|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
EXCITEMENT IN THE NORTHERN STATES, PART 2.
THE KANSAS AID MOVEMENT OF 1856.
The committee appointed by the Chicago meeting completed the organization at once and went immediately to the work of arming and fitting out a pioneer company of picked men, of whom more will appear further on in the narrative. A party of emigrants from McLean County, having been driven back by the Missourians, the citizens of that county had, under the lead of W. F. Arney, raised a considerable sum of money, and an armed company for the purpose of "removing the obstructions to the peaceful emigration of Free-State men to the Territory." Mr. Arney made arrangements with the Chicago committee, whereby the work of the two societies having one common object and aim, became co-operative, and were virtually merged into one organization. After this consolidation, the work was rapidly extended throughout Illinois and into neighboring States, the Executive Committee having its headquarters at Chicago.
By July 1, the Kansas aid movement had become general throughout the North, and at a meeting of the friends of Kansas, held at Buffalo, N. Y., a general organization for more effectively carrying on the work of aiding Kansas Free-State settlers, was effected, embracing all the Free States except Massachusetts.
The National Kansas Committee appointed at that time was comprised of one member from each Free State, excepting Illinois, which had three representatives, and Massachusetts working independently under a separate organization. The President of this committee was Hon. Thaddeus Hyatt, of New York.
The Executive Committee, with headquarters at Chicago, was composed of J. D. Webster, Chairman; George W. Dole, Treasurer, and H. B. Hurd, Secretary. The duty of the committee was "to receive, forward and distribute the contributions of the people, whether provisions, arms or clothing, to the needy in Kansas."
With this national organization the Chicago organization co-operated ever after its formation. The committee continued the work until January, 1857, at which time the directors held their last meeting in New York. The mission of the organization was decided to be virtually accomplished and its further work suspended. During the six months of its existence, and its further work suspended. During the six months of its existence, the Executive Committee at Chicago received and distributed nearly $120,000, besides immense quantities of arms, provisions and clothing. In addition, large shipments were made direct to particular localities in Kansas, from the auxiliary societies scattered throughout the Northern States; $10,000 of the cash received by the Executive Committee was expended for arms. The total value of the shipments made to Kansas and aid furnished aggregated nearly $200,000. Something over half of this value probably reached its destination; the remainder, during the disordered times of the summer and early fall, was intercepted and destroyed or appropriated by the numerous bands of Pro-slavery regulators who infested all the landings on the Upper Missouri, plundering Free-State emigrants indiscriminately in the name of "law and order." The exact value of the property thus destroyed or diverted form its destination cannot be ascertained.
The Boston Relief Committee was organized early in the spring, and had, by June 1, collected about $20,000, a large part having been donated by citizens of Boston and vicinity. Early in that month, the Kansas State Committee was organized and the work of relief became general throughout Massachusetts. The work of the Boston Committee was merged into that of the State. George L. Stearns was the moving spirit, and Chairman of the State Committee. This committee kept up its organization long after the National Committee had ceased its work. It did not finally close its labors until the spring of 1858. Besides large contributions of clothing, the money furnished amounted to nearly $80,000, a large part of which was contributed and expended during the summer and fall of 1856. Up to August, 1856, no arms were sent to Kansas by this committee - only money, provisions and clothing. Later, the navigation of the Missouri being closed, not only to Free-State emigrants, but to all freight shipped to Free-State residents, in response to earnest appeals from Kansas for arms, a liberal quantity was shipped. Two hundred Sharpe's rifles, with ammunition, forwarded to the territory via Iowa, were detained at Mt. Tabor, Iowa, and never reached their destination. By some means they afterward fell into the possession of Old John Brown, and were taken by him, or under his orders, to Harper's Ferry, where they constituted a part of his military outfit in his last and fatal effort in behalf of the slaves.
The influence of these associations in rescuing Kansas, in the time of her direst extremity, and saving her from the well-nigh successful machinations of the slave power, can scarcely be over-rated. The Pro-slavery party had believed it an easy task (virtually accomplished when Lawrence had been sacked) to force and intimidate into submission and allegiance to the Territorial laws the Free-State settlers already in the Territory, and by a show of overwhelming force and determination - rendered doubly formidable by the arrival of the fighting companies from South Carolina, Georgia and other Southern States, and having the apparent countenance of the National Government and the Territorial officials - to so show the futility of past efforts to colonize the territory with Free-State settlers, as to discourage further emigration to Kansas from the Free States.
