|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNOR WALKER.
Gov. Walker arrived in Kansas May 25, 1857. He came up the Missouri on the New Lucy, from which he disembarked at Leavenworth, accompanied by Mr. Patrick H. Carey (his stenographer and private secretary), Mr. Perrin and Mr. McClelland. He was courteously received by citizens of both parties, a large number gathering in front of the Planters' Hotel, in expectation of hearing the almost inevitable speech; but this time the sovereign people were disappointed, Gov. Walker excusing himself on the plea of fatigue. Not willing entirely to forego their pet privilege and pleasure, the citizens moved to the Shawnee House, and heard speeches from James Lane and Mr. Perrin. Gov. Walker, with his companions, left the following day for Lecompton, where he delivered his inaugural speech on the 27th. It was cautious and studied in its phraseology, and had been through the crucible of careful revision at Washington. It might therefore be taken as the full exposition of the proposed Kansas policy of new administration, as well as his own. Extracts are given below sufficient to show that the extremists of neither party could receive it with unalloyed satisfaction or confidence.
Ignoring the Topeka Free-State Constitution, Gov. Walker proceeded to the discussion of the law providing for the framing of a State Constitution, which had recently been passed by the Legislature, and under which the census and apportionment for delegates had been already made. He assumed that the authority of the Legislature to call such conventions was beyond question, as it had been called into being by the Congress of '54, was recognized by the very latest Congressional legislation, and by the present Chief Magistrate, just chosen by the American people, many of its acts being then in operation in the Territory by general consent. Opposition to it was resistance to the authority of the Federal Government.
He next urged the necessity of a free participation by all legal voters in the coming election of delegates. The law had performed its legitimate function by extending to the people the right of suffrage, but cannot compel them to vote. If they choose to abstain, they thereby authorize those who do vote to act for them, and, in the absence of fraud and violence, they are, under the constitution and laws, bound by their acts. "Otherwise, as voting must be voluntary, self-government would be impracticable, and monarchy or despotism would remain as the only alternative." He warned them against the uncertainty of relying on a subsequent opportunity to defeat the proposed constitution by refusing to ratify it. No provision now existed for such submission. He was anxious to secure to the people "that great constitutional right" - he believed the convention was "the servant of the people," but had no power to dictate the proceedings of that body.
He closed the discussion of the subject as follows:
I cannot doubt that the convention, after having framed a State constitution, will submit it for ratification or rejection, by a majority of the then actual bona-fide resident settlers of Kansas.
With these views well known to the President and cabinet, and approved by them, I accepted the appointment of Governor of Kansas. My instructions from the President, through the Secretary of State, under date of the 30th of March last, sustain "the regular legislature of the Territory," in assembling a convention to form a constitution," and they express the opinion of the President that " when such a constitution shall be submitted to the people of the Territory, they must be protected in the exercise of their right of voting for or against that instrument ; and the fair expression of the popular will must not be interrupted by fraud or violence."
Following are further verbatim extracts:
There is a law more powerful than the legislation of man - more potent than passion or prejudice - that must ultimately determine the location of slavery in this country ; it is the isothermal line; it is the law of the thermometer, of latitude or altitude, regulating climate labor and productions, and, as a consequence, profit and loss. Thus, even upon the mountain heights of the tropics, slavery can no more exist than in Northern latitudes, because it is unprofitable, being unsuited to the constitution of that sable race transplanted here from the equatorial heats of Africa. Why is it, that in the Union slavery recedes from the North and progresses South? It is this same great climatic law now operating for or against slavery in Kansas. * * * * If, from the operation of these causes, slavery should not exist here, I trust it by no means follows that Kansas should become a State controlled by the reason and fanaticism of abolition. She has, in any event, certain constitutional duties to perform to her sister States, and especially to her immediate neighbor - the slave holding State of Missouri. Through that great State, by rivers and railroads, must flow, to a great extent, our trade and intercourse, our imports and exports. Our entire Eastern front it upon her border; from Missouri come a great number of her citizens; even the farms of the two States are cut up by the line of State boundary, part in Kansas, part in Missouri; her citizens meet us in daily intercourse; and that Kansas should become hostile to Missouri, an asylum for her fugitive slaves, or a propagandist of abolition treason, would be alike in expedient and unjust, and fatal to the continuance of the Americana Union. In any event, then, I trust that the constitution of Kansas will contain such clauses as will forever secure to the State of Missouri the faithful performance of all constitutional guarantees, not only by Federal but by State authority, and the supremacy within our limits of the authority of the Supreme Court of the United States on all constitutional questions be firmly established.
