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Kansas: The Prelude to the War for the Union|
Chapter IX: Per Aspera.
by Spring, Leverett Wilson
|The calamities of free-state men in Kansas were stepping-stones to final success. They moved Northern sentiment profoundly. Speakers fresh from the border addressed great public gatherings and inflamed the excitement by the adventurous, romantic, far-away interest that attached to them, by unmeasured denunciations of the slave power, by sensational narratives of the hardships, robberies, and murders that had befallen anti-slavery settlers in the territory. Pulpit, press, and convention caught up and reverberated their impassioned message. The legislatures of several Northern States passed resolutions recognizing the services and sufferings of Kansas pioneers in the cause of liberty. "We have heard," said the legislature of Massachusetts, "the call for aid and sympathy which has come up ... from the settlers of Kansas with the deepest solicitude;... their sufferings have touched our hearts; and the manly defense of their rights has won our admiration."
In the autumn of 1856 two books appeared which stimulated and perpetuated public interest: "Kansas, Its Exterior and Interior Life," by Mrs. Sara T. L. Robinson -- a brave, graphic, realistic, clear-eyed narrative of border experiences, exhibiting their social, domestic, every-day phases as well as their turbulent, political constituents, and running through nine editions; "The Conquest of Kansas," by W. A. Phillips -- a breezy, readable book, not without sense of humor, but marred by inaccuracies and exaggerations.
A fierce agitation flamed and roared like a prairie fire from Boston to the Northwest. But the movement did not spend itself in flame and smoke. Societies of semi-military cast, no less willing to furnish guns than groceries, sprang up as if by magic, and overshadowed the earlier, more pacific organizations. A national society, with auxiliaries in almost every free state except Massachusetts, which had a flourishing "State Kansas Committee" of its own, got afoot and harvested not less than two hundred thousand dollars for Kansas purposes. The Massachusetts committee secured funds to the amount of eighty thousand dollars in addition to large supplies. Eager, cooperative activities woke on every side. "I know people," said Emerson in a speech at Cambridge, "who are making haste to reduce their expenses and pay their debts, not with a view to new accumulations, but in preparation to save and earn for the benefit of Kansas emigrants."
"Thou hast great allies;
Thy friends are exultations, agonies,
And love and Man's unconquerable mind."
The volume of anti-slavery migration toward the territory swelled like mountain streams after heavy showers. A constant movement thitherward had been in progress through the spring and early summer. Among the companies who arrived during that period were the widely-heralded "rifle Christians" from New Haven, Connecticut seventy-nine resolute men, under the conduct of C. B. Lines, armed with bibles and Sharps carbines. "We gratefully accept the bibles," said the leader of the colony, "as the only sure foundation on which to erect free institutions.... We ... accept the weapons also, and, like our fathers, we go with the bible to indicate the peaceful nature of our mission and the harmless character of our company, and a weapon to teach those who may be disposed to molest us (if any such there be) that while we determine to do that which is right we will not submit tamely to that which is wrong." "We will not forget you," said Henry Ward Beecher, prominent in securing for the colony an outfitting of guns. "Every morning breeze shall catch the blessings of our prayers and roll them westward to your prairie home."
Pro-slavery leaders on the border viewed with alarm these unwonted exhibitions of Northern energy and anger. Rumors of impending invasions -- of populous, grimy, fanatic abolitionist hordes, with hate in their hearts and arms in their hands, hurrying toward the frontier -- flew thick and fast. Steps must be taken at once to meet the new and multiplying perils. Unless the great inflowing current of Northern life could be checked, all hope of Southern supremacy in Kansas must be at once and forever abandoned.
Atchison and his associates attacked the problem before them with no half-way policy. They resolved to police the great national highway of the Missouri River against all traffic inimical to the interests of slavery. Steamers were overhauled, free-state consignments of merchandise seized, Kansasward travelers unable to give satisfactory accounts of themselves arrested and sent down the river. A. A. Lawrence and Dr. Samuel Cabot, of Boston, shipped for the territory four thousand dollars' worth of Sharps rifles, which happened to be in transitu when the embargo began to stiffen. These guns the volunteer river commissioners seized. The Boston gentlemen were naturally anxious to recover the arms, but felt a little awkward and embarrassed in making the effort. "If we were not officers of the Emigrant Aid Company," Lawrence wrote, "(which takes no part in such matters ...) we could get them by suit; but whether we can do it by proxy remains to be seen."
The first considerable party -- seventy-five in number -- to which the revised code of inter-state traffic was applied came from Chicago. They were recruited at an immense mass-meeting in that city May 31st, which Lane, who was a stump orator of remarkable power, addressed with great effect. The Chicago immigrants met with no special annoyance until they reached Lexington, where they were subjected to a preliminary investigation and lost their Sharps rifles. They then proceeded to Leavenworth, where a second examination took place, which resulted in the capture of "about two bushels of revolvers, pistols, and bowie-knives." Finally, they were sent back down the river, put ashore near Alton, Illinois, in a drenching rain-storm, and left to shift for themselves.
Overland immigrants fared no better when they touched the soil of Missouri, but encountered the same belligerent policy that threw its obstructions across the river. This policy, it should be remarked, commanded general though not universal credit among the valiant friends of law and order. It was too-flat and insipid for some of the newspaper editors. "We are of the opinion,' said "The Squatter Sovereign," "[that] if the citizens of Leavenworth ... would hang one or two boat- loads of abolitionists it would do more towards establishing peace in Kansas than all the speeches that have been delivered in Congress during the present session. Let the experiment be tried!"
The Missourians did not succeed in their efforts at obstruction. They could no more balk the great Northern movement toward Kansas than they could check the Missouri with the palm of the hand. Perplexity, agitation, experiment, shifting of routes, they compassed, and that was all. Various plans for breaking the embargo on the Missouri River were rife in Eastern anti-slavery circles, such as the purchase of an armed vessel to cruise upon its forbidden waters; the assembling of friendly legislatures with a vague, undefined purpose of state interference; a protest of state executives against violations of constitutional rights of travel prevalent in Missouri, which Mr. Thaddeus Hyatt volunteered to carry to every Northern governor for his signature.
