Kansas: Its Interior and Exterior Life by Sara Robinson



MAY, the month of flowers, has come again. Sweet-scented, rose-colored verbenas are blooming side by side with a most delicate straw-colored flower. It grows in heads like the verbena, each separate flower being a little larger, and with serrated edge. The roses and pinks make the air heavy with their perfume. Since the taking of the prisoners to Lecompton, and the ill success of Salters in arresting any more, there have been a few days of quiet.

On the second of May, the ladies of the Literary Charitable Association gave a social entertainment at the hotel. There were the old settlers of Lawrence, who had pitched their tents on Mt. Oread eighteen months before, mingling with the newly-arrived citizens, the commissioners and their suite. The evening passed merrily, and, to add to the pleasure of many, the prisoners at Lecompton arrived. Through the intervention of the soldiers, their guard, word had been sent to Lawrence, that the lives of the prisoners were in danger, and some of our prominent citizens went up in the morning to effect their release by giving bail. The soldiers were convinced, from the continual threats against them, that there were intentions of foul play, and, against the wishes of the ruffians, they accompanied the prisoners half way to Lawrence. The returned men seemed to have the same feeling one would be likely to experience in escaping from a lion's den, and were glad to receive again the kindly sympathies of their friends. Refreshments of cakes, fruits, and ice-cream, were brought in at a late hour, and some lovers of the dance were there.

The outrages of the pro-slavery men are again becoming frequent. Mr. Mace, residing a few miles from Lawrence, the evening after having given in his testimony concerning the ill treatment he received at the hands of the Missourians at the election in the spring, was shot. Hearing his dog bark, he stepped out of his house, and reports of pistols resounded in the air, a ball striking him in the leg. At the same time, he heard one of the assassins say, "There's another d--d abolition wolf-bait!"

A young man, living on the Wakarusa, has been for many days missing. He had been seen to enter the timber bottoms, on his way to Lawrence. Soon after a pro-slavery man was also seen taking the same course, and a shot was heard. Mr. B.'s horse was found with saddle on, in the woods. The Stubs, of which young B. was a member, searched for him, but failed to find him.

The second week in May, the First District Court held its session at Lecompton, Judge Lecompte presiding. The congressional committee also held a session at Tecumseh, twenty miles above Lawrence, for the better accommodation of witnesses in that region; and of General Whitfield, who had declined to bring his witnesses to Lawrence, promising however, to have them at Tecumseh.

The weather being lovely, the doctor proposed that Mrs. S. and I should accompany him to Topeka, five miles beyond Tecumseh. A little later than the committee we left Lawrence, our Scotch friend, who had returned from the states, accompanying us.

A little way on the road we passed T., who was again going to Lecompton for trial, making the third visit there for the same thing.

We reached Big Springs near noon. A collection of houses and a store were here, upon exceedingly high ground. The site gained its name from a number of springs of excellent water in the deep ravines near the town.

A mile further on was Washington; unlike the Washington with its broad avenue on our eastern slope, where Congress-men, fresh from gambling-hells and deeds of sin which the darkness hides, shot down their fellows, where our senators for words of eloquence and truth, born of holy aspirations for freedom, are beaten by southern chivalry. (?) O, how the boast of the South, their chivalry, their gallantry, has in these latter days proved itself only the shadow of a substance, the semblance of a reality!

At this Washington, where its log house, kept by Pennsylvanians, bears the reputation of good meals, and quickly served, we stopped for dinner. The huge stone fire-place, the lounge covered with brocatelle, the damask curtains, the little fancy clock, and flower-vases, gave an air of comfort to the rude arrangements of a pioneer home. A Botany, Mrs. Lincoln's Botany, bringing back our school-days and wild romps for flowers, lay open on the lounge, and told of a student here. To our question of who it might be, seeing only the proprietor and his wife, the mother, with a mother's pride, said her son was studying at home; that he missed much the schools of Pennsylvania, but was hoping that soon good schools would be established here.

