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


[TOC] [part 31] [part 29] [Cutler's History]


March 4, 1856, the Legislature chosen under the provisions of the Free-state constitution, convened at Topeka, and the provisional forms of a State Government were fully established.

The session was short. It organized; received the inaugural address of the Governor; accepted the report of the Territorial Executive Committee, whose functions ceased with the establishment of the State government; prepared a memorial to Congress, asking admission under the adopted constitution; chose two United States Senators (contingent on the admission of Kansas as a State), elected a committee of three to prepare a code of laws and adjourned March 8, to meet on the 4th of July next.

The officers, National and State, and members of the State Legislature were as follows:

Governor - Charles Robinson, Lawrence.

Lieutenant Governor - William Y Roberts, Big Springs.

Secretary of State - Philip C. Schuyler, Council City.

State Treasurer - John W. Wakefield, then living six miles west of Lawrence, on the California road - on the N. W. 1/4 of Sec. 31, T. 12 R. 19.

Auditor of State - Dr. George A Cutler, Doniphan County.

Attorney General - H. Miles Moore, Leavenworth.

Judges of Supreme Court - S. N Latta, Leavenworth; Morris Hunt, Lawrence; Martin F. Conway, Pawnee.

Reporter of Supreme Court - E. M. Thurston.

Clerk of Supreme Court - Spencer H. Floyd, Neosho Valley.

State Printer - John Speer, Lawrence.

Representative to Congress (elected, contingent on the recognition or the State Government) Mark W. Delahay, Leavenworth.

United States Senators (elected by the Legislature) - James H. Lane and Andrew H. Reeder.

Members of the State Senate - Henry J. Adams, J. M. Cole, John Curtis, J. Dailey, W. Dunn, L. Fish, Perry Fuller, J. C. Green, Ben Harding, George S. Hillger, H. M. Hook, J. M. Irvin, D. E. Jones, S. B. McKenzie, B. W. Miller, Josiah H. Pillsbury, J. R. Rhaum, T. G. Thornton, W. W .Updegraff.

Officers of Senate - President, M. T. Roberts; Chief Clerk, Asaph Allen; Assistant Clerk, W. L. Bridgdon; Sergeant-at-Arms - J. M Fuller; Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms, Harris Stratton; Transcribing Clerks, James F. Cummings and J. G. Dunn; Chaplain, Paul Shepherd; President, pro tem, John Curtis.

State Representatives - James B. Abbott, S. N. Hartwell, John Hutchinson, H. F. Saunders, James Blood, C. Hornsbury, E. B. Purdum, J. McGee, Milton C Dickey, W. R. Frost, W A Simmerwell, S. Mewhinney, Samuel T. Shore, S. B. Baldwin, David Rees, D. W. Cannon, Isaac Landers, James M. Arthur, Henry H. Williams, H. W. Tabor, A. B. Marshall, J. B Adams, T. W. Platt, Rees Furby, B. H. Brock, John Landis, E. R. Zimmerman, W. D. Barnett, L. P. Patty, T. A. Minard, Isaac Cody, Thomas Bowman, John Brown, Jr., Henry Todd, J. Hornby, Abraham Barry, Richard Murphy, William Hicks, B. H. Martin, William Bayless, J. W. Stevens, J. K. Edsaul, T. J. Campbell, George Goslin, H. B. Standieford, Isaac B. Higgins, Thomas J. Addis, D. Toothman, William McClure, J. B Watson, William B. Wade, A. Jameson, A. D. Jones, William Crosby, S. Sparks, Rees P. Brown, Adam Fisher - 57.

Officers of the House of Representatives - J. M. Lane, Chairman of the Territorial Committee, called the House to order - Speaker, T A Minard; Clerk, Joel K. Goodin; Assistant Clerk, Samuel F. Tappan; Transcribing Clerks, J. Snodgrass, G. T. Gordon; Sergeant-at-Arms, J. Mitchell; Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms, J. Swain; Chaplain, C. H. Lovejoy.


The Territorial Executive Committee which, up to the organization of the Legislature, had been the moving and directing force in controlling and directing the Free-state movement, having completed its work, made its final report, through its Chairman, James H. Lane, and, its authority having passed to the executive of the new government, ceased to exist.