None of these projects ever reached the stage of practical experiment. The crisis was hardly serious enough to call for heroic remedies. Missouri did not command all accessible routes to Kansas. It were easy to flank the blockade by opening communications through Iowa and Nebraska. This measure was successfully accomplished through the energy of the "Kansas State Central Committee," appointed by the Topeka mass-convention. Toward the close of July the Chicago emigrants, together with fresh companies from Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin -- reaching an aggregate of three hundred and ninety-six persons -- were encamped near Nebraska City en route for Kansas. This company had been loudly noised abroad as Lane's Northern army. Governor Shannon, in no little alarm, urged General P. F. Smith, who succeeded Colonel Sumner in command of the department, "to take the field with the whole disposable force in the territory," to keep this ill-reputed horde at bay, which he declined to do on the ground that the governor's information was untrustworthy. July 29th Dr. S. G. Howe and Thaddeus Hyatt, representatives of the National Kansas Committee, sent out to investigate matters, reached the Nebraska camp. They found many of the immigrants in a forlorn condition -- ragged, almost penniless, poorly supplied with even the scanty furniture of a camper's outfit. Leadership had fallen into Lane's hands, and the whole expedition became accredited to him, though he was neither directly nor indirectly concerned in raising more than a fourth part of it. The committee demanded that his connection with it should be completely severed on penalty of withholding further supplies. Considerations which led to this summary step were the fact that papers had been made out for Lane's arrest -- a circumstance which might lead to complications; that in an emergency his discretion and self-command could not be trusted. These considerations, the committee reported, "conspired to create a well-grounded apprehension in our minds that by some hasty and ill-timed splurge he would defeat the object of the expedition if suffered to remain even in otherwise desirable proximity." Lane took the decision much to heart. "If the people of Kansas don't want me," he said, "I '11 cut my throat to-day." But he sullenly yielded, set off toward the territory with Old John Brown, Captain Samuel Walker, and three or four others, outrode his escort, and reached Lawrence alone August 11th, disguised as Captain Jo Cook. He tarried long enough in Topeka to write the free-state prisoners at Lecompton a note, offering to attack the federal soldiers who guarded them if they could not otherwise escape. The so-called Northern army advanced by slow stages into the territory and founded along the line of march two towns Plymouth and Holton. Members of the expedition, who did not tarry for these enterprises, reached Topeka on the 13th of August.
Other overland parties followed. Late in September James Redpath, with one hundred and thirty men, appeared on the northern boundary. A martial, non-agricultural reputation preceded this company. Colonel J. E. Johnston with four companies of dragoons marched toward the Nebraska line to insure it a fitting reception, but after applying suitable tests he pronounced the travelers to be "real immigrants."
The Redpath scare had no sooner abated than another still more violent succeeded. Reports reached Lecompton that six or seven hundred men, with three pieces of artillery, were on the point of crossing the Nebraska line. Colonel P. St. George Cooke hurried forward reinforcements, increasing the number of federal troops along the frontier to five hundred strong. One heavy disappointment befell the colonel during the northward expedition. "I just missed the arrest of the notorious Osawatomie outlaw, Brown," he reported October 7th. "The night before, having ascertained that after dark he had stopped for the night at a house six miles from the camp, I sent a party, who found at twelve o'clock he had gone." Colonel Cooke was more successful in catching the latest overland immigrants, who were brought to a halt near the Nebraska line on the morning of October 10th. The excess of men in the company excited suspicion, as the two hundred and twenty-three persons reported by the officer of the day included only "five women of marriageable age." "I do not see many spinning-wheels sticking out of the wagons," said Colonel Cooke as he walked about them. Indeed, they contained "no visible furniture, agricultural implements, or mechanical tools," but abounded in "all the requisite articles for camping and campaigning purposes." Marshal Preston, in spite of much protesting, searched the wagons and unearthed a remarkable assortment of farming implements -- Hall's muskets, Sharps carbines, revolvers, satires, bayonets, fixed ammunition, kegs of powder, and dragoon saddles. "It was raining on the day of arrest," reported Marshal Preston, "which subjected us all to a drenching. It was to be regretted, but could not be prevented." The grumbling expedition was escorted to Topeka, where the conductors of it, S. W. Eldridge, S. C. Pomeroy, and others, laid their grievances before the governor, resented the meddlesome interference of "one Preston, deputy United States marshal," and disavowed with much posturing of injured innocence every warlike purpose. These flower-soft, unmilitary gentlemen forgot to inform the governor, to whom the intelligence would have been of interest, that the bulk of their formidable military munitions had been obtained from the lowa state arsenal; that the authorities allowed Robert Morrow to help himself to whatever it contained on the not very onerous condition that he would manage the operation discreetly; that Morrow seized at night three wagonloads of guns and ammunition, and added them to the resources of immigrants who were lustily protesting, "Our mission to this territory is entirely peaceful." They escaped with no severer penalties than a lecture on the rules and maxims of behavior appropriate for new-come Kansans.
When they began to comprehend in some measure the extent and intensity of anti-slavery sentiment moving among the Northern States; when they saw great tides of hostile immigration pouring around their ineffectual barriers into Kansas a spectacle tending to cloud the hopes of the most confident and optimistic -- pro-slavery leaders began to question the wisdom of that insolent and contemptuous confidence which had thus far ruled their councils. They revised their tactics so far as even to catch a lesson from their enemies, and attempted, though with the awkwardness of novices and of pupils to some other manner born, the effective guise of martyrs. Atchison, B. F. Stringfellow, Buford, and others published an address, June 21st, setting forth pathetically and voluminously the calamities that were upon them: --
"Kansas they [the abolitionists] justly regard as the mere outpost in the war now being waged between the antagonistic civilizations of the North and South, and, winning this great outpost and standpoint, they rightly think their march will be open to an easy conquest of the whole field. Hence the extraordinary means the abolition party has adopted to flood Kansas with the most fanatical and lawless portion of Northern society, and hence the large sums of money ... expended to surround ... Missourians with obnoxious and dangerous neighbors. On the other hand, the pro-slavery element of the law and order party in Kansas, looking to the Bible finds slavery ordained of God.... Slavery is the African's normal and proper state.
... We believe it a trust and guardianship given as of God for the good of both races.... This is .. a great social and political question of races,... a question whether we shall sink to the level of the freed African and take him to the embrace of social and political equality and fraternity; for such is the natural end of abolition progress.... That man or state is deceived that fondly trusts these fanatics may stop at Kansas.... The most convincing proof ... Of this was recently given before the congressional investigating committee. Judge Matthew Walker ... testified ... that before the abolitionists selected Lawrence as their centre of operations their leader, Governor Robinson, attempted to get a foothold for them in the Wyandotte reserve.... Robinson, finding it necessary to communicate their plans and objects, divulged to Walker (whom he then supposed to be a sympathizer) that the abolitionists were determined on winning Kansas at any cost; that then, having Missouri surrounded on three sides, they would begin their assaults on her, and as fast as one state gave way attack another, until the whole South was abolitionized.... We are confident that ... the abolition party was truly represented by Robinson, who has always been their chief man and acknowledged leader in Kansas.... It was proved before the investigating committee that the abolition party had traveling agents in the territory whose duty it was to gather up, exaggerate, and report for publication rumors to the prejudice of the law and order party.... In the present imperiled state of your civilization, if we do not maintain this outpost we cannot long maintain the citadel. Then rally to the rescue."
