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


[TOC] [part 57] [part 55] [Cutler's History]


Samuel Medary was appointed Governor of Kansas Territory November 19, and arrived in the Territory and entered upon the duties of his office December 20. He was born in Montgomery County, Penn., February 15, 1801. He learned the trade of a printer, and subsequently became the editor of the Ohio Statesman, published at Columbus, Ohio. He held the position for many years during which his paper ranked as one of the ablest Democratic journals of the State. In politics, he was a stanch Democrat of the Jacksonian school during his whole life. He was an ardent admirer and follower of Douglas up to the division which grew out of the discussion of the Lecompton Constitution in Congress, at which time he supported the administration and favored its policy. He was appointed Governor of Minnesota in March, 1857. On its admission as a State, he again made his home in Columbus, Ohio. He was appointed Governor of Kansas, November 19, 1858, took the oath of office December 1 and entered upon his duties December 20. Compared with the administrations of his predecessors, his was uneventful. The country was in a comparatively peaceful condition and little opportunity was offered him to show either the administrative faults or virtues which he may have possessed. He resigned the office December 20, 1860, and returned to Columbus, Ohio, where he remained until the time of his death, which occurred November 7, 1864. The acts of his administration as Governor of Kansas are detailed in the history of the period it embraced.


In this building the Third Territorial Legislature met January 8, 1858.

With the exception of serious and continued troubles in the southeastern counties, the times were uneventful after the arrival of Governor Medary until the beginning of the following year.+

+ The disturbances in Southeastern Kansas, although of a serious nature, never threatened the peace of the entire Territory, and are therefore treated as local occurrences in the histories of the counties embracing the scene of disorder. See histories of Linn and Bourbon Counties and biography of James Montgomery.


The Fourth Territorial Legislature met at Lecompton January 3, and after organizing adjourned on the following day to Lawrence, where its session was continued until its adjournment, which took place on the 11th of February. There was less excitement and confusion than at the previous sessions, and more efficient and lasting work done. Its most important proceedings are given in the subjoined summary.

The officers chosen were as follows:

Council -- President, C. W. Babcock; Vice President, C. K. Holliday; Secretary, A. Smith Devenney; Sergeant-at-arms, P. Wiley; Door-keeper, Asaph Allen; Assistant Secretary, G. A. Colton; Docket Clerk, E. P. Herberton; Engrossing Clerk, J. J. Ingalls; Chaplain, Rev. Charles Reynolds.

House -- Speaker, A. Larzelere; Chief Clerk, Byron P. Ayres; Assistant Clerk, P. P. Elder; Sergeant-at-arms, George F. Warren, Door-keeper George W. Smith, Jr.; Journal Clerk, A. D. Richardson; Engrossing Clerk, A. C. Soley; Docket Clerk, John M. Funk; Enrolling Clerk, S. C. Smith; Chaplain, Rev. E. Mute.

The message of Gov. Medary was a business document, notably free from allusions or recommendations calculated to rekindle excitement or revive old enmities.

The most important legislative action and enactments related to subjects, and was of the character below stated:

Codifying the Laws, etc. -- January 12, William McKay, Edward S. Lowman and James McCahon were chosen codifying commissioners, and proceeded to the work. Frequent reports were made by them during the session, and in their final report summarized the work completed as follows: "The enactments of 1855, known as the 'Bogus Statutes,' have been supplied, and are ready for repeal, a consummation long looked for and earnestly desired by a large portion of the people of the Territory. The general laws of 1857 are ready for the same fate. The laws of 1858, to which we were confined as a basis, have been revised and supplied. The code of civil procedure remains substantially the same. "The Bogus Statutes" on their repeal, were publicly burned in the streets of Lawrence amid great rejoicing.

Providing for a State Government. -- An act providing for the formation of a Constitution and State Government for the State of Kansas was passed and approved by Gov. Medary February 9, 1859. It provided for the holding of an election on the fourth Monday of March, 1859, for determining for or against the formation of a constitution and State government for Kansas; and in case the vote should be in favor of so doing, it further provided for an election of fifty-two delegates to a Constitutional Convention, the said election to be held on the first Tuesday of June, 1859. It was appointed that the delegates elected should assemble at Wyandotte, on the first Tuesday in July, and there proceed to frame a constitution, and provide for the organization of a State government; in accordance with rules and regulations prescribed in the act. And the constitution there framed was to be submitted to a direct vote of the people for ratification or rejection, on the first Tuesday of October, and in case of its ratification, an election for the choice of State officers, members of the State Legislature, Judges and all other officers provided for by said constitution, was to be holden on the first Tuesday of December, 1859.