The unexpected outbreak of aggressive retaliation which immediately followed the sack of Lawrence, the arrival and settlement of the New Haven (Sharpe's rifle) party in the territory; the knowledge that the Milwaukee Company was moving toward Kansas, through Iowa, receiving constant accessions of Free-State emigrants as they moved; the announced departure and near approach, via the Missouri River, of the McLean County emigrants, and news of a hundred other small parties on the way from nearly every Northern State, the accounts of whose departure and progress toward Kansas filled the columns of every newspaper received, gave evidence that the work of subjugation, instead of being accomplished, was but just begun, and gave the Pro-slavery propagandists just cause for serious apprehensions as to the final result, should this heralded swarm of coming "Abolitionists" be allowed to enter the territory, to re-enforce their suffering friends.
The accounts of the great Chicago meeting, and rumors of the formation of "Lane's Army of the North," reached Leavenworth and the other Pro-slavery towns on either side of the Missouri, at nearly the same time that Gov. Shannon's proclamation was promulgated, and Col. Sumner was dispersing the armed bands south of the Kansas, and forcing the invaders to retire to Missouri. The proclamation, as has been before states, had caused a temporary suspension of proscription on the part of the self-constituted vigilance committees within the Territory, and actual settlers gained a short respite. The case was, however, becoming desperate, and desperate means were adopted to meet the emergency - means in open defiance of all law, and in direct violation of those inalienable human rights indispensable to the existence of civilized life, and which constitute the basis of all the codes of civilized men, viz., security of person, freedom of opinions and the inviolability of rightful proprietorship or possession.
In the name of law and order, a system of brigandage was adopted. From Lexington, Mo., to Easton, the ferries were guarded, and at every landing were stationed bands of armed men who boarded the boats as they came up the river, catechized the emigrants as to their destination and their opinions on the slavery question, disarmed them, robbed them, and by intimidations or force, turned them back. The blockade was fairly begun as early as June 10. At the beginning, the operations of the brigands were confined to the seizing of arms and other articles deemed contraband, and the forcible detention of all parties whose arms predominated over their other baggage. Later, the blockade became absolute, Free-State emigrants were plundered indiscriminately, and no goods consigned to known Free-State residents could enter the Territory except by clandestine shipment. This last embargo gave rise to new disorders within the Territory, and reprisals were made upon the Pro-slavery residents without mercy, about Topeka, Lawrence and other places where the Free-State element predominated, and against which the embargo was most strictly enforced.
One of the earliest armed parties absolutely prohibited from entering the Territory by way of the Missouri River, was the first party, consisting of seventy-five men sent out under the auspices of the committee, chosen at the great Chicago meeting of May 31. They were well armed, had provisions for a year and agricultural implements and supplies sufficient to establish themselves as farmers, had they been allowed to enter the Territory. They were understood to be and were the vanguard of "Lane's Army of the North." They embarked on the steamboat Star of the West at Alton. On reaching Lexington, Mo., June 20, the steamer was boarded by a motley throng of armed men, largely outnumbering them, who were supported by a howling mob of uncertain proportions ashore. The party was surprised, their arms not accessible for immediate use, being nearly all stored together in one of the state-rooms. The leader of the boarding party was Col. Joe Shelby. In a short speech which admitted of no reply, they were informed that they must immediately give up their arms, and that if they chose to accede to the demand without delay or resistance, they would be permitted to proceed on their journey without further molestation; if not - not. A hasty consultation on the part of the surprised emigrants resulted in the discreet and unanimous decision to accept the terms, and, delivering up what of their arms were demanded, they continued their voyage up the river. At Kansas City, the boat was again boarded by a crowd. Conspicuous among them were David R. Atchison, B. F. Stringfellow and Maj. Buford with a part of his command, who became fellow-passengers as the boat proceeded up the river. As soon as the steamer was again under way, Stringfellow, as spokesman, informed the now disarmed and defenseless party that they were prisoners. That in no case would they be allowed to leave the boat until it returned to Alton, to which place they would be re-conveyed if they desired, and protected from outrage and insult, if they peacefully acquiesced in the arrangement; if not, and they should attempt to enter the Territory, "they should be hung - every mother's son of them" It is needless to say the proposition was accepted. Notwithstanding Stringfellow's promises, on arriving at Leavenworth a fresh company boarded the boat and proceeded to rob the prisoners of what they had left. At Weston they remained two days, during which they were kept confined in the cabin under a strong guard, then conveyed down the river and landed at the mouth of the Missouri, five miles above Alton, in a drenching rain, to make their way as best they could to Alton.