The "Appeal" was printed in "De Bow's Review" for August, 1856, and is much soberer, less confident in tone, than an article which appeared two months earlier in the same magazine under the title "Kansas a Slave State."
"Slaves will now yield a greater profit in Kansas," said the writer, "either to hire out or cultivate the soil, than any other place.... Those who have brought their slaves here are reaping a rich reward,... and feel as secure in their property here as in Kentucky or Missouri.... Why it is that more of our friends in the old states have not brought their slaves with them we are at a loss to divine, unless the falsehoods and threats of the abolitionists have frightened them.... Should Kansas be made a slave state? We say that location, climate, soil, productions, value of slave labor the good of the master and slave -- all conspire and cry aloud that it should be.... The squatters, too, have already said three successive times, at the polls, that Kansas should be a slave state. But if all this is not enough, then we say, without fear of successful contradiction, that Kansas must be a slave state or the Union will be dissolved.... If Kansas is not made a slave state, it requires no sage to foretell that ... there will never be another slave state.... Can Kansas be made a slave state? Thus far the pro-slavery party has triumphed in Kansas in spite of the abolitionists and their Emigrant Aid Societies.... We have peaceably whipped them at the polls and forced them to beg for quarter in the field, and proven to the world that truth and justice are on our side.... The stake is surely worth a struggle; and if not won by the South, God alone can foresee the evils that are to follow.... Will the South come to the rescue and make Kansas a slave state? We are sure she will. We know her people, and when once aroused ... they will fly to the rescue of their friends in Kansas, where all the combined forces of abolitionism will quail and skulk back to the dark sinks and hiding-places from which they came by the assistance of the aid societies. Such creatures cannot stand before the forces of honest freemen.... Kansas should, can, and will be a slave state."
These papers and others which were issued sent a spasm of excitement through the South, but received no such response of partisan immigration as streamed into Kansas from the North. With the sack of Lawrence, the dispersion of the Topeka legislature, and the flight or capture of prominent free-state leaders, the territory plunged into chaos. So far from befriending anti-slavery interests, the Pottawatomie massacre at once fomented and embittered the struggle. A period of lawlessness and marauding now set in that left stains on both parties as inevitably as the snail slimes its track. Which faction surpassed the other in misdeeds it would be hard to say. Free-state men seized the opportunity to rid the territory of obnoxious persons. The experiences of Rev. Martin White, for instance, were far from griefless. His troubles dated back to a public meeting at Osawatomie April 16th, 1856, which passed resolutions against the payment of taxes levied by the territorial legislature.
In the course of the discussion he crossed swords with Old John Brown. White was a furious, unmeasured partisan, and made himself so unpopular that on the night of August 13th free-state men assailed his cabin. "I was frequently menaced and threatened with certain and immediate destruction," he testified before the Strickler Commission October 23d, 1857, "and was once attacked in my dwelling by a body of armed men, who were repulsed and driven away after a contest of half an hour" -- retiring with a booty of seven horses. "A body of armed men commanded by [J. C.] Holmes came to my premises," said one of White's sons.... "They took what they wanted, and inquired how many men were at my father's, saying that when they got old Martin White and killed him they would have all the pro-slavery men in the neighborhood." Such was the temper exhibited by "the outlaws and followers of Lane and Brown" that on the 14th of August the Rev. Martin White fled precipitately to Missouri. "In consequence of their manifest determination to take my life," he said, "I was forced to beat a hasty retreat from the territory."
The pro-slavery party had one great advantage: the most practicable avenues of communication and traffic were in their possession. They infested the country adjacent to Lawrence and Topeka, so that these towns might be loosely considered in a state of siege. No doubt scarcity of provisions in some degree stimulated the marauding habit, but it had little need of artificial cultivation. Topeka felt the pressure of the blockade much less than Lawrence, yet it was the centre of a prosperous series of maraudings upon the surrounding country. So great was the enterprise and success in what one of the victims called "the roguing business" that few pro-slavery men of the neighborhood escaped spoliation. Free-state depredators, in larger or smaller gangs, scoured the region, filling the air with profanity, intimidating pro-slavery settlers, shooting at those who were not sufficiently docile, and plundering right and left. A curious observer has chronicled the contents of a single foray-wagon: green corn in the ear, surmounted by a cooking-stove, a crib-cradle, a dining-table, clothing, bedding, and a great variety of miscellaneous articles. Tecumseh in particular, a town just east of Topeka, was visited by "robberies, plunderings, and pilferings." A witness, who testified before the Strickler Commission, happened to be in Topeka at the height of the freebooting season, and "saw a company of men and teams leave town and go in the direction of Tecumseh" for the indefinite purpose of obtaining provisions. Just after the raiding of that village, again in Topeka, "I saw quite a large amount of goods, of various kinds, being divided out among the crowd present.... I was invited among others to come up and take part, and finally did select a broom and meal sieve, thinking that should I ever find the proper owners ... I would pay them." This conscientious mortal actually carried out his purpose, and paid the Tecumseh shop-keeper -- an event without parallel in the territorial annals.
The pro-slavery beleaguerment of Lawrence assumed a more serious aspect. In the vicinity several block-houses, well situated as points of rendezvous for operations against the town, had been fortified and garrisoned. There was one of these semi-forts at Franklin; another on Washington Creek, called Fort Saunders; another near Lecompton, known as Fort Titus. These "nests of land-pirates" succeeded in cutting off supplies to such an extent that food became scarce at Lawrence. "The boys lived for days on ground oats," said Captain J. B. Abbott, of the Blue Mound Infantry -- "on oatmeal unbolted and unsifted. It was like eating hay." S. W. Eldridge gave the result of special inquiries in the matter of food-supplies before the second Board of Commissioners, appointed by the territorial legislature in 1859 to reopen the matter of claims for losses in the border troubles.