Its wonderful efficiency and tireless activity has been before adverted to. Through its labors, the objects for which it has been appointed had been, regardless of every obstacle, fully attained. As stated in the final report, and as shown by the records of the committee, the cost of establishing the State government was $15,265.90, for which some scrip had been issued from time to time as required, and sold in quantities and denominations to suit purchasers, or paid out for expenses incurred. Much of it found a market at par value, among friends of the movement in Eastern States. The form of the obligation was as follows:

The payment of this scrip was assumed by the State Government which owed its life to its issue. The issue of like bonds was continued by the Free-state government, and was its only source of income. It was current at above par, among its friends, so long as the Topeka Constitution stood a chance of being accepted as the organic law of the new State, and brought to all commissaries and agents sent to the East, ready money at its face. When new acts were passed by Congress, providing for a new Free-state Constitution, and the Topeka Constitution, with its provisional government, lost its vitality, the scrip went down with the Government. It was never redeemed. There was no Government having the authority to levy taxes and the power to collect them, ever established under the Topeka Constitution; so the scrip passed out into the realm of financial insolvency. It is held now in hundreds of families in New England, as a relic of old times, and a testimonial of money paid for the establishment of freedom in Kansas. It is as worthless as the Continental money of the old Revolution, or the Confederate money of later times. Its value to-day lies in the object for which it was issued, and the motive which brought it into the hands of its present possessors.

The Legislature adjourned with a thorough provisional State organization established having passed no laws, nor any act contravening the authority of the General Government or the organic Territorial act. Nevertheless, the fact of its convening and perfecting in a systematic manner a provisional State organization, in spite of all threats and intimidation from the General Government, the Territorial officials, and the Blue Lodges of Missouri, ratified and confirmed the fact of 'open rebellion against the laws of the Territory,' and gave the Missourians ample pretext for open and immediate war. They were prepared, and lacked only the authority of the Governor to commence an active campaign.


Gov. Shannon had never been at ease since the treaty he made with Robinson and Lane. By it he had lost caste with all the Pro-slavery patriots of Kansas and Missouri, and brought himself under a cloud of distrust at Washington. As his appointment as Governor of Kansas Territory had not yet been confirmed by the Senate, on January 5 he started for Washington, where he arrived five days after, and endeavored to set himself right with the Pro-slavery junta, President Pierce and his Cabinet. During the time he was in Washington he interpreted into the Pro-slavery language, and perverted to Pro-slavery ends every protest, letter and appeal sent by the suffering Free-state settlers of Kansas to the General Government at Washington. He returned March 5 having been confirmed in his appointment by the Senate, and invested with all the power of the United States Army to enforce the laws of the Territory.

While Shannon remained in Washington, and under his advice, the President issued his proclamation, already given, declaring the Topeka Government treasonable. The announcement of his return March 8, by the Kansas Weekly Herald, Leavenworth, was made as follows:

Gov. Shannon has returned to the Territory. He his all the troops at Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley, about 1,200, subject to his call. The laws of the Territory will he sustained at all hazards, and good order maintained despite the efforts of fanatics to agitate and keep upstrife. Col. Sumner has received his instructions to keep his troops in readiness, subject to the call of Gov. Shannon.

In another column will be found the proclamation of the President, also the instructions of the Governor.

The instructions with which the Governor returned were as follows:


SIR - I herewith inclose (sic) to you a proclamation by the President, dated the 11th inst., duly authenticated, and also a copy of orders issued from the Department of War to Col. Sumner and Brevet Col. Cook, of the United States Army.

The President is unwilling to believe that in executing your duties as Governor of the Territory there will be any occasion to call in the aid of the United States troops for that purpose, and it is enjoined upon you to do all that can possibly be done before resorting to that measure, yet, if it becomes indispensably necessary to do so in order to execute the laws and preserve the peace, you are hereby authorized by the President to make requisition upon the officer commanding the United States military forces at Forts Leavenworth and Riley for such assistance as you may need for the above specified purpose.

While confiding in the respect of our citizens for the laws, and the efficiency of ordinary means provided for protecting their rights and property, he deems it, however, not improper, considering the peculiar situation of affairs in the Territory of Kansas, that you should be authorized to have the power herein conferred, with a view to meet any extraordinary emergency that may arise, trusting that it will be used until you find a resort to it unavoidable, in order to insure the due execution of the laws, and to preserve the public peace.

Before actual interposition of the military force on any occasion, you will cause the Proclamation of the President, which you are herewith furnished, to be publicly read.

I am your very respectful and obedient servant.


TO HON. WILSON SHANNON, Governor of Kansas Territory.