The afternoon's ride was over a country of most enchanting loveliness. Timber was more abundant, not only marking the line of the creeks, but crowning the summit of many an elevation. As we rode through the woods, we saw little log cabins, with a clearing around them, and grounds fenced in. The creeks were all high from recent rains, but as we crossed several without difficulty, and when upon the further side of each one, safely over, I asked the doctor if there were any more, I grew almost impatient at the stereotyped answer, "One or two," and Mrs. S. laughed, and said, "Why, what a timid little thing you are!" It was not fear of any personal danger which annoyed me, but the unpleasantness of detention by the breaking of the carriage. The horses were very restive in going down the steep banks, and it would not be the most delightful thing in the world to find one's self taking an unintentional plunge-bath in such muddy waters as the pouring rains of the last week had occasioned.

But we had accomplished the journey to within three or four miles of Tecumseh without hindrance; and, as we approached another creek, which had precipitous banks, we found four heavily-loaded emigrant wagons, each drawn by five or six yoke of oxen, in advance of us. One or two teams had just crossed, and one was then going down the bank, while the last one was waiting, and we drove in ahead to be ready for the next passage. There was a bridge over the water when at its usual height, but this rise had covered the bridge, and everything by which we could tell its actual position.

The heavy wagon of the emigrants struck the bridge a little too far on the right, and the wheels slid off into the water. The danger at this time was that the wagon would be upset into the creek. We could not pass it, and must wait just where we were, half down the winding bank, a high ledge on one side of us, and a miniature precipice on the other, where old dead branches of trees abounded. The driver of the wagon took off all the oxen save one yoke, and he cudgelled them in a manner, which that ancient text, "The righteous man is merciful to his beast," proved him to be entirely lacking in the kindly element, but not one step did the poor cattle stir.

A half hour passed away. The other yokes were put on again. The man stood on the lower side, in the water, and attempted to steady the wheels; but the oxen did not pull. The wagon was a fixture directly on this highway between Lawrence and Topeka. The oxen seemed unused to the yoke, and the teamsters equally new in driving them, and the question of our getting to Topeka began to grow serious. At last the oxen were taken from the front of the wagon, and placed on the other end; also some cattle were taken from the wagon on the road, making ten yokes in all. The attempt to start the wagon backward was now to be made, and we were directly in the way. Our carriage was driven as far out on the edge of the bank as it could stand, leaving just room enough for the oxen and wagon to pass out by the side of us, if they behaved well, and with a laudable regard for other people's rights, made no encroachments upon ours. Mrs. S. seemed to have a doubt of their doing so, and with the gentlemen left the carriage, and me all alone in it. Mr. P., however, was not far away. Doctor at last took the whip, and tried his skill at driving the patient creatures. Another, with whip in hand, which he brandished with amazing dignity, stood between them and the carriage; still another was holding the tongue of the wagon. After various ineffectual efforts, and much loud hallooing, mingled with doubts and fears on our part, the oxen gave one "long and strong pull together," and the wheels moved. The man standing nearest them fell into the water, but he came up again with a broad grin upon his face, and we could not help making it general. With three pulls, and three several "dips" of the man into the creek, the laugh each time being louder as his good-natured face appeared dripping with the muddy water, not a jot of his cheerfulness abated, the wagon was removed from the way. Our party being quickly reseated in the carriage, by the aid of the drenched man, who offered to stand by the bridge that we might know where it was, we reached the other shore safely, and were on our way again. We asked the doctor, who had had a California trip overland, how this compared with some of their crossing of streams on the plains, and he answered us very energetically, that "it was nothing in comparison to those." On our arrival at Tecumseh, we found the party who had started ahead of us had had trouble in crossing, the water being so high that they had to leave their carriage for a time, getting over themselves at some other point, or climbing among the dead logs.

Tecumseh is a fine location for a town; high from the river, with a heavy growth of wood near by. A court-house of brick, with pillars, is being built, also a large brick store, while the hotel, which is a wooden building, is quite capacious. Stinson, a white man, who married a Shawnee wife, resides here. He is a pro-slavery man, and owns two or three slaves. By the treaty, every member of his family is entitled to two hundred acres of land; hence, he is quite a landholder. Judge Elmore also resides here. It has been currently reported, and never contradicted, that, during the severe cold of last winter, the judge and his wife were obliged to take care of their nineteen slaves -- he hauling wood, and cutting it, to keep them warm; that one old man froze to death in his bed, while another was crippled for life.

