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


[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]


During September and October, the emigration from the free States continued to flow into the Territory, and settlements were made at various points, too scattered and remote from each other to attract either the attention or the enmity of the pro-slavery partisans, as at Lawrence.

There were several free State men in the vicinity of Lawrence, who had come in from Iowa and the Northwestern States prior to the arrival of the first party from New England. John A. Wakefield, Briar W. Miller, Samuel N. Wood and perhaps half a dozen others had taken claims, and were trying to hold them against the browbeating threats of Missourians, who were constantly making counter-claims and warning them out of the Territory. To protect themselves against the encroachments of non-residents, the "Actual Settlers' Association of Kansas Territory" was formed. According to previous notice, this association held a meeting at the house of Briar W. Miller, at Millersburg, on August 12, 1854, the object being the adoption of some regulations that should afford protection to the bona fide settlers, under laws not unlike those adopted by the pro-slavery squatters in the border region east, save in their restrictions against anti-slavery settlers. The meeting was, at its opening, disturbed by a band of non-residents from Missouri, who insisted, as land claimants and members of another association, in taking a part in its proceedings. They were led by one Dunham, who, as their spokesman, presented their claims in such boisterous and defiant terms that the meeting came near breaking up in a quarrel. A compromise was effected, however, and a committee chosen from each association to agree upon a plan of union. This committee submitted a report, which was adopted, and proved effective in settling many of the claims disputed thereafter, until titles could be obtained from the Government. A full account of this meeting with the code of laws as adopted, is given in the History of Douglas County.


Early in September, soon after the arrival of the second New England party at Lawrence, the Lawrence Association was formed, and certain municipal laws adopted to insure order in the village. Like local co-operative associations, for the preservation of peace, and for the protection of titles to land, were made at various points where communities had settled.

Until the advent of the Governor, and the establishment of the courts, these crude provisional codes constituted the only protection or security, either for personal safety or property rights. Rudimentary as they were, and constituted by no authority except the common desire and necessity for mutual defense and protection against the lawless, they served imperfectly the purposes intended, till the laws and machinery of a civil government were put in effect and motion.


The first territorial appointments, looking to the inauguration of a local government, under the provisions of the organic law, were made in June and July, 1854. The officers appointed by President Pierce, whose appointments were confirmed by the Senate, and who entered upon the duties of their officer, were:

Governor, Andrew H. Reeder, of Easton, Penn., appointed June 29, 1854. He took the oath of office before Peter V. Daniel, one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, at Washington, July 7. He arrived in Kansas, at Fort Leavenworth on Saturday, October 7, at which time he became the executive head of the Kansas government and personally assumed the functions of the office. Salary, $2,500 per annum.

Secretary, Daniel Woodson, of Lynchburg, Va., appointed June 29. Salary, $2,000 per annum.

United States Marshal, Israel B. Donaldson, of Illinois. Salary, $300 per annum, and fees.

Chief Justice, Madison Brown, of Maryland, who, not accepting the appointment, was superseded by Samuel D. Lecompte, of Maryland who was appointed October 3, and took the oath of office before Gov. Reeder, at Leavenworth, Kan., December 5. Salary, $2,000 per annum.

Associate Justices, Saunders N. Johnson and Rush Elmore. Salary, $2,000 per annum.

Attorney, Andrew J. Isack. Salary, $250 per annum and fees.

Surveyor General, John Calhoun, Illinois; appointed August 26.

Territorial Treasurer, Thomas J. B. Cramer; appointed August 29.


Gov. Reeder arrived on the boundaries of his appointed dominion, at Fort Leavenworth, Saturday, October 7, 1854. He was a stranger to the land and his subjects. Except Senator Atchison, and perhaps a score of other acquaintances, he knew nobody in or near Kansas. He was born in Easton, Northampton Co., Penn., July 12, 1807. He received a thorough academic education at Lawrenceville Seminary; studied law in the office of Peter Iksie, Esq., of Northampton, Penn., for three years, and was admitted to practice at the Northampton bar, then the ablest in the State, became one of the leading lawyers, not only of his circuit, but of the State. He had, from early manhood, been a most ardent and loyal Democrat, and had adopted and defended with enthusiasm, the principle of "Squatter Sovereignty," and the Kansas-Nebraska bill. He had never been a politician in the sense of seeking or holding public office, but was, at the time of his appointment, considered one of the most honest, able, well-balanced, clear-headed, reliable, Democratic, Kansas-Nebraska, popular sovereignty lawyers in the country; and his appointment, as such, gave unalloyed satisfaction to the friends of the Kansas bill and the Administration. He was, at the time of his arrival at Leavenworth, a little past forty-seven years of age, iron gray, with a somewhat ruddy complexion, and full blue eyes, He was slightly corpulent, and somewhat deliberate, both in his walk and his speech. He was of medium stature, and perpendicularly erect. He wore a gray moustache, severely cut over the lip, and curled or twisted out - a la Napoleon - on either side. Both in appearance and in fact, he was the beau ideal of a man fit to rule and govern an intelligent and free community.