An account of this exploit appeared in the Squatter Sovereign on July 1, which magnified somewhat the valor of the brigands, and cast reflections (at a safe distance) on the courage of the disarmed company and Abolitionists in general. It was headed, "More Arms Captured! The Flower of the Abolition Army Taken! A Bloodless Victory!" and was as follows:
The steamer, Star of the West, having on board seventy-eight Chicago Abolitionists, said to be a picked company from the army of 800 men congregated there, was overhauled at Lexington, Mo., and the company disarmed. A large number of rifles and pistols were taken at Lexington, and a guard sent up on the boat to prevent them from landing in the Territory. After leaving Lexington, it was ascertained that they had not given up all their weapons, but still held possession of a great number of pistols and bowie knives, which were probably secreted while the search for arms was going on at Lexington. At Leavenworth City, Capt. Clarkson, with twenty-five men, went on board of the boat and demanded the surrender of all the arms in possession of the Abolitionists. Like whipped dogs they sneaked up to Clarkson, and laid down their weapons to him. We learn that about two bushels of revolvers, pistols and bowie knifes (sic) were captured at Leavenworth. On the way up the river they were boasting of what they would do, should any one attempt to molest them, and even went so far as to load their guns, just before coming in sight of Lexington. When they arrived at the Political Quarantine the whole party of seventy-eight, all of them "armed to the teeth," surrendered to a company of twenty "border ruffians." Here is bravery displayed on the part of the Abolitionists unparalleled in the annals of history! The flower of Lane's army are now prisoners of war, and will be shipped back home disgraced and cowed! If this is the material we have to encounter in Kansas, we have but little fear of the result. Fifty thousand of such "cattle" could not subdue the Spartan band now in possession of Kansas.
In the same issue, "Another Capture" is announced, thus:
A party of about twenty-five Abolitionists from Indiana and Illinois, on their way to this Territory, were recently captured in Platte County, Mo., disarmed and ordered back home. We learn that they had two guns apiece, with pistols and bowie knives in proportion, all of which fell into the hands of the "border ruffians." Their expectations were not realized, however, and in Platte County they received the order to "bout face" and marched for home, which they promptly did, just as all good soldiers should do. The Kansas road is a hard route for some people to travel.
The steamer Sultan met the Star of the West on her return with the Illinois company captives. Another party of Free-State men were aboard this boat on their way up the river to the Territory. This boat was boarded at Waverly, Mo., by the officers of the "political quarantine," as the Squatter Sovereign facetiously styled the ruffians, and the party plundered of their arms and turned back. This party was from Massachusetts and under the leadership of Dr. Cutter. The Leavenworth Herald, July 5, 1856, reports the occurrence thus:
The Sultan on Sunday last (June 29) brought up a company of Abolitionists, about seventy-five strong. They had been sent out, as they acknowledged, by the Aid Societies, and their arms were furnished from the same source. They, to, came prepared for civil war and to aid the outlaws. At Waverly, Mo., a few men and boys went aboard the boat and demanded a surrender of their arms. After a little parleying, about sixty rifles were given up. Subsequently, a little higher up the river, some fifteen or twenty more were discovered and taken. Some ten or twelve of these fellows threw their arms in the river rather than surrender them into the hands of the "border ruffians."