The district here is largely free-state, notwithstanding some of the owners in town are pro-slavery. Col. Woodson, of Independence, Missouri, acting counsel for Gen. Whitfield, had business at home which required his immediate attendance, when he learned the commissioners were going to Tecumseh. The singularity and suddenness of the move was explained satisfactorily, when examining the poll books of the 30th March election, the name of Col. S. H. Woodson, Independence, Missouri, was found registered in full.

We arrived at Topeka towards night-fall, after crossing two more deep ravines, and one strong bridge, a mark of civilization and progress. We drove to a building which had been kept as a living on a claim. Having found no direction, we went out there, to learn if accommodations for a few days could be had there. The reply was, "We are building, everything is topsy-turvy, but we will see what we can do for you."

We found our Boston friend living some two miles from town, and no road running near. There was a lovely prospect in the distance, but solitude unequalled all around. The house was neither a shelter from the winds nor storms. The floor-boards were loose, moving at every step, with large cracks between, and through fear of snakes, she slept upon a few boards laid upon the beams near the roof, and scarcely dared step from the door, so great was her fear of them. She was ill with a severe cold, taken by exposures, and seemed a little nervous too, in regard to the continual outrages of the Missourians, but was hoping soon to get back to her house in town.

We returned to "Commercial Head Quarters," and entered through a long, narrow room; cooking-stove and table were standing upon one side, and table with chairs upon the other, while a large number of shelves, with other shelves also near the door, on the other side of the room. They were all empty, and Yankee ingenuity does not suggest for what purpose they were hung. Two or three cages of canaries hung overhead, and they twittered and sung continually. Back of the little entry was the dining-room, with just room enough left for stairway between the two rooms. The stairs were little, narrow boards laid on insecurely! How dizzy one's head grew at the first steep ascent! Time and use even did not render them wholly safe to me, with nothing to steady one's self by, and there was no security against reaching the bottom by a quicker mode than stairways usually anticipate. On reaching the landing at the top, we found ourselves in a room of the same size as the lower one. This, evidently, was sleeping apartment, for there were beds, beds, nothing but beds. They stood along the sides of the room, the foot of the first reaching the head of the second, and leaving only a space a few feet square by the stairway. Stepping about two feet in a straightforward direction, we came to another little entry, from which stairs to the attic ascended. On the left was a door opening into the printing-office, and on the right a curtain, which supplied the place of door, was uplifted, and we were ushered into an apartment. We sat down on a sofa (two were standing close together, and filled one side of the room), and realized that, as Mr. G. said, "they are topsy-turvy," and not that exactly, but that there is a great deal of furniture in one room. The width of the sofa, seraphine, and large French bedstead, was a nice fit for one end of the room. The lounge and handsome secretary, with a chair at each end of it, filled in between the bedstead and another one at the other end of the room. Centre-table stood a little in front the secretary, with a vase of beautiful flowers, and jewelry case upon it. A large Boston rocker, with mahogany squab-seat chairs and cricket, made up the movable furniture. A family portrait gallery adorned the walls. There were pictures of beautiful little children, and pictures, also, of scriptural design, drawn from the times of the Saviour. This room was set apart for Mrs. S. and I, and, though one could hardly take two steps without moving a chair, we soon felt quite at home. There was a number of boarders in the house, and in the two families keeping the house only thirteen children. This house, at the time of the constitutional convention, accommodated seventy boarders.