"On the 14th of August, 1806," he said, "or thereabouts, I was delegated to ascertain the quantity of supplies in the town.... The soldiers and citizens ... assembled in Lawrence were reduced to the lowest point of sustenance: many of them for weeks together had nothing to subsist on but green corn, squashes, watermelons, and other vegetables; hundreds had no flour, meal, or meat of any kind for days and days together. Sickness prevailed among those subjected to such a diet. In Lawrence a large proportion of all here assembled were reduced to straits, and as a matter of necessity and self-preservation ... the surrounding country as well as the city itself had to furnish such means of sustenance as the wants of the hungry and the necessities of the sick demanded. On the day mentioned I went to every store in town and every supposed depot to ascertain what amount of flour or meal was on hand, exclusive of such limited supplies as might be in dwelling-houses for temporary family use; after a thorough search and examination made for the purpose of ascertaining the condition of the town and to calculate how long it could sustain the existing pressure, I found there were but fourteen sacks of flour -- I repeat it, only fourteen sacks of flour in town that could have been bought for public or private use; could find no meal, bacon, or beef of any consequence; stocks were exhausted."
Offensive operations were first directed against Franklin. On the night of June 4th a handful of men from Lawrence crept into that village with the stealth of Indians, began a brisk rifle-practice in the darkness, which accomplished nothing beyond killing one of the defenders and wounding several. With the approach of day the raiders beat a successful retreat. But there was a second, a more elaborate and effectual attack. Eighty-one men; accompanied by Lane, fresh from Nebraska, to a point sufficiently near Franklin for agreeable spectatorship, sallied forth, August l3th, after dark, to the attack. The block-house was flanked on either side by a log-cabin; one serving as a post-office, the other as a hotel. Under cover of night the slender army of investment got into position, and summoned the entire compound structure to surrender. The proposition was indignantly declined. Thereupon followed three hours of musketry -- to no purpose beyond the hurting of a few men. Tiring of the waste of ammunition, the assailants hit upon the expedient of igniting a load of hay and wheeling it against the house of the Franklin postmaster, "with whom," as pro-slavery writers put it, "a party of Southern men were boarding." The fiery battering-ram succeeded far better than Sharps rifles. "When the flames burst forth," an eyewitness relates, "the poltroons cried lustily for quarter." Loop holes became silent, and on an entrance being effected a brass field- piece and a few muskets were found, but no "boarders." Some of the assailants thought that a postmaster who kept the sort of "boarders" found in Franklin should be made an example of. "Oh, don't shoot my husband -- don't shoot him," pleaded his wife. "He deserves to die; he 's a great villain," somebody blurted out "I know it," was the quick retort, "and that's just the reason why I don't want him shot."
Two days afterwards there was a reconnaissance upon Fort Saunders, the intrenched "den of thieves" on Washington Creek. The murder of Major D. S. Hoyt by members of the gang was the immediate occasion of the expedition. Four hundred men, with the cannon captured at Franklin, marched against the post, but the garrison fled on their approach. The block-house stood near a wooded gulch. Finding it deserted, Lane, who was nominally in command, shouted, "The devils are in the ravine -- charge." Into the ravine some of the troopers dashed, but found nobody there.
After this easy success the expedition went into camp on Rock Creek. For reasons which he did not take the trouble to explain, Lane, with half a dozen companions, set out at once for Nebraska, though less than a week had elapsed since his arrival from the North. On his departure the command devolved upon Captain Samuel Walker. There was considerable discussion as to what more, if anything, should be done. Captain Walker advised the expedition to disband. A part of the men followed his suggestion and started for Lawrence, while he himself went to the cabin of a friend some miles in the direction of Lecompton. In the evening rumors came to the men who remained on Rock Creek -- in the mood of further campaigning -- that free-state prisoners at Lecompton were in peril of the gibbet. They resolved to attempt a rescue, and sent a runner to notify the men who were returning to Lawrence. Nothing of importance occurred until the expedition reached a point within six or eight miles of Lecompton, when the advanced guard encountered Colonel Titus and his band, who were given to the habit of night-raids. A skirmish took place, which frustrated the plan for surprising Lecompton. Captain Walker, who had been summoned, persuaded the expedition out of attempting anything more, and went to his own cabin, which was in the neighborhood, for what little of the night remained. The Topeka, Lecompton, and Lawrence stage line passed his door. In the morning the coach stopped, and the driver, taking Walker aside, said, "I've got Titus' wife and two children in the stage. If you want to get the d -- d scoundrel, now is your time." Colonel Titus, who had distinguished himself by great activity in harrying free-state people, was probably the most obnoxious border ruffian in the territory. Walker was personally anxious to catch him, and the halted expedition quickly broke camp. Fifty horsemen dashed on in three divisions to surround the stout log-cabin which went by the name of Fort Titus, and cut off communications with Lecompton, while the infantry made what speed they might. Federal troops were plainly in sight, but Major John Sedgwick privately hinted to Walker a few days before that if he wished to nab Titus, and would make quick work of it, his dragoons not be able to reach the block-house in time to interfere. Walker's horsemen got in position and opened fire with Sharpe's carbines. Titus replied spiritedly, killed one of the assailants, and wounded others. Rifle-balls buried themselves harmlessly in the walls of the cabin, but the arrival of footmen with a six-pound gun put a new face upon affairs. The cannonade was plainly audible in the federal camp scarcely a mile distant. Mrs. Robinson says in her "Kansas" that a stray shot whizzed past the tent where the free-state prisoners were confined. After a brief bombardment a white flag appeared' and the whole garrison of seventeen men capitulated. Colonel Titus presented a sorry sight as he emerged from his battered domicile -- coatless, covered with blood, wounded in the hand, face, and shoulder. The assailants fully purposed to kill Titus if they caught him -- to such an intensity had the bitterness against him mounted.
"But the cuss," said Captain Walker to the writer, "got me in the right place when he surrendered. He saw the devil was to pay, and made a personal appeal to me. 'You have children,' he pleaded, 'and so have I. For God's sake save my life.' Somehow I could n't resist. We had n't been on good terms at all. Not long before the rascal had sent handbills all about offering a reward of five hundred dollars for my head 'off or on my shoulders.' I noticed one of them plastered upon the side of his cabin while he was talking to me. The boys swore they would kill him. One of them was so obstreperous that I had to knock him down before he would be quiet. At last I got mad and said, 'There Titus sits. If any one of you is brute enough to shoot him, shoot.' Not a man raised his gun."
Two inmates of Fort Titus were killed, and two wounded. Among the free-state men the casualties were one killed and six wounded. Titus was taken to Lawrence, where a fresh rage to dispatch him broke out, but wiser counsels prevailed, and the mob was baffled.
