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



Peace and quiet prevailing.--Visit to Lawrence.--Proclamation of the Mayor of Leavenworth.--Suspension of the liquor traffic in Lecompton.--Organization of militia.--Escort for wagons furnished.--Another election.

    So great was the change wrought in the affairs of the territory, that just three weeks from the day of his arrival, the governor was justified in forwarding the following dispatch to the secretary of state:--

                    "Executive Department, K. T.
                      "Lecompton, Sept. 30, 1856.
        "Washington, D. C.,
    "Peace now reigns in Kansas. Confidence is gradually being restored. Settlers are returning to their claims. Citizens are resuming their ordinary pursuits, and a general gladness pervades the community.
    "When I arrived here, everything was at the lowest point of depression. Opposing parties saw no hope of peace, save in mutual extermination, and were employing effectual means to produce that terrible result.
    "I will shortly issue a proclamation announcing the fact that tranquillity prevails, and inviting the return of all citizens who have been ejected from the territory either by force or fraud.
                  "Your obed't servt.,
                      "JNO. W. GEARY,
                    "Governor of Kansas Territory."

    On the morning of October 2d, the governor, accompanied by his private secretary and a single dragoon, made a visit to Lawrence on official business. The change in the aspect of the country appeared almost magical. Two weeks previous the journey could not have been safely made without a strong force of United States troops. The improvement manifest along the road was truly wonderful. No prowling bands of marauders were seen watching for prey upon the distant hills, or flying for safety into the deep ravines; nor travellers, fearing all who approached them to be enemies, dashing from the main roads over the extensive prairies. On the contrary, everything indicated peace, confidence and returning prosperity. Females rode alone on horseback, from house to house, and wagons, unattended by guards, and loaded with provisions, household goods, men, women and children, traversed the roads without the slightest danger or cause for apprehension. Workingmen were employed in rebuilding their burned houses, and taking in and securing their ripened crops. Upon reaching Lawrence, the happy influence of restored peace was still more conspicuous. No guards surrounded the town, nor were there visible any mounted spies to watch its avenues of approach. Squads of idlers no longer hung about the streets. The stores were opened, and business had been actively resumed. Gloom had forsaken the countenances of the people, and cheerfulness pervaded the community. The governor was received with the utmost cordiality, and his visit, which continued during the day, was rendered especially agreeable. A company of militia, then being enrolled, was nearly full, and a general determination seemed to have been formed to cultivate a spirit of industry, peace and good order.

    On his return route to Lecompton, the governor stopped at the houses of several of the settlers, and in every instance found the families entirely freed from all apprehensions of further disturbance, and in the enjoyment of the fullest contentment.

    Notwithstanding the general peace, there still existed in various localities, many personal difficulties, growing out of the past disturbances. Letters from numerous citizens and deputations appointed for the purpose, poured into the executive office, complaining of real and imagined grievances, and appealing for redress. With a determination to bring about a proper system of civilized government, these complaints were referred back by the governor to the municipal authorities of the neighborhoods whence they emanated, with instructions that justice should be done, as far as possible, to all citizens wrongfully oppressed, and that the laws should be enforced; at the same time, he declined to interpose his own authority until the powers vested in the heads of the various municipalities had been employed and exhausted without the desired effect. This policy infused a new life into some of the corporations, and aroused the prostrated officials to prompt and healthy action. They were encouraged by the assurance of strong and efficient support to enforce and maintain the laws, which had been despised and trampled under foot, and a disposition was growing on every hand to uphold and execute them in all their power and majesty. This new condition of things infused a refreshing and invigorating influence through all the ramifications of society, and gave the promise of future and permanent prosperity to the territory.

    The Mayor of Leavenworth City, to whom the governor had addressed a communication respecting certain evils complained of under his jurisdiction, promptly issued a proclamation, of which the following is an extract:--

    "WHEREAS, It is the bounden duty of every citizen, and particularly of every executive officer, to comply strictly with the requirements of the late proclamation of Governor Geary:

    "Now, therefore, I, William E. Murphy, mayor of the city aforesaid, by virtue of the power and authority in me vested, do make known and proclaim, that I will rigidly enforce the law against each and every violator thereof; and I hereby call upon all good and law-abiding citizens of this city, to frown down any secret conspiracy against law, and to give me, as their chief executive officer, that aid necessary to maintain the supremacy of the law."

    The Mayor of Lecompton, also, having received a communication in regard to the numerous tippling houses existing in the city, setting forth the fact that the United States troops in the vicinity were almost unfitted for duty, in consequence of the facilities with which they obtained the means of intoxication, issued a proclamation, demanding, for a certain specified time, the entire suspension of the sale of intoxicating drinks. This proclamation being unheeded, and the evil, so far as the troops were concerned, becoming more serious, the governor sent a file of soldiers to close all the groggeries that were not properly licensed, and to destroy the liquor of those who persisted in selling contrary to law, and to the detriment of the public peace.

    About this time numerous individuals, desiring to be prominent, addressed the governor, requesting him to allow them to organize militia or volunteer military companies, in order to protect the neighborhoods in which they resided. Knowing that the objects of these requests, were in the majority of instances to obtain legal authority to commit depredations on opposing political parties, the governor invariably refused to grant them. He organized, however, three companies of militia, whom he caused to be regularly mustered into the service of the United States. Two of these were stationed for protective purposes at Lecompton, and the other at Lawrence. They remained in the service until the month of December, when, it appearing that they were no longer needful, they were dismissed.

    In order that perfect confidence might be had by store-keepers and others desirous of transporting goods and provisions into the territory, the governor made requisitions for United States troops to accompany wagons to and from Westport, Kansas City, and other towns on the Missouri River, all of which tended to increase the feeling of security that had sprung up, and to advance the welfare and prosperity of the people.

    By proclamation of the governor, an election for members of the House of Representatives of the territory, and a delegate to Congress, was held on the 6th of October. The free-state people declined taking any part in the election, and in consequence but a small vote was polled. Whitfield, who was chosen delegate to Congress, came into the territory from Westport, at the head of a party of such notoriously bad repute, that he declared himself ashamed to be seen in their company. They came up to Lecompton, voted for Whitfield, and returned to Missouri.


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