The ladies of Topeka, with their wealth of social feeling, soon called to see us. The sewing-circle and temperance society also held their meeting while we were there. The ladies, coming from almost all states in the Union, seemed to be bound together in strong bonds of friendship, and the partiality they feel for Topeka above other settlements is not only felt but loudly expressed. It is doubtless true that the residents of other settlements are as strongly impressed with the advantages of their own. It is a singular fact, and one often remarked in this country, that, if we were to judge by the observations of others, or our own feelings when in different localities, each place is "the most beautiful of all." Almost every person seems to think their own claim the best, and it can only be accounted for by the acknowledgment of the fact that an exceeding loveliness is spread over the whole face of the country, and actual possession of such beauty doubles its value to the possessor. Towards evening of one of the days we were at Topeka, the commissioners, Gov. Reeder, and several others, arrived from Tecumseh. The house was indeed full. Doctor went out to some of his acquaintances, to see if he could not find lodgings for us elsewhere, that he might, by giving up his bed in the general sleeping-room, make room for more; but every one's house was full. The necessity of the case then demanded that two sleeping apartments should be made of one room, and, by driving some nails in the beam overhead, and hanging Mr. S.'s large, red, double blanket in the centre, this was quickly done. The same day one of Buford's men was at Tecumseh with subpoena for Gov. Reeder to appear as a witness before the grand jury at Lecompton. He declined answering the summons, on the ground of his business before the commissioners -- that he was exempt from appearing as a witness. Open threats were being made at this time against Gov. Reeder's life. Major Clark, the murderer of Barber, was drilling a company of fifty men at Lecompton, daily, and the Buford men were gathering at Lecompton. We passed them in companies of eight or ten as we went to and from Topeka. They have no money, only the clothes they wear, and a rifle, for which they have given their notes to Major Buford. They looked, indeed, like the very offscouring of all creation. When they landed at Kansas city they had no money to pay for their night's lodging, and did not meet with that free, whole-hearted support which they expected from the many calls made upon them to come to the territory. One of the men was forcibly ejected from the pantry of the hotel there, that not being the landlord's usual place of entertaining his guests. The same evening, after reaching Kansas city, Major Buford called his men on to the high hill back of the hotel, and laid down the orders to them. He bound them upon an oath taken upon the Bible to remain in the territory to vote, and at all times to hold themselves in readiness to fight while they did remain. Some of the party, who, by false representations, had been induced to join the company, became disgusted with the new phase affairs were taking, and immediately left for home. Others would have done the same, but for want of passage-money.

A member of that company, now in the government employ, told me the offer of Major Buford was, to pay their expenses, support them twelve months, and set them upon claims which were already selected for them, and he was then to have a share in the claim. Being poor, these inducements to get a living were a temptation, and the lure was successful. How different was the reality when they arrived here! This man also stated that the first time they heard that fighting was to be their business was when they arrived at Kansas city. Hence the disgust with which many returned to their homes. That they are, as a whole, a poor, degraded, ignorant set of beings, one glance will suffice to show. Complaining as one of them was to a free-state man, for years a resident of the territory, of his bitter fate, the latter said to him, "Why don't you get some work to do?"

"I can't work; I never worked a day in my life."

"Then you will have to buy a negro, and let him work for you."

"I have no money to buy anything."

What can such a community as this do in Kansas? Is there anything left for such creatures to do but kill, plunder and destroy? It has been the threat of some pro-slavery men, that when the free-state men should be driven out, they would take their houses and claims. Is this the selection of claims Major B. had reference to, in promising claims to his men? While such men as these were making Lecompton their head-quarters, and Major Clark was drilling his fifty men, Judge Lecompte delivered his extraordinary charge to the grand jury. As a legal curiosity it deserves preservation, and will be regarded with interest by all who have fallen under the jurisdiction of a judge as much more infamous than Judge Jeffries as his consummate ignorance renders him more despicable. A portion of it reads thus:

"This territory was organized by an act of Congress, and so far its authority is from the United States. It has a legislature elected in pursuance of that organic act. This legislature, being an instrument of Congress by which it governs the territory, has passed laws. These laws, therefore, are of United States authority and making; and all that resist these laws resist the power and authority of the United States, and are, therefore, guilty of high treason.
"Now, gentlemen, if you find that any person has resisted these laws, then you must, under your oaths, find bills against them for high treason. If you find that no such resistance has been made, but that combinations have been formed for the purpose of resisting them, and individuals of influence and notoriety have been aiding and abetting in such combinations, then must you find bills for constructive treason." To make the matter so plain that even the dullest of his hearers may not fail to comprehend his meaning, he states that some who are "dubbed governor, lieutenant governor, etc., are such individuals of influence and notoriety."