Sunday, August 17th, Governor Shannon, accompanied by Major Sedgwick and Dr. Aristides Rodrigue, postmaster at Lecompton, rode to Lawrence in the interest of peace-making. Then occurred an unwonted spectacle. After negotiations consuming almost the entire day a treaty of peace was consummated, involving an exchange of prisoners and other acts customary only among recognized belligerents standing upon an equal footing; the high contracting parties being on the one hand the federal government in the person of Governor Shannon, and on the other a minority of the sub-committee chosen out of the larger committee appointed at the miscellaneous Topeka convention July 4th -- Colonel James Blood and William Hutchinson, correspondent of the "New York Times." In this transaction free-state audacity reached the high-water mark of the Wakarusa war treaty. The United States stipulated to return the cannon captured by Sheriff Jones at Lawrence May 21st, to liberate five or six men arrested for participation in the attack on Franklin, while the minority of the sub-committee agreed to release Titus and his men.
When the treaty had been arranged, Governor Shannon attempted to address a street-mob, composed of recent immigrants from Chicago and elsewhere rather than of residents of Lawrence. There was still another outbreak of furor for shooting Titus. Major Sedgwick, who was not given to alarms nor-exaggerations, described the excitement as "almost uncontrollable." When Governor Shannon began to speak a tremendous yell went up from the spectators, and revolvers were pulled out to shoot him. Walker leaped upon a horse, and, drawing his pistols, dashed into the street, shouting, "The first man who insults the governor does it over my dead body! He shan't be insulted. Boys, I'm with you, but he shan't be insulted!" Instant silence followed. Finally some one said, "We 'll hear him as Shannon, but not as governor!" The speech then went on.
When Governor Shannon returned to Lecompton he assuredly had occasion for writing the nervous letter which he sent off at once to the department commander: "This place is in a most dangerous and critical situation.... We are threatened with utter extermination by a large body of free-state men.... I have just returned from Lawrence, where I have been this day with the view of procuring the release of nineteen prisoners that were taken. I saw in that place at least eight hundred men who manifested a fixed purpose to destroy this town.... The women and children have been mostly sent across the river, and there is a general panic among the people."
With the treaty at Lawrence, Governor Shannon's official career substantially closed. "I am unwilling to perform the duties of governor of this territory any longer," he wrote President Pierce August 18th. "You will therefore consider my official connection with this territory at an end." He gave mortal offense to the pro-slavery leaders in the latter days of his administration by declining to be a mere sounding-board for their policies. Like Reeder he left the territory in fear for his life. His success had scarcely been greater than that of his predecessor. "Govern the Kansas of 1855 and '56," he once exclaimed in later years, when he had become a resident of Lawrence and territorial unpopularity had modulated into universal respect, -- "you might as well have attempted to govern the devil in hell!"
It must not be supposed that pro-slavery people were idle during this interval of freshened free-state activity. Though scarcely taking the lead, they accomplished considerable marauding, which, as usual, consisted in highway robbery and the pillage of cabins interspaced with an occasional murder. In the practical conduct of such matters there is wearisome sameness of method and detail, like
"A belt of mirrors round a taper's flame."
At Leavenworth there belched forth a perfect chaos of pro-slavery outrages, which held on into the early days of September -- a Missouri ruffian making and winning a bet of six dollars against a pair of boots that he would scalp an abolitionist within two hours; William Phillips, the lawyer who fared roughly at the hands of a mob some months before, assassinated,
"With twenty trenched gashes on his head,
The least a death to nature,"
one hundred and fifty men, women, and children driven upon river-steamers, leaving all their effects behind as spoils for Captain Emory's eight hundred pro-slavery regulators, who swore they would expel every abolitionist from the region.
But the larger Missouri activities awoke once more. August 16th, the day when Fort Titus was destroyed, Atchison and the pro-slavery junta, in an address to the public, announced the opening of civil war, and besought all law-abiding citizens "who are not prepared to see their friends butchered, to be themselves driven from their homes, to rally instantly to the rescue." The border roused by this call, which pro-slavery newspapers caught up with various and inflammatory exaggerations, again flew to arms. But the swelling hordes of armed men paused on the Missouri side of the line. Governor Shannon, who had not forgotten his experiences with the militia in the Wakarusa war, declined to give them any legal pretext for crossing it. On the 21st of August Secretary Woodson succeeded him as acting governor, and the halted but now jubilant Missourians prepared to advance. For a third time their ideal executive was in power. "If Mr. Atchison and his party had had the direction of affairs," reported General P. F. Smith, who did not conceal his disapproval of their operations, "they could not have ordered them more to suit his purpose." Woodson bestirred himself to issue a proclamation, which appeared on the 25th, declaring the territory "in a state of open insurrection and rebellion," and calling upon all patriotic citizens to rally for the defense of law and for the punishment of traitors. The pamphleteering cabal of Missouri managers reinforced Woodson's proclamation by a new manifesto. Now an irreparable blow can be delivered. The noble Woodson occupies the executive chair, and there is a clear field. What the character and policy of the next governor may be is a matter of uncertainty. He may prove "a second edition of corruption or imbecility." Such was the energy and dispatch with which preparations were pushed, that Atchison moved into Kansas August 09th and encamped on Bull Creek, fifteen miles north of Osawatomie.
To Dutch Henry's Crossing must be charged much of the havoc and anarchy in which the Kansas of 1856 weltered. That affair was a festering, rankling, envenomed memory among pro-slavery men. It set afoot retaliatory violences, which for a while were successfully matched, and more than matched, by their opponents, but finally issued in a total military collapse of the free-state cause. Now Osawatomie, "the headquarters of Old Brown," lay within easy reach of Atchison's camp. General John W. Reid, with two hundred and fifty men, took in hand the business of destroying it. He approached the town about dawn, August 30th, under pilotage of the Rev. Martin White, who, only two weeks before, had fled the neighborhood in fear of his life. On the outskirts of the village, the expedition met Frederick Brown, a son of John Brown, whom the divine shot dead -- "the ball passing clean through the body."
The entire force available for the defense of Osawatomie was only forty-one men, seventeen belonging to John Brown's band, and the remaining twenty-four divided between the companies of Dr. W. W. Updegraff and Captain Cline. These twoscore men, equal to nothing more than a resolute show of fight, took post near the town and the line of Reid's approach, among trees and underbrush that skirted the Marais des Cygnes. When the enemy came within range, they opened fire and caused some temporary confusion. The Missourians unlimbered a field-piece and belched grape-shot at the thicket, which crashed harmlessly above the heads of the concealed riflemen. Tiring of the inconsequent bombardment, they charged and brought the skirmish to an abrupt conclusion. Only one practicable course then remained for the handful of men in the thicket, and that was to get out of the way with all possible dispatch. This they did without standing upon the order of their going, and scattered here and there after an every-man-for-himself fashion. Six free-state men were killed, including assassinations before and after the fight, and three wounded. Reid's loss was probably not more than five killed -- in his own account of the affair the number is put at two -- and a few wounded. Only four cabins escaped the torch, so completely did the raiders accomplish their mission.
