|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
THE LAW AND ORDER PARTY ORGANIZED, PART 1.
The Blue Lodges of Missouri had, as already recounted, organized to enforce law and order under the rule of the Legislature they had elected. The Free-state Convention, which had been held openly at Big Springs, and the Constitutional Convention, held openly at Topeka, showed to them quite plainly that, as against the people, acting openly, they could no longer do clandestine work successfully, with their small membership in the Territory. It was accordingly decided to come out into the light, and a sortie was made from the lodges of the border.
October 3, a meeting was held at Leavenworth of a few citizens of that place, all members of the secret Pro-slavery leagues, known under the various names of "Sons of the South," "Social Band," or "Blue Lodge." At this meeting the situation was fully discussed, and it was decided that a committee should be appointed to issue an address to the people, and call a mass meeting of the citizens at some future time, to further consider and devise proper means for allaying the unnatural and insane excitement then existing against the legal enactments of the late Territorial Legislature.
The committee chosen consisted of the following-named gentlemen: Andrew J. Isacks, D. J. Johnson, W. G. Mathias, R. R. Rees, L. F. Hollingsworth and D. A. N. Grover.
The address was an elaborate statement of no facts, followed by an appeal to "the lovers of law and order," urging all such to oppose all attempts to resist the code of laws recently enacted by the Territorial Legislature, and declaring it treason to oppose them. It closed with a call for all "lovers of law and order" to convene in mass meeting at Leavenworth on November 14. The convention assembled in answer to the call. It was made up almost entirely of Pro-slavery residents of the vicinity and their invited friends from the border towns of Missouri. Its object was to check, if possible, the Free-state movement, which was daily and hourly gathering strength in all parts of the Territory.
Gov. Shannon countenanced the movement by his presence. He was reported as a delegate from Douglas County, was elected Chairman of the convention, which position he accepted in a speech, showing that he was in full accord with the professed objects of the assembly, and, it is charitable to believe, in entire ignorance of the actual designs of those who had called the meeting. He thus, unwittingly perhaps, accepted the leadership of this mock convention, and gave to it the high recommendation of his public semi-official endorsement.
The officers were:
President, Gov. Wilson Shannon.
Vice Presidents, Chief Justice S. D. Lecompte, Gen. G. W. Clark, T. C. Slocum, I. B. Donaldson, Col. G. W. Purkins, Hon. A. McDonald, Gen. William Barbee, Gen. A. J. Isacks, Judge Rush Elmore, Judge John A. Halderman, Gen. W. P. Richardson, Col. J. C. Burge, Col. B. H. Twombly.
Secretaries, Dr. J. H. Stringfellow, L. J. Eastin, James H. Eastin, James H. Thompson, S. A. Williams, George N. Propper, H. A. Halsey.
Committee on Resolutions, John A. Halderman, G. W. Perkins, J. H. Stringfellow, J. C. Thompson, L. J. Eastin, W. G. Mathias, G. W. Clark, Thomas T. Slocum, S. A. Williams, D. M. Johnson, A. Payne, Amos Rees, W. P. Richardson.
Committee to prepare an address to the people of the United States - Gov. Wilson Shannon, Chairman; John Calhoun, from Illinois; James Christian, from Kentucky; Thomas T. Slocum, of Pennsylvania; George W. Clark, from Arkansas; A. J. Isacks, of Louisiana; George W. Purkins, of Virginia; I. B. Donaldson of Illinois; G. W. Johnson, of Virginia; John A. Halderman, of Kentucky; A. Rodrigue, of Pennsylvania; Ira Norris, of New Hampshire; O. B. Dickinson, of New York, and W. H. Marvin, of Iowa.
The resolutions adopted are worthy of preservation, showing, as they do, the pretenses under which the "Law and Order Party" was organized. In the light of to-day and with a full knowledge of the facts, and with slavery drowned out with the blood of a million men, the resolutions send the hot blood of indignation to the face of every lover of liberty. There were as follows:
(1) Resolved, That we, the people here assembled, believing the Constitution of the United States, and the laws passed in pursuance thereof, are sufficient for the protection of our rights, both of person and property, and that in the observance of the same are vested our only hopes of security for liberty, and the Union, and that we will maintain the same at all hazards.
