Submitted by Barbara Ziegenmeyer
The Kansas-Nebraska bill was approved by President Pierce, May 30, 1854.
Kansas Territory had its inception in the old idea
of admitting two states at the same time—one a free state and the other a slave state— in order that the political
balance should be maintained in the United States Senate. But for this idea, there would have been only Nebraska
Territory organized west of the States of Missouri and Iowa. Kansas Territory might have been later organized from
a portion of the greater territory so established. The plan to set up the two territories rather than one was evidently
worked out by Senators Atchison and Douglas.
There is no record to show who brought forward the name Kansas for the new territory. There is little doubt, however,
that Senator Douglas left this matter to Atchison. The new territory was watered principally by the Kansas River.
That fact, it is reasonable to believe, suggested Kansas as the most fitting and appropriate name for Kansas Territory.
It was in accordance with the name for the Northern territory which had always been called Nebraska, for the Nebraska
or Platte River.
The evidence that the slave power expected to have Kansas come into the Union a slave state, and Nebraska a free
state, developed later, when the effort to force slavery into Kansas was made. At a meeting held at Independence,
Missouri, this sentiment was embodied in a series of resolutions, one of which is inserted here.
Resolved, That we, without distinction of party, desire to act in accordance with what is right and due, not only
to interests of the South, but likewise to interests of the North, and though knowing that the North, through certain
fanatics, has endeavored to dictate to the South, we yet wish to meet them as brothers and friends, and only ask
our rights as compromise, viz.:
That we, the South, be permitted peaceably to possess Kansas, while the North, on same privilege, be permitted
to possess Nebraska Territory.
Many expressions embodying the same sentiments are to be found in the public prints of Missouri immediately following
the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill.
That portion of the Kansas-Nebraska bill erecting Kansas Territory, began with Section 19 and ended with Section
37. The Territory was bounded as follows:
Beginning at a point on the western boundary of the State of Missouri, where the thirty-seventh parallel of north
latitude crosses the same; thence west on said parallel to the eastern boundary of New Mexico; thence north on
said boundary to latitude thirty-eight; thence following said boundary westward to the east boundary of the Territory
of Utah, on the summit of the Rocky Mountains; thence northward on said summit to the fortieth parallel of latitude;
thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the State of Missouri; thence south with the western boundary
of said State, to the place of beginning.
After denning the boundaries of the new territory it was enacted as follows: '' And the same is hereby created
into a temporary government by the name of the Territory of Kansas, and when admitted as a State or States, the
said Territory, or any portion of the same, shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their
constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission.''
The enabling act provided for a Governor and various other officers, to be appointed by the President of the United
States. The Governor was to hold his office for a term of four years, unless sooner removed by the President. It
was required that he should reside within the territory. The legislative power was composed of the Governor, and
the Legislative Assembly—a Council and a House of Representatives. The Council was to consist of thirteen members
having the qualifications of voters. The number of members of the Assembly might be increased with the increase
of the population of the Territory. The Governor was required to take a census of the inhabitants and qualified
voters of the Territory before calling any election therein. . The election for members of the Council and House
of Representatives was to be called by the Governor, who was to declare in his proclamation the number of members
of the Council and of the House each district was entitled to. The Governor was to pass on the returns and make
the declaration as to who was elected. His basis for such declaration was embraced in the phrase, "the person
having received the highest number of legal votes." If a tie should result in any case, a new election was
to be called. The Governor was to select the time and place for the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly,
the term of which was limited to forty days in any one year, except the first session, when a term of sixty days
was permitted. The qualifications for voters were as follows:
Every free white male inhabitant above the age of twenty-one years, who shall be an actual resident of said Territory,
and the qualifications hereinafter prescribed, shall be entitled to vote at the first election, and shall be eligible
to any office within the said Territory; but the qualifications of voters and for holding office at all subsequent
elections shall be such as shall be prescribed by the Legislative Assembly; Provided, that the right of suffrage
and of holding office shall be exercised only by citizens of the United States and those who have declared, on
oath, their intention to become such, and shall have taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States
and the provisions of this act; And provided further, that no officer, soldier, seaman or marine, or others attached
to troops in the service of the United States, shall be allowed to vote or hold office in said Territory by reason
of being on service therein.
If it had been the desire of Congress to formulate a provision which would prove vexatious and troublesome to the
inhabitants of Kansas Territory, no better paragraph could have been drawn.
The Judicial power of the Territory was vested in a Supreme Court, District Courts, Probate Courts and Justices
of the Peace. The Supreme Court was to consist of a Chief Justice and two Associate Justices. They were to hold
their offices four years, and they were required to hold, at the seat of Government, a term of court each year.
The Fugitive Slave law of 1850 was declared to be in full force in Kansas Territory.
It was provided that there should be appointed an Attorney for the Territory, and the appointment of a Marshal
was also authorized. They were to serve terms of four years, but they could be removed by the President at any
The temporary seat of government was located at Ft. Leavenworth, and it was ordered that such public buildings
there as were not in actual use and not required for military purposes might be occupied by the Territorial officers
by direction of the Governor and Legislative Assembly.
A Delegate to the House of Representatives of the United States was to be elected. It was not necessary.that he
should be a resident of Kansas Territory; the only qualification appearing in the act being as follows: "Who
shall be a citizen of the United States."
In Section 32 was found the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise in the language already shown in a previous chapter.
The final section provided that all treaties, laws, and other engagements with the Indian tribes in the Territory,
should remain in full force and be rigidly observed.
These sections comprised the enabling act—the fundamental law of Kansas Territory. They were to the Territory what
a constitution is to a State. And they had been formulated with the design of giving slavery every advantage.
The white population of Kansas Territory consisted, first, of some seven hundred soldiers of the United States,
who were not voters, as they were not legal residents of the territory. They were expressly disqualified for suffrage
in the enabling act.
Soldiers were found at Fort Leavenworth, where there were two companies, consisting of thirteen officers and one
hundred and fifty-.eight men. There were also at that fort about seventy servants and members of the families of
officers. Fort Riley was then in the course of construction. At that post there were four companies, consisting
of sixteen officers and two hundred and twenty-eight men. There was one company, consisting of two officers and
seventy-five men, at "Walnut Creek, on the Upper Arkansas.
