governor.

Col. Lane opposed the adoption of the resolutions on the common sense ground that he had not the slightest knowledge of the facts recited in the resolutions, was unwilling to express an opinion thereon, or to enter into a quarrel between ex-Gov. Reeder and the Administration. The resolutions were adopted, nevertheless.

[TOC] [part 20] [part 18] [Cutler's History]