The Squatter Sovereign, less guarded and cautious in its rhetoric than its Pro-slavery contemporary at Leavenworth, dished up the Sultan affair in its columns thus:
The steamer Sultan, having on board, contraband, articles, was recently stopped at Leavenworth City and lightened of forty-four rifles and a large quantity of pistols and bowie knives, taken from a crowd of cowardly Yankees, shipped out here from Massachusetts. The boat was permitted to go up as far as Weston, where a guard was placed over the prisoners, and none of them permitted to land. They were shipped back form Weston on the same boat, without even being insured by the shippers. We do not fully approve of sending these criminals back to the East to be re-shipped to Kansas - if not through Missouri, through Iowa and Nebraska. We think they should meet a traitor's death, and the world could not censure us if we, in self-protection, have to resort to such ultra measures. We are of the opinion, if the citizens of Leavenworth City or Weston would hang one or two boat loads of Abolitionists it would do more toward establishing peace in Kansas than all the speeches that have been delivered in Congress during the present session. Let the experiment be tried
Speaking of the company on the Star of the West, the Leavenworth Herald said:
These men, as the Springfield, Ill., Register well says, are from the dens of infamy in Chicago, and styles them a "piratical crew." They came here to shriek for freedom, and would destroy the character of our institutions. Conservative men everywhere frown upon this movement of the Northern Aid Societies, and it should curse and politically damn every man in this Territory connected with the movement.
The same paper has an account of the disarming of twenty-five Abolitionists from Ottawa, Ill., who had landed in Leavenworth July 2.
The steamer Arabia, June 28, on its way up the Missouri, with a party of Illinois emigrants, under the lead of Rev. Mr. Strawn, was boarded at one of the Missouri landings by the Law and Order patrol, who robbed the party and turned them back. Mr. Strawn succeeded in reaching the Territory and applied to Gov. Shannon, Col. Sumner and Hudge Lecompte for assistance in the recovery of the property taken, in vain.
The blockade of the Missouri was complete as early as July 4. The tide of immigration, however, did not cease; it was diverted and sought the Territory by a northern route through the free Territory of Iowa and Nebraska. The outrages seemed to have the unexpected result of stimulating the North to greater activity in the work of populating the Territory. The arrogant, bold and insolent manner in which these outrages were published in the Pro-slavery papers, examples of which appear in the foregoing pages, enraged the Northern people more than the outrages themselves, and engendered an aggressive spirit that had not before existed. It is doubtful in any single agency was more potent in stimulating the North and in increasing Northern emigration to Kansas during the summer of 1856, that the Squatter Sovereign, of Atchison. Its editorials, gloating over the outrages perpetrated on the Abolitionists, and advocating wholesale murder "by the boat load," were read in every Kansas meeting, and stirred the people to more intense indignation than the speeches of even Lane himself. Many a Free-State settler of to-day dates his determination to help make Kansas free from the time when he read or heard read some editorial or extract from that paper, written to fire the Southern heart.
No sooner was the blockade complete along the Missouri border than ominous reports from the North, more frequent and more alarming each day, came to vex the already anxious and over-burdened souls of the Pro-slavery patriots. Emigrants were flocking in by thousands armed to the teeth; Lane's Army was on the march, eight hundred strong, it would enter the Territory, its objective point being Topeka, which it would reach in time to guard the Topeka Free-State Legislature, which was to convene on July 4; Lane had sworn his roundest oaths all through the North to defend the Topeka Legislature to the last drop of blood, even against United States troops; he had raised an army for the purpose, composed of men as desperate as himself, from the slums of Chicago and other northern cities - these and a thousand other dangers, exaggerated by their fear of retribution, beset them before and behind. The days of brag were gone and the days of fighting had come. The Pro-slavery papers began to take on the tone of abused innocence. "No Pro-slavery man was safe o'nights. They were being murdered in cold blood all over the Territory by the Abolitionists. Their Missouri friends when marching to their aid were turned back by United States troops." These and other grievances were set forth in the newspapers. An elaborate statement of the situation was published and circulated throughout the South. It was entitled, "An Appeal by the Law and Order Party of Kansas Territory to their Friends in the South," and was issued over the signatures of the following named gentlemen, members of the Law and Order party of Kansas: David R. Atchison, Missouri; J. Buford, South Carolina; W. H. Russell, Joseph C. Anderson, B. F. Stringfellow and A. G. Boone, of Weston, Mo. It began thus:
That a state of insurrection and civil war exists among us, is abundantly evident. The Law and Order party of the one side, opposed on the other by the Abolitionists, who are backed up and sustained by the Emigrant Aid Societies of the North. A brief review of the points at issue, and their controlling circumstances, may be useful, to justify this, our appeal for aid. In Territorial politics, the question of Free or Slave State has swallowed up every other. The Abolitionists on the one hand, in accordance with their early teaching, regard slavery as the greatest possible evil. They deem it a monstrous national evil, which their false theories of government impute equally to every portion of the confederacy, and thus feeling themselves individually responsible for its existence, they feel bound each to struggle for its overthrow; to such extremes have wicked demagogues stimulated their fanaticism, that their perverted consciences justify any mode of warfare against salve-holders, however much in violation of law, however destructive of property or human life, and however atrociously wicked it may seem to others; nay, many of them already go so far as to oppose all religion, property, law, order and subordination among men as subversive of what they are pleased to call man's natural and inherent equality. And with them it is no mere local question of whether slavery shall exist in Kansas or not, but one of far wider significance; a question of whether it shall exist anywhere in the Union. Kansas, they justly regard as the mere outpost in the war now being waged between the antagonistic civilizations of the North and the South; and winning this great outpost and stand-point, they rightly think their march will be open to an easy conquest of the whole field. Hence, the extraordinary means the Abolition party has adopted to flood Kansas with the most fanatical and lawless portion of Northern society; and hence, the large sums of money they have expended to surround their brother Missourians with obnoxious and dangerous neighbors.