White settlers were found at Council Grove, where there were six trading establishments, with two blacksmith shops,
and the Kansas Indian Mission. It is estimated that there were altogether thirty white people at Council Grove.
Isaac Munday lived at the Delaware Crossing—where the military road between Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott crossed
the Kansas River. At that point there was a post office. Munday was the blacksmith for the Delaware Indians, and
there were some ten or twelve white people around him.
Attached to the Missions of the various churches among the Indian tribes were numerous white people, as there were
at the trading posts. In the Wyandot Nation, in what is now Wyandotte County, there were a number of white men
and women. Some of these were members of the tribe, and probably not citizens of the Territory under a strict construction
of the law. They numbered about fifty persons. In the Shawnee reservation there was the Shawnee Mission of the
M. E. Church, South, the Shawnee Baptist Mission and Labor School, and the Quaker Shawnee Labor School. There were
possibly forty-five white people connected with these institutions. There were Catholic Missions among the Pottawatomies
and the Osages. About these missions were some forty white persons. At the missions of the Iowa and Sac and Fox
Indians in Doniphan County, and at the Indian Agency near, it is supposed there were forty or fifty white residents.
The trading point of most importance was at Uniontown on the Kansas River. This was in the west line of what is
now Shawnee County. Many of the Indians were paid their annuities there, and in 1854 there were probably twelve
families living in that vicinity. There were other white people in the Territory, some of whom lived at Fort Scott.
There was a trading post on the Grasshopper and one on the Blue. At both of these there were white families. At
posts on the Oregon Trail whites were to be found who were in the service of stage lines and freighting companies.
This is true also of the Santa Fe Trail. There were always to be found in every Indian community some white men.
All the white residents of the Territory, when the act for its erection was signed, numbered less than fifteen
hundred, counting the military. Whether any of these whites were legally inhabitants of Kansas Territory at the
time of its establishment, depended upon their attitude and intentions. If they decided to remain and become citizens
of the Territory, they would be entitled to vote. If it was their intentions to return to some point in the states,
they were not to be counted as citizens.
In 1853, when it was apparent that the country west of Missouri would be given some form of territorial government,
it was decided that the Indian titles to the lands in that country must be extinguished. The Commissioner of Indian
affairs, George W. Manypenny, was sent out to induce the Indians to enter into treaties surrendering their lands
to the United States. In 1854 treaties were made with most of the tribes whose reservations adjoined the State
of Missouri. The treaties were concluded at Washington, to which city the chiefs and principal men of the various
tribes had been summoned. Knowledge of the terms of these treaties was withheld for a time from the general public,
and it was charged that this was done in the interest of the people living along the western border of Missouri,
and who were supposed to favor the institution of slavery.
The Missouri counties adjoining the east border of Kansas Territory contained a population of about eighty thousand
whites, as shown by the Census of 1850. They owned some twelve thousand slaves. The population of the entire State
of Missouri was composed of five hundred and ninety-two thousand whites, eighty-seven thousand slaves, and twenty-six
hundred free Negroes. The western counties were the most populous counties of the State. "With the exception
of those employed in the freighting and stage service over the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, the population of Missouri
was composed largely of farmers and small tradesmen. They were principally of Southern ancestry. Kentucky and Tennessee
had furnished the greater number of the pioneer settlers, and emigration from those states to Missouri always exceeded
that from, any other section of the Union. Their forefathers had conquered the wilderness west of Virginia and
North Carolina. These first settlers of Missouri understood perfectly the processes of subduing a new country,
and of developing a civilization therein. By experience, inherited traits, and characteristics, and by proximity
to the uninhabited lands, the people of Missouri were better fitted for the settlement of this new country than
were the people of any other portion of the United States. Next to these in suitability for pioneers for Kansas
Territory, were the people of Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and the western portion of Pennsylvania.
All these people understood the manner in which a new country would have to be settled and developed. They were
self-reliant and could secure a cabin of logs and plant such crops as were suitable to a new country. They were
skilled in the arts of home-manufacture. In the homes of Western Missouri at that time, were to be found the spinning
wheel, the hand cards for cotton and wool, the warping-bars and the loom. Many households manufactured their own
shoes as well as their cloth.
A point which has been overlooked by the historians of both Missouri and Kansas, is this; in Missouri there was
a large element utterly opposed to slavery. The same is true of the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, at that time.
Missourians moved into Kansas Territory in greater numbers than did people from any other state, and a large portion
of those Missourians were in favor of making Kansas a free state. It should be remembered in reading the following
pages that the majority of the Missourians who made so much trouble in Kansas were not those who had taken up a
permanent residence in the Territory.
The Missourians who became the Border-Ruffians were the followers of Senator Atchison. No justification of their
course can ever be made. In opposing the organization of Nebraska Territory, Senator Atchison often addressed the
people of Platte County and other counties in Western Missouri. In a speech which he made early in 1853, from a
dry-goods box, in the City of Weston, he defined his position on Nebraska Territory as connected with slavery.
He would oppose the admission of Nebraska into the Union as a Free State with the last drop of his blood; he would
oppose the Missouri Compromise to his last breath; he would have that odious Missouri Compromise repealed, which
made men either give up their Negroes, or give to Northern cattle the finest farms in Nebraska. American citizens
should be privileged to go where they pleased and carry their property with them, whether that property was furniture,
mules or niggers. On that question, when it should come up, he pledged himself to be faithful; that the Missouri
Compromise should be repealed. What will you do if the Missouri Compromise is not repealed? Will you sit down here
at home, and permit the nigger thieves, the cattle, the vermin of the North to come into Nebraska and take up those
fertile prairies, run off your Negroes and depreciate the value of your slaves here? I know you well; I know what
you will do; you know how to protect your own interests; your own rifles will free you from such neighbors and
secure your property. You will go in there if necessary with bayonets and with blood. But we will repeal the Compromise.
I would sooner see the whole of Nebraska in the bottom of hell than see it a Free State.
This was the language which made Border-Ruffians. Senator Atchison continued his rabid harangues after the organization
of Kansas Territory in his efforts to have slavery prevail. His utterances on this subject were always of this
same nature. His followers were often instigated by his inflammatory speeches to perpetuate outrages on the citizens
of Kansas. They especially delighted to vent their wrath on any former citizen of Missouri favoring a free state
whom they found living in Kansas.