Before this famous charge of Judge Lecompte, on the 8th of May, as Gov. Reeder had returned from Tecumseh, and was conducting the examination of a witness before the committee at Lawrence, Deputy Marshal Fain appeared in court, and served a writ of attachment upon Governor Reeder. He arose and informed the committee of the fact, and gave the three following reasons for his not obeying the subpoena of the day before; namely, informality in the writ, insecurity of person at Lecompton, and privilege as a member of Congress. The writ was not properly addressed to any officer; it did not specify the day in which it required him to appear; it was not properly attested. He stated further, that the House of Representatives had recognized him as a claimant for a seat in that body, as a delegate from Kansas; that he was, therefore, entitled to the same privileges as a member of Congress, conferred by the sixth section of article first of the federal constitution. It was also the opinion of the majority of the committee that Gov. Reeder would be privileged from arrest to the same extent that a member of the committee would be, and that his duty required him to attend the sittings of the committee instead of those of the territorial courts. Gov. Reeder was a contestant for a seat in Congress; his memorial had been received; the committee was sent to Kansas to take testimony in his case; and his attendance, in obedience to the summons of the committee, is essential to the prosecution of their labors. He must judge for himself upon his course of action. Gov. Reeder then informed the officer he should not be arrested, and, if he attempted it, it would be at his peril. Soon after the deputy left, however, he sent a letter to Judge Lecompte, saying he would appear before him as a witness, if he would promise him protection while in Lecompton, and grant him a safe return to Lawrence when he should have given in his testimony. The answer of the judge was, that "the matter had gone out of his hands."

The committee being about to leave for Leavenworth, Governor Reeder was warned not to go with them if he would escape assassination; but his reply was that he should go. It was not unknown to many that, on his first arrival in Kansas, in May, coming to Lawrence by way of Leavenworth, he had only left the last-named place when a band of men threatened to assassinate him if he could be found. These threats had not grown less bitter or more rare, and reports from Wyandot, Leavenworth, and Kansas city, showed that a new invasion was being planned against the territory. On the tenth, word came into Lawrence of these plans of the borderers. They were crossing into the territory and forming about Atchison, ready to march at any time. Their first plan was, by forced and stealthy marches, at night, to surprise Lawrence. But, seeing the impracticability of such a procedure, another plan more sure was adopted, and, on the eleventh of May, United States Marshal Donaldson issued his proclamation of falsehoods.

"Whereas certain judicial writs have been directed to me, by the First District Court of the United States, etc., to be executed within the County of Douglas; and whereas an attempt to execute them by the United States deputy marshal was violently resisted by a large number of the citizens of Lawrence, and as there is every reason to believe that an attempt to execute these writs will be resisted by a large body of armed men; now, therefore, the law-abiding citizens of the territory are commanded to be and appear at Lecompton, as soon as practicable, and in numbers sufficient for the proper execution of the law.
          "Given under my hand, this 11th day of May, 1856.
            "J. B. DONALDSON,
            "U. S. Marshal for Kansas Territory."

My husband, going upon business to the East, was also taken prisoner on the tenth of May, by a gang of Missourians at Lexington. They declared he was running away from an indictment, and by their whole conversation showed themselves better acquainted with the designs of Judge Lecompte and Gov. Shannon than the people of this territory. They sent word to this tool of theirs, who bears the title of governor of the territory, and he recognized them as his agents and accomplices.

Letters written by H. C. Pate, filled with utter falsehoods, calculated to arouse the passions of the border men, were published in the St. Louis Republican. In a letter dated Palermo, K. T., May 5, and published in the Republican, he made an untrue statement with regard to Jones, then stated that a man by the name of Harper had been shot in or near Lawrence, and went into doleful strains on the want of compassion of the people of Lawrence for the bereaved wife and children; all of which was a sheer fabrication -- no man of the name of Harper having lived in Lawrence, or any man been molested; and another proof was given of the old adage, that "an idle man's brain is the devil's workshop." He closed his letter, however, by an appeal for present help, saying, "I think I shall be able, in a few days, to give you something of an interesting and conclusive character."

