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


[TOC] [part 9] [part 7] [Cutler's History]


The proclamation of Gov. Reeder, calling and providing for an honest election by the actual residents of the Territory, was not deemed sufficiently comprehensive to meet the desires or demands of the Missouri sovereigns, who, under the covert of the "Blue Lodges," had already formulated the future laws of the Territory and foreordained her destiny. The qualifications of voters as prescribed, not only ignored the Missouri element, but barred it out entirely. To disappointment and humiliation was added indignation, and, thus fired, the self-appointed arbiters of the destinies of the new Territory, in contempt of the Governor and all over whom he was appointed to rule, determined to boldly put to practical test the plans and methods adopted already the b Pro-slavery junto.

The Pro-slavery movement was under the lead of Hon. David R. Atchison, then a United States Senator, serving a second term. He had been meritoriously honored by advancement from lower to higher positions of public trust for nearly a generation. His reputation was national, and so had won him the highest position in the National Senate, having been chosen President pro tempore of that body, on the decease of Vice President King. His speeches in the Senate, pending the passage of the Nebraska bill, though uncompromisingly Pro-slavery, were models of parliamentary propriety. His known, though somewhat dilatory championship of the Douglas bill, together with his undoubted loyalty to the Southern views regarding slavery, made him the unquestioned leader of the party who believed, as did Mr. Atchison himself, that the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill would inevitably result in a slave State west of Missouri. So, it becomes the duty of the historian to record him as the ruling spirit of the slavery propagandists, to whom the Stringfellows, and the great unwashed and unkempt multitude of ruffians who followed them, looked for inspiration and direction. In the contemporaneous records of the time, the historian looks in vain for an unbiased or truthful statement of facts. The following report of a speech from Gen. Atchison, made November 6, 1854, to his Western constituency, at Weston, Mo., is copied from the Platte Argus. It contains the context of garbled extracts, quite familiar to the readers of those times, and is given in full, in order to show the beliefs which impelled the reprehensible acts of Mr. Atchison and his followers. The following is the report:

He would now pass to the settlement of Kansas, its destiny and the effect it was to have upon the State of Missouri.

The organic law of the Territory vests in the people who reside in it the power to form all its municipal regulations. They can either admit or exclude slavery; and this is the only question that materially affects our interests.

Upon this subject it would be unnecessary for him to say one word, if things had been left to their ordinary and natural course. Men theretofore migrated and settled new Territories upon this continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, following the parallels of latitude, and carrying with them their habits, customs and institutions. But now new laws are to govern; new lines, new habits, customs and institutions are to be substituted, and that, too, by the force of money and organization.

The North is to be turned to the South, and all the Territories of the United States to be abolitionized; colonies are to be planted in all places where slavery and salve institutions can best be assailed; and Kansas is now a favorite position, from whence they can now assai (sic) Missouri, Arkansas and Texas. Men are being sent form Massachusetts and elsewhere for the avowed purpose of excluding slave-holders from Kansas, and, as a matter of course, to seduce, steal and protect fugitive slaves. The first thing, however, they have to do is to throw into Kansas a majority of votes to control the ballot boxes.

This is the policy of the abolitionists. These means are used by them. Their money and all other influences they can bring to bear are to be exerted for this purpose.

Gen. Atchison said that his mission here to-day was, if possible, to awaken the people of this county to the danger ahead, and to suggest the means to avoid it. The people of Kansas, in their first elections, would decide the question, whether or not the slaveholders was to be excluded, and it depended upon a majority of the votes cast at the polls. Now, if a set of fanatics and demagogues, a thousand miles off, could afford to advance their money and exert every nerve to abolitionize the Territory and exclude the slave-holder, when they have not the least personal interest in the matter, what is your duty? When you reside within one day's journey of the territory, and when your peace, your quiet and your property depend upon your action, you can, without an exertion, send 500 of your young men who will vote in favor of your institutions.

Should each county in the State of Missouri only do its duty, the question will be decided quietly and peaceably at the ballot box. If we are defeated, then Missouri and the other Southern States will have shown themselves recreant to their interests, and will have deserved their fate. The abolitionists will have nothing to gain or lose. It is an abstraction with them. We have much to gain and much to lose.