In proof of what is here said concerning the Missouri people and their sentiments toward slavery, it is only necessary
to remember that the followers of Benton were almost unanimously opposed to slavery. His faction of the democracy
diminished in power and numbers with his successive defeats, it is true, but a great body of that faction remained
loyal to the Union and opposed slavery. They became the rallying point for the supporters of the Federal Union.
Among them were Hon. Frank P. Blair, who organized the forces at St. Louis in favor of the Union, and, with General
Lyon, did save Missouri to the United States. In support of this position it may be said also that not more than
45,000 Missourians ever enlisted in the Confederate Army, while more than 200,000 were enrolled in the army of
the United States. Most of these were militia, but in the matter of enlisted volunteers there were more Union than
Additional proof of the conditions existing in Missouri in 1854 is shown in the following extract from a letter
written by the leader of the pioneer party sent out by the Emigrant Aid Company. It was dated, St. Louis, Steamer
"Polar Star," July 24, 1854:
Nowhere has the Party been more kindly received than in St. Louis. We are visited daily by intelligent citizens,
who express a warm interest in the movement. We are Assured that throughout the State the great bulk of the honest
inhabitants desire just such a neighbor State as an encouraged emigration from the respectable inhabitants of the
North would make of Kansas. The Jackson and Platte County resolutions are denounced in the strongest terms, and
you will see that already the back track is taken, and that some of the papers in that section of the State are
endeavoring to put a very harmless construction upon them, and one altogether different from the obvious meaning.
We are told that at another meeting, held in one of the border counties quite recently, similar resolutions against
Northern emigration were voted down, eight to one. We apprehend no trouble. Popular sentiment has been too decidedly
manifested against the fanaticism of the late Jackson County meeting.
FORMING THE BATTLE-LINES
The debates in Congress on the Kansas-Nebraska
bill stirred the country. Its enactment caused enthusiasm in the South and indignation in the North, but neither
the North nor the South was unanimous in its attitude toward the bill. There was an anti-slavery element in the
South. In addition, some slaveholders there were not in favor of the aggressive policy of the slave power. They
were opposed to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. But it was impossible for them to assert themselves in any
effective manner against the radical pro- slavery coalition, which had seized upon the Democratic party as a means
of accomplishing its purpose. The Alleghany Mountain system projects itself into the South from Pennsylvania and
Ohio to Central Georgia. Its whole range was inhabited by a people animated by the love of liberty. As a body these
people were opposed to slavery. They owned a few slaves. They never faltered in their allegiance to the Federal
In the North there was an element subservient to the slave power. It maintained close political relations with
the slave propagandists. For the South, as a whole, loved slavery more than public office. It selected Northern
men as its candidates for President of the United States, caring nothing about who held that great office so long
as it could control the policy of the Government.
Generally, the North was deeply offended by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the South was filled with
joy. In the Northern states there were meetings to protest against the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and in
some localities this resentment engrossed the attention of the people to the exclusion of ordinary affairs. It
attained its greatest volume in New England. It was clear that the people there would not accept the Repeal without
serious opposition. The people of the North had followed closely every step in the process of the enactment of
the Kansas-Nebraska bill. By the terms of the bill, the great Northwest lay open to slavery. To prevent the South
from reaping the full benefit of its victory, there was no assistance in any appeal to the law-making body of the
land. It was necessary that this appeal should be made to public sentiment. An appeal to the moral sense of the
people is rarely made in vain.
There are always and everywhere persons anxious to enter any contest as leaders. By hasty and ill-advised actions
they often bring matters to a deplorable issue. The theory of organized emigration was not a new one. America had
been peopled to some extent by such emigration. Many plans to colonize various parts of the world had been discussed
in the United States before the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.
At a meeting held in the City Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, on the llth of March, 1854, more than two months
before the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, Eli Thayer proposed to fill up Kansas with free men—"with
men who hated slavery and who would drive the hideous thing from the broad and beautiful plains where they were
going to raise free homes." Thayer was serving his second term as a Representative from Worcester, in the
Legislature of Massachusetts. He was a visionary man given to the evolution of fantastic schemes by which to accumulate
money.1 He struck upon the plan of connecting the anti-slavery sentiment of the North with a speculative enterprise
to be carried out in Kansas. He says: "I pondered upon it by day and dreamed on it by night. By what plan
could this great problem be solved? What force could be effectively opposed to the power which seemed to be about
to spread itself over the Continent? Suddenly it came upon me like a revelation. It was organized and assisted
About this time Mr. Thayer was in some manner interested in a business in Kentucky. It was a factory erected for
the purpose of extracting oil, called coal oil, from bituminous coal, designed to be used in lamps for lighting
purposes. Later Mr. Thayer was a member, the leading spirit, in a colonization scheme at the mouth of the Big Sandy
River. The land was in the fork of the Ohio and Big Sandy rivers. There a town was laid out and named Kenova,—composed
of syllables from the names of each of the states of Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia. This Virginia scheme was probably
the second one to be established in his great plan to build a cordon of free states across the South. Just what
Mr. Thayer realized out of this venture is not known. John Brown was condemned for attempting to establish anti-slavery
communities along the Allegheny Mountain Range, south from Harper's Ferry. These different plans were designed
to accomplish the same purpose. Thayer made money by his. John Brown made none and lost his life. As designs for
settling the slavery question, one was no more hare-brained than the other.
Situated as Kansas was, slavery never had the ghost of a show to impose itself on her institutions. She lay north
of the accepted bounds of slavery. People migrate principally along climatic lines. Kansas was much more accessible
from that country north of the Ohio River, and its line extended westward, than it was from the South. The farmer
of the North was not encumbered with human chattels. He owned a farm, if a landowner at all, usually not to exceed
one hundred and sixty acres, and not a plantation. He could close his affairs and move to a new country much more
easily than could a planter encumbered with a cotton plantation and his slaves. Many of these plantations contained
several thousand acres each. On them were hundreds of slaves. It requires much time and expense to close up a business
of such dimensions and move to a new unsettled country. Every effort to do this, by slaveholders, failed even in
Kansas. How could it have been done in Wyoming, or Nevada, or Washington, or Montana?
Mr. Thayer drew up a charter for the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company immediately after the Worcester meeting.
He presented it to the Massachusetts Legislature, where it was favorably reported, and soon afterwards passed.