(Image of A. H. Reeder)

Gov. Reeder arrived, on the steamer Polar Star, at Leavenworth, Saturday, October 7, 1854. At that time, there was but one newspaper in the territory - the Kansas Weekly Herald - published at Leavenworth. From the paper issued October 13, 1854, the following report of the Governor's reception is copied:

On Saturday last, Gov. Reeder, with Mr. C. A. Williams, his private secretary, and Andrew J. Isack, Esq., United States Attorney for Kansas, arrived at Fort Leavenworth by the Polar Star. His landing was greeted by the officers of the fort with the national salute, and he became the guest of the commandant, Capt. F. E. Hunt.

At 3 o'clock in the evening, the citizens of Kansas, from Leavenworth, Salt Creek and the country for miles around, gathered at the fort to pay their respects to Gov. Reeder. The concourse was large and highly respectable, and most enthusiastic in their gratification at his arrival. Our citizens in a body called upon the Governor at the quarters of Capt. Hunt, and a general introduction took place, during which many kindly expressions of welcome were indulged on the part of the people, and reciprocated by the Governor with the republican frankness and honest cordiality so agreeable to Western men. After a general interchange of courtesies, Dr. Charles Leib addressed the Governor as follows:

GOV. REEDER: In behalf of my fellow-citizens, permit me to welcome you to the West and to the young and beautiful Territory whose Executive you are.

It is but a few months since the passage of the Kansas and Nebraska bill; it is but a few months since the people of the West were told by one of their distinguished Senators, "the Indians have retreated; go over and possess the goodly land," and to-day Kansas is teeming with hardy, industrious, enterprising, strong armed men, with noble hearts and willing hands, who have come here to till the soil and to enjoy the fruits of their industry, to pursue their different callings and to assist in building up a State which will ere long be knocking at the door of Congress for admission into the confederacy, and which I trust will be recognized as the thirty-second in the bright constellation which graces the flag of our Union.

Gov. Reeder, we are rejoiced at your coming; rejoiced that you are among us, because we believe it will be your pride and pleasure, not only as the Executive, but as a citizen, to assist in giving Kansas a place in the front rank of the Territories.

You will, sir, find men here from every section of this Union, who have come to find homes, to assist in filling up our broad and beautiful prairies and our valleys, rich as that of the Nile. In your own language, they know that this is "the pathway to the Pacific;" they know that the vast frontier, New Mexico and California trade, which now flows into the lap of Missouri, legitimately belongs to Kansas; they know and feel that they have the energy to build up a State which will command the trade, and it will not be long until they will have accomplished their object.

We doubt not that in coming here you have sacrificed much; that you have left behind those to whom you are bound by the ties of consanguinity, affection and love; that you have left tried friends, personal and political, in whose hearts you have a place; that you have left a community to which you were attached by a residence of long years among them, but when duty called, like Cincinnatus, you obeyed.

As a Pennsylvanian, one who loves the hills and valleys, the rivers and plains of the noble old Keystone State, but who, in heart and interest, is a Western man, I, in common with my fellow-citizens, am rejoiced at your appointment, because we believe you will administer the affairs of this government upon strictly republican principles, because we know your antecedents; because we know that Pennsylvania, the home of Rittenhouse, of Fulton, of Franklin and of the able and accomplished Buchanan, "who has graced our annals abroad and done us honor in Kings' courts," and who is a statesman of the school of the fathers, would not send us a son unworthy of herself; because we believe that under your administration Kansas will grow and flourish; that her resources, agricultural and mineral, will be developed; that her commercial importance will be acknowledged by the whole nation; that her hardy sons will prosper, and will make this, the garden spot of the Mississippi Valley.

We, sir, meet here on common ground. The men of Maine and Mississippi, of Massachusetts and Missouri, aye, and those who cross the blue waters of the broad Atlantic, who turn their backs upon the tyrants of the old world and place themselves under the protection of the flag of our Union, may enjoy the blessed privileges of free speech, dare think, do and act for themselves. This is true Republicanism and cannot fail to meet the approval of all who are truly American at heart. But a few months since the red man alone occupied this Territory; they roamed undisputed masters of the soil; but to-day in all parts of it, the hum of industry is heard, the progress of the age demanded its settlements, and, by the hearths and firesides of our hardy pioneers is to be joy, peace and happiness, and a determination to maintain, at all hazards, the supremacy of the law.