As early as March 10, the Free-state men had held a convention at Topeka, at which it had been resolved "that the people of Kansas Territory cannot participate in any election under such regulation, without compromising their rights as American citizens, sacrificing the best interests of Kansas, and jeopardizing the public peace." Still later, as has been told, an ineffectual effort had been made to induce Secretary Stanton to modify the conditions under which the election was to be holden, so as to allow the Free-state men to participate. Nevertheless, after the new presentation of the case made by Gov. Walker i his inaugural address, opinions upon the question again became diverse, and to put the matter at rest a mass convention convened at Topeka, on June 9, the day also appointed for the meeting of the Topeka Legislature.
TOPEKA MASS CONVENTION.
On Wednesday, June 9, at 10 o'clock in the forenoon, the convention assembled. Officers and committees chosen and appointed were: President, James H. Lane;* Vice Presidents, J. W. Morris, F. Johnson, W. C. Laribee, W. W. Ross, Lyman Allen ; Secretaries, W. F. M. Arny, T. Dwight Thacher ; Committee on Resolutions, Martin F. Conway, M. W. Delahay, Walter Oakley, Charles Robinson, Morris Hunt, G. W. Deitzler, Alexander A. Jamieson, Cyrus K. Holliday, J. P. Root, G. W. Smith.
While the Committee on Resolutions were preparing a report, Col. Lane indulged in one of his characteristic speeches. He was still uncompromising in his defiance of the Territorial laws, and the Territorial rule set up under them ; not more so, perhaps, than were other Free-state men, but more forcible in his expression. He asserted with great vehemence : "We will not obey the laws (territorial), we will not pay the axes." If the bogus authorities served an indictment against him, he would bear it patiently; after having had an indictment over his head for more than a year, he was not afraid. "Gov. Walker said, vote next week. What for ?: Have we not made our constitution? And do not the people of freedom like it? Is there any one of the Free-state party opposed to it? Can't we submit this to the people, and who wants another?"
The speech of Lane was not the unanimous reflex of the sentiments of the convention, although loudly applauded by that class of earnest, uncompromising and excitable men, who, impressed by his rough eloquence and inspired by a heartfelt and all-absorbing hatred of slavery and all its minions, were ever his enthusiastic admirers and willing followers.
The more moderate expressions of the resolutions passed by the convention expressed authoritatively its sentiments. They were reported by Judge Conway, signed by the entire committee. They were as follows:
Resolved, (1) That the people of Kansas, now as ever, disown as invalid and of no force-and effect, the authority of the Territorial government as embodied in the enactments of the so-called Legislature of Kansas.
The following preamble and resolutions were adopted:
WHEREAS, By unfair legislation by the Lecompton "Legislative Assembly," and the manner of registration under the act providing for the call of a convention to form a constitution, has excluded a large majority of the voters of Kansas from a participation in the election of delegates to said convention; therefore,
Visible signs of smoldering dissensions in the Free-State ranks were evinced at this meeting. There was a growing disagreement between the more turbulent and less cautious element and the no less practical nor reliable conservatives, as the best means and methods of serving the highest interests of freedom. It developed ultimately into a bitter feud. Happily, the increasing aggregates preponderance of the Free-State population and defection in the ranks of the opposition prevented disastrous results therefrom, and thus detracted from it historic prominence. At the convention above reported, resolutions were offered harshly condemnatory of the course of the Herald of Freedom* in approving the administration of Geary. They were not received, but evinced the fact that the inner councils were not altogether harmonious. The Herald of Freedom summed up its satisfaction as to the result thus:
This convention, which has so long been talked of, has produced an effect which the more conservative men of Kansas want. It has proved that although there are, as there always have been , a few persons who delight to engage in war (but when the conflict comes they are among the missing), the majority want peace.
THE TOPEKA LEGISLATURE.
The legislature met, in pursuance to call, on the same day as the convention (June 9), and adjourned June 13. At no time during the session was there a quorum of members-elect present in both branches. On the 11th, a quorum was manufactured by declaring the seats of thirteen absent members vacant. Henry J. Adams was President of the Senate and John Hutchinson Speaker of the house. Gov. Robinson read his message on the 11th. It reviewed pointedly the late inaugural speech of Gov. Walker, and recommended such action as might be deemed necessary to preserve the State organization until such time as the people's voice could be heard.
The legislative acts passed were: For taking the census; for a State election, in August, to fill vacancies; for locating the capital at Topeka; for establishing a State University at Lawrence. A joint resolution was passed, asking Congress to admit Kansas under the Topeka constitution.