It was approved hy the Governor on the 26th day of April. On the 4th of May at a meeting in the State House at
Boston, a committee was appointed to report a plan of operation. Mr. Thayer was the first member of the committee,
and another member was Edward Everett Hale, then and long afterwards classed as a member of that hermaphroditic
aggregation known as Dough-faces. The committee made a report on the 12th of May. As this report was made the basis
of the future operations of the company, it is here set out.
The objects of this corporation are apparent in its name. The immense emigration to America from Europe introduces
into our ports a very large number of persons eager to pass westward. The fertility of our "Western regions,
and the cheapness of the public lands, induce many of the native-born citizens of the old State also to emigrate
thither. At the present time, public and social considerations of the gravest character render it desirable to
settle the territories west of Missouri and Iowa; and these considerations are largely increasing the amount of
The foreign arrivals in America last year were 400,777. In the same year, the emigration to the Western States,
of Americans and foreigners, must have amounted to much more than 200,000 persons. The emigration thither this
year will be larger still. And from the older Western States large numbers are removing into new territory.
Persons who are familiar with the course of the movement of this large annual throng of emigrants know that, under
the arrangements now existing, they suffer at every turn. The frauds practiced on them by "runners,"
and other agents of transporting lines in the State of New York, amount to a stupendous system of knavery, which
has not been broken up even by the patient labor of the State officers, and by very stringent legislation. The
complete ignorance as to our customs in which the foreign emigrant finds himself, and, in more than half the foreign
emigration, his complete ignorance of our language, subject him to every fraud, and to constant accident. It is
in the face of every conceivable inconvenience that the country receives every year 400,000 foreigners into its
seaports, and sends the larger portion of them to its Western country.
The inconveniences and dangers to health to which the pioneer is subject who goes out alone or with his family
only, in making a new settlement, are familiar to every American.
The Emigrant Aid Company has been incorporated to protect emigrants, as far as may be, from such inconveniences.
Its duty is to organize emigration to the West and bring it into a system. This duty, which should have been attempted
long ago, is particularly essential now, in the critical position of the Western Territories.
The Legislature has granted a charter, with a capital sufficient for these purposes. This capital is not to exceed
$5,000,000. In no single year are assessments to a larger amount than 10 per cent to be called for. The corporators
believe that if the company be organized at once, as soon as the subscription of the stock amounts to $1,000,000,
the annual income to be derived from that amount, and the subsequent subscriptions may be so appropriated as to
render most essential service to the emigrant, to plant a free State in Kansas, to the lasting advantage of the
country, and to return a very handsome profit to stockholders upon their investment.
(1) The emigrant suffers whenever he goes alone into his new home. He suffers from the fraud of others; from his
own ignorance of the system of travel, and of the country where he settles; and, again, from his want of support
from neighbors, which results in the impossibility of any combined assistance, or of any division of labor.
The Emigrant Aid Company will relieve him from all such embarrassments, by sending out emigrants in companies,
and establishing them in considerable numbers. They will locate these where they please on arrival in their new
home, and receive from government their titles. The company propose to carry them to their homes more cheaply than
they could otherwise go; to enable them to establish themselves with the least inconvenience, and to provide the
most important prime necessities of a new colony: It will provide shelter and food at the lowest prices, after
the arrival of emigrants, while they make the arrangements necessary for their new homes. It will render all the
assistance which the information of its agents can give. And, by establishing emigrants in large numbers in the
Territories, it will give them the power of using at once those social influences which radiate from the church,
the school and the press in the organization and development of a community.
For these purposes, it is recommended, first, that the Directors 'contract immediately with some one of the competing
lines of travel, for the conveyance of 20,000 persons from Massachusetts to that place in the West, which the Directors
shall select for their first settlement.
It is believed that passage may be obtained, in so large a contract, at half the price paid by individuals. "We
recommend that emigrants receive the full advantage of this diminution in price, and that they be forwarded in
companies of 200, as they apply at these reduced rates of travel.
(2) It is recommended that, at such points as the Directors select for places of settlement, they shall at once
construct a boarding house, or receiving house, in which 300 persons may receive temporary accommodation on their
arrival; and that the number of such houses be enlarged as necessity may dictate. The new comers, or their families,
may thus be provided for in the necessary interval which elapses while they are making their selection of a location.
(3) It is recommended that the Directors procure and send forward steam saw-mills, grist-mills, and such other
machines as shall be of constant service in a new settlement, which cannot, however, be purchased or carried out
conveniently by individual settlers. These machines may be leased or run by the company's agents. At the same time,
it is desirable that a printing press be sent out, and a weekly newspaper established. This would be the organ
of the company's agents; would extend information regarding its settlement, and be, from the very first, an index
of that love of freedom and of good morals which it is hoped may characterize the State now to be formed.
(4) It is recommended that the company's agents locate and take up for the company's benefit, the sections in which
the boarding-house and mills are located, and no others. And further, that whenever the territory shall be organized
as a free State, the directors shall dispose of all its interests there; replace by the sales the money laid out;
declare a dividend to the stock-holders, and
(5) That they then select a new field, and make similar arrangements for the settlement and organization of another
free State of this Union.
"With the advantages attained by such a system of effort, the territory selected as the scene of operations
would, it is believed, at once fill up with free inhabitants. There is reason to suppose that several thousand
men of New England origin propose to emigrate under the auspices of some such arrangement this very summer. Of
the whole emigration from Europe, amounting to some 400,000 persons, there can be no difficulty in inducing 30,000
or 40,000 to take the same direction. Applications from German agents have already been made to members of this
company. We have also intimations, in correspondence from the free states of the West, of a widespread desire there,
among those who know what it is to settle a new country, to pass on, if such an organization can be made, into
that now thrown open. An emigration company of those intending to go has been formed in Worcester County, and others
in other States.
In view of the establishment by such agencies of a new free State in that magnificent region, it is unnecessary
to dwell in detail on the advantages which this enterprise holds out to the country at large.
It determined in the right way the institutions of the unsettled territories in less time than the discussion of
them has required in Congress. It opens to those who are in want in the Eastern States a home and a competence
without the suffering hitherto incident to emigration. For the company is the pioneer, and provides, before the
settler arrives, the conveniences which he first requires. Such a removal of an overcrowded population is one of
the greatest advantages to Eastern cities. Again, the enterprise opens commercial advantages to the commercial
States, just in proportion to the population which it creates, of free men who furnish a market to our manufactures
and imports. Whether the new line of States shall be Free States or Slave States is a question deeply interesting
to those who are to provide the manufactures for their consumption. Especially will it prove an advantage to Massachusetts
if she create the new State by her foresight, supply the first necessities to its inhabitants, and open in the
outset communications between their homes and her ports and factories.