Then followed a discussion of the economical phases of the question, a portrayal of the evils that an Abolition triumph would bring upon the white race, and a recital of the lawless and insurrectionary acts of the Abolitionists:
While we, in good faith, sustain and uphold the laws, the Abolitionists, on the other hand, in effect, repudiate and set them at defiance; with open disloyalty they assert the invalidity of the Territorial laws, while they render our national insignia only the mockery of a hollow respect; indeed, more than once, they have openly resisted the Marshal in the service of processes, and in some places their organized armed resistance to the Territorial laws is so overwhelming, that ministers of the law there never attempt the discharge of their official duties; they have repudiated the payment of taxes, and have held and published the proceedings of large public meetings, in which they resolved to resist, event to blood, the Territorial laws, and especially the laws for the collection of public revenue.
Following were given accounts of many outrages committed upon Pro-slavery settlers, among which the Osawatomie murders stood out in bold relief as the crowning horror. The introduction of Federal troops to quell the disturbance was decried, as it had "not only proved no protection to our friends, but (and perhaps without being so intended) on the contrary, by preventing our armed organizations for self-defense, it has so worked as to permit the lawless desperadoes that infest the country to separate into little marauding parties and plunder and murder with impunity."
The committee made an urgent appeal for immediate aid in men and money, proposed the sending in of large parties well provisioned, to counteract the influence of Eastern and Northern emigrants, who, as stated in the appeal, were to be introduced in large numbers during the coming month, "to put their treasonable pretended Government into operation by force."
The "Army of the North" was put down in the long category of impending dangers thus:
It is widely reported and generally believed, that the Northern Abolitionists are now raising large bodies of armed men, under military organization and discipline, to be surreptitiously introduced into the Territory, for the objects of driving out the peaceable inhabitants, setting the law at defiance by armed force, and overwhelming the Law and Order party at the decisive election for a Territorial Legislature, to come off on the 1st Monday of October next. It is not improbably they may partially succeed in their aim, their faculty for misrepresentation is so extraordinary, so fatally bent on mischief; their papers, for instance, show up the Osawatomie massacre as an outrage of our own. According to their account, five Pro-slavery men were hanging an Abolitionist, when his five friends providentially came up and shot them in the act.
This appeal had an extensive circulation in the South, where it was read and implicitly relied on as a truthful statement of the condition of affairs. Together with letters from Buford's men and the personal appeals of emissaries sent South in the interest of the Law and Order sufferers, it aroused the sympathy of the South in behalf of its friends, to a point of intense earnestness only equaled by that which raged in the North. The Southern people lacked, however, the migratory instincts characteristic of those of the North; moreover, the safety of their slaves, which alone gave value to the promised land, was not yet assured. Hence, the excitement did not eventuate in such a general rush of emigration as in the North; only a moderate number, entirely inadequate to meet the emergency, came to Kansas in response to the call.
