|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
EXCITEMENT IN THE NORTHERN STATES, PART 1.
The news of the sack of Lawrence fanned anew the flame of excitement throughout the Northern States. The tone of the papers, the resolutions of the public meetings held all over the North to consider and discuss Kansas affairs, the voice of the Northern pulpit - all were warlike. Henry Ward Beecher, then in his glorious prime, advocated sending Sharpe's rifles, instead of Bibles, to Kansas, and pledged his Brooklyn parish to furnish a definite number. The emigration fever raged with increasing heat, complicated with a fighting delirium which boded no good to the Pro-slavery party, which had thus far held Kansas by the throat. Every party that set out came prepared for defense; and many came eager for the fray. There were fewer women and children, less house-luggage, fewer agricultural implements; more men, more arms, more ammunition.
The peaceful organizations known as Emigrant Aid Societies, working for the legitimate end of assisting bona-fide settlers in establishing themselves in their Kansas homes, were overshadowed by Kansas Aid Societies, whose avowed object was, with men and money to aid them in defending them. The movement took full possession of the North. Monster meetings were held in the large cities, immense sums raised and companies of emigrants organized to proceed forthwith to the field of contest. Col. Lane, Col. Wood, Gov. Reeder, S. C. Pomeroy, Col. Holliday and other Free-State men from Kansas, many of whom were under indictment for treason, canvassed the States, speaking nightly to excited crowds, and arousing the most intense sympathy in behalf of the suffering Free-State settlers of the Territory.
One of the earliest and most enthusiastic Kansas meetings held was at Chicago, Saturday evening, May 31, in court house square. The Kansas speakers were Col. James H. Lane and Mr. Hinman, "fresh from the smoking ruins of Lawrence." The Chicago Daily Tribune, June 2, gave a two-column report of the meeting under such head-lines as these: "Illinois Alive and Awake!" "$10,000 Freemen in Council!" "2,000 Old Hunkers on Hand!" "$15,000 Subscribed for Kansas!!!"
Hon. Norman Judd presided, and made the opening speech. He was followed by Francis A. Hoffman. J. C. Vaughn, in an eloquent speech, presented the claims of Kansas for immediate relief, and offered the following resolutions:
Resolved - That the people of Illinois will aid the Freedom of Kansas.
Following the reading of the resolutions, they were seconded by Peter Page, Esq., and passed amidst the most enthusiastic and prolonged cheering.
Next, Hon. W. B. Egan, one of the most eloquent Irish orators of the city, spoke to his Irish fellow-citizens, rousing them to the highest pitch of excitement.
The President then introduced Col. James H. Lane, of Kansas. As he rose up and came forward, he was greeted with an outburst of applause from the crowd that continued for some minutes, during which time he stood statue-like, with mouth firm set, gazing with those wondrous eyes down into the very heart of the excited throng. Before the applause had subsided sufficiently for his voice to be heard, the fascinating spell of his presence had already seized upon the whole vast audience, and for the next hour he controlled its every emotion - moving to tears, to anger, to laughter, to scorn, to the wildest enthusiasm, at his will. No man of his time possessed such magnetic power over a vast miscellaneous assembly of men as he. With two possible exceptions (Patrick Henry and S. S. Prentiss), no American orator ever equaled him in effective stump-speaking, or in the irresistible power by which he held his audiences in absolute control. On that night he was at his best. It was doubtless the ablest and most effective oratorical effort of his life. No full report of it was given at the time. One of the hundreds of young men made Kansas-crazy by the speech, and who forthwith left all and followed him to Kansas, thus wrote of it twenty years after.* (* Col. S. S. Prouty.)
He was fresh from the scenes of dispute in the belligerent Territory. He made a characteristic speech, teeming with invective extravagance, impetuosity, denunciation and eloquence. The grass on the prairie is swayed no more easily by the winds than was this vast assemblage by the utterances of this speaker. They saw the contending factions in the Territory through his glasses. The Pro-slavery party appeared like demons and assassins; the Free-State party like heroes and martyrs. He infused them with his warlike spirit and enthusiastic ardor for the practical champions of freedom. Their response to his appeals for succor for the struggling freemen was immediate and decisive.