In this way was every means used to create a war in the territory. The St. Louis Intelligencer published the following letter, dated

"PARKVILLE, Mo., May 16, 1856.
"Prepare for an awful shock! Hold a steady helm, or the old ship will be wrecked! Armed men are rushing into the territory. The destruction of Lawrence is meditated. Civil war is just before us. Couriers just from Lawrence say they have from one thousand to fifteen hundred men, while there are from eight hundred to one thousand around the place, but increasing fast. It is thought the destruction of the committee and evidence is the cause of the outbreak, or at the bottom. We pray the Almighty God to avert these dreadful evils. The secret border league is at the head of this affair. It is expected to result in disunion. The ultras on both sides are dangerous men. Strike boldly for the union of this great country, and may God bless you. It is said the ladies of Lawrence are arming. The Platte city cannon and many men have gone over. None have yet gone from Parkville. It is not advised by the masses; most good citizens are against it."

While this shows the state of things in the Missouri border, outrage and pillage were already committed by the ruffians arrived in the territory. As a party of free-state men, on the fifteenth of May, were quietly at work in a field in Benicia, a little town about eight miles from Lawrence, unarmed, they were suddenly surrounded by twenty-five Missourians, wholly armed, who, without any warrant or authority, took them prisoners. They carried them into a neighboring cabin, and, with many threats of instant death, ordered them to leave Kansas. "G--d d--n you, if you are ever caught here again you shall be strung up! Go to Nebraska, d--n you! You have no right in Kansas!" was the language of the ruffians. "We are coming to Lawrence in a few days, to wipe out the d--d abolition city, and to kill or drive off every one of the inhabitants," was the finale of all their threats. All the prisoners except a Mr. S., of Worcester, Mass, were soon released. He had answered them like a man, and was reserved for further punishment. The following is the speech of Major Herbert, the leader of the ruffians:

"GENTLEMEN: The cause of our being together to-day is of a peculiar character. The condition of things at this time, and things that have been said and done, you are better acquainted with than I am. I have been here but a short time. What you know are facts; what I know is hearsay, but my information is such that it becomes facts.
"I now want to give you a piece of advice. You are in a state of rebellion. You have been aiding designing men in carrying out their point, which has brought this Union almost or quite into a state of dissolution. You have been offering resistance to the laws of the territorial Legislature, which was no doubt a legal one. The President has declared it legal; Congress has declared it legal; and resistance to those laws is TREASON!
"What did you come here for? Why did you not go to Minnesota, or Nebraska? It is not half settled, and is as good country as this. But, no; you must come here. You want to get the whole of the territory. That belongs to the South.
"We are going to drive you all out. We are going to Lawrence to take their arms. We are going to take every d--d thing they have got. The South asks nothing of the North. Now my advice to you is this: keep on at your work here, stay at home, have nothing to do with elections or voting. If you do you will be liable to be hanged on the first tree you come to.
"Every man has a right to his opinions, and a right to express them openly. Do you suppose I would go into a free-state camp and tell them that I was a free-state man? No, by G--d! I should hope I had more respect for myself or country. I told my people, before I left home, that I would see that this was made a slave-state, or die, and, by G--d, it shall he done, or every pro-slavery man in the territory will die in the attempt. It will be done peaceably if it can; if not, by G--d, it shall be by the point of the bowie-knife!
"This territory belongs to the South, and, by G--d, the South will have it! Is not this so, boys? [turning to his posse. "It is," was the response.] You have offered no resistance, and I hope that you will not. If you do you will be dealt with in a more summary manner. Gentlemen, you are released."

Cows and other animals had, for several days, been killed and carried off to the camp of the invaders at Lecompton. One free-state man was obliged by the ruffians to drive his own cow there, where they killed her before his eyes.

On the evening of the 13th of May, Mr. J. Weaver, assistant sergeant at arms of the congressional committee, was returning to Lawrence with one of the witnesses whom he had subpoened. Not finding his way to the ferry readily, a United States dragoon, whom he met, offered to show him the way, and as they came in sight of the ferry, they were just upon a camp of one hundred men, armed with revolvers, bowie-knives, United States muskets, and bayonets. They rode through the camp to the ferry-landing, and dismounted. As they did so, several men lying about on the ground exclaimed, "What in the h--ll does that mean?"

A crowd from the camp gathered around them, and one, coming in front of Mr. Weaver, asked where he was from, and where going; to which he replied he had been up north, and was going to Lawrence; when one of the ruffians remarked, "You won't get there very soon." He then asked "how he was on the goose?" to which he replied, "he was on the right side," but did not enter into any explanations of what, in his estimation, the right side might be. This answer raised the ire of the ruffian, and he said Mr. Weaver was "a fit subject to stay with them over night."