New Counties. -- An act was passed and approved by the Governor, February 7, establishing and defining the boundaries of the counties of Montana, El Paso, Oro, Broderick and Fremont. A supplementary act was passed which destroyed these embryo counties in the throes of birth, as it ordained that no expense of the commissioners provided for in the first act for locating county seats, etc., "should be defrayed or paid by the Territory of Kansas, in any respect whatever."

Adjustment of Claims. -- An act was approved by the Governor, providing for the appointment of three Commissioners, as follows: "One by the Legislative Council; one by the House of Representatives; and one by the Governor of the Territory, whose duty it shall be to audit and certify all claims for the loss of property taken or destroyed, and damages resulting therefrom, during the disorder which prevailed in the Territory from November 1, 1855 to December l, 1856. The Commissioners were to have power to appoint clerks and other officers, could fill vacancies occurring on their board, were to receive compensation of $5 per day, and were to complete their work and file the claims with the proper Territorial officers on or before September 1, 1859. It was also prescribed as the duty of the Constitutional Convention, expected to assemble at Wyandotte, " to make suitable provision for securing the payment of said claims by the Federal Government, by incorporating in the ordinance, to be submitted with the constitution formed, a provision to that effect."

To Establish Peace. -- An act of amnesty was passed, and approved February 11. It was intended to put an end to the feuds growing out of the numerous quarrels and disputes which were still a source of disorder in Southeastern Kansas.

The act and the proclamation putting the act in force were as follows:



In compliance with the following resolution of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Kansas, passed February 11, 1859, to wit:

Resolved, By the Council and Representatives of Kansas Territory:

SECTION 1. That the Governor of this Territory be requested to issue his proclamation to the people of this Territory, publishing the act this day passed to provide for the peace of Kansas.

SEC. 2. That his Excellency be requested to cause his proclamation to be published in every paper in this Territory.

I, Samuel Medary, Governor of Kansas Territory, do hereby proclaim to the people of the Territory the act entitled


Be it enacted by the Governor and Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Kansas:

SECTION 1. That no criminal offense heretofore committed in the counties of Lykins, Linn, Bourbon, McGee, Allen and Anderson, growing out of any political differences of opinion, shall be subject to any prosecution on any complaint or indictment in any court whatsoever in this Territory:

SEC. 2. That all criminal actions now commenced, growing out of political differences of opinion, shall be dismissed.

SEC. 3. This act to take effect and be in force from and after its passage.

A. LARZELERE, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

C. W. BABCOCK, President of the Council.

Approved, February 11, 1859. S. MEDARY.

While this is an act of amnesty for the past, it is intended to secure the more certain punishment of crime for the future.

Given under my hand this 12th day of February, 1859.

S. MEDARY, Governor of Kansas Territory.


The adjournment of the Legislature saw the Territory in a happier condition than at any previous time in its history. There was peace throughout its borders. The last struggle with the slave power had brought victory to the long suffering and long waiting people. The grand and final triumph of a free constitution was believed to be near, foreshadowed in the coming Wyandotte Convention, to which the people looked forward with bright hopes, as the happy issue of all their struggles. The turbulent patriots still kept up a harmless warfare of words, but the bitterness of the strife in the Territory was over, and henceforth the great majority, tired of the burdens of continued turmoil, had gladly laid them down, and further sought their ends through the more peaceful and certain agencies provided in the written law.

The time had not yet come when the "lion and the lamb should lie down together," but the approach of millennial days was heralded. The citizens of Lawrence and the members of the Legislature tendered to Gov. Medary a public dinner," as an expression of their appreciation and approbation of his dignity, firmness and impartiality in the discharge of his important and trying official duties, during his brief residence in Kansas." The great event came off at the Eldridge House, on Saturday evening, January 5. Hon. William Y. Roberts presided. The attendance was large, and, in the matter of the political faith or antecedents of the guests, by no means exclusive. The following were the regular toasts:

(1) His Excellency, Gov. Medary: May he remain long enough in Kansas to learn that we know how to appreciate, honor and reward a faithful officer.

The Governor responded in a long, florid and most good-natured speech, in which he covered the whole Territory and its inhabitants with praise, and prophesied a future that any State might feel proud of. The Territory, it's climate, neither too hot nor too cold, its soil, the most productive on the globe, its inhabitants, the most enterprising, Lawrence, whose enterprise was so fully manifested, and the ladies, all received due notice in the Governor's response.

(2) The President of the United States, was responded to by Attorney General Davis, who, as reported by the Herald of Freedom, apparently aware of the delicate ground upon which he would have to tread, surrounded as he was by a Legislature whose political opinions were known to be antagonistic to those of the President, acquitted himself in a pleasant and popular speech of fifteen or twenty minutes, in which he very skillfully divested the popular picture of James Buchanan of the horns and hoofs with which the efforts of partisans had, as he said, disfigured it.