There was a retaliatory stir among the free-state clans. Lane, after two weeks' absence in Nebraska or elsewhere, suddenly reappeared. He gathered up the available fighting material about Lawrence and Topeka, amounting to three hundred men, and marched against the camp on Bull Creek. Nothing came of the expedition. The hostile parties approached, surveyed each other, exchanged a few scattering shots, and retired -- Atchison toward Missouri, and Lane toward Lawrence.
A strong counter-irritant activity burst forth from Lecompton while Lane was campaigning against Bull Creek. In two days seven cabins belonging to free-state men of the neighborhood were given to the flames. Sheriffs drove a lively traffic in arrests and confiscations. Acting- governor Woodson, eager to make the most of his brief sunshine, ordered Colonel Cooke "to invest the town of Topeka, and disarm all the insurrectionists or aggressive invaders against the organized government of the territory, to be found at or near that point, retaining them as prisoners, subject to the order of the marshal of the territory. All their breastworks, forts. or fortifications should be leveled to the ground." Though the sins of Topeka were just then at their worst, as the maraudings heretofore mentioned were in progress, yet Colonel Cooke flatly declined to execute the order, and was fully sustained by General Smith in his disobedience.
Pro-slavery enterprise at Lecompton led to a, formidable expedition against that town. The attacking force was divided into two columns. One column of a hundred and fifty men, led by Colonel J. A Harvey, marched up the north bank of the Kansas River September 4th, and reached its assigned position opposite Lecompton in the evening, to cut off retreat in that direction. Harvey waited anxiously but vainly through a cold, rainy night, listening for the guns of the other column which was to assail the town. Then he concluded the expedition had been abandoned, and returned to Lawrence.
But the main body -- three hundred men with two pieces of artillery, commanded by Lane in person, and assigned to the southern route -- delayed moving twenty-four hours, and did not reach Lecompton until the afternoon of September 5th. The advent of the belated column threw that town into a spasm of terror. Acting-governor Woodson, territorial officials, and private citizens all appealed to Colonel Cooke for protection. The federal troops encountered the advanced guard of Lane's column, under command of Captain Samuel Walker, about a mile from the village. "What have you come for?" Colonel Cooke demanded. Walker replied that they "came to release prisoners" -- men seized for offenses at Franklin and elsewhere -- "and to have their rights." Collecting the officers -- twenty or thirty responded to his request for audience -- Colonel Cooke addressed them at some length on the condition of affairs. He deprecated the demonstration against Lecompton, since the Missourians were dispersing, the prisoners about to be set at liberty, and things generally going in their favor. The conference issued peacefully, and the expedition returned to Lawrence without firing a shot. Lane took no part in the negotiations. When federal dragoons appeared he seized a musket, and stepped into the ranks as a common soldier. Rumors of his presence reached Sheriff Jones, who clamored for his arrest. Woodson proposed to write out a requisition, but on second thought it was concluded to let him alone. Colonel Cooke in his official account lapsed into a pardonable rhetoric of congratulation. "Lecompton and its defenders," he said, "were outnumbered, and evidently in the power of a determined attack. Americans thus stood face to face in hostile array and most earnest of purpose. As I marched back over these beautiful hills, all crowned with moving troops and armed men, ... I rejoiced that I had stayed the madness of the hour, and prevented, on almost any terms, the fratricidal onslaught of countrymen and fellow-citizens."
Woodson's lease of power ran only three weeks, but in that brief period he drew over the territory the sorrowfulest night that had settled upon it. Free-state men, who appealed to him, received very cavalier treatment. Even that distinguished minority of a sub-committee, which captured Governor Shannon, could not tame him. "Your troubles," Woodson wrote September 7th, in reply to a remonstrant communication, are "the natural and inevitable result of the present lawless and revolutionary position in which you have, of your own accord, placed yourselves." The minority of a sub-committee retorted with spirit: "You have left us no alternative but to perish or fight. You have called into the field under the name of militia a set of thieves, robbers, house-burners, and murderers to prey upon the people you have sworn to protect. This is the position you occupy before the country and a just God, and on you, not on us, must rest the responsibility."
The only cheerful event that illuminates Woodson's inhospitable three weeks' incumbency, and for that no credit accrues to him, was the release on bail, September 10th, of Governor Robinson, after an imprisonment of four months. This consummation was reached principally through the unremitting efforts of A. A. Lawrence, who had connections of family affiliation as well as of personal friendship with President Pierce. "Having been the means of sending Dr. Robinson to Kansas," Lawrence wrote August 13th, 1856, "I feel bound to take every measure to secure his release.... Mr. Pomeroy, of Kansas, is now in Washington, and has taken from me a letter to Mr. Pierce, with whom he has had several interviews; but in regard to the prisoners he has accomplished nothing." Pomeroy, in his report of negotiations, represents the president as discoursing copiously "about 'disobedience to law, and punishment as the necessary consequence.' I told him there was no treason ... in Kansas. He was very severe on the 'unauthorized' free-state movement in Kansas. Both of us got hot and showed some passion. I content myself by feeling that I did not show more than he did.... On the whole, the interview about the prisoners was very unsatisfactory." The untoward state of negotiations reported by Pomeroy only stimulated Lawrence to more vigorous mediatory efforts, which shortly brought about a hopeful change in the aspect of affairs. "Some action was to have been taken yesterday at their [the cabinet's] meeting," he writes early in September, "and a favorable result may be looked for at once. It is said that a letter was received from a lady -- the wife of one of the prisoners, and probably Mrs. Robinson -- which put the case in a favorable light, and being read aloud by Mrs. Pierce to her husband it took hold of the feelings of both." These expectations were not disappointed. "I have given such orders concerning Dr. Robinson as will please you," President Pierce informed the Boston friends, and the "Bastile-on-the-prairies" was broken up. Mr. Lawrence's knowledge of the letter, a not inconsiderable factor in effecting the modification of federal policy toward Kansas, which now took place, and in hastening the arrival of Woodson's successor in the territory, was not so slender as his language might seem to imply. He drafted the letter himself, and sent it to Mrs. Robinson, who copied and forwarded it to Mrs. Pierce.
The administration, after much careful search, pitched upon John W. Geary, of Pennsylvania, for the vacant gubernatorial post in Kansas, and he reached Lecompton September 10th, just as the storm raised by Woodson was culminating. He owed his selection to a reputation for great executive ability. The administration perceived that, for political reasons, the disorders in Kansas must be composed, and he was expected to accomplish that feat.
