LEWIS BODWELL regarded the institution of slavery as the personification of evil, and he was in complete agreement with those who would oppose its further expansion, and sustain the champions of freedom upon the Kansas prairies. So intense were his feelings upon this issue, that they permeate his entire correspondence, and make him a pronounced partisan upon the great question of the hour, even before reaching his destination in the West.  After arriving in Kansas, he was impressed by the prevalence of illegality and violence, and had little confidence in Gov. J. W. Geary, even though he "promises well." Nevertheless, Bodwell took comfort in the belief that eventually slavery would be excluded from Kansas.  Like many other Free-State men, he viewed with great foreboding a victory of Buchanan, and wrote:
Many such are founding their hopes & forming plans, predicated on the result of the coming election for President. Many now out of the territory will remain & many more will go in case Buchanan succeeds; so certain do they consider it that his election is but the prelude, to more violent, continued and successful efforts to subdue freedom in Kansas. We look upon it as the death Knell of our hopes, if it comes. . . 
When Geary reestablished order, a difference of opinion soon arose in the Free-State ranks as to the best course to pursue. One faction wished to remain loyal to the Topeka constitution and its slate of officers, the other desired freedom to support whoever and whatever would most promote the cause of freedom.  The issue was brought to a point by the question of whether the Free-State men should participate in the coming election for delegates to the Lecompton constitutional convention -- a movement sponsored by the Proslavery legislature, and opposed by the governor. On March 10, 1857, a Free-State convention was held in Topeka, which prepared an address to the American people.  Bodwell apparently attended the meeting, and wrote that it was composed of various parties and sects, "'small-fisted farmers, greasy mechanics and filthy operatives,' physicians, lawyers and clergymen, they were unanimous in their final decision."  The chief question at issue, Bodwell reported, was whether the Free-State men should participate in the election of the following June, for members of a constitutional convention, as appointed by the Proslavery legislature. It was unanimously decided not to do so, since the initial steps were entirely in the hands of their enemies, who could fix the qualifications for voters, and even import them from outside; and finally, they had no congressional enabling act, which Bodwell believed essential for the formation of a constitution.  He remarked that the address which was drawn up was a reply "to the infamously and notoriously false document put forth by the Lecompton Convention." 
During the spring of 1857 a great wave of emigrants arrived in Kansas, predominately from the free states, and Bodwell wrote in a hopeful vein:
On our political horizon some clouds are seen, & of immediate results we have some fears; but in the ultimate sweep of our cause, we have the utmost confidence. Immigration at a rate wholly unprecedented has been pouring in upon us, since early in February, bringing in a people almost unanimous in their opposition to slavery. . . . [God] will speedily avenge his people, ,"tho. he bear long with them." 
During the following summer, the Free-State counsels continued to waver, although the growing strength of their party prompted an increasing number to favor participation in the territorial elections of their opponent, and thus "capture" the government. This issue led to many conventions throughout the territory,  culminating in a general Free-State meeting at Grasshopper Falls, late in August, 1857. For the first time it was resolved that all Free-State men should participate in the territorial election of October 5, and thus "rely upon the faithful fulfillment of the pledge of Governor Walker."  After the election, which proved a Free-State victory, Bodwell wrote that they had entered it on the governor's declaration that it was not territorial but United States law. They succeeded, contrary to expectation, yet despite their "overwhelming actual majority," the only thing that saved them was that the governor "exceeded his instructions!!!" by throwing out 2,800 votes, which gave them control of the legislature. Their future was not all clear, but "the morning cometh." 
In an election scheduled for late in December, the Lecompton constitutional convention now tried, by "hook or crook," to definitely establish slavery in Kansas. To avoid this a Free-State convention was held at Lawrence December 2, 1857, which repudiated the Lecompton proposals, and requested the submission of both the Topeka and Lecompton constitutions to a fair vote.  Bodwell was a member of the convention, and wrote the following day that "the goal is almost won." The people ridiculed the Lecompton proposals, he asserted, and since the Free-State men had captured the legislature, they were removing the fetters that bound them. They expected to submit the two constitutions to a fair vote "within the shortest possible time." Federal troops were still kept at Lecompton "to guard 28 scoundrels elected by one-twentieth of a people in attempting to force upon the other nineteen-twentieths, laws which they abhor. . . ." 
When the Lawrence Free-State convention of early December reassembled a few weeks later, it decided to not participate in the election for state officers of January 4, 1858, as provided by the Lecompton convention. The conservative elements, led by G. W. Brown, refused to agree to this, and at a second meeting named a slate of officers, headed by George W. Smith for governor.  Lewis Bodwell appears to have been one of the "die hards," who to the last remained loyal to the Topeka constitution. In a letter to the American Home Missionary Society, March 18, 1858, he bitterly attacked the "party of bolters," who contrary to their decision of December 2, had nominated a ticket and by the "most barefaced misrepresentations" obtained the votes of three thousand to five thousand "nominally free state men" for G. W. Smith.  This illustrates the extremely radical position occupied by Bodwell, who would reject most of his friends, if he thought they wavered on the main issue, since the "bolters" probably included a great majority of the Free-State men -- all of more conservative views.
At a time when the Topeka constitution was passing out of the picture, and when it seemed more than possible that the Lecompton constitution might be forced upon the people of Kansas, contrary to the clear wishes of the majority, Bodwell wrote Milton Badger of the American Home Missionary Society for confidential advice as to the best course to pursue. As a last resort should the Free-State men adopt a policy of force? He regarded it a "fixed fact that Kansas even with a slave constitution can never be a slave state. He continued:
We have among us those national democrats who go for a "free white" state to the exclusion of the black man, bond or free ;  we have the conservative free state men, who will unite with anyone who will promise to aid them in procuring peace -- (without asking much about the price), & we have the tired out toilers of other days; with the timid half-hearted later arrivals; who, the one from weariness & the other from weakness will go for "quiet" at any cost. 