Gov. Shannon's proclamation and the consequent expulsion of the armed Missourians from Kansas, gave great dissatisfaction to his Pro-slavery friends. His vacillation and general instability of purpose and action enveloped in a haze of uncertainty their best-laid plans; professing to be in full sympathy with them, he had encouraged them by word and deed to the course they had pursued, only to lose nerve himself at the critical point, where they most needed his support. He had thus twice snatched victory from their grasp, and, if he had not gone over to their enemies, had interposed his authority for their protection, at the supreme moment when their annihilation seemed assured. He thus came to be condemned by the one party as he was despised by the other. None knew better than Gov. Shannon himself that his career as Governor of Kansas had proved a most contemptible failure, calculated to tarnish, rather than increase the luster of his previous reputation. He appreciated keenly the humiliating position. He knew that his power for good or evil in the Territory had departed. He knew that his official days were numbered. To avoid the added disgrace of a removal from office for incompetency, five days after he issued his proclamation, he wrote to the President, tendering his resignation. Pending its acceptance and the appointment of his successor, he continued to act as Governor when in the Territory.
Among others who strongly protested to the Governor against the expulsion of his armed men from the Territory was Maj. Buford, of South Carolina, who, it will be remembered, had arrived in the Territory early in the spring with a large party, had, with them, constituted a part of the armed posse at the sack of Lawrence, and was still foraging on the settlers a few miles south of Lawrence, when ordered by Sumner to leave the Territory and disband his forces. He complained of the harshness of the measure, claimed that his men were bona fide settlers, or immigrants seeking to become such by peaceably locating claims in the Territory. Gov. Shannon's reply, in which he also informed him of his resignation, was as follows:
EXECUTIVE OFFICE, JUNE 10, 1856, LECOMPTON, K. T.
The Governor was delayed nearly two weeks thereafter, but left the Territory, as was announced, on official business June 23, writing Col. Sumner on the day he left, that "if this pretended legislative body (the Topeka Legislature) should meet as proposed, you will disperse them, peaceably, if you can, forcibly, if necessary. Should they re-assemble at some other place, or at the same place, you will take care that they again be dispersed. The civil authorities will be instructed to co-operate with you if it is found necessary in order to break up this illegal body and to institute proceedings against the several members under the above statute" (the Territorial law). From St. Louis, he wrote the President on the 27th, giving him detailed account of the desperate condition in which he had left affairs in the Territory. He remained absent from the Territory some three weeks, during which time Secretary Daniel Woodson was Acting Governor. His first official act was to order Col. P. St. George Cooke, then in command at Fort Riley, to "take the field" and "scour the country between Fort Riley, and the Topeka Crossing for the purpose of repelling the expected armed invasion from the North."
As the time appointed for the convening of the Free-State Legislature approached, there was renewed military activity along the border. Great preparations were being made for a fresh invasion. Buford's band of emigrants, under his command, were armed and under drill, preparatory to again entering the Territory. Numerous other companies were organized and ready to march. The combined force was to march on Topeka, there disperse that disloyal and revolutionary body, and, in case of resistance, destroy the town. The proposed invasion was not consummated. The great issue of a Presidential election was pending in the States, and another invasion from Missouri at this time might jeopardize the result. The Pro-slavery leaders at Washington dared not risk the consequences. Secret orders were sent from Washington to allow no armed bodies of men from without the Territory to enter it, to use all the United States forces for the purpose of dispensing the Legislature. In case of another invasion, the Territorial officials were also given to understand that their further services and emoluments would be immediately cut off, by placing the whole Territory under martial law. It was not difficult for the Acting Governor to perceive, in light of his instructions and information, that neither his own personal prosperity nor the advancement of the Pro-slavery cause, which he had so much at heart, required the presence of immediate assistance of his Missouri friends who were waiting his commands upon the border. On his statement of the obstructions which the orders from Washington placed in the way of their proposed march, and with assurances that ample preparations had been made for the forcible dispersion of the Legislature by United States troops against any force the Free-State men could muster, the proposed invasion was reluctantly abandoned for the time being. The Free-State men, ignorant of the fact that the danger from Missouri had been averted, made preparations, in case of any attempt at dispersion from that quarter, to defend themselves. They did not, however intend to resist the authority of the Government when enforced by Federal troops. It was the Missourians they were prepared to fight, and the Missourians did not, as was expected, appear.