At this remark a number of the men gathered around with muskets in their hands. Another man, who had been talking with the dragoon, came up and said to the man, "It would be better not to interfere with Mr. Weaver, as he was in charge of the dragoon." Mr. Weaver then said "he was not in charge of the dragoon, but was himself a United States officer," and to the question of what kind of an officer, he replied, "he was an officer of the U. S. House of Representatives, and was called sergeant-at-arms."

His papers were then called for, and he handed his subpoena to a man they called colonel, who had the appearance of a man who might read.

After a thorough examination of the papers, and some consultation, he told Mr. W. "This case would be considered," asking him if "he did not know these were war times."

When Mr. W. expressed his ignorance of such a fact, the ruffian replied, "he would inform him these were war times, and folks must be on their guard; that it was a matter of importance that people be examined who do not show a plain front." He finished his dissertation by saying "that Mr. W. could not be released from custody, as the captain was not in camp."

Mr. W. told him "it was a matter of importance that he be not detained, as he must appear before the committee of investigation at Lawrence;" and, after a good deal of urging, another examination of his papers, and a new consultation among the ruffians, it was decided that Mr. W. and the witness should be sent under a guard of armed men to Lecompton, to be examined by Col. Wilkes, commanding at that time. So, after a detention of an hour or more, they were sent to Lecompton, and delivered to Col. Wilkes. After an examination of the papers, assisted by a Gen. Cramer, Col. W. told Mr. Weaver he thought "he was entitled to pass without molestation; but the forces in the territory being still unorganized" he would be liable to interruption and detention by the way."

He told him, also, "if he was hailed by any of the parties, to answer immediately, by all means, else he would certainly be shot."

At the request of Mr. W., to save detention by these parties, Col. Wilkes gave the following pass:

"LECOMPTON, KANSAS, May 13, 1856.
"TO ALL WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: This is to certify that I have examined the papers of Mr. J. A. Weaver, in company with Gen. Cramer, and I am satisfied that he is acting under authority of the U. S. House of Representatives, and should pass unmolested.
            "WARREN D. WILKES,
            "Of South Carolina."

This is a South Carolina pass; and the party who arrested Mr. W. claimed to be from South Carolina. Wilkes is one of Buford's men, a lieutenant in the band of ruffians. He is one of the self-constituted regulators in the territory in the affairs of actual settlers; was one of the destroyers of Lawrence, and was afterwards the leader of a gang of brutal men at Leavenworth, who arrested peaceable citizens without authority, and at the point of the bayonet.

On the 16th May, as Mr. Stowell was coming in from Kansas city to Lawrence, passing through Franklin, his wagon was stopped, and some boxes of guns broken open, and contents taken. Also a wagon-load of flour was taken possession of by the marshal's posse.

About the same time, Dr. Root and Mr. Mitchell, only a little time in the territory, having been down below Lawrence to look after some teams which they thought were delayed unnecessarily, on their return to Wabousa, left Lawrence on the afternoon of the 16th. On passing an encampment of Marshal Donaldson's, it being already dark, they were fired upon by a company of fifteen or twenty men, who rushed from a small cabin near the road, shouting and firing as they came. They were taken prisoners by them, while two gentlemen ahead of them, on fleet horses, escaped the whizzing balls. Hence the intelligence which went over the country that Dr. Root and Mr. Mitchell were killed.

About the same time, Judge Conway and P. C. Schuyler, returning to the territory from a tour in the states, were taken off the William Campbell by a mob. Their appeal to the officers of the boat availed them nothing. They only learned from them the simple fact that the affair was a "matter between them and the mob." The mob pretended "these gentlemen were endeavoring to leave the territory, and that writs were out against them."

Their coming into, instead of going out of, the territory was sufficient to show the falsity of such a pretence, and they expressed their willingness to answer to any charge before any court. The gentlemen preferring to trust their safety in the hands of friends, turned a deaf ear to the suggestions of one of the border ruffians "that they were better off where they were than in the territory for there was a heap of trouble there now, and, from what they believed, would be much safer in Parkville." Some of the more respectable people in Parkville interfered, and procured the release of Judge Conway and Mr. Schuyler from the ringleaders.