Late in April, 1858, congress attempted to end the troublesome Kansas question by passing the compromise measure known as the English bill, which promised immediate admission into the union, if the people of Kansas would accept the Lecompton constitution, along with a grant of land similar to that offered Minnesota and other states. Bodwell commented that he had heard of only a single person of Free-State sentiments "who dares to seem an advocate of the acceptance of the infamous land bribe, by which a cowardly & corrupt partisan administration seeks to buy those whom it cannot conquer by fear or force." Even the former advocates of the Lecompton measure would not offer to support this proposal, and election day was spoken of as "the funeral of the English cheat." 
Since Lewis Bodwell was so pronounced a partisan upon the issue of slavery, and regarded all compromise as evidence of weakness or moral corruption, he excused or even defended a resort to force in defense of freedom. His attitude in this matter was well illustrated in his relation to John Ritchie, a colorful member of his church who did not hesitate to use force, when the occasion arose. Ritchie was among those indicted for manslaughter, because of alleged participation in the battle of Hickory Point, but he escaped from the jail at Lecompton, and fled to his original home in Indiana, where he remained for a year.  After he returned in 1857, "bygones were counted bygones." He promised to obtain all the stone needed for the Congregational church, quarried and delivered without cost, and in the work of building and rebuilding, his teams were always ready, on "the King's business."  He gave 160 acres for a Congregational college (Washburn), and was a prominent leader in reform and civic welfare. The charge of robbing the mails in 1856 hung over his head, but Ritchie was determined to resist "to the bitter
end" all efforts to arrest him for this offense. On April 20, 1860; Leonard Arms, a deputy United States marshal, tried to take him into custody upon this charge, but was met with resistance, and when the officer went to the home of Ritchie in a determined attempt to make arrest, Ritchie shot him.
Ritchie was tried for murder before Justice Joseph C. Miller of Shawnee county, who found that the defendant had "committed homicide, but one justifiable in the sight of God and man," and accordingly Ritchie was acquitted and discharged.  Bodwell commented: "If at any time it seems necessary for political purposes to raise an excitement, which shall show what violent desperate rebels our people are, up come any quantity of 'writs of '56' & the work is done. An ex-deputy now in this place is said to have in his possession 83 such papers."  Bodwell reviewed the points brought out in the trial, and believed that no one in his church would censure Ritchie, just as public sentiment did not condemn him.  However, the homicide "has fearfully disturbed" our community; & is having a powerful effect upon the whole territory; while present indications warrant us in believing that it will be extensively used to the injury of our cause & that of Freedom, by our enemies exaggerating, distorting or concealing such portions of the case as may suit their purpose."  Some time later the standing of Ritchie in the First Congregational Church was investigated, with Lewis Bodwell in attendance. The church committee practically reaffirmed the findings of Justice Miller, and freed Ritchie of any further discipline by the church.  In this episode, as throughout his career in Kansas, Bodwell identified himself with the more extreme partisans of the Free State cause -- those who detested any resort to compromise, and preferred the use of force to a surrender to the powers of evil.
In advocacy of the rightfulness of force, if properly used, Bodwell might have pointed to the words of many leading divines of the day, such as Henry Ward Beecher. It seems probable that he would have agreed with a Methodist preacher, who later described the course of events in Kansas: "The right of way for peace was secured by the gun, and. the right of moral and intellectual darkness gave way before the insistent flashes of gospel light. . . . Such is the transforming power of the Gun and the Gospel".  The best pen picture of Lewis Bodwell, written by Richard Cordley, places him in this light, when Bodwell attended the Free-State meeting at Lecompton in December, 1857:
From the West came the Topeka Company, and with them Brother Bodwell. He was riding his faithful pony "Major" whom all old Kansas ministers will remember . . .; he was booted and spurred, wore a close-fitting cap, and had an Indian blanket pinned over his shoulders; under the blanket were plainly visible the muzzle of a Sharps rifle and the hilt of a Colt's revolver. I did not see his Bible, but if you had searched him, I have little doubt you would have found in his right-hand coat-pocket a well-thumbed Greek Testament, which he always carried, and used in leisure moments. I did not see him reading it on that day, for he believed in a division of labor. He came to Lecompton to "watch": he would "pray" at some other time. His carbine and revolver were not carried altogether as ornaments; for the firm setting of his lips and the flashing of his keen black eye plainly showed that when he once felt in duty called upon to shoot, it would be very unpleasant for somebody. Years later, during the war, when he was traveling in behalf of the American Home Missionary Society, he always carried his revolver under the cushion of his carriage-seat, so as to be at all times instantly available. He used to say, "If a man carry a revolver at all, it is just as well to have it handy, for I have noticed that when any shooting is to be done, it makes all the difference in the world who gets the first shot." 
From the beginning of his service in Kansas, Lewis Bodwell appears to have been eminently successful in his chosen calling. His popularity as a preacher was undoubtedly due in no small degree to his willingness to share the joys and sorrows of his people, and to his quickness to lend a hand, wherever needed. In a new country such qualities were more appreciated than the "book larnin' " of a formal education, with which he was much less equipped. Because of his popularity, Bodwell played an important role in the early history of his denomination in Kansas.
In April, 1857, the first general meeting of Congregationalism was held at Topeka, and the General Association of Congregational Ministers and Churches of Kansas was organized. By-laws and articles of faith were adopted, along with resolutions strongly condemning slavery.  Although not present at this meeting, Bodwell was among those received into membership. He was also placed upon a committee to consider the matter of a Congregational college, and upon a second committee to solicit funds for the building of churches in Kansas. 
In October, 1858, when the general association met at Manhattan, Bodwell presented a report from the business committee upon the subject of tract societies and colportage. The American Tract Society of Boston was praised for its treatment of slavery as one of the "great sins of the day."  The system of colportage, which provided religious literature for those desiring it, was praised by the report, and a colporteur was desired, to perform this work for Kansas. To carry out this recommendation, a committee on "home evangelization" was named, "who should act as a committee on missions, church extension and colportage, and should have general oversight of the religious interests of the Territory."  Lewis Bodwell was retained as a member of this committee.