In return for these advantages, which the company's rapid and simple effort affords to the emigrant and to the
country, its stockholders receive that satisfaction, ranked by Lord Bacon among the very highest "of becoming
founders of States," and, more than this, States which are prosperous and free. They secure satisfaction by
an investment which promises large returns at no distant day.
Under the plan proposed, it will be but two or three years before the company can dispose of its property in the
territory first occupied and reimburse. At that time, in a State of 70,000 inhabitants, it will possess several
reservations of 640 acres each, on which its boarding-houses and mills stand, and the churches and schoolhouses
which is has rendered necessary. From these centers will the settlements of the State have radiated. In other words,
these points will then be the large commercial positions of the new States. If there were only one such, its value,
after the region should be so far peopled, would make a very large dividend to the company which sold it, besides
restoring its original capital, with which to enable it to attempt the same adventure elsewhere.
It is to be remembered that all accounts agree that the region of Kansas is the most desirable part of America
now open to the emigrant. It is accessible in five days continuous travel from Boston. Its crops are very bountiful,
its soil being well adapted to the staples of Virginia and Kentucky, and especially to the growth of hemp. In its
eastern section the woodland and prairie land intermix in proportions very well adapted for the purposes of the
settler. Its mineral resources, especially its coal, in the central and western parts, are inexhaustible. A steamboat
is already plying on the Kansas River, and the Territory has uninterrupted steamboat communication with New Orleans
and all the tributaries of the Mississippi River. All the overland emigration to California and Oregon by any of
the easier routes passes of necessity through its limits. Whatever roads are built westward must begin in this
territory. For it is here that the emigrant leaves the Missouri River. Of late years, the demand for provisions
and breadstuffs made by emigrants proceeding to California has given to the inhabitants of the neighboring parts
of Missouri a market at as good rates as they could have found in the Union.
It is impossible that such a region should not fill up rapidly. The Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company proposes
to give confidence to settlers by giving system to emigration. By dispelling the fears that Kansas will be a slave
State, the company will remove the only bar which now hinders its occupation by free settlers. It is to be hoped
that similar companies will be formed in other free States. The enterprise is of that character that, for those
who first enter it, the more competition the better.
It is recommended that the first settlement made by the Directors shall receive the name of the city in this commonwealth
which shall have subscribed most liberally to the stock of the company in proportion to its last decennial valuation;
and that the second settlement be named from the city next in order in so subscribing.
It is recommended that a meeting of the stockholders be called on the first Wednesday in June to organize the company
for one year, and that the corporators at this time make a temporary organization, with power to obtain subscriptions
to the stock, and make any necessary preliminary arrangements.
Eli Thaykr, for the Committee.
When it came to the sale of the stock of the company, it was found that any stockholder would be liable for all
the debts it might contract. Under such a contingency .the stock was not in demand. It was burdened with too many
possibilities of loss to investors. To correct this fundamental weakness, Mr. Thayer surrendered his Massachusetts
charter. The company was continued as a private enterprise, with a capital stock of two hundred thousand dollars,
under the name of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, and under the management of Mr. Thayer.
Other emigration companies were organized. One was the Emigrant Aid Company of New York and Connecticut, formed
July 18, 1854, and later chartered by the Connecticut Legislature. Eli Thayer was its president. The Union Emigration
Society was formed in Washington City, May 29, 1854. These, with the original society, comprised the three large
societies formed to promote sectional emigration into Kansas. Many smaller ones were soon to be found in different
parts of the North. They were uniform in purpose.3
The histories of Kansas have generally placed the organization of the local societies in Western Missouri before
mention of the New England Emigrant Aid Society. So far as their employment in Kansas was intended, they were organized
after the New England society had been incorporated.
A summarization of the main purposes of the Emigrant Aid Company emphasizes these
1. It would colonize Kansas with foreigners to the number of forty thousand annually.
2. It would send twenty thousand of the inhabitants of Massachusetts to Kansas every year. These were to be persons
who hated slavery and would use every effort to destroy it.
3. It would procure other emigrants to Kansas, and these were also to be workers against making Kansas a slave
4. It promised the stockholders who might put up the five millions of capital of the company, the satisfaction
of becoming founders of States—and of having "an investment which promises large returns at
no distant day."
5. It was recommended that the director immediately make contracts with competing lines of travel for the transportation
of twenty thousand persons from Massachusetts "to that place in the West which the director shall select for
the first settlement."
6. Steam saw mills, grist mills, and other machinery were to be shipped into Kansas for the use of these twenty
thousand people from Massachusetts, and others whom the company might send there.'
7. A newspaper was to be established at the first point selected for settlement, which was to be the organ of the
company—not a newspaper representing the sentiments and interests of the community.4
8. The first settlement was to be named in honor of the city which gave the most money to the enterprise. This
provision failed to develop satisfactorily, when it was changed to a shrewd plan to induce vain and corpulent old
gentlemen with heavy money-bags to come forward and compete for fame.
9. Land was to be procured, and when it had increased in value, it was to be sold for an advanced price. The proceeds
were to be then invested in other tracts of new land around which settlements were to be erected. When that land
increased in value it was to be sold, and so on. The report estimated that there would be seventy thousand inhabitants
in Kansas in two or three years. Upon this increase in population the hope of increase in the value of land was
based. These transactions were "to return a very handsome profit to stockholders upon their investment."6
10. In accordance with this declaration of one of the purposes of the company, G. W. Brown, of Conneautville, Pennsylvania,
was hired by Mr. Thayer to take his paper to Kansas, there to be published in the interest of the New England Emigrant
Aid Company. Mr. Brown denied this for many years in very blustering and violent language, but the fact is well
established, and was later admitted by Mr. Thayer, who, however, adds the saving clause that Mr. Brown paid the
money back. It is somewhat strange that Mr. Brown would have been so bitter in his denials if he had repaid the
11. Many people were misled as to the intentions of the New England Emigrant Aid Company. Benevolence had no place
in its designs. It was a money-making enterprise. It connected the anti-slavery sentiment
When Kansas had been thus settled and developed, other states both new and oH, were to be put through the same
course. Writing of this plan thirty years later, Mr. Thayer said:
That we should put a cordon of Free States from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, and stop the forming of Slave
States. After that we should colonize the northern border Slave States and exterminate Slavery. That our work was
not to make women and children cry in anti-slavery conventions, by sentimental appeals, But To Go And Put An End
To Slavery of the North with its purpose because that was the uppermost question of the day. It was supposed that
many people would contribute to the purchase of its stock for sentimental reasons, and such proved to be the case.
