The capitol building.--Captain Donaldson dismisses Justice Nelson's court.--Captain Walker surrenders himself.-- Dragoons required for detached service.--Bad postal arrangements.--Free-state prisoners removed to Tecumseh.--The governor at Leavenworth.--Report of a deputation sent to arrest marauders.
NOVEMBER 7TH, 1856.--A note having been received from Mr. Owen C. Stewart in regard to the capitol buildings, the governor addressed him in reply, as follows:--
"As your services as superintendent of the capitol buildings are no longer required, you are hereby notified that your appointment is revoked from this date."
Congress had appropriated fifty thousand dollars to erect suitable public buildings for the territory, and Dr. A. Rodrique, postmaster at Lecompton, was the principal contractor for their election. He was connected in the enterprise, some way or another, with Sheriff Jones, Governor Shannon, and other officials. The money appropriated would have been sufficient for the object if properly expended. As it is, the walls of the building have only advanced a few feet above the foundation, and the whole amount of the appropriation has been exhausted. Mr. Stewart was appointed by Governor Shannon superintendent, at a salary of one thousand two hundred dollars a year, which, although the work had long been suspended, was still running on. The same gentleman was a sub-contractor under Rodrique, and was therefore required to superintend his own work, which was a very convenient sort of an arrangement. William Rumbold was the architect, who had contracted to receive for his "compensation four per cent. on the cost of the building;" and of course it would not be to his interest to oppose any amount of expenditure upon its construction. If it is completed upon the same liberal scale as it has been commenced, so far as the outlay of money is concerned, it may be ready for roofing in by the use of another appropriation of two or three hundred thousand dollars.
On this day, R. R. Nelson, a justice of the peace at Lecompton, filed an affidavit with the governor, charging Captain John Donaldson, of the territorial militia, with having entered his court with six armed men, and rescued a soldier named Fisher, belonging to his company, who was then receiving a hearing on the charge of larceny, taking the prisoner away and dismissing the court in a manner that would have done credit to Oliver Cromwell. A requisition was immediately made upon Colonel Cook to put Donaldson under arrest, which was accordingly done. Upon making suitable apologies, and thus appeasing the squire's wounded pride, the captain was, in a few days restored to liberty and his command.
Deputy Marshal Tebbs and probate judge John P. Wood called upon the governor for a requisition to serve a warrant upon Captain Samuel Walker, then commanding a company of militia at Lawrence. The governor assured them there need be no difficulty touching that matter; that he would answer for the appearance of Captain Walker upon his own summons, and simply addressed him a note requesting him to come forward manfully and meet the charges against him. Walker accordingly came to Lecompton, voluntarily surrendered himself, entered bail to appear at court, and returned to Lawrence. He was quite a lion during his stay at the capital.
8th.--Requisition was made upon Col. Cook for two companies of United States dragoons to proceed to Paoli, at the request of Mr. Maxwell McCaslin, Indian agent, to protect him while in charge of the public funds to pay off the Indians under his care, and also to scour the southeastern portion of the territory, where it was reported a band of thieves were prowling and committing depredations. With these troops a commissioner and deputy marshal were sent, with instructions and power to make arrests of suspicious persons, give them a preliminary hearing on the spot, and thus bring justice to the doors of the people.
13th.--The governor addressed a lengthy communication to the postmaster-general in regard to well-grounded complaints concerning the management of the postal affairs of the territory, in which which he remarked:--"It requires eleven days for a letter to reach this place from Washington City, when a person travelling with expedition can accomplish the same distance in six days;" and then urges him to use his "best efforts to afford regular and prompt mail facilities for this growing territory."
15th.--The free-state prisoners, forty in number, were removed to Tecumseh, where more comfortable quarters had been prepared, and where they were to receive their trial; they were attended by an escort of United States troops under command of Lieut. Higgins.
A convict named Charles H. Calkins made his escape from prison. A requisition for troops was made by the master of convicts, and a reward of one hundred dollars offered by the governor for his capture, but without success.
16th.--A company of mounted U. S. troops was granted to Gen. G. W. Clarke, Indian agent for the Potawattomies, to protect him in the payment of his annuities.