The objects which induced the Governor to visit Washington, as well as the spirit which he cherished toward the Free-state settlers, are more fully evinced in the following letter, written to his intimate friend and adviser, George W. Clerk, who was one of the two who killed Barber, and who, it will be remembered, boasted of it after the deed was done. The letter was written on the eve of his departure, and reads as follows:



Your two last favors are received, and I regret exceedingly to hear of your unpleasant situation. I hope things will prove better. The evidence you speak of must satisfy every one that you did not kill Barber. This difficulty out of the way, I hope you will have nothing to fear I think that all organizations to take the law into the hands of self-constituted judges or conservators of the peace will only lead to bad consequences. The other party will do the same by way of retaliation, and no one will know when he is safe. I am glad to hear that you discourage all such movements.

I will leave in the morning for Washington City, stopping some days at home on my way. I shall urge on the President the policy of stationing a company of U. S. troops in Lecompton, or such other place in that region as you all may think best. I shall also urge on him the policy of quietly stationing a company at Topeka about the middle of February next. The Free-state Government, you know, is to be inaugurated on the 4th of March, and the Legislature at that time will commence its session. The President has the power to station troops at any place he sees proper, and there will be no necessity of his saying for what purpose he stations a company at Topeka. It will be looked upon by the Free-state men as a significant sign, and may induce them to pause in their mad career of folly and treason.

I would be glad if you would write to your friends in Congress, and get them to back me up on what I may seek to accomplish for the Territory. Moreover, I desire to see and talk with the leading men of the South in relation to matters in the Territory. I wish to post them upon the real state of things out here, and what the South must do the coming year or lose all dominion in a few years in the affairs of the Republic.

Write to me frequently at Washington, to the care of Gen. Whitfield. Post me at least once or twice a week as to all that is going on out here. I shall feel great solicitude as to the state of things in Kansas while I am gone.

Yours, with great respect,



A letter from Gen. Whitfield to Clark, written at about the time of Gov. Shannon's return, in connection with the one above given, will suffice to show the general character of the influences at work to direct the administration of Kansas affairs in Washington, during the winter. The letter reads as follows:

WASHINGTON, 1st March, 1856.


I assure you I have not forgotten our mutual friend Dr. Rodrigue. I have sent him seeds, documents, etc. One thing you are perhaps not aware of, that two-thirds of the seeds are stolen, and, having to pass through that Hell Hole (Lawrence), it is reasonable to suppose that nearly all are stolen. Say to the Doctor that his name is on my special list.

Clark, you have no idea of the work I have to do in addition to my labors as Delegate. I must confess, that Reeder and his army of Abs. give me some trouble. I have thrown him twice, and think I will give him another top. I feel certain they have despaired of his getting a seat, and only hope to send the election back. The last move is to send for persons and papers; one object is to pay his army of Abolitionists that he has here. I think, though, he will be defeated, and a Commissioner will be sent out. If so, I will get S. F. Woodson and others to take depositions.

I have labored every day since I left Kansas to induce Southern men to go to Kansas, and I have strong hopes that we shall have a larger emigration. Our friends should meet and appoint committees in every town to attend to them on their arrival.

Shannon is with you, I hope, before this, with full and ample power to put down the Abolitionists in the Territory. We think here that Mr. Pierce comes up to the scratch nobly. Your humble servant is charged with figuring in getting up the message. One thing certain, Clark, if they attempt to fight Uncle Sam's boys, the ball is open, and civil war is inevitable. If so, you will see me in Kansas. You can command me here at any and all times.

Yours truly,


For several weeks after Shannon's return, there was no disturbance which warranted him in calling on the United States troops, or otherwise putting forth the extraordinary powers with which he had been invested.

On April 18, the Congressional Investigation Committee arrived in Lawrence and commenced its work. Simultaneously, Sheriff Jones made his appearance, with the object of arresting the rescuers of Branson and other Free-state men. It was the beginning of a thoroughly matured plan of operations intended to b e unrelentingly carried out for the intimidation of witnesses before the Committee, for the overthrow of the Free-state government, for the destruction of Lawrence, for the utter crushing out of all anti-slavery sentiment in the Territory, and for the establishment of the Territorial enactments as the supreme and unquestioned law of the Territory.