Addresses were made favoring the resolutions by John C. Calhoun, Surveyor General; S. D. Lecompte, Chief Justice of the Territory; D. J. Johnson, G. W. Purkins and others. Marcus J. Parrott, fresh from the Topeka Convention, attempted as a lover of "Law and Order" to speak, but was hooted and hissed down. Without doing further business, the Convention met the next morning, passed resolutions of thanks to the officers, provided for printing the proceedings of the Convention and the forthcoming "Address" and adjourned.
The address was promulgated November 30th. It was addressed to "The Citizens of the United States and of the Territory of Kansas. It contains some three thousand words. It was a history of the whole contest from a purely Pro-slavery view. It condemned Reeder, the Free-state movement, the Topeka Convention, and the Abolitionists without stint. It ignored entirely all the outrages which have been perpetrated by the Missourians upon the people. It discussed the merits of the political situation from every standpoint favorable to the establishment of slavery in the Territory, and concluded with the following formal announcement of the organization of the "Law and Order Party of Kansas:"
In conclusion we have to say, that Whig and Democrat, Pro-slavery and Free-state men, making a sacrifice of all party names and organizations upon the altar of the public good, have resolved to be known hereafter as the Law and Order party, or "State Rights" party of Kansas, and have given to the world, and have pledged their united faith in support of a platform of principles laid down in the resolutions which follow.* Upon that platform they will stand, insisting upon the execution of the laws; the maintenance of the principles of the organic act of the Territory, affirming for the citizens of Kansas, the right to frame their own institutions in their own way, and resisting and repelling all interference form abroad, let it come from what quarter it may, claiming for ourselves the capacity of self-government, to be the friends of the Union, and of the rights of the States. We ask of our friends abroad only the benefit of their advice, sympathy and prayers for our success, and hope to merit their approving judgement.
The address and the accompany resolutions fully organized the opposition to the Free-state movement. Ignoring all previous party affiliations, it was pledged to the establishment of slavery in Kansas, and the enforcement of the laws of the Shawnee Legislature. It was the party organized by the members of the Pro-slavery Legislature to enforce the laws they had made. It had the countenance and support of the Governor, the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, and Surveyor General of the Territory. It was sure of the unquestioned support of the President of the United States and his Cabinet, and a majority of the United States Senate. Surely, no party ever started with more brilliant prospects, or solid guarantees of success, and none ever came to such despicable failure. The reader will understand the significance of the adopted terms "Law and Order" as applied to the organized Pro-slavery party in the continued narrative, and indulge in such contempt or indignation as he sees fit at the misnomer. Hereafter, the two contending political parties will be designated as "Law and Order," and "Free-state." The platforms of the two parties have been given, and whatever of specious pretense appears in either will be easily discernable (sic).
The resident population, comprising men with families who had actually settled on the land with a view to a permanent home settlement, was largely Free-state in sentiment. The voting strength of the Territory, however, showed quite reversely. Referring to the tables heretofore given of the fall elections, it appears that Reeder received 2,849 votes, of which number nearly one-half were thrown in the two districts comprising Lawrence and Leavenworth. Leavenworth was so near Missouri, that the Free-state vote, large as it was, could be at any time overcome by an invasion from over the border. Lawrence, therefore, became the citadel of "Abolitionism." There the meetings were held which inaugurated the Free-state movements at Big Springs and Topeka, both locations being sufficiently near to that point to render them safe from the incursions of the "Law and Order" men from Missouri. It is not strange that the Missourians and their allies looked to its destruction as an absolute war necessity. It was the only place in the Territory where the Free-soil element prevailed to the extent of making free speech and a free press possible, and for that reason, and no other, it drew upon itself the concentrated hate of the Law and Order party. The Pro-slavery population resided mostly on the Delaware lands, and in the counties along the Missouri border. The exact number can never be known. The returns of the election of October 1, lead to the belief that there were not far form 2,000 Pro-slavery legal voters in the Territory at that time, many of whom still had their families in Missouri.
