Geary and Kansas by John H. Gihon, M.D.



Elections.--Gen. Whitfield's politics.--Meetings in Misssouri to control the Kansas elections.--The Missouri press.--The Lynching of William Phillips.--Outrages upon the free-state citizens approved.--Destruction of the "Parkeville Luminary."

    THE first election in the territory was held on the 29th November, 1854, and was for a delegate to Congress. There were three candidates, viz: a Mr. Flenniken, who came to Kansas with Governor Reeder; Judge J. A. Wakefield, an acknowledged free-state man; and General John W. Whitfield, an Indian agent, and one of the most ultra of the pro-slavery party.

    That no mistake could be made in regard to Whitfield's sentiments on the slavery question, he very clearly expressed them in a speech made subsequent to the election. It is alleged, however, that previous thereto he was less positive. He then advocated the doctrine of popular sovereignty, and declared his intention to aid the actual settlers to form their own domestic institutions in their own way. His sentiments seem to have undergone a material change when he uttered the following:

    "We can recognize but two parties in the territory--the pro-slavery and the anti-slavery parties. If the citizens of Kansas want to live in this community at peace and feel at home, they must become pro-slavery men; but if they want to live with gangs of thieves and robbers, they must go with the abolition party. There can be no third party--no more than two issues--slavery and no slavery, in Kansas Territory."

    At the November election, large parties from Missouri, who had entered the territory for that purpose, insisted upon voting, and having done so, returned on the same day to their homes. Of 2871 votes polled, 1729 were ascertained to be illegal, all of which were cast for Whitfield, who was elected. The following extract in regard to this election, is from the report of the Congressional Committee:

    "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 and 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, induce acts of retaliation, and exasperate the actual settlers against their neighbors in Missouri."

    Several weeks previous to this election Gen. B. F. Stringfellow, Ex-Vice-President David R. Atchison, and other prominent citizens of that state, addressed large meetings in Missouri, urging the people "to enter every election district in Kansas, in defiance of Reeder and his vile myrmidons, and vote at the point of the bowie-knife and revolver." The cause, it was urged, demanded it, and "it was enough that the slave-holding interest wills it, from which there is no appeal," and if the pro-slavery party should be "defeated, then Missouri and the other southern states will have shown themselves recreant to their interests, and will deserve their fate."

    These aggressions upon the rights of the settlers soon led to difficulties of a serious character. A retaliatory disposition was aroused and scenes of violence and bloodshed became quite common. The feelings evinced in certain quarters in regard to such disturbances are fully avowed in the following paragraph from the Squatter Sovereign, published at Atchison, by Dr. John H. Stringfellow.

    "Monday of last week a fight came off at Doniphan, K. T., in which bowie-knives were used freely. The difficulty arose out of a political discussion; the combatants being a pro-slavery man and a free-soiler. Both parties were badly cut, and we are happy to state that the free-soiler is in a fair way to peg out, while the pro-slavery man is out and ready for another tilt. Kansas is a hard road for free-soilers to travel."

    In regard to certain strictures upon Kansas outrages published in New York, the same paper discoursed as follows:--

    "We can tell the impertinent scoundrels of the Tribune that they may exhaust an ocean of ink, their Emigrant Aid Societies spend their millions and billions, their representatives in Congress spout their heretical theories till doomsday, and His Excellency Franklin Pierce appoint abolitionist after free-soiler as our Governor, yet we will continue to lynch and hang, to tar and feather, and drown every white-livered abolitionist who dares to pollute our soil."

    Governor Reeder called an election for the Legislative Assembly, to be held on the 20th of March, following. At this election outrages were committed exceeding in atrocity anything that had ever transpired in the history of the country. Many protests were entered against the returns, which resulted in the call of an especial election, to be held on the 22d of May, for several districts, against the evidently fraudulent returns of which, affidavits and petitions had been filed.

    In consequence of this order of the governor, a public meeting was held on the 30th of April, at Leavenworth City, which was "ably and eloquently addressed by Chief Justice Lecompte, Col. J. N. Burns of Weston, Missouri, and others." At this meeting it was

    "Resolved, That the institution of slavery is known and recognised in this territory; that we repel the doctrine that it is a moral and political evil, and we turn back with scorn upon its slanderous authors the charge of inhumanity; and we warn all persons not to come to our peaceful firesides to slander us, and sow the seeds of discord between the master and the servant; for, as much as we deprecate the necessity to which we may be driven, we cannot be responsible for the consequences. "

    A committee of vigilance, consisting of thirty persons, was appointed, whose duty it was to observe and report all such persons, as should "by the expression of abolition sentiments produce a disturbance to the quiet of the citizens, or danger to their domestic relations; and all such persons, so offending shall be notified, and made to leave the territory." This committee found abundant employment, and was exceedingly active in issuing orders to all free-state men, who should dare to express a sentiment adverse to the institution of slavery, to quit the territory at a certain specified time, or suffer the penalty of death. Under its edicts many good men were driven from their homes, and their wives and children compelled to flee to distant parts for safety and protection.