In treating this phase of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, Mr. Holloway, in his History of Kansas, said at
"The existence of this Aid Society doubtless facilitated emigration, by scattering information respecting
the Territory over the land, by calling the attention of the people to the importance of settling Kansas in order
to prevent the extension of slavery, and by the assurance which they gave that mills, schoolhouses and churches
would be erected to accommodate the new country. Beyond this the work which they did towards peopling Kansas was
insignificant. The only advantages which the New England Emigrant Aid Company furnished those who came under its
immediate auspices, were the reduction of the fare about $5.00 and affording them the pleasure of a large company.
The consequence was most people preferred to come independent of it. Not a cent was ever given by the company towards
paying a single emigrant's fare; not a guarantee ever given that any person would be supported free after arriving
in the Territory."
Mr. Holloway, (page 115), expressed doubt as to the justice of forming these sectional societies, but like most
writers, approved them on the ground that good finally resulted. He admitted, (page 125), that "The direct
effects of these societies were as a drop in the ocean in the settling of Kansas with freemen." The claim
that the New England Emigrant Aid Company called attention to Kansas has always been made by those connected with
it. The exact reverse is true. Mr. Thayer connected his company with Kansas for the reason that Kansas was already
the spot-light of America, because of the interest aroused by the debates in Congress on the Kansas-Nebraska bill,
the discussion of the bill and the debates in the newspapers, and the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. Mr. Thayer
was a shrewd business man, and he saw that his plan was already advertised.)
Mr. Holloway said, in addition to the above, that the total number of persons the New England Emigrant Aid Company
sent to Kansas, was "as many as two thousand." As a factor in settling Kansas, the company was a failure.
It was not until thirty years later that Mr. Thayer and his associates fell upon the plan to get plory, as they
had gotten money, out of the speculative connections with Kansas. They then formulated the claim that the company
had made Kansas a free state. The only danger Kansas ever was in of becoming a slave State resulted from the organization
of sectional emigration to settle the Territory.
This reference is to the hatred borne by Mr. Thayer to William Lloyd Garrison. Mr. Thayer and his friends never
tired of abusing Mr. Garrison and accusing him of having above everything else, a desire to destroy the Union.
The Abolitionists were denounced by Mr. Thayer
If evidence were required, beyond the report brought in by Mr. Thayer, as already set out, to stamp the whole plan
as absurd, this latter language of Mr. Thayer would answer that purpose. As an example of how one of the expectations
of Mr. Thayer was realized, it is only necessary to say that instead of there being one hundred thousand people
from Massachusetts in Kansas, as there would have been had his twenty thousand per annum materialized, there were
in Kansas, in 1860, only twelve hundred and eighty-two people from Massachusetts.
The report of Mr. Thayer was published broadcast. It appeared in the New York Tribune, May 20, 1854. Mr. Greeley
was enthusiastic in his approval of the plan, as his editorials at that time sufficiently testify. Other papers,
both in the North and the South, contained Mr. Thayer's report, and comments thereon. Knowledge of the Emigrant
Aid Company, and its intentions, was, in a short time, as extensive as that of the Kansas-Nebraska bill.
The effect of the formation of emigration companies and societies in the North, alarmed the South. Slavery had
just triumphed in the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. The question as to whether Kansas should be a free or
slave state, had by that bill, been referred to the people who might make the first constitution of the State.
That form of dealing with the slave question was known as '' Squatter Sovereignty.'' When it was known that certain
Northern states intended to combat this form of that settlement, in Kansas Territory, and try to secure Kansas
to freedom by sectional emigration, there was nothing left for the South to do but to meet the conditions with
counter organizations, if the contest was to be continued. It came early to be the belief of the South, that the
friends of a free state in Kansas did not intend to abide by the terms of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. The victory
for slavery had been won in the halls of Congress, and the fact that it was not accepted as conclusive, was a surprise
to the slavery leaders. They immediately assumed this position: Granted that the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
was wrong, it was equally wrong to attempt to nullify the Repeal by violence, which the organization of sectional
emigration societies was held to be. In the South, many of those who had opposed the Repeal, were, by the acts
of the North, thrown into the ranks of the pro-slavery element. The passions of the South were aroused by the formation
of these political, sectional emigration societies to the same point to which the Northern people had been stirred
by the passage of the Kansas- Nebraska bill. No other event so angered the South as the formation to the end of
his life. It was always the plan of Mr. Thayer and his associates to assume a superior air, together with a "holier
than thou" attitude, and pretend to superior achievements. Their manner of establishing their claims to superiority
consisted in violent abuse and unmeasured denunciation of other people. As instances confirming this statement
it is only necessary to call attention to the writings of Mr. Thayer, Charles Robinson, G. W. Brown, and later
hired writings of their friends of these societies. Every resource was to be drawn upon to effect a plan to offset
the work of the societies.
The feeling on the western border of Missouri can be adequately described only by calling it a frenzy against all
anti-slavery people and movements. They supposed the twenty thousand persons from Massachusetts might arrive in
Kansas at any time. They determined to go over into the Territory at once and stake out their claims preparatory
to permanent settlement, whether the Indian titles had been extinguished or not. There had long been secret orders
in the South for the regulation and control of slaves. Their functions had been principally to execute local police
regulations and furnish patrols for plantations. These societies were now reorganized. They were changed in purpose
and strengthened for new duties. Perhaps some new orders were instituted. They were given other names, and they
held frequent meetings. The new names of some of these societies were: "The Blue Lodge," "The Social
Band," "Friend's Society," and "The Sons of the South." There were many others, but these
were the principal ones in existence in Missouri. They were the basis of the organization to counteract the societies
in the interest of free state.8
During the month of May, much of the Indian land, in what is now Leavenworth County, had been staked out as squatter
claims. There had been no survey of the lands of Kansas Territory and there were no legal descriptions of parcels
of lands on which to lay these claims. They were taken under the pre-emption law, entitling a citizen of the United
States to one hundred and sixty acres of land for a homestead, but the land had to be purchased from the United
States after a home had been established upon it. There was at that time no homestead law, as later known. The
squatters staked out their claims as nearly
If the element of sectional promoted emigration could have been left out of the Kansas situation, there would have
been little serious trouble in Kansas. There might have been, possibly, a few blustering forays into the Territory
by Mr. Atchison and his followers. These would not have had a solid Southern sentiment behind them. They would
have accomplished nothing. The issue between freedom and slavery would have been settled peaceably at the polls,
and freedom would have triumphed in Kansas without any great struggle.