The committee on church erection, upon which Bodwell had been placed by the general association in 1857, also reported at the meeting of 1858. Bodwell and Amory Hunting had gone east, and conferred with the "church erection fund" committee, and also with the American Congregational Union, and found a radical difference between the two organizations. The union required a church building to be completed to the amount asked of them, before granting any aid, and made its own decisions on all claims. The "church erection fund" committee, on the contrary, apportioned their funds among the states and territories, to be distributed by local committees, and gave their funds at the start, merely requiring a bond for the completion of the church, free of debt, within a specified time. Since the churches on the frontier needed cash at the beginning, the union was then of little use to them, while the church erection fund committee had already sent $2,500 to Kansas, to be distributed among the churches at Burlingame, Grasshopper Falls, Zeandale, Bloomington, Eureka, Manhattan, Topeka, and Leavenworth. 
The committee of the general association upon the matter of a Congregational college for Kansas, on which Bodwell and John Ritchie had been placed by the annual meeting of 1857, also reported at the meeting of 1858. In July, 1858, they had advertised for bids for a location for the college, and Lawrence, Topeka, and other cities made offers of land. The committee, with Ritchie as chairman, reported in favor of a location at Topeka, and the association adopted the report. A board of trustees was named for the proposed college, with Bodwell as temporary chairman.  The association drafted a report, which included the following comments:
It is the intention of the Association to put the college in motion as early as possible, and to spare no pains to make it an institution of the first order. Aid to a large amount has already been promised. . . .
The offer of Topeka was not to be binding upon the general association, unless the terms were fulfilled in the specified time of six months -- too short a period, considering the hard times in Kansas. Nevertheless, the chief initial steps seem to have been taken, when Lewis Bodwell, acting as temporary chairman of the board of trustees of the college and moderator of the approaching meeting of the general association, issued a circular charging that Topeka had failed to make good her promises.  In May, when the association met at Lawrence, a special committee confirmed Bodwell's charge, and its report was adopted,  thereby leaving the matter of location again open, with Topeka, Lawrence, Burlingame, . and Wabaunsee submitting proposals.
The offer of Lawrence was regarded by the association as the most liberal, and was accepted, and the projected institution, was named "Monumental College,'" in memory of the victory of freedom over slavery in Kansas.  The year 1860 was one of extreme drought, which prevented work on the proposed buildings, and at the next annual meeting of the association, the college was moved back to Topeka, on terms similar to those first offered.  The Civil War caused a further delay, and it was not until 1865 that the institution was finally incorporated as Lincoln College. When it opened its doors the following year, Lewis Bodwell was president of the board of trustees, apparently a recognition of his services in the work of foundation. 
The proposal to move the college from Topeka to Lawrence resulted in much disaffection in Bodwell's church in Topeka, during the summer of 1859. Bodwell wrote to the American Home Missionary Society that the change was "greatly, as I hope, to the gain of the Institution, tho. my position in the matter is productive of any but pleasant results," since people found it hard to appreciate any move "which does not make their place the center of beauty, attraction, profit, &c, &c; the only place in which anything can start & live."  Goaded into action primarily because of the bad situation in his church, Bodwell upon Sunday, June 19, 1859, "notified the Church that after the expiration of his commission (Sept. 15) his work here as a Missionary might probably be considered at an end."  That evening a severe wind storm destroyed most of the church building, upon which Bodwell and his congregation had labored so faithfully.  He went to Leavenworth to supply a temporary vacancy caused by the resignation of the Rev. R. D. Parker, and while there; wrote the Missionary Society that after the expiration of the current year, he did not intend to return to Topeka [.197] While Bodwell was absent, his congregation considered the matter in dispute, and unanimously voted to request their pastor to continue with them, and to seek the necessary commission from the Missionary Society.  Bodwell finally consented to remain at Topeka, and remarked in a letter to the Missionary Society:
My resignation of this place was given in under circumstances & for reasons, which in the minds of all my brethren rendered such action justifiable & necessary. The source of the difficulty was the change of location of our proposed college. . . The feelings, remarks & actions of certain persons in my ch'h. were such as in my estimation, forbade any future harmony of action & usefulness in community. 
Even before the summer of 1859, Lewis Bodwell had made up his mind that a larger field of service was urgently caning him to leave his Topeka pastorate. As a man of broad outlook and sympathies, he had conceived a keen interest in the welfare of the whole Western country, and in order to relieve the lack of members of his calling, he had ministered in some degree to the spiritual needs of nearby communities.  In the discharge of his duties he traveled a good deal, and he soon came to realize the great dearth of religious opportunities endured by the settlers. Early in February, 1858, he voiced the hope of his colleagues, that someone like Lum might be kept in the field in Kansas "as a sort of agent & itinerant."  Late in the summer Bodwell stressed the matter more forcefully, stating that if an exploring and traveling missionary, should be decided upon, he would like to be considered a candidate, since he lacked the "impedimenta" of a married man, although Lum was better qualified.  He later added that the proposal was not of his own seeking. His colleagues regarded him favorably, as he was not, like Lum, encumbered with a family. They agreed that such an agent "must be an itinerant missionary, one whose 'home' is in his saddle, & who has nothing to hinder his remaining one, two, or four weeks in any place which might need him."  When the Missionary Society could give them such a man, they would cease talking of doing it themselves.
When the general association met at Manhattan the next month, it appointed a committee on home evangelization, "who should act as a committee on missions, church extension and colportage, and should have general oversight of the religious interests of the Territory."  Later Bodwell was made chairman of this committee, and wrote to the society that they unanimously believed the existing laborers and system of labor inadequate to meet the pressing demands. All agreed that the "home" of the worker should be his saddle, like the Methodist circuit rider, since the Congregationalists were equally as scattered as the Methodists. Let the society give them one man for all Kansas, or one for each of the two regions north and south of the Kansas river, or even three or four. "It is not great talent which we need, but great industry, activity, perseverance & entire devotion to the work in hand. 
The reply of Milton Badger of the Missionary Society appears to have been critical of the proposal, and reflected upon the wisdom if not the propriety of Bodwell's suggestions.  Although under fire by his superior officers, Bodwell resolutely "stuck to his guns," and pointed out that he had always consulted with Lum, and found him of like views. Concerning his own standing and that of his colleagues, the society should consult with at least two laymen in each church "who shall be requested to state exactly the standing of the minister in "his community, church & cong'n."  One of the underlying sources of this difficulty lay in the fact that the committee on home evangelization of the general association of Kansas, of which Bodwell was now chairman, in reality competed with the Home Missionary Society for the control of Congregationalism in Kansas.  The issue remained in abeyance for some months, until a crisis arose in the affairs of Bodwell at Topeka, when the whole question was reopened.
