|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
ELECTION OF OCTOBER 5, 1857.
The result of the election showed a preponderance of Free-State voters far greater than the sanguine had been led to expect. Arrant frauds had again been perpetrated at several precincts, but they did not, as heretofore, overwhelm the resident vote of the entire Territory, nor appall or intimidate the Governor into recognition of them. The returns by countries were as given below:
COUNTIES Members of Leg. Del. to Congress As Returned As Allowed ------------------------------------------------------------------ Free-State Democratic Parrott Ransom ------------------------------------------------------------------ Leavenworth.......... 1,038 1.370 1,046 1,297 Atchison............. 315 366 315 366 Doniphan............. 574 497 574 497 Brown................ 138 72 136 72 Nemaha............... 145 30 145 30 Marshall............. 1 160 1 160 Pottawatomie......... 151 16 148 16 Riley................ 251 106 251 106 Jefferson............ 344 189 344 189 Calhoun.............. 200 39 205 39 Douglas.............. 1,638 187 1,638 187 Johnson.............. 33 1,604 96 212 Shawnee.............. 749 61 749 61 Richardson........... 127 -- 127 -- Davis................ 126 30 126 30 Wise & Breckenridge.. 266 7 266 7 Madison & Butler..... 69 7 69 7 Bourbon.............. 96 175 96 175 Dorn................. -- 18 -- 18 Coffey............... 265 48 265 48 McGee................ 24 1,202 -- -- Woodson.............. -- -- -- -- Weller............... -- -- -- -- Godfrey.............. -- -- -- -- Wilson............... -- -- -- -- Greenwood............ 14 13 14 13 Allen................ 65 20 65 20 Anderson............. 261 2 261 2 Franklin............. 345 10 345 10 Lykins............... 348 59 348 59 ---------------------------------------- Total................ 7,887 6,466 7,888 3,790
The returns, although giving, with all fraudulent votes included, a Free-State majority in the Territory, had been subject to the required manipulation and fraud to give a Pro-slavery majority in each branch of the Legislature, Johnson county, which, with Douglas County, constituted a single District, had returned 1,791 Democratic votes -- sufficient to elect eight Representatives and three Councilmen. Of this vote, the returns showed that 1,628 Democratic votes had been polled at Oxford precinct, a place containing not over a dozen houses. On the 19th, Gov. Walker and Secretary Stanton issued a proclamation throwing out the entire vote of the Oxford precinct on the ground of irregularity in the returns -- not appearing that the judges of election took the required oath, nor that the paper presented was one of the original poll books as requited by law; and on the further ground of fraud -- it being a physical impossibility that the number of votes purported to have been cast on the second day (1,500) could have been written, containing twenty-two candidates each within that time. "The further extraordinary fact tending to throw distrust on the whole proceeding was that, out of the 124 for the local candidates of the township." On these grounds, the vote was thrown out and the certificate of election given to "those who appear to have been elected by virtue of the other regular returns." Thus did Gov. Walker fulfill to the letter the pledges he had given for a fair election.
McGee County was, at the time, a part of the Cherokee Reservation, not yet open to settlement, where no white men lived, save a few missionaries and trades. From that stronghold of Democracy came up the extraordinary return of 1,200 Pro-slavery votes. The whole vote was rejected as too flagrant a fraud to be entertained. It did not, however, have the effect to unseat the three Democrats chosen from the district, and was therefore viewed by the Pro-slavery men with comparative complacency, as the 1,200 fraudulent votes were not needed.
The unseating of the Johnson county Democrats by the Governor was too serious a matter to be acquiesced in without resort to the never-failing source of sympathy and redress for Kansas - Democratic wrongs - the court Judge Cato was induced to try his hand on Gov. Walker. On the 20th, he issued the following:
Territory of Kansas
this remarkable judicial mandate did not have the desired effect. Gov. Walker good naturally replied to it, refusing to obey the order of the court offering to yield himself unresisting to arrest for contempt, if the Judge might please to order his arrest, and tendering him a posse of United States troops should he apprehend and disturbance of the peace by such proceeding. Cato dropped the case; as did his most noisy client, Ex-Sheriff Jones, after a slight season of vaporing and swearing around Lecompton, during which time he tried to pick a personal quarrel with Secretary Stanton.
The glory of the whole Pro-slavery gang had departed, and the days of intimidation had gone with it. The disappointed politicians vented their final indignation at the meeting held at Lecompton, on the evening of the 20th, at which after much fiery speech, seventeen resolutions condemning and denouncing Gov. Walker and his Secretary were passed.