It will he remembered that on the commencement of the Wakarusa troubles, S. N. Wood and others engaged in the Branson rescue had absented themselves, in order that Lawrence should not become implicated by harboring them. Wood had visited the Eastern States, where, by his telling speeches, he had done much to increase the interest in Kansas affairs and stimulate a furor of emigration to the scene of conflict, of ardent men, who, informed of the danger, were coming prepared to take the chances. He had thus, during his absence, rendered himself more obnoxious than ever to Jones and his gang. Soon after his return, April 19, Jones arrested him in the streets of Lawrence on the charge of rescuing Branson. The crowd gathered around and managed, without doing any personal violence, so hustle Jones away from his prisoner, or Wood away from his captor - at any rate they became separated, and Jones departed without his prisoner, amidst the jeers of the good-natured mob. He spent the night at Lecompton, and re-appeared in Lawrence the following (Sunday) morning just as the citizens were assembling for worship in the various churches. He had four additional warrants for persons who had indirectly aided him in losing his prisoner on the previous evening. Wood was nowhere to be found. Jones summoned some of the church-goers to his assistance. None of them responded. Their faces and their steps were set toward the sanctuary and they would not turn aside. A crowd less piously inclined gathered in the street and bandied epithets with the irate and frustrated Sheriff. In it Jones discovered Samuel F. Tappan, another of the Branson rescuers, who had already been once arrested for the offense, and had vainly sought a trial. The Sheriff promptly, and with perhaps undue earnestness, seized him by the collar, whereupon Tappan, with like promptness and undue earnestness, struck him a smart blow in the face. This was sufficient - violence had been used - and Jones again left, declaring that he would return with troops sufficient to make the arrests. He claimed that he had at that time forty names on his paper, against whom warrants should be served. He returned to Lecompton, and immediately informed the Governor that he had been resisted by the citizens of Lawrence in the performance of his official duties, his prisoners rescued from him, and himself assaulted, and called on him for sufficient military force to enable him to serve his warrants.

Gov. Shannon promptly answered the call, by requesting Col. Sumner to furnish an officer and six soldiers as a posse for the Sheriff. Accordingly, Lieut. McIntosh, with ten men, was detailed and sent to the assistance of the Sheriff, and a courteous letter sent to the Mayor of Lawrence, by Col. Sumner, notifying him of the sending of the detachment, disowning any knowledge of the merits of the case, or personal interest in them, and counseling obedience to the laws.

Jones appeared, with his posse of United Slates troops, in Lawrence, April 23, and arrested without resistance, John Hutchinson, E. D. Lyman, G. F. Warren, J. G. Fuller, F. Hunt. A. F. Smith, and others, all respectable citizens of the town, on the specious charge, made by him to obtain warrants for their arrest, of 'contempt of court,' inasmuch as they had not, on the previous Sabbath, answered his demand to aid him in the service of his writs. His prisoners were not, as they should have been, brought immediately before a Justice of the Peace or other local magistrate for examination, but held as prisoners in a tent, under the charge of the soldiers constituting the Sheriff's posse, until he might decide what disposition should be made of them. Nevertheless, no attempt was made to rescue them. The bait thus set by Jones to lure the citizens of Lawrence to destruction was too apparent, and nobody in that orderly town walked into the trap.

Jones decided to remain in the camp of Lieut. McIntosh for the night. He had a new warrant for the arrest of S. N. Wood, for larceny; and as Wood was not to be found, he tarried.

Late in the evening, Jones was fired at, from the darkness without, three times. The third shot took effect between his shoulders, in a place to bring him down. He was immediately carried to the Free State Hotel, and carefully attended by the citizens, and Dr. Stringfellow, his particular friend, who, with Whitfield, was attending the sessions of the investigating committee.

The shooting of Jones was unfortunate for the citizens of Lawrence. Nobody knew then. nor has it ever been proven to this day, who fired the shot.*

* Charley Lenhart, a young printer, is believed to have been the man who fired the shot. He subsequently led a wild life as a Free-state guerrilla, and died during the war in Arkansas, being at the time a member of an Indian regiment and holding the rank of Lieutenant. He died in hospital, of consumption. Jones himself, conscience-stricken, thought his would-be assassin was a man who, in jealousy, sought his death on account of his (Jones) interference with his marital rights.

The citizens did all possible to alleviate the suffering of Jones and to preserve his life. They also promptly assembled and publicly condemned the outrage, of which they were entirely innocent. The meeting was addressed by A. H. Reeder, Charles Robinson, and other leading Free-state men, all denouncing without stint the dastardly act. The resolutions passed condemned the act, disavowed any sympathy with the assassin, and pledged the citizens to do what lay in their power to apprehend and punish him.

George W. Deitzler, as Secretary of the Committee of Safety of Lawrence, offered a reward of $500 for the apprehension of the assassin, and undue sympathy was showered upon the wounded Sheriff by the citizens.

Notwithstanding the prompt and well-known disavowal of the act by the citizens of Lawrence, the unscrupulous Pro-slavery press seized upon the circumstance to still further inflame the Pro-slavery mob of western Missouri. The Squatter Sovereign, the Leavenworth Herald, and all the smaller papers over the border, announced the murder of Jones, and called on his friends to immediately come over and avenge his death. Not one of them ever published the proceedings of the indignation meeting held in Lawrence, nor the fact that he was alive, not dangerously hurt, was tenderly cared for by the citizens of Lawrence, and able to be removed to Franklin on the next day after the assault.