(3) The union of the States; Kansas sends greeting to her future sisterhood. Response by H. P. Johnson, Esq.

(4) The Territory of Kansas, the Eden and the Ophir of the "Far West." Responded to by Dr. Danford.

(5) The Judiciary of Kansas. Response by Chief Justice S. D. Lecompte. Although somewhat embarrassed, the Judge got through felicitously, and on taking his seat, was greeted with the applause due no invited guest, tempered somewhat by the antipathies still cherished in Free-State breasts for the man.

(6) The Army and Navy of the United States. Response by William Perry, Esq.

(7) The Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Kansas. Responded to by Dr. J. P. Root.

(8) The Bar. Response by William McDowell, Esq.

(9) The Press, as it is the pioneer of civilization, so may it ever be the pioneer of truth. Responded to by John C. Vaughn, Esq.

(10) The Women of Kansas, without them our Eden would be a desert, our Ophir valueless. Response by Hon. W. Y. Roberts.

(11) The new Territories, Colorado, Arizona, Dakota and Oregon. Responded to by Hon. Joseph Williams.

A band discoursed sweet music. The Herald of Freedom expressed its supreme satisfaction at the propitious auguries of the occasion thus:

"Nothing occurred during the evening to mar the festivities of the occasion, which inaugurated, we believe, a new era in Kansas -- the era of union and harmony between the Executive and the people -- the era of forgetfulness of all that is unpleasant in the past, and of mutual concession for the sake of the bright and dawning future. This meeting is, indeed, an anomaly in the history of Kansas, and will be greeted throughout the country by the true friends of the Territory as a glad omen of peace and good will."


The people of the Territory during the past three years of political struggle had owned no allegiance to either of the great national political parties. Their political affiliations had been molded entirely on the all-absorbing local issue which confronted them, viz.: The establishment or prohibition of slavery in the Territory and future State of Kansas. Until that question was settled, all efforts to bring the people of either side to allegiance to either party proved unavailing. All, whether formerly Whigs, Democrats, Free-Soilers or Abolitionists, if opposed to the efforts to fasten slavery upon the Territory, rallied upon the platform of the Big Springs Convention September 5, 1855, and were united under the organization then effected, known as the Free-State party of Kansas. Their antagonists also ignored all affiliation with outside parties as calculated to divide their forces. They boldly proclaimed the issue to be "slavery or no slavery in Kansas," chose to be recognized as the Pro-slavery party, pure and simple, and adopted for specious reasons the misnomer of the "Law and Order Party."

The battle for a fair ballot and just laws made by the people was fought for three years by the contestants under these Territorial party organizations. On the advent of Gov. Walker, and the inauguration of his policy, which promised to put an end to the border ruffian control of the polls and enable the will of the people to be fairly expressed through their suffrages, signs of disintegration began to be apparent in serious dissensions as to the future policy to be pursued. A majority favored the policy of a suspension of hostilities until the experiment of voting had been tried: a minority were for a continuance of the old semi-revolutionary methods.

In the Pro-slavery ranks there were like disagreements. The better class were willing and anxious to accept the policy of the new Governor, to inaugurate thereby an era of peace, and, under the prestige of a voluntary acquiescence in an upright Democratic administration, to make Kansas a Democratic Free State, if must be. It was the intention of Gov. Walker to save Kansas to the Democracy, if not to Freedom. Among those who were not still desperately bent on making Kansas a Slave State Walker found a respectable following of members of his own party, who, like himself, were anxious to perfect the organization of the Democratic party in the Territory before the Free-State party should become re-organized as an integral part of the great National Anti-slavery opposition. It was hoped to thus draw to a common center of political action many Democrats who had heretofore, on the local issue, joined hands with the other Free-State men. In accordance with this plan, the Pro-slavery Territorial Convention, held at Lecompton, July 3, 1857, was called as the National Democratic Convention, and in its platform endorsed Walker's policy; a resolution to sustain the Lecompton Constitution, whether submitted or not, being sustained but by a single vote in that body. Walker's plans were entirely frustrated in the house of his Democratic friends in Washington. The development of the Lecompton iniquity, which gave the lie to the public professions of the party and the promises of Walker, caused divisions among the Democrats of Kansas that time could not heal. Under the popular indignation which followed, the Pro-slavery party found it impossible to rally even a respectable number in support of the infamous scheme, and with its final repudiation at the polls, came the end of Democratic hopes of ascendancy in Kansas. The local Proslavery organization was as buried beyond hope of resurrection, and its successor, the Democratic Party, although retaining its organization, relapsed into a state of hopeless minority, from which it did not rally for a quarter of a century thereafter.


