Census returns, February, 1855.--The election of March 30th. --The Legislative Assemby.
GOVERNOR REEDER having ordered a census to be taken, the returns, on the 28th of February, 1855, exhibited a population, exclusive of Indians, of 8,501 souls. There were 5,128 males, 3,373 females, and 3,469 minors. 7,161 were citizens of the United States; 409 of foreign birth; 242 were slaves, and 151 free negroes. There were, at this time, but 2,905 voters, which number was somewhat increased by immigration, before the election for a Legislative Assembly, which took place on the 30th of March.
This election was controlled almost entirely by citizens of Missouri, who came into the territory in large parties, took possession of the polls, drove off the regularly appointed judges and chose others to answer their own objects, elected persons who were not and never had been citizens of Kansas; and committed other atrocities, the details of which are absolutely too disgusting to relate. It is estimated that about five thousand Missourians, led on by men claiming respectability, and certainly occupying prominent positions, visited the territory to take part in this nefarious transaction. The following extract is from the report of the Congressional Committee:
"By an organized movement, which extended from Andrews county in the north, to Jasper county in the south, and as far eastward as Boone and Cole counties, companies of men were arranged in regular parties, and sent into every council district in the territory and into every representative district but one. The numbers were so distributed as to control the election in each district. They went to vote, and with the avowed intention to make Kansas a slave state. They were generally armed and equipped, carried with them their own provision and tents, and so marched into the territory."
Another paragraph in the same report, which gives a detailed statement of the outrages committed at this election, carefully gathered from the examination of witnesses under oath, asserts:
"The Missourians began to leave on the afternoon of the day of election, though some did not go home until the next morning.
Instead of making any attempt to conceal or deny the frauds committed at this election, the pro-slavery people of Missouri boasted of the fact, and maintained they had as much right to vote in Kansas according to the terms of the Organic Act, having been there but five minutes, as though they had been residents for many years. The press of Missouri urged the people to go to Kansas to vote. The Liberty, Clay county, paper, contained the following:
"The election in Kansas Territory is close at hand, and we embrace this, the last opportunity we will have before the attempt, of admonishing Missouri and southerners that it is the part of wisdom as well as prudence to employ every means of preparation necessary to a successful combat for the issue which is suspended upon it."
The Weston Reporter of March 29th (1855), says:--
"Our minds are already made up as to the result of the election in Kansas to-morrow. The pro-slavery party will be triumphant, we presume, in nearly every precinct. Should the pro-slavery party fail in this contest, it will not be because Missouri has failed to do her duty to assist friends. It is a safe calculation that two thousand squatters have passed over into the promised land from this part of the state within four days."
After the election, the Missouri papers were filled with jubilant expressions of victory. The Platte Argus says: ''It is to be admitted that they--the Missourians--have conquered Kansas. Our advice is, let them hold it or die in the attempt."
Protests from several of the election districts, numerously signed, having been forwarded to the governor, he refused issuing certificates to the members whose seats were thus contested, whereupon an open war was declared upon him by the pro-slavery party. A meeting was held at the seat of government at which the right of the governor to call a new election was denied, and a resolution passed saying that "in the event a new election shall be ordered by the governor in any district, we recommend to every law-abiding and order-loving citizen of Kanzas Territory not to attend said election, but rely on the returns already made to sustain the claims of those returned heretofore to their seats in each house."
The governor, notwithstanding, did order a new election in six of the contested districts, which called forth the fury of the Missouri papers. Of the articles published, the following from the Brunswicker is a choice specimen:
"We learn, just as we go to press, that Reeder has refused to give certificates to four of the Councilmen and thirteen members of the House. He has ordered an election to fill their places on the 22d of May. This infernal scoundrel will have to be hemped yet."
The pro-slavery party took no interest in the May election, having determined not to recognize it, except in the Leavenworth district, where they re-elected their candidates by Missouri votes. In all the other districts free-state men were elected. But upon the assembling of the Legislature their seats were refused them, and given to those elected on the 30th of March. There was but one free-state member whose seat could not be deprived him upon any pretence whatever, and this he voluntarily resigned, leaving the entire assembly of the same political complexion.
The Kansas Legislative Assembly, elected by Missouri votes, convened, agreeably to the order of Governor Reeder, at Pawnee City, near Fort Riley, in the interior of the territory, on the 2d of July, 1855. On the 4th, an act was passed to remove the seat of government to Shawnee Mission, near the Missouri border. This bill was vetoed by Governor Reeder, but was subsequently adopted by a two-third majority, and became a law.
This body was in session less than fifty working days; but in looking over the published records of the amount of labor it performed, it might be regarded as the most industrious legislative assembly that ever had an existence. Besides its journals, embracing two good sized duodecimo volumes of several hundred pages, it discussed and adopted laws filling more than a thousand octavo pages. How this was accomplished would be a mystery to the uninitiated; for it would have required all the time occupied by the meetings to read, at a rapid rate, even a part of the enactments; but the mystery is revealed when it is understood that the Missouri code was adopted, without the laborious formality of reading, with the simple instructions to the clerks to substitute the name of "Kansas Territory" wherever the "State of Missouri" occurred. There were, however, some additions made that never could have received the sanction of a Missouri Legislature. These were test and election laws, so odious that even the Kansas officials, corrupt as they were, did not attempt their enforcement, and hence remained dead letters upon the statute book. The person claiming to be the author of these laws says he wrote them when under the evil influence of bad whiskey, and that they passed the Houses when the other members were in about the same condition as he was when they were written and presented. This was as rational an explanation as could have been given for their conception and adoption.
The Legislature adjourned on the 30th of August, having fixed the permanent seat of government at Lecompton. This was about as inaccessible and inconvenient a place as could have been chosen in the territory; but, as it is maliciously affirmed, that the members received from the town company liberal grants of town lots as the price of their votes, they could afford to travel somewhat out of the ordinary way, and suffer a few trifling discomforts, especially as the public welfare was thus to be promoted.