In the summer of 1859, while acting as a substitute pastor at Leavenworth, Bodwell wrote an extended letter to the Missionary Society, giving details concerning the Congregational ministers in Kansas. He believed northeastern Kansas to be the area most deserving of attention by the society, since now, after the resignation of Parker at Leavenworth, that organization had only one regularly accredited representative in this region-Storrs at Quindaro. Bodwell stated that Parker had made arrangements for ministers at Elwood and Hiawatha. As for Bodwell, he was undecided, but preferred Leavenworth to Topeka. 
When Bodwell finally decided to return to Topeka, he remarked that Lum had intimated the intention of giving up his work as agent. "The brethren are unanimous in the feeling that a laborer of this kind should be now & every day in the field. . ."  Bodwell returned to Topeka with this goal in view, ,and with growing insistence reiterated the need of a traveling missionary. In one of these letters he remarked that he had worked in Kansas for two thirds of his Eastern salary, and was now ready to do this work for two thirds of his Kansas income. In regard to the agency, the missionary committee of the general association desired "a winter & summer activity; the greatest possible efficiency; & economy as strict as you need." Because of the opposition of the chief officials of the Missionary Society, Bodwell stated that he had been unwilling to take up the matter again, until their "pressing & fast growing want, forced me toward it as the great work assigned the Missionary Com." [ 211]
In March Bodwell wrote in a still more positive manner that circumstances peculiarly adapted him to the active pioneer life which was his choice, and which seemed necessary to his bodily health. He was now arranging his affairs in Topeka, so that he could leave in the near future.
I now look for the man who can do the work Topeka needs; while I turn to the work which forms the plan of life; at least for my younger years. Bro McVicar is the one whom I look upon as the man for Topeka. He can come to a thriving town; a ch'h now only the 2nd in size in Kansas; an intelligent & appreciative community; a field still large enough & hard enough to tax all his powers; & one in which a good ministers good wife could exert an influence second only to the minister himself. I would place over the ch'h I love a minister in all respects my equal, in many my superior; &; would in addition give it the advantage of the added help it much needs. I think myself able so to arrange it that my successor may step into my present field with no difficulty to him & no injury to the church. . . . 
The term of the Rev. S. Y. Lum as agent for Kansas had now expired, and he gave notice of his intention to sever his connection with the Missionary Society, thereby leaving the way open for the appointment of Bodwell.  Bodwell appears to have made immediate application, and during the month of March, 1860, his closer friends and colleagues wrote the society, recommending him for the position. These communications praised him as entirely faithful and reliable, a hard worker who performed his tasks with thoroughness and dispatch, and a preacher and jealous missionary second to none in the territory, who had the confidence of all his brethren.  One wrote: "I believe he would do more exploring in three months than Lum accomplished in three years."  Another added: "And last, but not least, . . . he has no farm and no speculative schemes on hands. . . ."  Along with these words of praise by his colleagues, Bodwell had already acquired a good knowledge of affairs throughout eastern Kansas, by virtue of his work for the committee on home evangelization of the general association, and by his tendency to "circulate about" wherever people were to be found.
The American Home Missionary Society appointed Bodwell to the position of Kansas agent in April. He immediately accepted their offer, although as "one of the youngest & least experienced" of their laborers, he could not hope to do all that was needed, which in their words" 'would tax the skill & powers of an angelic laborer.' "  As to salary, he believed that an income "equal to my present one, with provision for expenses incidental to journeying (using my own horse) would not under ordinary circumstances be too large." A salary equal to that of the Baptist Home Missionary Society's agents in Kansas, namely $800, from which he paid his own expenses, did not seem extravagant, but in any case, Bodwell assured his employers that he would work "for any sum which you may see fit to appropriate -- if it should but pay for clothing & expenses, cheerfully & heartily. . . and. . . faithfully perform what in my view the work which you have committed to me demands." 
The acceptance by Lewis Bodwell of the position of agent of the American Home Missionary Society for Kansas, closed the first period of his career in the West. The First Congregational Church of Topeka released him from his responsibilities as pastor, gave him their best wishes for his future work, and some months later voted to accept his candidate, Peter McVicar, as their new minister.  Not long after his release from the Topeka church, Bodwell wrote to the Missionary Society that his new work had begun very pleasantly.
I am just now visiting the vacant ch'hs & destitute communities of this part of Kansas & am welcomed as hungry people do their food. I hope within a short time to start to spend 3 or 4 weeks among the ch'hs & settlements of the extreme S & SE parts of this Territory; it being my desire to go into & through the valleys of the Neosho, Osage, Marmaton & before the sickly season comes on; if possible taking that time, to visit the mountains,  in the hope of being able to go along steadily with my work, & dodge "the chills," our great enemy. From all parts of the Territory the call is that from Macedonia -- "Come help." 
Bodwell's early years in Kansas had been marked by a devotion to duty as he saw it, and a spirit of sacrifice which had won general approval. A natural aptitude for preaching, and a willingness to pitch in, wherever needed, and subjugate self for the good of the cause, were among the greatest personal resources, of Lewis Bodwell, which promised well for his future career as a traveling missionary. Energy, hope, and enthusiasm were his to a remarkable degree, qualities which counted for much on the American frontier.
152. Since much of his correspondence excoriates the Proslavery position, and blames the administration for the Kansas troubles, it has been difficult to avoid repetition of this theme. Before arriving in Kansas, Bodwell expressed his position in a vivid way, in a letter to John Hobbie (October 6, 1856), in which he inveighed against the type of "Kansas Justice," which permitted "bands of robbers to plunder, bum, and kill" When the Free-State men finally took the law into their own hands, they were hunted by federal bayonets, like a gang of outlaws. -- Letter in "Bodwell Scrapbook," pp. 2, 3, in Kansas State Historical Society.