Said he, "If you burn my barn, I sustain a great loss, but you gain nothing. So it is with the colonizationist societies and the dupes they send to abolitionize Kansas.

"If these abolitionists steal your negroes, they gain nothing. The negroes are injured; your are ruined. So much greater is the motive for activity on our part.

"Fellow citizens, we should not be apathetic when so much is involved. We should be up and doing." He was for meeting organization with organization. He was for meeting those philanthropic knaves peaceably at the ballot-box and outvoting them.

If we cannot do this, it is an omen that the institution of slavery must fall in this and the other Southern States, but it would fall after much strife, civil war and bloodshed.

If abolitionism, under its present auspices, is established in Kansas, there will be constant strife and bloodshed between Kansas and Missouri. Negro stealing will be a principle and a vocation. It will be the policy of philanthropic knaves, until they force the slave-holder to abandon Missouri; nor will it be long until it is done. You cannot watch your stables to prevent thieves from stealing your horses and mules; neither can you watch your negro quarters to prevent your neighbors from seducing away and stealing your negroes.

If Kansas is abolitionized, all men who love peace and quiet will leave us, and all emigration to Missouri from the slave States will cease. We will go either to the North or to the South. For himself, he could gather together his goods and depart as soon as the most active among us. He had neither wife nor child to impede his flight. In a hybrid State we cannot live; we cannot be in a constant quarrel - in a constant state of suspicion of our neighbors. The feeling is entertained by a large portion of mankind everywhere.

Yet, he said, he was willing, notwithstanding his pacific views, to hang negro thieves; he would not punish those who merely entertained abstract opinions; but negro thieves, and persons who stirred up insubordination and insurrection among our slaves, he believed it right to punish, and they could not be punished too severely; he would not punish a man who believed that rape, murder or larceny was abstractly right; yet he would punish the man who committed either.

He said that there were a few men who entertained those opinions in the western part of the State of Missouri, and who, no doubt, practiced upon them, and that when full evidence was obtained, justice should be done them. Convincing evidence must be had. He was opposed to violence - indiscriminate violence, but let the punishment fall on the guilty.

Was it not strange to find, in a State so deeply interested in the question of slavery, a portion of the press denouncing such men as Douglas, Cass, Bright and others, and exulting over victories lately obtained by the Abolitionists in the Northern States? Yet, it was so. As to slanders and abuse heaped upon himself, he cared but little. It was the fate of better men. But a day of reckoning will come. There will be a reaction in the Northern States. The people of the North cannot be in favor of dissolving the Union.

The mad platforms upon which the recent fusion victories have been obtained, if carried out would inevitably dissolve the Union.

He had always had great confidence in the intelligence and virtue of the people, but he acknowledged that this confidence had been somewhat shaken in late years.

He again told the audience that, to succeed in making Kansas a slave Territory, it was not sufficient for the South to talk, but to act; to go peaceably and inhabit the Territory, and peaceably to vote and settle the question according to the principles of the Douglas bill.

On the day preceding that appointed for the election (November 28), the Blue Lodge voters began to cross over into Kansas. They came in organized companies, well armed, and carrying with them provisions and other equipage for a temporary stay in the territory. They were organized into companies, and their destination decided before leaving Missouri. They came thus armed to vote, and for no other purpose, and in such overwhelming force of numbers as to completely overawe and out number the legal voters of the territory at many of the precincts, where they took possession of the polls, elected many of the Judges, intimidated others to resign, and, refusing all oaths and regulations prescribed for the election, deposited their votes for Gen. Whitfield, and returned to Missouri.

The returns of this diabolical outrage on free suffrage were made in due form, and showed the following results:

Whole number of votes cast, 2,883, of which number Whitfield received 2,258; Wakefield, 248; Flenneken, 305; with 22 scattering votes. The frauds, though stoutly denied by many of the border papers, and, at first, by the successful candidate himself, were not long in coming to the knowledge of the people. It renewed the excitement throughout the North, and exasperated the actual settlers against the Missouri raiders. The enormity of the fraud perpetrated, and its extent, were fully set forth in the majority report of the Congressional committee of the following year. It contains, without doubt, the most impartial and truthful account of the shameless outrage ever given, and, as such, is liberally quoted from:

In the First, Third, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Twelfth, Thirteenth and Seventeenth Districts, there appears to have been but little fraudulent voting.