Party lines were strictly drawn on the slavery issue and not other. A part were pledged to obedience of the laws passed by the Territorial Legislature and viewed all opposition to them as infamous, and all men who opposed them as traitors; so it had been stated in the Law and Order platform and in the address of the party, signed by the Governor, the Chief Justice, and other officials in the employ and confidence of the Federal Government. The remaining population abhorred the means whereby the Legislature had been elected, despised its conduct of business and openly repudiated its laws and the authority of every official it had appointed.
The condition was that of absolute anarchy, only mitigated by the intelligence of the inhabitants, who, having been educated under the laws of a republic, knew how to be a law unto themselves until such time as the higher law could be vindicated.
The Law and Order party were determined to bring the revolutionists to swift punishment so soon as overt actions could bring them subject to the penalties prescribed for violation of the laws. This was no easy matter, as they kept, so far as possible, aloof from the legal machinery devised for the government of the Territory. They brought no suits into its courts, they attended no elections called by its authority, they paid no attention to its county organizations, they offered no estates to its Probate Judges, they tried no causes and made no complaints before its Justices of the Peace, they paid no tax levies made by authority of the late Legislature; yet they were careful to do no act which could lay them liable to the laws they condemned. They settled their disputes through arbitration or by other means that might avoid litigation; they had town organizations and police regulations for the preservation of order; courts to settle squatters' claims, and all other appliances necessary for the regulation of small communities, peacefully inclined. They could build, manufacture, buy, sell, establish schools and churches, but they would not be guilty of the crime of making Kansas a Slave State before its time. It is truth to state that many of them came to Kansas with designs quite averse to such a consummation. Where the inhabitants were mostly Free-state, as at Lawrence and Topeka, things went smoothly, but in the localities where the Law and Order party predominated, the Free-state inhabitants were forced to suffer indignities and insults or appeal for redress to the established laws of the Territory. No dispute could occur, whatever its grounds, which was not embittered and intensified by the known sentiments of the parties on the slavery question and the validity of the Territorial laws. A disputed land claim, which, under other circumstances might have been easily adjusted, ended often in a personal rencounter, in which the disputants were assisted by their Anti-slavery or Pro-slavery friends, and the merits of the political question fought even to desperation, leaving the original dispute unsettled as before.
Secret Societies. - The Law and Order party had its allies in secret organizations all through Western Missouri and throughout the Territory. Its members were sworn to make Kansas a Slave State, and to expel from all places, where practicable, all persons who, in their opinion, were inimical to its objects. The work of these societies was brutal and lawless always, and so relentless against any Free-state man who dared to openly proclaim his sentiments as to stop at nothing short of murder. Under their sanction, mobs were readily organized in Leavenworth, Atchison, and at other towns, to intimidate, insult, or otherwise maltreat any persons who should dare speak in opposition to the prevailing sentiment of those localities on the slavery question. No Free-state man's life or property was safe in any of the border towns of Kansas at that time, unless he kept his mouth shut.
Some time in August, one J. W. B. Kelley, a quite rabid anti-slavery man form Cincinnati, not having the fear of the Pro-slavery mob of Atchison in his eyes, made some pointed remarks in the streets of that city, not in accordance with Pro-slavery tastes, nor complimentary to the peculiar institution; whereupon he was set upon by a bully named Thomason, twice his size, and nearly beaten to death. The citizens of Atchison in public meeting commended the act in the following resolutions:
(1.) Resolved, That one J. W. B. Kelley, hailing from Cincinnati, having upon sundry occasions denounced our institutions and declared all pro-slavery men ruffians, we deem it an act of kindness to rid him of such company, and hereby command him to leave the town of Atchison one hour after being informed of the passage of this resolution, never more to show himself in this vicinity.
It was voted that the resolutions be circulated and all citizens be required to sign the same, and that any person refusing should be deemed and treated as an "abolitionist."