153. Bodwell to Hobbie, October 17, 1856, in ibid., pp. 3, 4.
"The world rolls freedom's
154. Bodwell to Badger, October 21, 1856. -- Bodwell Papers, Kansas State Historical Society. Compare the following comments by Thaddeus Hyatt, head of the National Kansas Committee, September 14, 1856 (Hyatt Papers of Kansas State Historical Society): Geary would "succeed in patching up a peace," and "The Ruffians will yield with an ill concealed grace," in the hope of strengthening their position with help from the South. But the Free-State men should prepare for a crisis after election day. "Let us look well to the Ides of November". After the sun goes down on the 4th of that month then look for bloody work! We must be prepared! . . . All the provisions & ammunition possible to crowd in must be done."
155. The Kansas Tribune, Topeka, February 2, 1857. Early in January of that year Gov. Charles Robinson went to Boston, on business for the new town of Quindaro. While there he saw Amos A. Lawrence, the "Santa Claus" of the Free-State movement, who wrote in his private journal (quoted in William Lawrence, Life 01 Amos A. Lawrence [Boston, 1891)], p. 124): "He has resigned his office, and the plan is to give Governor Geary, now a United States official, the popular vote, and so help on the 'Free State' movement. Bought a fur coat for Robinson." In the following March, about a week after Geary resigned from the governorship, Robinson withdrew his resignation, and reaffirmed support of the Topeka constitution.
156. Wilder, The Annals of Kansas (Topeka, 1886), pp. 157, 158, gives a copy of the platform which Bodwell here summarizes.
157. Bodwell to "Friend Hobbie," March, 1857, "Bodwell Scrapbook," p. 6.
158. "If the Topeka Constitution was treason, the Lecompton one will be; and Congress must decide upon the simple merits of the case.
159. A reference to the territorial convention of the "National Democracy" at Lecompton, January 12, 1857 -- the day that the Proslavery legislature met for business. An address was later drawn up by this body, which called upon "all good citizens, regardless of party, to rally to law & order." -- Proceedings in The Kansas Weekly Herald of Leavenworth, January 24. 1857.
160. Bodwell to Badger, May 15, 1857. Bodwell believed Quindaro destined to be the chief port for central and southern Kansas, and stated that he delivered the first sermon at this place. In his audience were Gov. Charles Robinson and Mrs. Abelard Guthrie, the latter of whom gave her Indian name to the town. -- "Bodwell Scrapbook," p. 6.
161. The period of the Lecompton constitutional struggle was a time of incessant political meetings and conventions in Kansas.
162. Wilder, op. cit., p. 176, gives a copy of the resolutions. A letter, marked "Private," of S. F. Tappan to T. W. Higginson, July 6, 1857 (Higginson Papers of Kansas State Historical Society), gives a good summary of the Free-State program: "Walker is a small man in Kansas affairs, he has succeeded in buying out the 'Herald of Freedom,' and got Gurty Windy Brown to pitch into our Topeka Constitution. But our party are more united today than ever. .'. . If we can have a fair and impartial election in October under the Organic Act. . . ,which Walker says can be done, our purpose is to take part, elect the next Territorial Legislature and Delegate to Congress. Have the Legislature meet, repeal all the Territorial laws so called, pass an act prohibiting slavery in Kansas, recognize the Topeka Government as the only one in Kansas, memorialize Congress to do the same, and then adjourn sine die. The Free-state Legislature will then meet and adopt a. code of laws and enforce them. The territorial officers will have no laws to enforce, and the people will rally in support of the state organization. . . . The bogus convention will meet, adopt a Constitution, and if they submit it to the people we will vote it down. . . . [But if they do not submit it, and if] Wash'n. sustain them in their villainy, the people will take it up; and there will be a march to Lecompton, and the bogus delegates will be driven from the territory, or compel the administration to endorse the concern. . ., and if Kansas is admitted into the Union. . . in such a manner, to insist upon the enforcement of our own government, at all hazards."
163. Bodwell to Messrs. A. B. Hyde, R. W. R. Freeman, and John Hobbie, November 5, 1857, in "Bodwell Scrapbook," pp. 8, 9; Bodwell to A. H. M: S., December 14, 1857. Governor Walker rejected the vote of Oxford precinct, Johnson county, because of extensive frauds. Bodwell commented:
"The harvest dawn is
164. Wilder, op. cit., p. 199.
165. Letter of Bodwell, dated December 3, 1857, clipped in the "Bodwell Scrapbook," pp. 9, 10. Concerning this convention, see Stephenson, W. B., "The Political Career of General James B. Lane," Publications of the Kansas State Historical Society, v. III (1930), pp. 91, 92.
166. Wilder, op. cit., pp. 208, 206. The Free-State men entered the election of officers under the Lecompton constitution of January, 1858, and elected their entire slate of candidates.' They also cast more votes against the constitution itself, than had been cast in its favor in the preceding December. This election brought into existence two rival "governments", of' the same party, and eventually resulted in the complete demise of the Topeka government, the Leavenworth convention proposing a new constitution for Kansas.
167. Bodwell asserted that the plea of the bolters was "the expediency of having a government ready take up & kill the Lecompton constitution, (if adopted) by resigning &c &c. .. [J.] Calhoun [the president of the Lecompton convention] is at Washington with the returns. All in his own power, subject only to the will of the man at the White House who is our bitterest enemy. If they will pass the Lecompton Con. & declare the proslavery governor & legislature elected; I believe that our people would know & carry out their policy of 'no submission' even tho 'the troops' stood on guard day & night around the officials thus put over' us."
168. That the problem of a final resort to force was a serious issue during, the Lecompton struggle` see the article from The Kansas Herald a/Freedom, Lawrence, December 5, 1857, quoted m A., T. Andreas and W. G. Cutler, History 0/ the State 01 Kansas" p. 164. Robinson resisted the proposal to use force to stamp out the Lecompton, constitution.
169. This party was organized at Lecompton. July 2, 1857, and desiring to "commit no political errors" which might cause them to lose Antislavery votes, they dropped the "Proslavery" subtitle, and affirmed support of Cincinnati platform of the Democracy of 1856.