The election in the Second District was held at the village of Douglas, near fifty miles from the Missouri line. On the day before the election large companies of men came into the district in wagons and on horseback, and declared they were from Missouri, and were going to Douglas to vote. On the morning of the election they gathered around the house where the election was to be held. Two of the judges appointed by the governor did not appear, and other judges were selected by the crowd; all then voted. In order to make a pretense of right to vote, some persons of the company kept a pretended register of squatter claims, on which any one could enter his name, and then assert he had a claim in the Territory. A citizen of the District, who was himself a candidate for Delegate to Congress, was told by one of the strangers that he would be abused, and probably killed if he (John A. Wakefield) challenged a vote. He was seized by the collar, called a d--d Abolitionist, and was compelled to seek protection in the room of the judges. About the time the polls were closed, the strangers mounted their horses and got into their wagons and cried out, "All aboard for Westport and Kansas City." A number were recognized as residents of Missouri, and among them was Samuel H. Woodson, a leading lawyer of Independence. Of those whose names are on the poll-books, thirty-five were resident settlers and 226 were non-residents.

Like frauds, only varying in particulars and persons were reported in seven other districts, the most shameless of which was the precinct designated as "110", where 584 bogus votes were thrown in a total vote of 604. Below is given the tabular statement of the fraud, which accompanied the report:

DISTRICTS. Place of 
           Voting.     Whitfield Wakefield Flenneken Scattering
1st....... Lawrence          46        188        51         15
2nd....... Douglass         235         20         6 
3rd....... Stinson's         40                    7
4th....... Dr. Chapman's    140         21        21
5th....... H. Sherman's      63          4        15
6th....... Ft. Scott        105
7th....... "101"            597                    7
8th....... Council Grove     16
9th....... Reynold's          9                   31
10th...... Big Blue Cross     2          6        29
11th...... Marysville       237          3                    5
12th...... Warton's Store    31          9                    1
13th...... Osawkie           69          1         1
14th...... Harding's        130                   23
15th...... Penseneau's      267                   39
16th...... Leavenworth      232                   80
17th...... Shawnee Agency    49                   13
   TOTAL ..................2258        248       305          22

====================================================== DISTRICTS. TOTAL No. of Voters Legal Illegal by Census. Votes. Votes. ------------------------------------------------------ 1st....... 300 369 300 2nd....... 261 199 35 226 3rd....... 47 101 47 4th....... 161 47 30 131 5th....... 82 442 30 52 6th....... 105 253 25 80 7th....... 604 53 20 584 8th....... 16 39 16 9th....... 40 36 40 10th...... 37 63 37 11th...... 245 24 7 238 12th...... 41 78 41 13th...... 71 96 71 14th...... 153 334 103 50 15th...... 306 308 100 206 16th...... 312 385 150 162 17th...... 62 50 62 18th...... 28 -------------------------------------------- TOTAL . 2833 2905 1114 1729 ======================================================

The conclusion of the committee, following the foregoing exhibit, was as follows:

Thus your committee find that in this, the first election in the territory, a very large majority of the votes were cast by citizens of the State of Missouri, in violation of the organic law of the Territory. Of the legal votes cast, Gen. Whitfield received a plurality. The settlers took but little interest in the election, not one-half of them voting. This may be accounted for from the fact that the settlements were scattered over a great extent; that the term of the delegate to be elected was short, and that the question of free or slave institutions was not generally regarded by them as distinctly at issue. Under these circumstances, a systematic invasion from an adjoining State, by which large numbers of illegal votes were cast, in remote and sparse settlements, for the avowed purpose of extending slavery into the Territory, even though it did not change the result of the election, was a crime of great magnitude. Its immediate effect was to further excite the people of the Northern States, and exasperate the actual settlers against their neighbors in Missouri.

On the returns of this election, the above report of which was made long after, the Governor, in the absence of any valid or general protest, or effort to contest the election, declared Whitfield duly elected, who, with his credentials, proceeded to Washington, as the first delegate from the new Territory of Kansas.