There is no justification for the action of the South, especially those of the people of Missouri, about the formation
of the New England Emigrant Aid Company. Little effort has been made, even in Missouri, to condone those actions.
No successful effort for that purpose ever can be made. No excuse can ever be made for the course slavery had pursued
for the previous thirty years. No valid excuse can be offered for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. It was
reactionary and in the interest of barbarism. It was another link in the chain by which slavery was destroying
itself. The time was near at hand when the moral sense of the people of the Union would have destroyed it because
of such aggressive actions. There was no more excuse for sectional emigration in Kansas, than there had been for
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The result of each was to embitter people and inspire them with hatred against
one another. Two wrongs never yet made a right.
in accordance with these conditions as possible. They marked their claims by putting up a rude cabin, or by bringing
timber or logs for such a cabin, or, in some instances, by placing four logs upon the ground as a foundation for
the future cabin. By the treaties negotiated with the Indian tribes, it was provided that much of the land should
be sold by the Government to settlers. In many instances land of this character was settled upon by the squatters.
On the 10th of June, 1854, the squatters held a meeting in the Salt Creek Valley, west of the City of Leavenworth.
At that meeting a Squatter's Claim Association was formed and the following declarations and resolutions were adopted:
Whereas, We the citizens of Kansas Territory, and many other citizens of the adjoining State of Missouri, contemplating
a squatter's home on the plains of said Territory, are assembled at Salt Creek Valley for the purpose of taking
such steps as will secure safety and fairness in the location and preservation of claims; therefore be it
(1) That we are in favor of a lana fide Squatter Sovereignty, and acknowledge the right of any citizens of the
United States to make a claim in Kansas Territory, ultimately with the view of occupying it.
(2) That such claim, when made, shall be held inviolate so long as a l)ona fide intention of occupying is apparent,
and for the purpose of defending and protecting such claim, we agree to act in concert, if necessary, to expel
(3) That every person of lawful age who may be at the head of a family, who shall mark out his claim of 160 acres,
so that it may be apparent how the same lies, and proceed with reasonable diligence to erect thereon a cabin or
tent, shall be deemed to have made a proper claim.
(4) That any person marking out his claim shall be deemed to have forfeited it unless he commences his cabin, or
pitches his tent within two weeks thereafter, unless the same be on lands which prohibit it by military or Indian
(5) That all persons now holding claims shall have two weeks from this day, in which to make the improvements contemplated
by the foregoing resolutions.
(6) No person shall be protected by the Squatter's Association who shall hold in his own right more than one claim.
(7) That a citizen of the Territory be appointed as register of claims, who shall keep a book in which he shall
register the name and description of all squatters, and their claims, and the dates of making the same, for which
registration he shall be allowed the sum of fifty cents, to be paid by the claimant.
(8.) That we recognize the institution of slavery as always existing in this Territory, and recommend slaveholders'to
introduce their property as early as possible.
(9) That we will afford protection to no Abolitionists as settlers of Kansas Territory.
(10) That a "Vigilance Committee" of thirteen be appointed by the Chairman to decide upon all disputes
in relation to claims, and to protect the rightful party; and for that purpose shall have power to call together
the entire "Squatter's Association."
(11) That all persons who wish to become members of the Squatter's Association shall subscribe to the foregoing
preamble and resolutions.
(12) That the Secretary of this meeting be instructed to hand these proceedings to E. S. Wilkinson and S. J. Finch,
or either of them, for immediate publication and reference.
Lewis Burnes, President. J. H. R. Cundiff, Secretary.
At Weston, in Platt County, a meeting adopted the following resolution:
Resolved, That this association will, whenever called upon by any of the citizens of Kansas Territory, hold itself
in readiness together to assist and remove any and all emigrants who go there under the auspices of the Emigrant
At Liberty, the county seat of Clay County, there was held a large meeting. The following declaration and resolution
Therefore, we, the citizens of Clay County, believing self-preservation to be the first law of nature, and learning
that organizations have been effected in the Northern States for the purpose of colonizing the Territory of Kansas
with such fanatical persons as composed the recent disgraceful mob in the city of Boston, where a United States
officer, for simply attempting to obtain justice for a Southern citizen, was shot down in the streets; and learning,
too, that these organizations have for their object the colonization of said Territory with "eastern and foreign
paupers," with a view of excluding citizens of slave-holding States, and especially citizens of Missouri,
from settling there with their property; and, further, to establish a trunk of the under-ground railroad, connecting
with the same line, where thousands of our slaves shall be stolen from us in thwarting their attempts upon our
rights, we do
Resolved, That Kansas ought of right to be a slave State, and we pledge ourselves to co-operate with the citizens
of Jackson County, and the South generally, in any Measure to accomplish such Ends.
On the 28th of June, 1854, the correspondent of the Baltimore Sun, sent his paper an abstract of the above resolutions:
According to these resolutions abolitionists or free-soilers would do well not to stop in Kansas Territory, but
to keep on up the Missouri River until they reach Nebraska Territory, where they can peacefully make claims and
establish their abolition and free-soil notions for if they do, they will be respectfully notified that but one
day's grace will be allowed for them to take up their bed and baggage and walk.
It is estimated that some two thousand claims have already been made within fifteen miles of the military reserve,
and, in another week's time, double that number will be made.
As showing the state of feeling of the citizens of the State of Missouri, the following extracts from public prints
of that day are set out.
Democratic Platform, Liberty, Mo., June 8, 1854:
We learn from a gentleman lately from the Territory of Kansas that a great many Missourians have already set their
meg in that country, and are making arrangements to "darken the atmosphere" with their negroes. This
is right. Let every man that owns a negro go there and settle, and our northern brethren will be compelled to hunt
further north for a location.