170. On June 28, 185'7, Robert J. Walker, the newly appointed governor of Kansas, wrote to President Buchanan concerning the political parties in the territory (St. Louis Republican, April 25, 1860, in "Kansas Territorial Clippings," v. 8, p. 848, in Library of Kansas State Historical Society). He supposed the whole number of settlers to be 24,000. Their active numbers were about as follows: Free-State Democrats; 9,000; Republicans, 8,000; Proslavery Democrats, 6,500; Proslavery Know-Nothings, 500. . ,
Intense agitation over the Lecompton issue, later produced a number of lesser factions, particularly among the Free-State men. The more pronounced radicals organized a secret society known as the "Danites," with an aggressive program, and with General Lane a leader. Because of its extreme position, Robinson apparently deserted it for the more conservative faction, in which G. W. Brown of the Herald of Freedom was a leader. Bodwell seems to have favored the Danites, and viewed all efforts toward compromise as "sighs of selfish ambition & deep moral corruption." In such a category was a speech of Robinson, in which he remarked that "the talk about consistency in a struggle like this is an absurdity."
171. Bodwell's extended letter on the Lecompton issue is dated March 18, 1858. The American Home Missionary Society originally tried to avoid the slavery issue, but gradually adopted an attitude of opposition, since it was predominately a Northern institution. By 1858 it denied missionary commissions to slaveholders, but it continued to send missionaries to the slave states, until the outbreak of the Civil War. Since it was conservative in tone, and opposed to violent antislavery agitation, it is safe to conclude that it opposed any resort to force, even under the circumstances that Bodwell suggests. -- see Goodykoontz, C. B., Home Missions on the American Frontier, Chap. IX. '
172. Bodwell to A. H. M. S., June 25, 1858. The grant of land proposed by the English bill simply followed a well-established custom in this matter, and was closely patterned after the grant to Minnesota, but it was strongly objected to by the Antislavery propagandists, as a corrupt bribe to the people of Kansas. That this was a harsh appraisal of the measure, see the article by Frank Heywood Hodder, "Some Aspects of the English Bill for the Admission of Kansas," Kansas Historical Collections, v. X, pp. 2240-232. The alternative to non-acceptance, however, the exclusion of Kansas from the union until a much larger population were attained, was a more reprehensible clause of the bill. In August, 1858, the entire proposal was voted down by a. large majority, bearing out Bodwell's comment upon the feelings of Kansans.
173. 'The Kansas Tribune, Topeka, December 1, 1856. Judging from the account by Bodwell entitled, "John Ritchie: A Pastor's Sketch" "Bodwell Scrapbook," pp. 23-25), under entry of November 19, 1856, it seems probable that Bodwell was among those helping Ritchie to escape.
174. Bodwell A. H. M. S., April 27, 1860: "Mr. Ritchie formerly an Indiana Jackson Democrat; is & for years has been a thoroughly anti-slavery Republican and was chosen by the people of this county to represent them," both in the Leavenworth &: Wyandott [e] constitutional conventions. He is a man having property worth 20 to 80 thousand dollars who statedly devotes one tenth of his income to educational benevolent and religious uses. He is intensely hated by a large class of men among us, for his deep interest & earnest efforts in 'regard to all the great reforms of the day, &: though not always as it seems to us most wise in his acts &: words; still thoroughly & heartily in earnest in his desires for the good of all men."
175. Account of trial and copy of court proceedings in extra of Topeka State Record, April 23, 1860. Lane, one of the chief lawyers for the defense, made an impassioned appeal for Ritchie, against the "murderer" who "broke" into his home. The decision of Justice Miller was received with great satisfaction by many people. Mayor Farnsworth presided at a mass meeting which deprecated the homicide, but agreed in the future to "resist with every legitimate and proper means" all such "fictitious, unjust and tyrannical" accusations.
176. Bodwell to A. H. M. S., April 27, 1860.
177. Ibid. The Topeka Tribune (April 28, 1860) argued that mail robbery was a federal offense punishable by U. S. laws, and that to resist a federal marshal was in itself a federal offense.
178. Bodwell's letter of April 27, 1860. The incident inflamed party spirit, but did not have the extreme effects feared by Bodwell. The Free-State party took a position of pronounced hostility to the writs, as contrary to the amnesty act 'of 1859, but there were those who did not praise Ritchie for his part. The Topeka Tribune commented on May 19: "Law and order men turn out and give him a wide path, as they would turn from the approach of a monster; but the Revolutionists have greeted him as their captain, and. have been heard to compliment him on his manliness.
179. "Record Book" of First Congregational Church, entry of May 19, 1861. The church committee, consisting of H. W. Farnsworth, H. D. Rice, and H. Hannahs, concluded. that Ritchie had resorted to force only when he regarded his life in danger. Some years later the Topeka church expelled Ritchie for making charges against a fellow member which he could not prove to the satisfaction of the church and for which he was unwilling to make a retraction.
For help in this and other matters connected with the records of this church, the writer is indebted to Dr. Charles Louis Atkins, pastor of the church, 1927-1943.
180. The Rev. H. D. Fisher, The Gun and the Gospel (Kansas City, Mo., 1902, 4th ed.), introductory chapter, pp. viii, x: "The gun as an emblem of soldierly prowess has often changed the maps of the world, has destroyed inquisitions and prisons. . . ; it has furnished themes for poets, material for historians, and made a highway for civilization; it has tunneled the hills and scaled the mountains, crossed seas and continents, and planted symbols of Christianity upon the islands of the seas; it has preserved and it has demolished nations; and with the sword, an emblem of power has established the prerogatives of those mightier weapons of civilization and christianity, the pen and the pulpit." In the wake of conquering armies follows "the Evangel of Peace on Earth, the Gospel."
181. Cordley's article in
The Congregational Quarterly, Boston, July, 1876; p.8
of the reprint. Since there is no other sketch that is so
penetrating, the writer takes the liberty of including it
here, with due apology to the author. So far as is known,
Bodwell was not a member of the Topeka company.