On the night of the 13th, Mr. Jenkins and G. W. Brown, of Lawrence, were taken prisoners by a band of ruffians, half-way between Westport and Kansas city, on their way to Lawrence.

Travelling was unsafe in the territory, bands of these ruffians being encamped at many points. About the 18th, armed men were camped on the "Big Stranger," waiting for the water to abate before they could cross with their two brass six-pound howitzers, and their ammunition and provision wagons. There was the camp of desperadoes at Lecompton, and bands of armed men infesting the usually travelled route from Lawrence to Kansas city. People passing on the highways were stopped, searched, and robbed of anything which pleased the invaders. These highwaymen and freebooters were called into the territory by the marshal's proclamation of the 11th, and their expenses were to be defrayed by the general government. Our people were annoyed beyond endurance. Their property was destroyed, their lives in jeopardy, and their rights trampled upon by these vile minions of a viler administration. United States muskets were put in the hands of these Carolinians and Alabamians, not one month in the territory, by Gov. Shannon, thus making himself a tool in the hands of the President, to consummate his infamy. The following pass is proof positive that Gov. Shannon is implicated in all these villanies:

LECOMPTON, K. T., May 17, 1856.
"The bearer of this is Jesse Newill, an acquaintance of mine from Ohio, who is now in this territory with the view of looking out for a situation to locate a saw-mill. He desires to examine the country and select a place well provided with timber. He is accompanied by his son, John Newill, Joseph Fitzsimmons, his brother-in-law, and a Dr. Gamble.
"They are no way identified with the present troubles in this territory.
"Now, therefore, I have to request all persons to permit the said Jesse Newill and his comrades to pass and repass throughout the territory without molestation.
            "WILSON SHANNON,
            "Governor of Kansas."

The following pass also deserves preservation, as it emanated from the executive department of the territory. There are many more of the same kind afloat:

"let this man pas for I no him to bee a law and abiding man.
            "Samuel Salters."

Gov. Shannon's pass was given under these circumstances: Mr. Jesse Newill, recently from Ohio, after having been arrested several times in going near Lecompton, at last entered the town, and, seeing the governor, rode up to him, saying, "What does all this mean?"

The governor, falling back on his dignity, of which he has no small share when he is enjoying a sense of security, both from friends and foes, said, "There is no use of complaining. The territory is under martial law, and a civil war is inevitable."

The governor seemed uneasy to get away from being questioned by an old friend. His conscience, although of the gutta percha kind, might have given an occasional twinge, when pressed by the close queries of a man of sense. On parting, he gave Mr. Newill the above characteristic pass.

Thus, while the people of Missouri arrest the leading men in the territory, Gov. Shannon accepts their services; while several are actually indicted upon a charge of high treason, -- while the marshal has called in these Missourians to meet at Lecompton for siege upon Lawrence, -- the Washington Union is out, with the bloodthirstiness of the border papers, for the extermination of the free-state men in Kansas. It expresses its hopes "that an example will be made of some of the ringleaders," and says, "It is high time that rebellion and treason should be brought to the bar of justice." What could better express the purposes of this administration, whose real head is Jefferson Davis and Caleb Cashing & Co.?

White servitude is the order in Kansas; but the more galling the bondage, the sooner will its reign be over, and the chains which bind us will drag down eternally, deeper than plummet hath ever sounded, our infamous oppressors. Let the Union talk of "treason and rebellion" to a tyrannical usurpation being brought to justice. There is no justice in Kansas. Let Douglas say, "I will subdue you," and let this subjugation be accomplished by President Pierce's "army and navy" at the point of the bayonet and the murderous rifle. Death, too, may come at his hands; but with it the soul wins immortality. The "traitor" may expiate his love of freedom on the scaffold of his building; but the world will see it in a pedestal of honor.

    "For humanity sweeps onward; where to-day the martyr stands
    To-morrow crouches Judas, with his silver in his hands;
    While the howling mob of yesterday in silent awe return,
    To glean the scattered ashes into History's golden urn."

Previous chapter     Next chapter     Return to Table of Contents