At the same time the occurrences concerning the election returns above recounted were transpiring, Lecompton was the scene of great excitement and tumult form other causes. October 19 was the day to which the constitutional convention adjourned. Land and his followers, exasperated at the frauds in Johnson and McGee counties, had called a meeting, to be held in Lecompton on that day, and it was openly threatened that the convention would not be allowed to meet. Accordingly, a large number of the most restless, turbulent and indignant Free-State men of the vicinity appeared at Lecompton at the appointed time, and organized by the election of Philip C. Schuyler, President, and Richard Realf and O. E. Learnard, Secretaries. Resolutions were passed, exposing the frauds at the recent election, and affirming that the members of the convention about to assemble in no way represented the people, and most adjourn sine die. A committee was appointed, of which Lane was chairman, to acquaint the members of the decision. James H. Lane was the leading speaker, and, as usual, aroused the crowd to the highest pitch of noisy enthusiasm. The demonstration resulted in no violence, as it became known the Governor, true to his promises, had thrown out the fraudulent vote. It had, however the effect to intimidate many members of the convention from taking their seats, and for three days thereafter no quorum was in attendance. Gov. Walker, to re-assure the timid members and protect the convention against any possible outbreak during its deliberations, had some United States troops stationed at Lecompton, and on the 22d, a quorum being for the first time present, the work was begun.
THE LECOMPTON CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION (SECOND SESSION)
The convention met, pursuant to adjournment, on the 19th. It continued in session until November 3. The debates on the submission of the constitution, when framed, to the ratification or rejection of the people, were prolonged and earnest, a very respectable minority being in favor of submission. The question was finally compromised by agreeing to a mock submission, whereby the people were allowed to vote for it "with slavery" or " without slavery" but no provision were made whereby any vote could be had on the question of rejecting it altogether. Below is given a summary of the constitution, with the unabridged text of the more important articles:
Article I, defines the boundaries of the State;
The slavery clause gave the Legislature power to provide for emancipation (by compensation to the owner) all slaves; but denied the power to prevent the introduction of more slaves. A vote 'for the Constitution with Slavery,' was a vote to establish and forever maintain the institution, with the power to emancipate vested solely in the Legislature. A vote 'for the Constitution with no slavery,' was a vote to recognize the existence of slavery now there, to keep those slaves now in the Territory, and the natural increase of slaves during their lives, and was a vote to 'strike out' the power of the Legislature to emancipate. The Constitution 'without Slavery,' meant that slavery in the Territory shall be confined to slaves now there, and their increase form generation to generation, with no power on the part of the Legislature so emancipate by compensation, or in any other way. The Constitution 'with Slavery,' allowed more slaves to be brought to Kansas, but gave the Legislature power to provide for their emancipation.
From the character of the convention and the known opinions of its members, it was certain that any Constitution framed by or receiving the sanction of that body, would be thoroughly Pro-slavery; on that point there had been no previous doubt, and there could been subsequent disappointment; on its failure to submit it to the vote of the people for acceptance or rejection, the case was quite reverse. Gov. Walker had in every speech he had made, and in every proclamation he had issued, urged its submission as the only basis on which it could become the constitution of the people of the Territory, or receive the sanction of himself of the administration. The leading members of the convention were also publicly pledged prior to the election, as appears by the following, which was published in the papers of the time:
TO THE DEMOCTATIC VOTERS OF DOUGLAS COUNTY:
The resolve referred to above read as follows:
Resolved, That we will support no man as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, whose duties it will be to frame the constitution of the future State of Kansas and mold the political institutions under which we, as a people, are to live, unless he pledge himself fully, freely, and without mental reservation, to use every honorable means to submit the same to every bond fide actual citizen of Kansas, at the proper time for the vote being taken upon the adoption by the people, in order that the said constitution may be adopted or rejected by the actual settlers in this Territory, as a majority of the voters may decide.
Under such pledges and assurances as these, the Free-State men had been led, first, to allow the election of delegates to go by default, and later, to defer setting the Topeka government in motion, believing that the power still lay in the future to reject the constitution at the ballot box, which, being done, the way would seem clear for the adoption of the Topeka constitution and the inauguration of the Free- State government, peacefully, and without the conflict which seemed inevitable in any independent proceedings while the Lecompton movement still had vitality under the authority of the organic last, and the sanction of the Federal Government. The result of the October election proved that the acceptance of an Pro-slavery State constitution by the votes of the people of Kansas was no longer possible, and hope grew brighter in the hearts of the freedom-loving people. There seemed but one last chance for the Pro-slavery faction to thwart the known will of the people. It involved the open violation of all the pledges made, and the attempt to foist the institution upon an unwilling people by means of the sham submission provided, which however it should result, could but modify the constitution, but could not defeat it. The vote, as proposed, must result in its acceptance in some form, and the consequent repudiation of the Topeka constitution and every Free-State movement thus made by the people of the Territory. The nefarious scheme was planned in Washington by Jefferson Davis and other Pro-slavery leaders, accepted by President Buchanan,* and executed as planned by the member of the convention. History records few attempts to over-ride the will of a free people involving so much of infamy and treachery in both high and low places. In the Gov. Walker had no part. The plot was never divulged to him. He was most shamelessly deceived by the Administration, and openly expressed his indignation and mortification. He left the Territory on the 16thof November, intending, as he stated, "to be absent on business three or four weeks.." He never returned as Governor of the Territory. He, like Geary, had been to faithful to his trust to be available in a position where only treachery and falsehood could win.