There can be no doubt but at this time, had the election been conducted legally, and the Missourians stayed at home, it would have resulted in the election of Whitfield by an overwhelming majority. The bona fide settlers of Kansas, prior to this election, had been largely from Missouri, and, outside of Lawrence, there was not a Free-soil precinct in the Territory. The election of Whitfield therefore was expected by all, and the unnecessary and unrequired frauds attending it, had less effect on the residents of the territory than might appear from the letters written from Lawrence, and published in the Northern papers at the time. It was quite generally understood that the election could have no particular influence in molding the future status of the State on the slavery question, and that, pending the election of a Territorial Legislature to frame the laws by which the people consented to be governed, a census of actual residents would be taken, from which poll lists might be formed, and a fair election held, the results of which would be, if not satisfactory, acknowledged as binding, and acquiesced (sic) in by all bona fide settlers of the new Territory.

The fall and winter were unusually mild, and the settlers, whatever they might think, or however loud they might talk on either side of the question, busied themselves in completing their cabins and making their new homes habitable and comfortable for the season. They were more interested in securing a title to their land, and a home thereon, than in the future destiny of the yet unborn State.


In January and February, 1855, Gov. Reeder caused an enumeration of the inhabitants of the Territory to be taken, which embraced a separate count of the legal resident voters. An abstract of the census as completed, with names of the persons by whom the enumeration was made and returned, appears in the following table:

# of  BY WHOM
Dist. TAKEN.                Males. Females. Voters. Minors.
 1    C. W. Babcock........    633      339     369     459
 2    O. H. Brown..........    316      203     199     237
 3    T. W. Hayes..........    161       91     101     112 
 4    O. B. Donaldson......    106       71      47      97 
 5    William Barbee.......    824      583     442     724
 6    William Barbee.......    492      318     253     418
 7    J. B. McClure........     82       36      53      50
 8    J. B. McClure........     56       27      39      28
 9    M. F. Conway.........     61       25      36      31
10    M. F. Conway.........     97       54      63      61
11    B. H. Twombly........     33        3      24       5
12    B. H. Twombly........    104       40      78      35
13    H. B. Jolly..........    168      116      96     145
14    Albert Weed..........    655      512     334
15    H. B. Jolly..........    492      381     308     448 
16    Charles Leib.........    708      475     385     514
17    Alexander O. Johnson.     91       59      50      54
18    B. H. Twombly........     59       40      28      51
            Totals.........   5128     3383    2905    7161

# of  BY WHOM              Native   Foreign Negroes Slaves Total
Dist. TAKEN.               of U. S. Born
 1    C. W. Babcock........     887      75                  962
 2    O. H. Brown..........     506      19       1      7   519
 3    T. W. Hayes..........     215      12              6   252 
 4    O. B. Donaldson......     169       2       1      1   177  
 5    William Barbee.......    1385      22      27     26  1401
 6    William Barbee.......     791      12      11     11   810
 7    J. B. McClure........     117       1       1      1   118
 8    J. B. McClure........      76       7      13     10    83 
 9    M. F. Conway.........      66      12      14      3    86
10    M. F. Conway.........     108      23                  151  
11    B. H. Twombly........      30       6                   36
12    B. H. Twombly........     109      37       1      7   144  
13    H. B. Jolly..........     273       9      14     14   284
14    Albert Weed..........     301      46       1     35  1167 
15    H. B. Jolly..........     846      16      15     15   873
16    Charles Leib.........    1042     104      48     33  1183 
17    Alexander O. Johnson.     143       5       4     23   159
18    B. H. Twombly........      97       1                   99
            Totals.........    7161     408     151    192  8601 

The proclamation of Gov. Reeder, calling an election of members of the first Territorial Legislature, was made on March 8, as soon as practicable after the census enumeration was completed. The date appointed was Friday, March 30.

The proclamation in its defining of election districts made eighteen instead of sixteen, as in his first election proclamation for election of Congressional Delegates, heretofore published in full. It appointed the voting precincts, names the judges of election, and defined the duties of judges and the qualifications of voters, and provided for contested elections in the same terms as before.

The members to be elected were: "Thirteen members of the Council, and twenty-six members of the House of Representatives, to constitute the Legislative Assembly of the Territory." The apportionment, based on the census just completed, which showed 2,905 voters in the territory gave, as the ratio of representation, 223 in the Council, and 111 in the House of Representatives. The Territory was divided into ten Council and fourteen Representative districts and number of members apportioned as follows:

[TOC] [part 9] [part 7] [Cutler's History]