In conclusion, Gov. Reeder, let me again welcome you to Kansas, and express the hope, nay, the sincere wish, that our relations as Governor and governed may be of such a character that when it shall be severed, we can always revert to it as the happiest period of our lives, though it commenced when trampling down the nettles and thistles of Kansas and preparing it for its high destiny.

To which Gov. Reeder replied:

I thank you, sir, and those whom you represent on this occasion, for the cordial manner in which you have welcomed me to your Territory, and for the encomiums which you have so eloquently bestowed - encomiums which I must be allowed to say are attributable more to your own courtesy and partiality than to any merit of mine. Coming, as I do come, into a position of high and solemn responsibibility (sic) in a strange land, to exercise most important functions among men who as yet know me not, you may well imagine that I am cheered and encouraged by the foreshadowing of confidence and kindness exhibited in this our first interview. I am sensible of the difficulties that may beset my official career, and I must rely on the friendship and kindly feeling which you have professed, for indulgence to my deficiencies. But, whilst I shall now claim in advance your leniency for my inexperience of your country and your people, for my shortcomings in wisdom and ability, I claim no margin, and ask for no indulgence, in respect to the earnestness and sincerity of my efforts, to make the great good of the Territory and the advancement of its substantial prosperity and welfare, the chief end of my official action.

It shall be my pride and pleasure, always to keep in view that single end, despite all sinister considerations or adverse circumstances. Our Territory is indeed a land of great interest and of glorious promise, and, although now a frontier country demanding at our hands strong continued effort and no small privations, yet, we are cheered on by the conviction that another frontier is approaching us from the Pacific, and that when the inevitable destiny of this Union shall have filled up its limits with civilized population and thrifty enterprise, Kansas will be territorially the very heart of the Republic, and in the highway of its trade. Much of its progress, its prosperity and its future destiny will depend upon the impress that we shall make upon its early developments. That we shall have difficulties to meet and overcome, varied in their character and formidable in their number and extent, it were worse than folly to deny and conceal. Whatever they may be, however, there is no fear that they cannot all be solved by prudent care - by tolerance and charity for difference of opinion among ourselves - by calm but unquailing moral courage in asserting our own rights of action or opinion - and by the most scrupulous care to avoid encroachment on the rights of others. First of all, Kansas must, and with God's help it shall be, a country of law and order. No man must be allowed to cast contempt upon the law - to unsettle the foundations of society, to mar our future destinies - to cause us to be shunned and avoided by good citizens - and to turn us upon the retrograde path toward barbarism, by substituting his own unbridled passions for the administration of justice, and by redressing his real and imaginary wrongs by the red and cowardly hand of assassination or the ruffianism of the outlaw. So far as it shall come within my province to deal with this spirit, I pledge you that I will crush it out or sacrifice myself in the effort. Every one of our millions of fellow-citizens who may choose to exercise his unquestionable right to plant himself, his family and his property on our soil, to swell its strength and develop its resources, must feel that the broad aegis of the law shelters him and his from outrage, and that is sword is keen and ready to punish him summarily and unfailingly, for outrage of the rights of others. We must, to, do our duty in cementing and preserving our glorious Union, by the strictest adherence to our constitutional and legal obligations, and a constant readiness to aid our fellow-citizens of other States, in securing to them all the rights which that constitution and those laws have sacredly guaranteed to them for the management of their own affairs, whilst at the same time, we must, with the most vigorous and determined firmness, preserve unimpaired and unquestioned, to every citizen of our Territory, freedom of opinion in the regulation of our own. The principle of the bill for erecting our Territory, I need scarcely tell you, has my hearty approval. Fiercely as it has been assailed, it has its foundation deep in the doctrine of true republicanism. Under these doctrines the whole Union, North, South, East and West, has invited us to come here and mold our own institution, as to us it shall seem good. We have accepted the invitation, and with "POPULI VOCE NATA" on our banner, we are prepared to give one more proof of the ability of our people for self-government, by going to the ballot-box -- there conceding to each other the right of free discussion and opinion which we claim for ourselves, and sacrificing to the all --powerful will of the majority, all our interests and feelings and prejudices, whatever question may be involved in the decision. Thus and thus only can we discharge our duty to ourselves - show our appreciation of the principle of our Territorial bill, and contribute to its permanency as a means of easy solution, for all future time, of a dangerous and exciting question in our National Councils.