It is doubtful if the writer of the above, or any other of the ten thousand hearers of that night, can recall a single sentence of his speech. The emotions aroused were so overwhelming as to entirely obliterate from memory the spoken words. A few broken extracts are preserved below. He began:
I have been sent by the people of Kansas to plead their cause before the people of the North. Most persons have a very erroneous idea of the people of Kansas. They think they are mostly from Massachusetts. They are really more than nine-tenths from the Northwestern States. There are more men from Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, than from all New England and New York combine.
Speaking of the President, he said:
Of Franklin Pierce I have a right to talk as I please, having made more than one hundred speeches advocating his election, and having also, as one of the electors of Indiana, case the electoral vote of that State for him. Frank was, in part, the creature of my own hands; and a pretty job they made of it. The one pre-eminent wish of mine now is that Frank may be hurled from the White House; and that the nine memorials sent him from the outraged citizens of Kansas detailing their wrongs, may be dragged out of his iron box.
Of the climate of Kansas, he said:
Kansas is the Italy of America. The corn and the vine grow there so gloriously that they seem to be glad and to thank the farmers for planting them. It is a climate like that of Illinois, but milder. Invalids instead of going to Italy, when the country became known, would go to Kansas, to gather new life beneath its fair sky and from its balmy airs. The wild grapes of Kansas are as large and luscious as those that grow in the vineyards of Southern France.
He alluded to Col. W. H. Bissell, then the Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois, as follows:
It is true I was side by side with your gallant and noble Bissell at Buena Vista and in Congress. I wish I could describe to you the scene on the morning preceding that glorious battle. On a ridge stood Clay, Bissell, McKee, Hardin and myself. Before us were twenty thousand armed enemies. It was a beautiful morning, and the sun shone bright upon the polished lances and muskets of the enemy, and their banners waved proudly in the breeze. In our rear the lofty mountains reached skyward, and their bases swarmed with enemies ready to rob the dead and murder the wounded when the battle was over. Around us stood five ragged regiments of volunteers, two from Illinois, two from Indiana, and one from Kentucky; they were bone of your bone, blood of your blood, and it was only when you were near enough to look into their eyes that you could see the d---l was in them. It did not then occur to me that I should be indicted for treason because I loved liberty better than slavery.
He then gave a warm and glowing tribute to Col. Bissell, his brother-in-arms.
Then followed a most vivid and awful narrative of the outrages perpetrated upon the Free States' men by the Missouri ruffians; so vivid that the Osawatomie murders seemed but merited retaliation, and most sweet revenge to his excited hearers.
The Missourians (said he), poured over the border in thousands, with bowie knives in their boots, their belts bristling with revolvers, their guns upon their shoulders, and three gallons of whisky per vote in their wagons. When asked where they came from, their reply was, "From Missouri;" when asked, "What are you here for?" their reply was, "Come to vote." If any one should go there and attempt to deny these things, or apologize for them, the Missourians would spit upon him. They claim to own Kansas, to have a right to vote there and to make its laws, and to say what its institutions shall be.
Col. Lane held up the volume of the Statutes of Kansas, then proceeded to read from it, commenting as he read:
The Legislature first passed acts virtually repealing the larger portion of the Constitution of the United States, and then repealed, as coolly (sic) as one would take a chew of tobacco, provisions of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. Of this bill I have a right to speak - God forgive me for so enormous and dreadful a political sin - I voted for the bill. I thought the people were to have the right to form their own institutions, and went to Kansas to organize the Democratic party there, and make the State Democratic, but the Missouri invaders poured in - the ballot boxes were desecrated - the bogus Legislature was elected by armed mobs - you know the rest.He concluded his scathing review of the infamous code as follows:
Is there an Illinoisan who says enforce these monstrous iniquities called laws? - show me the man. The people of Kansas never will obey them. They are being butchered, and one and all will die first! As for myself, I am going back to Kansas, where there is an indictment pending against me for high treason. Were the rope about my neck, I would say that as to the Kansas code it shall not be enforced - never! - NEVER!"