    Among those ordered to leave was Mr. William Phillips, a lawyer of Leavenworth, who had signed a protest against the election in that city. Upon his refusal to go, he was, on the 17th of May, seized by a band of men chiefly from Missouri, who carried him eight miles up the river to Weston, where they shaved one half of his head, tarred and feathered him, rode him on a rail, and sold him at a mock auction by a negro, all of which he bore with manly fortitude and bravery, and then returned to Leavenworth and persisted in remaining, notwithstanding his life was constantly threatened and in danger. He was subsequently murdered in his own house, by a company of "law and order" men, or " territorial militia" under command of Captain Frederick S. Emory, simply for refusing to leave the town.

    On the 25th of May, just eight days after the perpetration of the outrage above narrated, another meeting was held at Leavenworth, over which R. R. Rees, a member elect of the Council presided. ''This meeting," the papers say, was also ''eloquently addressed by Judge Lecompte," after which the following resolutions offered by Judge Payne, a member elect of the House of Representatives, were unanimously adopted:

    "Resolved, That we heartily endorse the action of the committee of citizens that shaved, tarred and feathered, rode on a rail, and had sold by a negro, William Phillips, the moral perjurer.
    "Resolved, That we return our thanks to the committee for faithfully performing the trust enjoined upon them by the pro-slavery party.
    "Resolved, That the committee be now discharged.
    "Resolved, That we severely condemn those pro-slavery men who, from mercenary motives, are calling upon the pro-slavery party to submit without further action.
    "Resolved, That, in order to secure peace and harmony to the community, we now solemnly declare that the pro-slavery party will stand firmly by and carry out the resolutions reported by the committee appointed for that purpose on the memorable 30th."

    Meetings were also held in numerous towns in Missouri, to approve the proceedings of the invaders at the March election, at which violent addresses were made and denunciatory resolutions were passed. The following, adopted at a meeting held in Clay county, will give an idea of their general tenor:--

    "Those who, in our state, would give aid to the abolitionists by inducing or assisting them to settle in Kansas, or would throw obstacles in the way of our friends, by false and Slanderous misrepresentations of the acts of those who took part in and contributed to the glorious result of the late election in that territory, should be driven from amongst us as traitors to their country.
    "That we regard the efforts of the northern division of the Methodist Episcopal Church to establish itself in our state as a violation of her plighted faith, and, pledged as its ministers must be to the anti-slavery principles of that church, we are forced to regard them as enemies to our institutions. We therefore fully concur with our friends in Platte county in resolving to permit no person belonging to the Northern Methodist Church to preach in our county.
    "That all persons who are subscribers to papers in the least tinctured with free-soilism or abolitionism, are requested to discontinue them immediately."

    The Missouri press was extremely vituperative against all who dared to condemn the course pursued in regard to the Kansas election. The Brunswicker found fault with a contemporary in the following choice terms:

    "The last Jefferson Inquirer is down on the citizens of Missouri who took steps to secure the election of pro-slavery men to the Territorial legislature of Kansas. This is in keeping with the Inquirer's past conduct. If the editor of that paper had been in Kansas on the day of election, he would have voted with the abolitionists. That he is a negro-stealer at heart we have no doubt."

    The Platte County Luminary, was printed at Parkeville, Mo., and was owned by Mr. Parke, one of the oldest residents, after whom the town was named. After the March election this paper ventured to condemn, though in gentle terms, the Missouri invasion; upon which, a few days afterwards, April 14th, a company was formed at Platte City, and arming themselves for the occasion, marched to Parkeville, broke to pieces the press of the Luminary, and threw it, with all the material belonging to the office, into the Missouri River. They also seized Mr. Patterson, the editor, Mr. Parke being absent, and would have killed him, but for the interference of his wife, a young and beautiful woman, who threw herself about his neck, to which she clung so firmly that it was difficult to separate them. They finally relinquished their intention, released their prisoner, and permitted him to leave the place, under the penalty of losing his life should he refuse to go or dare to return.


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