Governor Geary stepped into the border tumult with the assertive bearing of a Titan. Superb and not wholly misplaced was his self-confidence. That he did not idealize the situation is clear, as he took pains to say that it could not be worse. Not only did he fully anticipate success, but the very desperation of affairs fascinated him. November 28th, after more than ten weeks in the territory, he could write to Lawrence, "I am perfectly enthusiastic in my mission."
The policies and measures with which Governor Geary began did him no discredit. "When I arrived here," he confided to a friend, "I perceived at once that, in order to do any good, I must rise superior to all partisan considerations, and be in simple truth the governor of the entire people." He concluded to disband the militia called into the field by Woodson, and all unauthorized bodies of armed men. If there should be need for soldiers, he would enroll actual residents of the territory and muster them into the federal service. Then, in reference to the laws, they must be obeyed until expunged from the statute-book.
The proclamation which was issued ordering the militia to disband produced less effect than could have been wished. Lane, it is true, turned his face once more toward the familiar regions of Nebraska without waiting for its appearance. Free-state organizations were inclined to disperse, but hesitated, feeling anxious about the movements of the other side. The governor told them under his breath that they might take their own time to disarm.
The Missourians had been busy, since the reconnaissance upon Bull Creek and the destruction of Osawatomie, in fitting out a military force, the most formidable in numbers and equipment that invaded the territory during the border struggle. If Woodson's administration could have been stretched into a few days more of life, the complete conquest of Lawrence and of Kansas would have been assured. Neither inaugurals, nor proclamations, nor explicit orders from Lecompton brought to a halt the pro-slavery leaders. They pushed on to Franklin. Their approach spread so much consternation throughout the region that the governor, accompanied by Colonel Cooke with four hundred dragoons, set out from Lecompton for Lawrence at two o'clock on the morning of September 13th, where he found two or three hundred men, poorly armed and completely disorganized, awaiting attack. The resuscitated fortifications did not find favor with the military folk. "The town has some ridiculous attempts at defenses," said Colonel Cooke, "with two main streets barricaded with earth-works, which I could ride over.... Few of the people had arms in their hands." Governor Robinson wrote Mr. Lawrence on the 16th, "I found our people in a bad fix when I came out of confinement. We have no provisions, and not ten rounds of ammunition to a man." The scare was premature, as the Missourians drew off under cover of darkness without pressing an attack. Governor Geary made a reassuring speech, and returned to Lecompton.
But the blow was delayed, not averted. About noon on the 14th couriers, riding at a tearing pace, began to arrive in Lawrence with intelligence that the enemy was advancing in force. The town presented a scene of gloomy, almost helpless confusion. Captain J. B. Abbott was nominally in command, though Governor Robinson, Colonel Blood, Captain Walker, and Captain Cracklin acted with more or less independence of headquarters. Here and there Old John Brown urged his favorite maxim, -- "Keep cool and fire low." During the afternoon a troop of the enemy's horse pushed their reconnaissance within range of the few Sharps rifles which the free-state men had. A volley checked their advance and sent them back toward Franklin. The Missourians missed their opportunity if they really wished to destroy the town. Lawrence, with its rickety fortifications and its handful of demoralized, poorly armed defenders, was utterly at their mercy. "So far as its inhabitants were concerned," said Governor Geary, "the place was almost in a defenseless condition, and the sacking and taking of it under the circumstances would have reflected no honor upon the attacking party."
At sundown dispatches, apprising the governor of the situation at Lawrence, reached Lecompton. He immediately sent Colonel Johnston with cavalry and artillery to the scene of disturbance, and proceeded thither in person next morning at an early hour. When he arrived the advanced guard of the Missourians was in sight and marching toward the town. Governor Geary and Colonel Cooke hastened to intercept it, and were escorted to headquarters at Franklin. "Here about twenty-five hundred men," said Colonel Cooke, "armed and organized, were drawn up, horse and foot, and a strong six-pound battery."
The governor summoned to a conference the principal leaders -- Atchison, Whitfield, Reid, Titus, Jones, and others -- and made a speech flavored to the latitude. "Though held in a board house," he said, characteristically magnifying the occasion, "the present is the most important council since the days of the Revolution, as its issues involve the fate of the Union then formed." The governor assured the Missourians that as Democrats they could not afford to destroy Lawrence, and that he could take care of the abolitionists without their help. "He promised us all we wanted," said Atchison, and the council broke up generally satisfied with the governor's plans and purposes. The largest and best appointed force Missouri ever sent into the territory dissolved, and Lawrence was saved, solely by Geary's energy and decision.
The governor pushed the work of pacification effectively. One hundred free-state men -- fighting material that should have remained at Lawrence in the lowering aspect of affairs -- made an expedition against Hickory Point, Jefferson County. Lane, in his progress toward Nebraska, stopped to chastise a pro-slavery band, which took refuge in log-cabins at that place and bade him defiance. He sent a courier to Lawrence for help, who arrived September 13th, and Colonel J. A. Harvey immediately responded with one hundred or more men. Abandoning his campaign before their arrival, Lane expected to meet and turn back these reinforcements, it is said; but they missed him, pushed on to Hickory Point, which they reached the next forenoon, and fought a miniature battle in which one pro-slavery man was killed. Then followed a treaty. Both parties agreed to retire, and celebrated the conclusion of peace by passing round a demijohn of whiskey. "The drinking was not general on either side," says Captain F. B. Swift. "There was no carousel or jollification, but the consequences were serious. We had been without sleep for thirty-six hours, and without food for twenty-four hours, and without drinkable water all through that hot afternoon's skirmish, so that the whiskey proved too much for those who drank, and it became necessary to go into camp a few miles from the scene of the fight instead of pushing on to Lawrence." Here they were surprised and captured by federal Captain T. J. Wood, taken to Lecompton, and arraigned before Judge Cato, whom Governor Geary found at Franklin serving in the Missouri army. Judge Cato refused bail, and committed eighty- seven prisoners on charges of murder in the first degree. A doleful experience of captivity succeeded. Trials began in October, and resulted variously, the verdicts ranging from acquittal to five years in the penitentiary.
Nor did Governor Geary overlook the judiciary in his efforts for reform. He addressed communications to the judges, calling them to account for the inefficiency of the courts -- courts whose restraining and punitive authority over the calamitous course of territorial affairs had been as slight and inappreciable as the sway of drift logs over the Gulf Stream. Criminal offenses of every grade shot up luxuriantly and overshadowed the territory with their noxious umbrage -- thefts, arsons, manslaughters, murders -- yet the paltry account of criminal convictions footed up two sentences for horse-stealing, three or four for assumption of office, and twice that number for unlicensed selling of liquor. Chief Justice Lecompte replied at length. He claimed that partisan bias had never tarnished his judicial record, and insisted, with some show of reason, that the unhappy, inhospitable times were answerable for the paralysis of the judiciary.