Following, he argued, elaborately and conclusively, the rights of Kansas to come into the Union as a Free State "now". He closed his speech with a detailed account of the murders and outrages perpetrated upon the Free-State settlers, given with a masterly power of tragic delineation which brought each particular horror, blood-red and distinct, before the eyes of the excited throng. He knew of fourteen cases of tar and feathering - "the most awful and humiliating outrage ever inflicted on man." He told of Dow, shot dead while holding up his hands as a sign of his defenselessness; lying, like a dead dog, in the road all the long day, until in the evening his friends found his body, dabbled in his life blood, and bore it away; Barber, unarmed, shot on the highway, brought dead to Lawrence, where his frantic wife, a childless widow, mid shrieks of anguish, kissed the pallid lips that of her were silent evermore - Brown, stabbed, pounded, hacked with a hatchet, bleeding and dying, kicked into the presence of his wife, where in agony he breathed out his life - she, now a maniac, --- A voice from the crowd called. "Who was Brown?" Lane continued:
Brown was as gallant a spirit as ever went to his God! And a Democrat at that - not one of the Pro-slavery fragment, though. For the blood of free men shed on the soil of Kansas - for the blood now flowing in the streets of Lawrence - for every drop which has been shed since the people asked to be admitted as a State, the Administration is responsible. Before God and this people I arraign Frank Pierce as a murderer!
The Chicago Tribune, in its report of the meeting, June 2 says
We regret we can only give a meager outline of the eloquent and telling effort of Col. Lane. He was listened to with the deepest interest and attention by the vast throng, and as he detailed the series of infamous outrages inflicted upon the freemen of Kansas, the people were breathless with mortification and anger, and wild with enthusiasm to avenge those wrongs. During Col. Lane's address, he was often interrupted by the wildest applause, or by deep groans for Pierce, Douglas, Atchison, and the dough-faces and ruffians who had oppressed Kansas, and by cheers for Sumner, Robinson, and other noble men who have dared and suffered for liberty.
The subscriptions in money, given by upward of two hundred different persons and firms, in sums ranging in amount from $500 down to 10 cents - the latter sum being given by a boy, all he had - amounted to over $15,000. IN addition were given the following utensils and supplies, for the use and comfort of the emigrants. The names of the donors and explanatory notes are given, as reported:
F. R. Gardiner, six rifles, three with double barrels, sure as each pop.
This meeting* although not the first of a like character held in the Northwest during that spring, was remarkable as being the first great outburst of enthusiasm, which, breaking local bounds, spread to every town and hamlet from the Mississippi to the Atlantic coast. It was the "little cloud no larger than a man's hand" which forthwith spread over the whole heavens, and out of it came money, and arms, and ammunition, and a ceaseless tide of emigrants and troops of armed men - all setting Kansas-ward. Out of it came "Lane's Army of the North," in the imagination of the frightened Pro-slavery Kansans and Missourians, "a mighty host terrible with banners," coming, in uncertain but irresistible force, by a route indefinitely defined as from the north, to sweep as with the besom of destruction, the Territory clean of the Territorial laws and every man who had advocated their enforcement. The army proved neither so numerous in numbers nor so terrible in its vengeful visitations on the Pro-slavery settlers, as to justify their fearful apprehensions; nevertheless, its heralded approach inspired the Free-State settlers with renewed courage, opened a new path of immigration into the Territory, and proved one of the many great moral forces which brought victory and peace at last.
The tide of emigration, moving by the inspiration of the spirit born at the Chicago meeting from all parts of the North, was met and temporarily stayed on the Missouri River. A part, turning to the route of the "Army of the North," entered the Territory through Iowa and Nebraska, while many, the numbers increasing from month to month, waited at different points near the eastern border until the obstructions had disappeared, and then poured into the Territory in such overwhelming numbers as to assure the State to freedom evermore.
A colony from New Haven, Conn., had also been equipped with Sharpe's rifles as early as the middle of March (twenty-five rifles were pledged them by Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, and furnished by members of his church). This company arrived in the Territory about the middle of April, and settled in Wabaunsee County.
A party from McLean County, Ill., were on their way early in April, with arms sufficiently numerous to cause them to be robbed and forbidden entrance into the Territory by the Missourians.
Many other parties from different parts of the country were on their way
during the latter part of April, all carrying more or less arms for defense,