182. Minutes of the General Association of Congregational Ministers & Churches in Kansas, April 25-27, 1851, Appendix I, pp. 2-9 (The Congregational Record, v. 1). There were then eight organized churches of this denomination in Kansas. The resolutions as to slavery follow:
1. That the system of American Chattel Slavery is a high
crime against God and humanity, and, as such, is prima
facie evidence against the Christian character of tho Be
implicated in it.
183. Ibid. The minutes (Appendix I, pp. 11, 12) note that because of "a simultaneous breaking in of an overflowing tide" of emigrants, the notable lack of the essentials of life, and the bad effects of the drought of 1856, the churches in Kansas could not be expected to do much to support themselves, and must apply for outside help. They needed $20,000 for erecting churches throughout the territory.
184. At the annual meeting in 1859, however, the association condemned this society for its position upon slavery.
185. Congregational Record, (v. I, No. 1) January, 1859, pp. 4-8. County Bible societies were favored, with a Bible, tract, and Sunday school book depository at Lawrence. The convention named Bodwell for this work in Shawnee county. Concerning the many "small, yet important" settlements, they "deem it expedient to employ missionaries for these fields, who shall distribute their labors among them; and that we instruct the committee on home evangelization to procure such laborers, if possible."
186. "Minutes of the
General Association," October 8, 1858, in ibid., pp.
8, 4. In his A History of the Congregational Churches in
the United States (New York, 1900), pp. 383, 384
Williston Walker notes that the main work of the union was
the payment of "last bills," after needy churches had done
all in their power to provide themselves with buildings. By
1893 it had completed 2,340 houses of worship and 309
parsonages. In. 1860 it gave a small sum to aid the building
of Bodwell's church at Topeka.
187. "Minutes," October 8-11, 1858, in ibid., (v. I, No. 1) January, 1859, p. 8; also "An Historical Sketch of Washburn College, by the President" (Peter McVicar), p. 2, in Library of Kansas State Historical Society. A board of fourteen trustees was named, including Bodwell, R. Cordley, C. E. Blood, G. C. Morse, R. D. Parker, and others, who were to hold office for two years. A basis of organization was also drafted for the proposed college. The offer of Topeka included: "160 acres of land within a mile and a half of Topeka; 20 acres on Topeka "town-site; 840 acres in. the Territory, as. an endowment; and a building, equal to 40 by 5.0 feet, and two stones high, of stone or brick, to be completed on or before Jan 1, 1860." The board of trustees was to decide as to the fulfillment of these terms.
188. "Minutes," pp. 13-16. The report recommended "that they abandon the Western system of starvation salaries, and proceed at once to offer and pay liberal salaries to their professors -- thus securing first-class men." Long before they had arranged for a source of revenue, they were planning in a detailed way for the personnel of the college-to-be. The charter set up a board of trustees, and "directed them how to invest their money not yet secured, and how to dispose of property not yet obtained." This was characteristic of the prophetic vision of the frontiersmen, who were building a greater world-to-be, even though still a "castle in the air."
189. In its issue of August 25, 1859, the Topeka Tribune gave an extended account, entitled, "The Congregational College." According to this, Topeka was required to fulfill her promises very promptly, and if she failed, a special meeting of the college trustees was to be called, early in January, 1859. The minutes of the association were not published until some time after this, and neither Bodwell as temporary chairman, nor the, citizens of Topeka realized the urgency of the matter, until too late. By early April the town had obtained. both the necessary land and money, and was ready to make the final transfers, etc., and begin the building, when Bodwell made his charge of nonfulfillment. . .
190. Bodwell to A. H. M. S., September 14, 1859: "As to the right or wrong of my action, I trust it will be enough to say that in a meeting of 12 ministers & 12 delegates, representing 10 of our ch'hs that action was endorsed by a vote of 22 to 1, & he from Topeka."
191. Topeka Tribune) August 25, 1859; The Kansas Press) Cottonwood Falls, June 13, 1859; McVicar's sketch, p. 3; "Minutes" of the association, Congregational Record) (v. I; No. 3) July, 1859, pp. 44-47. Lawrence offered the college 170 acres near the town, 1,220 acres elsewhere in the territory, 151 town lots, and a sum of money, if it would locate there. These liberal terms illustrate the intense rivalry between the towns, which Bodwell described as "astonishing, & when not contemptible is ridiculous." He was named to the board of trustees of Monumental College.
192. McVicar's sketch of Washburn College, p. 4.
193. Andreas-Cutler, op. cit., p. 545. In 1866 Bodwell returned for a second pastorate of nearly three years at the Topeka church, which was closely connected with the college. To help the new institution, he wrote a letter printed in connection with "An appeal to Congregational Churches in behalf of Lincoln, College," in which he called attention to the great need of an "educated and godly ministry." His travels had shown that "Whole towns and counties, with hundreds and thousands of inhabitants are destitute of needed preaching." They needed educational facilities close at hand, to supply the need of a trained ministry.
194. Bodwell to A. H. M. S.. June 11, 1859.
195 "Church Record Book" of First Congregational Church, Topeka. Action on Bodwell's resignation was deferred. On July 18 Bodwell repeated his notice.
196. Bodwell to A. H. M. S., June 22, 1859. This was reminiscent of the old superstition that troubles never come singly.
197. Bodwell to A. H. M. S., August 4, 1859.
198. "Church Record Book," entry of August 15, 1859.
199. Bodwell to A. H. M. S., September 14, 1859. (Note his private abbreviation for church&emdash;"ch'h." now consented to apply for the place at Topeka, "because the ch'h is now unanimous in upholding my character & labors & requesting me to remain -- because persons wishing 'to join us will hold off if I give countenance to the idea that I am forced away -- because even among members of other ch'hs, and those who are not religious, & particularly the young & middle aged -- as I am informed there is in the community but one mind in regard to my remaining here." When he wrote in December, the evil results in his church from the Monumental College episode seemed pretty well ended. "In my own church & congregation all difficulties of a local nature seem to have yielded to a course of treatment conciliatory yet firm & unflinching. . . ." He rejoiced that "unthinking local prejudice" had been overruled, and confidence in the minister increased. He seized this opportunity to begin his highly successful revival campaign.