Temporarily Governor Geary succeeded. The territory gradually settled into something like repose. Marauders of every sort, free-state and pro-slavery, who had so successfully established a reign of terror, abandoned the field. After a pleasant tour of observation, which occupied twenty days, finding "the benign influences of peace" everywhere prevalent, the governor appointed Thursday, November 20th, as a day of general praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God." Department commander Smith shared in his hopefulness. "I consider tranquillity and order," he reported November 11th, "entirely restored in Kansas."
Another less public movement was also afoot to put the peace on permanent foundations by a transfusion of the territorial government into the Topeka state government. "What if by means of certain influences," Governor Robinson wrote Mr. Lawrence December 21st, "the Topeka constitution should be admitted, the state governor should resign, the territorial governor be unanimously elected, and we should have a peaceable free state? Of course the Senate will need to compromise the matter with the House by providing for submitting the constitution once more to the people. This with an election law by Congress and Governor Geary to execute it would be no very serious objection." The short cut into the Union offered many advantages over competing methods. It involved the resignation of Robinson, the election of Geary in his place, and a little favorable congressional action. Geary advocated the scheme enthusiastically. In his anxiety to elude observation, and not seem to be on too friendly terms with prominent free-state men, he made an appointment to meet Robinson in the attic of a log-cabin at Lecompton, a low, dingy store-room, in which it was impossible to stand upright except directly under the roof-tree. "I am sure my friend Buchanan," said Geary, "will be glad to get out of the scrape in this way." The date of an adjourned meeting of the Topeka legislature was January 6th, 1857. Robinson, who went to Washington to engineer the consolidation project, left behind his resignation as governor. On the first day of the session no quorum appeared. The second brought larger numbers and organization. But at the close of business the federal marshal, who was lying in wait, arrested a dozen members, and the legislature took a recess until the 9th of June. Robinson's mission to Washington did not prosper. The administration was unfriendly, and nothing could be done. In truth, Geary, fast falling under suspicion at Washington, had seen his brightest Kansas days. The confusion and alarm of a reawakened anarchy followed hard upon the paeans of his public thanks giving.
The territorial legislature began its second session at Lecompton January 12th, 1857, and gave Governor Geary plenty of wormwood to bite upon. Substantially the council of the first legislature reappeared, but a new and undissenting pro-slavery House of Representatives had been elected. Gihon, in his rather intemperate and heavily-colored book, "Governor Geary's Administration in Kansas," describes the legislature as chiefly a vulgar, illiterate, hiccoughing rout -- blindly, madly, set on planting slavery securely in the territory. His picture, however, after all abatements and concessions are granted, still retains large elements of historic fidelity. At every turn this brass-throated legislature confronted the governor and his fair-play policy. Not satisfied with the din stirred up in Kansas, pro-slavery leaders sent on men to plot and vociferate in Washington. Locally affairs came to a crisis in the death of a young man by the name of Sherrard -- well-born, with generous traits of character, but under the influence of drink or bad advice a desperado. Sherrard failed to secure an office for which he was an applicant, and charged his disappointment to the governor, whom he endeavored to draw into an altercation as an excuse for shooting him. He equipped himself for the encounter with two heavy revolvers and a bowie knife. Meeting Geary as he left the legislative hall, he began to assail him with abusive words. Geary did not notice the insult. His coolness and self-command probably saved his life. This ineffectual essay at assassination received, perhaps, some inspiration from members of the legislature. In the House of Representatives the Rev. Martin White presented laudatory resolutions, but that body shrank from so formal an encomium.
Governor Geary became alarmed. He applied to the federal commander at Leavenworth for additional troops, and was rebuffed with the announcement that they were otherwise occupied. By this denial of protection, the fact that the administration had abandoned him passed from hint and conjecture into declaration. Free-state men rallied in support of the deserted governor. There began a series of indorsing, panegyric mass-meetings, which reached a tragic conclusion at Lecompton February 18th. Here the usual resolutions friendly to the governor were introduced, which threw Sherrard, who took pains to be present, into a paroxysm of rage. Leaping upon a pile of boards, he delivered a brief but clear and pithy address: "Any man who will indorse these resolutions is a liar, a scoundrel, and a coward." One man in the crowd did indorse them, and said so rather loudly and defiantly. This declaration was instantly followed by a volley of pistol shots. The fight spluttered and fusilladed for a time without much execution; then concluded abruptly with the death of the desperado. "I saw Sherrard leap into the air as a bullet struck him in the forehead," said a quiet, pacific spectator. "I don't think anything ever happened in the territory that pleased me so much as. the shooting of that man." The fatal pistol shot also dispersed numerous pro-slavery roughs in attendance, and spoiled a pretty programme of mischief which they had prepared.
Governor Geary's extraordinary hopefulness and self-confidence temporarily gave way. The enthusiasm for his mission, which blazed and crackled so brilliantly three months before, now burned feebly and intermittently like a twinkling flame among dying embers. "My only consolation now is," he wrote A. A. Lawrence February 25th, "that my labors are properly appreciated by, and that I have the sympathy of, very many of the best citizens of the Union.... How much longer I shall be required to sacrifice pecuniary interests, comfort, and health in what appears almost a thankless work remains to be determined."
The sacrifice continued only a few days, when the governor abandoned the territory very hastily and informally. The end had been predicted from the beginning. "What you say suits us first-rate," said Captain Samuel Walker, an old acquaintance, as he was eloquently expounding his purposes to a little knot of listeners in his office at Lecompton soon after his arrival; "but mark my word, you'll take the underground railroad out of Kansas in six months." "I 'll show you," Geary retorted, with the emphasis of a smart blow on the table at which he sat, "and all the d -- d rascals that I am governor of Kansas. The administration is behind me." The prophecy was literally fulfilled. About midnight March 10th a heavy knock at his cabin door roused Captain Walker. Great was his surprise to find that the belated visitor was Governor Geary, with two revolvers buckled about his waist, on his way out of the territory. Though agitated and shaken by the perils encompassing him, his self-assertion was not wholly extinguished. "I 'm going to Washington," he informed his host, "and I 'll straighten things out."
But Geary found the authorities at Washington deaf to his talk. Nothing remained for him but to print a leave-taking address and make his exit, after a stirring, egotistic, even-handed, almost brilliant six months in Kansas.