Col. Sumner, in response to information from Lieut. McIntosh, had, with his command, reached Lecompton. He was there informed that his further presence was unnecessary, as the persons against whom writs were issued had all fled from Lawrence. He accordingly returned to Fort Leavenworth with the main body of his troops, leaving a small detachment at Lecompton, subject to the order of the Governor. Just previous to his return, the following correspondence passed between him and Gov. Robinson:


April 27, 1856.

SIR-As there are no municipal officers in the town of Lawrence, I think proper to address you before returning to my post. The recent attempt made upon the life of Sheriff Jones will produce great excitement throughout the Territory and on the Missouri frontier, and I consider it of the utmost importance that every effort should he made by your people to ferret out and bring to justice the cowardly assassin. It is not too much to say that the peace of the country may depend on it for if he is not arrested, the act will be charged by the opposite party upon your whole community. This affair has been reported to Washington, and whatever orders may be received will be instantly carried into effect. The proclamation, which requires obedience to the laws of the Territory as they now stand until legally abrogated will certainly be maintained, and it is very unsafe to give heed to people at a distance who counsel resistance. If they were here to participate in the danger, they would probably take a different view of this matter.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. V. SUMNER, Colonel First Cavalry Commanding.



LAWRENCE, K. T., April 27, 1856.

SIR - Your note of this morning is received, and in answer permit me to say that the cowardly attack upon Mr. Jones receives no countenance whatever from the citizens of Lawrence, but, on the contrary, meets with universal condemnation, and if the guilty party can he found, he will most certainly be given over to justice. It is and has been the policy of the people of Lawrence to yield prompt obedience to the laws and officers of the Federal Government, and as Mr. Jones was acting with the authority of that Government on the day of the assault, the guilty party was an enemy to the citizens of Lawrence, no less than a violator of the laws. The people of Lawrence are without any organized municipal government, and consequently no person or persons can speak or act officially for them, but, from what I know of their feelings and disposition, I have no hesitation in saying that they will ever be found loyal citizens of the Government and ready to do all in their power to maintain the laws of their country.

As an evidence of the public sentiment of this community, I inclose (sic) a copy of the proceedings of a public meeting held on the morning after the unfortunate affair occurred.

Very respectfully your obedient servant,



The Law and Order men took immediate advantage of the event, to not only precipitate a conflict, but to break up if possible the work of the investigating committee then in Session at Lawrence. Whitfield affected to be panic stricken, averred that no man's life was safe in Lawrence, and that it was impossible to induce the attendance of witnesses there. He urged the committee to adjourn, and went so far as to state his belief "that the commission was at an end; they might as well return to Washington." He betook himself to Franklin for safety, then to Lecompton, and, finally, as the committee continued its work without interruption, again returned to Lawrence to attend its sessions.

On the disabling of Jones, his warrants were turned over to one Samuel Salters, who, as Deputy Sheriff, scoured the country in search of persons whom he desired to arrest, with a posse of United States Dragoons at his heels, who, it is truth to state, had no heart in the work they were ordered to perform, nor respect for the officer they were ordered to assist. His efforts resulted only in terrifying the families of the Free-state settlers, and in forcing the men he sought to leave the county or otherwise avoid him. He made few arrests.

Along the border, there was only such lynch law for the Free-state men as the 'Law and Order' party chose to dispense. Pardee Butler was again seized in the streets of Atchison,* threatened, buffeted, and otherwise shamefully abused, then stripped, served with a coat of tar and cotton, and sent out of town. No Abolitionist was allowed to peaceably walk the streets of that town.

* See History of Atchison County.

On April 28, J. N Mace gave his testimony before the committee, concerning the outrage at the March election of 1855, at Bloomington, near where he lived. On that night he was attacked at his own house, wounded, and left by his assailants. No writs were issued for the apprehension of the perpetrators of these, nor the numberless other like crimes committed on the Free-state people, nor did Gov. Shannon or any other official see fit to telegraph, or write concerning them, to Washington. United States troops were not brought into requisition to quell the disorders rife all over the Territory, except where they might be used to humiliate the citizens of Lawrence, or to exasperate them to disloyal acts, which, from the beginning, they had studiously avoided.

Up to May 1, all efforts to break up the investigation or to bring the Free-State men into collision with the United States forces had signally failed, and new tactics were at that time adopted.

[TOC] [part 31] [part 29] [Cutler's History]