200. The American Home Missionary Society frowned upon any elaborate, system of itinerancy (see Goodykoontz, op. cit., pp. 181-183), on the theory that any good accomplished by one itinerant was lost before another appeared, and that a, better policy was to help individual churches, until they could support themselves. Instead of itinerancy, this organization encouraged its missionaries to preach in nearby places, as was done by Bodwell, and made its chief goal the establishment of permanent pastorates in places of importance&emdash;"going" communities.
201. Bodwell to Badger, February 4, 1858. Lum never traveled a great deal, which partly explains the general feeling in this matter.
202. Bodwell to Badger, August 11, 1858. He remarked that even his' own congregation admitted the need of such an agent, although unwilling to see him go. A little later H. W. Farnsworth wrote for the trustees of the Topeka church that Bodwell's removal would be regarded with "extreme regret." For him to labor as a general missionary meets not with a single approving voice in this community."
203. Bodwell to Badger, September 8, 1858.
204. "Minutes" of the general association, October, 1858, Congregational Record, (v. I, No. 1) January, 1859, p. 5.
205. Bodwell to A. H. M. S., December, 1858.
206. The nature of Badger's letter can be inferred from Bodwell's reply of February 7, 1859. Since Lum was their regularly appointed agent for Kansas, the executives of the Missionary Society probably regarded it the plain duty of their missionaries to confer with him. They apparently did not realize that he did not travel much, and that he himself favored the proposed change. On March 81, 1860, Henry M. Simpson of Lawrence, another member with Bodwell of the committee on home missions, wrote to the society that some years before Lum and several others had had the idea of employing Bodwell, as an exploring agent, independent of the Missionary Society, but had dropped the plan when they learned the attitude of the society.
207. As their agent Lum could inform them with greater certainty than he (Bodwell). He could be asked as to the standing of Bodwell, as preacher, citizen, etc. "Does the business of his calling employ him fully? Do you think it his great & principal aim? . . . Do you judge that 'if able his people would unite to support him; or is he kept because cheap, until a better chance offers? . . . If unknown to me good & valid reasons exist why I have not their full & united confidence, I wish to know it, in any way I can, that I may seek to amend or get out of the way." -- (Signed) Lewis Bodwell.
208. This cleavage was essentially that of the frontier against the older and more mature East. The west was always desirous of help -- financial and otherwise, but in spite of this, want_ its own freedom of action in all things. With his strongly developed sense of individualism, the true frontiersman could never consent to the doctrine that "he who pays the -- fiddler has a right to call the tune."
209. Bodwell to A. H. M. S., August 4, 1859.
210. Bodwell to A. H. M. S., September 14, 1859.
211. Bodwell to Badger,
February 8, 1860: "Evangelical Kansas is in the main
the foster child of free New England, & it is not
strange that she should adopt her mothers views. . . . Byrd,
& Lum, Jones, Blood, Copeland, Adair, &c. &c.
were here not because you selected them but because they
came, & who should possess & enjoy the vineyard but
he who planted,. walled & watered it."
212. Bodwell to Badger, March 12, 1860. .
213. Henry M. Simpson to A. H. M. S., March 81, '1860, recommending Bodwell. He asserted that Lum had always disliked the work, and had not been away from home over two months in the past year, usually preaching at Lawrence, where Cordley was now pastor. Simpson charged that Lum had done nothing worth 'while in Kansas, had organized no churches or Sabbath schools, but instead had speculated in real estate.
214. Rev. J. D. Liggett to Milton Badger, March 26, 1860; also Richard Cordley to A. H. M. S., March 24, 1800. Cordley termed the preference for Bodwell unanimous among the brethern: "He is not a perfect man, nor is he your full pattern, but we think he combines as many of the elements needed by the work 'now required as any man we know." Bodwell's health required constant exercise, which he could obtain in the saddle.
215. Rev. R. D. Parker to Doctor Badger; March 29, 1860 (marked private). He thought two active men one north and one south of the Kansas river, "could do as much for the cause of Xy, if permitted to itinerate; as four men could do shut up in some little town like Quindaro or Emporia."
216. Letter of Liggett, cited above: "It is a sad statement, nevertheless it seems to me that getting farms and improving them has engrossed more of the time of many of your missionaries in this territory, than the work of the Lord has. . . ."
217. Bodwell to Badger, April 24, 1860.
218. Ibid. "I could not consistently & absolutely offer to do the work for less than my present salary." At the time of his reappointment in September, 1859, the Topeka church offered to make his salary $600, of which they would pay $200, and the society the rest. Bodwell's salary proposals for his new position were notably liberal, but the reader will note that they were not as liberal as what he had proposed, before obtaining the appointment. Since no definite agreement had been made, previous to obtaining the appointment, Bodwell took advantage of his stronger position, to advance his arguments as to a proper salary.
219. "Church Record Book," entry of May 5, 1860. In November, 1860, it was unanimously voted to invite McVicar to be their minister, at a salary of $600, McVicar could not leave Andover immediately, and Bodwell occasionally preached to the church, in the interim. He was much provoked that McVicar could not get away sooner, and wrote June 11, 1860: "Do the Andover Profs understand that with us, every day is worth a month in old established slow moving N. England."
220. Bodwell expected to be sent by the society on a brief, trip to Colorado, but later orders reversed this. He had regarded the rush to Pikes Peak as a movement of "floaters," similar to the Frazer river boom, but he was willing to visit the diggings, in the interest of religion.
221. Bodwell to Badger, June 5, 1860. As an itinerant or traveling missionary Bodwell had many exciting experiences, of which none was more harrowing than his close call from death in the Quantrill raid. In 1866 he returned to the Topeka church, where he served a second pastorate of nearly three years. In 1,869, due to the ill health of himself and wife, he resigned and returned to the sanitarium at Clifton Springs, N. Y., where he became chaplain. He died in 1894. His correspondence for the later years in Kansas, as found in the collection of the Kansas State Historical Society, is very extensive, The Bodwell Papers appear to have been, originally, a part of the correspondence of the American Home Missionary Society, the main collection of which is now in the care of the Chicago Theological Seminary.