17th.--The governor proceeded to Fort Leavenworth, via Lawrence, to attend the public sales of the Indian trust lands. These were owned by the Delawares, who number about one thousand persons. They are the richest tribe in Kansas, and perhaps the wealthiest community in the world.
18th.--These land sales had attracted to Leavenworth City a large concourse of people, not only from every part of the territory, but from almost every state in the Union. An invitation being tendered to the governor, he attended a meeting at that place, where he was warmly welcomed, and where addresses on the all-important and all-absorbing subject of the sales and the general welfare of the country, were made by the governor, the mayor, and other prominent citizens.
26th.--A large meeting of citizens of that town and vicinity was held at Tecumseh, to chose delegates to attend a convention "to be held at Leavenworth City, to consult upon and propose a policy upon which the citizens of Kansas, without distinction of party, might unite for the preservation of peace and a general reconciliation, based upon acquiescence in existing legislation, an impartial administration of justice, and opposition to external intervention in the affairs of the territory."
At this meeting, which was addressed by a number of gentlemen, both of the pro-slavery and free-state parties, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:--
"Resolved, That we cordially approve any and all measures that may have a tendency to restore peace and harmony among the citizens of Kansas; that in view of the past and impressed with the importance of the present, we earnestly implore our fellow-citizens, without distinction of party, to aid in the preservation of peace and order by adopting a policy of conciliation.
"Resolved, That whatever difference of opinion may prevail touching the circumstances that resulted in the adoption of existing laws, we deem it the duty of every man to support and sustain these laws, in preference to having no laws at all, and continuing the anarchy that has too long prevailed.
"Resolved, That we believe the existing territorial laws contain provisions that should be repealed, and we have confidence that the legislature, at the next session, will, with a spirit of justice and moderation, correct oppressive legislation.
"Resolved, That we have confidence in the patriotic desire and ability of Governor Geary to faithfully administer the laws, and protect and enforce the rights of all the citizens of Kansas; and we cordially approve the policy that he has adopted, and which, thus far, has been attended with the happiest results towards the restoration of law and order, equality and justice."
The proceedings of this meeting were endorsed by the grand jury, who published, with the resolutions, the following, to which their names were affixed:--
"Resolved, That we, the undersigned grand jury for the second judicial district, do hereby approve the foregoing resolutions, and recommend them to the citizens of Kansas Territory."
29th.--The deputation sent on the 8th instant, in pursuit of a band of alleged marauders, who were committing depredations in the south-eastern section of the territory, returned to Lecompton, and made a lengthy report of their proceedings. They succeeded in arresting seven notorious characters, one of whom, James Townsley, confessed to having been a member of the party that murdered Wilkinson, Sherman, and the Doyles, on the Potawattomie creek. Others were examined and committed for felony. The five prisoners committed were carried to Tecumseh, and there held in custody to await the action of the grand jury. The report of the commission says, "they had but fairly commenced the business with which they were charged, when Captain De Sausspure informed them that he had been ordered into winter quarters at Fort Leavenworth, with his command, and that no further assistance could be rendered by him. Without a military escort no arrests could be made with certainty and safety, and further operations were therefore suspended."
A special messenger brought a dispatch to the governor, from U. S. Commissioner Edward Hoagland, informing him that a band of Missourians, in the disguise of United States soldiers, had forcibly driven a man named Holmes from the territory, that the peace was thereby again endangered, and offering his own, and the assistance of the marshal, to pursue the offenders; to which a lengthy reply was returned, of which the following is an extract:--
"In reply, I have to state, that the supposed soldiers were real soldiers, sent by me upon the due requisition of peaceable citizens of Missouri, accompanied by Deputy-Marshal Preston, to arrest certain horse thieves (Holmes among the number), who had been plundering the citizens of Missouri; that they did arrest Holmes, and afterwards permitted him to escape, very much to my regret; that thus far the efficiency of the military is unimpaired, and no further, and that the peace of the territory still remains upon a solid basis, as I have the most gratifying reports from all quarters."