During the sessions, Gov. Walker was at Topeka, but no interference with that body was attempted. In response to the request of the citizens he addressed them at length on the issues of the day. His principal arguments were those embodied in his inaugural. As an additional argument to induce Free-state men to vote at the coming election he said: "October next, not under the act of the late Territorial Legislature, but under the laws of Congress, you, the whole people of Kansas, have the right to elect a delegate to Congress and to elect a Territorial Legislature." This statement on due consideration had no small influence on the minds of many Free-state men in deciding them to participate in the election. His whole speech was listened to with good natured civility, and the above utterance was greeted with considerable enthusiasm.
THE ELECTION OF DELEGATES.
Whatever dissension had manifested itself among the Free-state men, the day of the election found them united in the policy of giving no possible countenance to the organized fraud by participating in it. Had they decided otherwise, it seems quite probable that they could have carried the election against the Pro-slavery vote cast, it aggregating only 2,200 votes. it is, however, quite likely that, had a contest been expected, the Territory would, as in former elections, have been subjected to another influx of illegal voters sufficient to overcome any free-state vote that might have been polled. It is, therefore, by no means certain that the Free-state voters declined a sure victory in declining to vote. The vote by districts was a follows:
COUNTIES ------------------------------------------------------- | Voters | Highest Districts by number Census votes cast ---------------------------------|---------|----------- 1 Doniphan. . . . . . . . . . .| 1086 | 234 2 Brown . . . . . . . . . . . .| 206 | 44 3 Atchison. . . . . . . . . . .| 804 | 190 4 Leavenworth . . . . . . . . .| 1837 | 461 5 Jefferson . . . . . . . . . .| 555 | 121 6 Calhoun . . . . . . . . . . .| 291 | 23 7 Marshall. . . . . . . . . . .| 206 | 57 Riley . . . . . . . . . . .| 353 | 8 Pottawatomie. . . . . . . .| 205 | 59 9 Johnson . . . . . . . . . . .| 496 | 113 10 Douglas . . . . . . . . . . .| 1318 | 225 Shawnee . . . . . . . . . .| 238 | 11 Richardson. . . . . . . . .| | 58 Davis . . . . . . . . . . .| | 12 Lykins. . . . . . . . . . . .| 413 | 58 16 Linn . . . . . . . . . . . .| 413 | 124 Bourbon . . . . . . . . . .| | Allen . . . . . . . . . . .| | Mc Gee. . . . . . . . . . .| 645 | 204 Dorn. . . . . . . . . . . .| | Other Counties. . . . . . . .| 140 | 100 | | 10 Douglas . . . . . . . . . . .| 9251 | 2071 -------------------------------------------------------
From the above it appears that the delegates to the Lecompton Constitutional Convention were elected by a vote comprising less than one-fourth those shown by the census.
B. Hollman and Gen. James H. Lane. Gen. Lane, in the course of his remarks, thanked his friends for the honor they proposed to confer upon him by tendering to him the nomination for Congress, but uttering refused the nomination, as he had determined never again to leave Kansas until her Missouri chains were broken and her people free under her own government.
The resolutions re-affirmed unwavering adherence to the Topeka Constitution, as embodying the basis of the State Government desired by the people; asked Congress to admit Kansas as a State under it; denied anew the validity of the Territorial Legislature and its laws; denounced it as the creature of fraud and violence; affirmed that the Free-State party was emphatically a peace party; urged the necessity of through organization for the August election, and recommended to the Governor the propriety of submitting the Topeka Constitution to a full vote of all the bona fide residents of the Territory. Concerning the question of participation in the coming Territorial election, it was recommended "to the people of Kansas that they assemble in mass convention at Grasshopper Falls, on the last Wednesday in August, to take such action as may be necessary in regard to that election." It was also recommended that a delegate convention be held on the same day and at the same place, to carry out the decisions of the mass convention, whatever they might be. It was further resolved that, having reliable information that in some parts of Missouri preparations were being made to control the Kansas elections by another raid upon the ballot boxes, Gen. James H. Land be appointed and authorized to organize the people in the several districts, to protect the ballot boxes at the approaching election.
The Free-State nominations made were as follows: For Representative to Congress, Marcus J. Parrott; Secretary of State, P. C. Schuyler; State Auditor, Dr. G. A. Cutler; Judges of the Supreme Court, M. F. Conway, S. N. Latta.
The following were selected by the delegates from the several districts as members of the State Central Committee: First District, J. Blood; Second District, A. Curtis; Third District, S. E. Martin; Fourth District, Ralph Mayfield; Fifth District, W. F. M. Arny; Sixth District, W. R. Griffins; Seventh District, Henry Harvey; Eighth district, Dr. J. P. Root; Ninth District, G. S. Hillyer; Tenth District, A. A. Griffin; Eleventh District, F. G. Adams; Twelfth District, H. Miles Moore; Fourteenth District, A. Larzelere; Seventeenth District, E. S. Nash.