On November 11, 1857, under a call from the Chairman of the Central Committee, a Free-State Delegate Convention was held at Lawrence, " to discuss various questions connected with the present political organization of the Territory, and to determine the true policy of the party;" also "to consider the question of a speedy admission of Kansas into the Union as a State." The question of discarding the old Free-State organization and substituting therefor the National Republican organization was an exciting theme of discussion. The opposition to the proposition developed showed plainly that the times were not ripe for the change, and it was quietly abandoned for the time being.

In May, 1859, Horace Greeley visited Kansas. The object of his coming was known, before his arrival, to be to effect, if possible, an organization of the Republican party in the Territory. The members of the Free-State party who, for divers reasons, desired to continue the battle under the glorious old Free-State banner until the State was admitted free, made a vigorous effort to thwart the movement, and revivify the old party for fresh contests and fresh victories.


On May 12, 1859, a Free-State Delegate Convention met at Big Springs. It was composed of such persons as, in the language of the call, "sustained the platform of the party adopted in 1855, and who were in favor of redeeming their pledges and perpetuating the organization until its ends were fully accomplished, and we were admitted a State into the Union, with a Free Constitution." The meeting was not fully attended, there being not more than seventy-five delegates present. They were all stanch, uncompromising Free-State men, mostly comers of 1855, and some of them the original fathers of the party, who had been members of the Convention held there three years before, at which time the party was organized.

The officers of the Convention were: President, Robert Riddle; Vice Presidents, G. W. Smith and I. N. Roberts; Secretaries, M. S. Bonnifield and G. W. Brown.

The Committee on Resolutions was F. P. Stanton, M. S. Bonnifield, H. Hiatt, W. N. Roberts, William M. Jourdan, C. B. Clements, J. D. Cody.

The resolutions reported by the Chairman, Mr. Stanton, were entirely in accord with the known desires of every Free-State man in the Territory, except in so far as they designated the Free State party as the only means whereby the desired ends, so long contended for, could be attained. On that point it soon became apparent that the little band of patriots were in a sad minority. All forms necessary to put the Free-State party in effective motion were observed, but the spirit had departed from the party. New men had. come in, having no overweening love for the old organization; new, and, as was believed, more effectual means for attaining the desired ends found favor: a broader and more extended affiliation with the friends of freedom throughout the nation was desired, and so Big Springs, the cradle of the Kansas Free-State party, proved its grave. This convention witnessed its last throes of dissolution.


On May 18, 1859, the first Republican Convention convened in Kansas at Osawatomie. It was called to order by T. Dwight Thacher, of Lawrence. Henry Fox, of Shawnee County, was chosen temporary chairman and T. Dwight Thacher, Secretary.

The permanent officers and principal committees were as follows:

Officers. -- President, Oscar E. Learnard, Coffey County. Vice Presidents, Nathan Price, Doniphan County, Samuel C. Pomeroy, Atchison County; Thomas Ewing, Jr., Leavenworth County; Joseph Speck, Wyandotte County; Erastus Heath, Douglas County; Henry Fox. Shawnee County; D. W. Houston, Anderson County, E. G. Jewell, Bourbon County. Secretaries, Daniel W. Wilber, Doniphan County, T. Dwight Thacher, Douglas County; J. F. Cummings, Shawnee County; John A. Martin, Atchison County.

Committee on Platform. -- A. Larzelere, John A. Martin, Thomas Ewing, Jr., James McCahon, Charles F. de Vivaldi, W. H. Smythe, C. K. Holliday, T. Dwight Thacher, D. W. Houston, W. Y. Roberts, A. J. Shannon, T. R. Roberts, Silas Fearl, and William A. Phillips.

Central Territorial Committee. -- James Blood, W. W. Lawrence, Douglas County; A. C. Wilder, William Tholen, Leavenworth County, A. Larzelere, Doniphan County; B. Gray, Wyandotte County, H. H. Williams, Lykins County; John Ritchie, Shawnee County, George Graham, Nemaha County, S. D. Houston, Riley County; J. C. Burnett, Bourbon County; S. C. Pomeroy, Atchison County: William A. Phillips, Arapahoe County; John Chip, Johnson County, A. D. Richardson, Mining District. Chairman, S. C. Pomeroy; Secretary, A. C. Wilder.

Horace Greeley addressed the meeting in an elaborate and lengthy speech, defining the great National issues at stake, foreshadowing the future dangers that threatened the Republic, and forcibly urging the importance of a thorough organization in every State and Territory, of the Republican party, which was to be the party of Freedom in the conflict now begun.

Following his speech, a Republican platform, embracing some planks required by the state of affairs peculiar to the Territory, was adopted, and the organization of the National Republican party in Kansas was fully consummated. It held undisputed control of the political destinies of Kansas for twenty-five years thereafter, and under its sway the marvelous progress has been attained which places it in the foremost rank in the sisterhood of States.

[TOC] [part 57] [part 55] [Cutler's History]