Thus, with law and order reigning in our midst, mutual tolerance strengthening our hands and accelerating our progress - fanaticism disarmed and the Union sustained by a cheerful and determined observance of the constitution that binds it together - by preserving unimpaired the purity of the ballot-box and deciding there as freemen should, the questions which the nation has properly referred to it, each man calmly, fearlessly and dispassionately expressing his opinion and casting his vote in conformity to the dictates of his conscience and understanding and by bowing submissively to the will of the majority when properly ascertained, we shall have done our whole duty and may expect to reap its pleasant fruits.

These remarks, the Herald states, were received "with earnest attention and marked approbation and applause." The editorial account of the reception closes with a flattering encomium of the Governor, which, read in the light of the events which followed, shows a vein of blarney not then discoverable. It was as follows:

"After half an hour's social intercourse, in which courtesy and absolute freedom from restraint were alike combined, the company withdrew bearing with them the impression that the first Governor of Kansas is one of Nature's noblemen, and just the man for the post."

From the early numbers of the Herald,* the following excerpts are given, deemed of interest, as they are a contemporaneous record of events then transpiring.

* The file from which these quotations are made is believed to be the only one now in existence. As it was the only paper published in the Territory at that time, its historical value cannot be computed. It is owned by the Kansas Historical Society, and to F. G. Adams, the Secretary of the Society, we are indebted for its perusal, and many other favors not otherwise, nor elsewhere, obtainable. - ED.

October 13, these paragraphs appeared:

Hon. S. W. Johnson, of Ohio, and Hon. Rush Elmore, of Alabama, Associate Judges of the Supreme Court of Kansas arrived at Fort Leavenworth on Tuesday evening last (October 10, 1854), by the F. X. Aubrey. Hon. Madison Brown, of Maryland, Chief Justice, has not yet arrived. The Territory has not been districted, so that the destination of each is as yet unknown. No courts will be needed until early in the spring, and holding theme would be almost impracticable until after the meeting of the Territorial Legislature.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Among the gentlemen who have come into our Territory, we have the nigh gratification to announce the Hon. R. P. Flenniken, of Fayette County, Penn., who enjoys at home an extensive practice as a lawyer, and an exalted and enviable position socially, politically and professionally, and whose reputation for gentlemanly and dignified deportment, high moral worth, sound democracy and admitted talents, is well known to the public. He was formerly Charge d'Affaires to the Court of Denmark, under the Administration of President Polk, and discharged the duties of his station with honor to himself and satisfaction to the government. Desirous to make himself a Western man, and bring his family of sons into a new country, he relinquishes the advantages which he enjoys at home, and has taken up, we hope, his permanent residence in Kansas. Such men are an accession to any community, and our citizens will welcome him among us.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The examination of Samuel H. Burgess, Weslie and John Davidson, charged with assault upon Fleming S. Thompson and William Borden, with intent to kill, occurred on Friday, at Fort Leavenworth, before His Excellency, Gov. Reeder.

The parties lived about seven miles southwest of Salt Creek, having made claims there and erected houses. Some dispute about the title to a claim had arisen between one of the defendants and Mr. Borden. On Monday, the 9th instant, a party of about fifteen men, in company with Borden and Thompson, some of whom were armed with guns, went to the house of Burgess to have the matter settled. The defendants and a son of Mr. Burgess were the only ones present when they came. After they had been ordered to leave, an affray commenced, which terminated in a wound rather severe upon the forehead of Borden, and two stabs upon the body of Thompson. The evidence as to which struck the first blow was rather conflicting. Medical testimony was introduced to show that the wounds of Thompson were critical; but it appears he is not in a dangerous condition.

After a protracted and impartial examination, the Governor admitted the defendants to bail, in the sum of $20,000 for Burgess, and $10,000 for each of the others. We are happy to perceive that the case is not so serious, and does not involve so much guilt as was at first reported.

A. J. Isaacs, District Attorney; J. Doniphan, C. F. Burnes, Esqrs., for the prosecution; C. C. Andrews and Amos Reese, Esqrs., for the defendants.

October 20, 1854, the following appeared, noting the arrival of Territorial officers:

Daniel Woodson, Esq., of Lynchburg, Va., Secretary of Kansas, arrived on the Edinburg on Wednesday last (October 18). Mr. W. comes among us a young man, yet with the prestige of a long and brilliant career among the leading Democratic journalists of the Old Dominion. We have for some time known him as the Editor of the Lynchburg Republican, a Democratic journal of long standing among the ablest and most reliable in the country. Mr. W. was early in life a resident of Boone County, Mo., and is connected with some of the most influential families there. The people in Kansas will find in him an able and accomplished public servant. J. B. Donaldson, Esq., United States Marshal for Kansas, arrived on Monday last (October 16, 1854).

The issue of October 27 announced the arrival, Thursday, October 26, of Hon. John Calhoun, Surveyor General of Kansas and Nebraska.

[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]