The indignation of the people knew no bounds, and, as usual, found vent through mass meetings and conventions, at which various plans for resisting this outrage on free government were proposed and discussed.
A convention was held at Topeka, November 23, presided over by C. K. Holliday, assisted by Walter Oakley, John Ritchie and Dr. G. E. Martin, Vice Presidents. The resolutions reported looked to the immediate inauguration of a State government under the Topeka constitution, and earnestly requested Gov. Robinson to convene the Legislature in extra session as the earliest practical moment. A vigilance committee was appointed, to whose call the members of the convention pledged themselves to answer at all times. C. K. Holliday, Walter Oakley and John Ritchie were chosen delegates to a convention to be held at Lawrence, December 2, and were instructed to urge upon that convention the establishment of the Topeka government.
A mass convention was held in Leavenworth on Friday, November 27. The officers of the convention were: President, Judge S. N. Latta; Vice Presidents, Blacklidge of Tecumseh; Smith of Topeka; Atwood, of Lawrence; and Sparks, Gardner, Whitney, Woolman, Richardson, Harsh, McCauslin and Engleman of Leavenworth; Secretary, John McGee; Committee on Resolutions, Messrs. Kob, Land (J. H.) Davis, Fisher, Johnston, Atwood, Blacklidge, Hathaway and Green.
The resolutions, following a preamble stating the grievances of the people, repudiated the constitution and called upon the members elect of the Territorial Legislature "to meet at Lecompton on the 3d day of December next, to suggest such measures and adopt such action as the crisis demands." Acting Gov. Stanton was also requested to convene the Legislature forthwith to avert civil was, which was believed to be imminent. At a subsequent stage of the proceedings, the following resolution embodying a threat was adopted on motion of Col. Lane:
Resolved, that the people of Kansas, in mass convention assembled, assert, that in case his excellency, Acting Gov. Stanton, declines to convene the Territorial Legislature - that no other course will be open to the people by putting the Topeka Government in motion, and that we pledge ourselves to adopt that course and to stand or fall by it.
Delegates were also chosen to the Lawrence Convention.
Besides the resolutions which were forwarded to the Acting Governor, a petition was drawn up an signed by a majority of the members of the Assembly, in which they stated their belief that the peace of the Territory was in imminent danger and that violence and bloodshed could only be averted by the immediate assembling of the Territorial Legislature, inasmuch as it will have legal authority to provide for the unjust and extraordinary emergency forced upon them by the action of the late so-called Constitutional Convention. They furthermore pledged themselves, in case their petition was granted, to engage in no legislative business except such as was necessary to meet the exigencies which had moved them to make the request.
The petition, signed by G. W. Deitzler, John Speer, Lyman Allen and a large majority of the members besides, was placed in the hands of Gov. Stanton by Capt. Samuel Walker. It was accompanied by a letter of concurrence, signed by G. W. Brown, G. W. Smith, Charles Robinson and James h. Lane. In response, the following proclamation was issued:
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE TERRITORY OF KANSAS:
The above proclamation averted the direst calamity that had thus far threatened the Territory, viz, open and organized rebellion against the Federal Government, which have deluged the Territory in blood, and perhaps involved the whole country in a general conflict; such as came upon it four years after. It was the most important official proclamation ever issued by a Territorial Governor.
Concerning the critical and dangerous state of affairs at the time, the Herald of Freedom, of December 5, says -
Never have we seen the time since our residence in Kansas, when the undercurrent indicated so strongly the probability of a general collision of the people with usurped authority, and yet the surface appears as calm as during the last week. To detail the information in our possession, would be to betray important secrets intrusted to us, therefore we merely passingly remark the fact for what it is worth. A powerful party had resolved to set in motion the Topeka Government, and every instrumentality had been employed to induce the Governor, under that instrument, to convene an extra session of the Topeka Legislature to provide for the exigency, with a view of matching the Lecompton Constitution with the Constitution of the people. It was then designed to employ the force to crush out the Lecompton Constitution; but thanks for once to the good sense of Dr. Robinson, he has boldly resisted the movement, holding off, as was alleged, with the hope that the Acting Governor would come to the relief of the people, and thus prevent a renewal of the strife. The Mass Convention at Leavenworth on Friday last, as will be seen by reference to the proceedings in another column, took active measures on this question, and by well-expressed resolutions presented the question to his Excellency in tangible form. The following instrument (before mentioned) was then drawn up, an the signatures of a majority of the members of the Territorial Legislature, with great difficulty, were procured to it, and on Tuesday morning was sent to him by the hand of Capt. Samuel Walker.
The Legislature having been convened, the great anxiety abated and the Lawrence Convention convened on the 2d of December to find its proposed work less exciting and arduous than it would otherwise have been. The revolutionary project of putting the Topeka Government in motion was abandoned or held in abeyance waiting the action of the Legislature. A report of its proceedings is given, sufficiently full to show the modification in the popular feeling which had taken place.