June 27, it said:
We are in favor of making Kansas a "Slave State" if it should require half the citizens of Missouri musket
in hand, to emigrate there, and even sacrifice their lives in accomplishing so desirable an end.
The Liberty Platform expressed itself in these words:
Shall we allow such cut-throats and murderers, as the people of Massachusetts are, to settle in the territory adjoining
our own State f No! If popular opinion will not keep them back, we should see what virtue there is in the force
The Platte City Argus:
We are advised that the abolition societies of New England are shipping their tools, at the public expense as Mormons,
ostensibly for Salt Lake, but that it is the real design of these worthies to stop in Kansas Territory for the
purpose of voting to establish a free State and an underground railroad. We say, let the Mormons go their way in
peace to Utah, but if they remain in Kansas to inflict the blighting curse of their principles upon the future
policy of the country let a Mormon war be declared forthwith.
Citizens of the West, of the South and Illinois! Stake out your claims, and woe be to the abolitionist or Mormon
who shall intrude upon it, or come within reach of your long and true rifles, or within point blank shot of your
revolvers. Keep a sharp lookout, lest some dark night you shall see the flames curling from your houses or the
midnight philanthropist hurrying off your faithful servant.
Later it said:
The abolitionists will probably not be interrupted if they settle north of the fortieth parallel of north latitude,
but south of that line, and within Kansas Territory they need not set foot. It is decreed by the people who live
adjacent that their institutions are to be established, and candor compels us to advise accordingly.
A meeting held at Westport passed the following resolutions:
Resolved, That we will carry with us into the new Territory of Kansas every species of property, including slaves,
and that we will hold and enjoy the same. That we desire to do so peacefully, and deprecate the necessity for resorting
to violence in support of our just and lawful rights. Yet, (in no spirit of bravado and with the strongest wish
for peace), apprehensive of interference with our private and domestic concerns by certain organized bands, who
are to be precipitated upon us, we notify all such that our purpose is firm to enjoy all our rights, and to meet
with the last argument all who shall in any way infringe upon them.
In the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the South had secured what she termed Southern constitutional rights.
She had triumphed.
The first mistake made in connection with the settlement of Kansas after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill,
was the organization of Her national victory was won. It is probable that she would have made an effort to dissolve
the Union had she failed to secure the equal rights for slavery gained in the Repeal. But having obtained all she
contended for, that crisis was passed.
What had the South done in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise?
She had voluntarily surrendered the national phase of slavery and accepted in lieu thereof the local phase of slavery—Squatter
Sovereignty. The nation should not say—the people of the state interested should say whether slavery should exist
in its bounds.
The extension of slavery, after the Repeal, was a local question—not a national question.
While the South had seemingly triumphed, she had in fact insured her own defeat. For the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise would have destroyed slavery peaceably in another generation. The foundation for its destruction had
been laid in the development of a national sentiment against it by the Repeal.
But for sectional emigration the South would have lost Kansas peaceably—and would have accepted that result without
war—there would have been no solidified Southern sentiment to sustain an appeal to the sword. The Union sentiment
in the South would have been able to assert itself. It would have pointed out that the South had lost through following
her own plans. The slavery propagandists would thereafter have the societies for the promotion of emigration into
the territory on political and sectional lines. The contest was by that act revived as a national issue and at
once precipitated. This contest developed into a Civil War. Without the baneful influence of these societies and
the actions they promoted, Kansas would have become a free state without outrage, and the Union would have been
saved without bloodshed.
The views expressed here are not new. These principles were recognized by many in Kansas Territory from the coming
of Reeder to the admission of the State into the Union. In a report to the Legislature of Kansas Territory, Special
Session, 1860, the Chairman of the committee appointed to investigate the losses in the Territory during the border
wars, had this to say:
"It had been demonstrated to the satisfaction of all, that most of the outrages complained of had been perpetrated
and property taken and destroyed by a class of irresponsible and reckless desperadoes, drawn hither through the
excitement and appliances of a political campaign and the intervention of parties and partizans outside of the
Territory; that many of these desperadoes who came here were governed by self- interest instead of political principles
and that they, to a great extent, participated in the warfare, some on one side and some on the other— in fact,
that outside intcrventio-n in Territorial affairs, contrary to the wishes and interests of the real settlers of
Kansas, caused and continued the prolonged strife. But for such intervention on either side, the real settlers
would soon have settled their political differences in a legal and peaceable manner, provided the General Government
had afforded them the protection and 'fair play' guaranteed them by the Constitution. Time and the ballot-box were
all that were necessary to demonstrate and establish whatever the people of Kansas might deem for their best interests."
Flaring maps in many histories show the vast extent of the Great Northwest thrown open to slavery by the Repeal.
The South could not have gone there. Slave labor was profitable in the production of cotton. To have made it profitable
in other industries would have required more time than the South could have given. For all that country was unsettled—a
virgin wilderness. Slavery could not have seated itself in that country, even if unopposed, in one generation.
The climatic theory of Webster would not have materialized. It has long been proven that the negro can live in
comfort in any climate a white man can stand.
So, in summarization we find this:
The South demanded the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise as an act of justice.
She would have dissolved the Union if she had not secured the Repeal.
The Repeal was the end of the struggle as a national matter. The crisis was passed. The cause for secession no
The extension of slavery was made a local issue. It became such when the South voluntarily accepted Squatter Sovereignty.
Slavery, instead of gaining by the Repeal, really destroyed itself by enacting that measure.
For it shocked and aroused the moral sense of the Union, which would have swept away slavery by peaceful means.
Slavery was revived as a national issue by the organization of sectional emigration to Kansas.
This organization was as great a crime as was the Repeal.
It changed the form of the extinction of slavery from a moral to a political contest—from a battle of moral principle
to one of arms—force.
The Civil War did not result from the aggressions of slavery after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, but
It was the result of the new issue raised in Kansas—sectional emigration—followed to its logical conclusion.
Once the issue came up for final settlement—once the issue canie to be freedom or slavery, bondage or liberty—there
was but one course. Then, it did not matter how the issue had been raised. Loyalty and patriotism, moral sense
and justice, demanded that slavery be destroyed and liberty enthroned. And that made Kansas the battle-ground and
her people immortal.
For Kansas won, and her victory saved the Union.
Thus, were sown the dragon-teeth which were sure to germinate and bear bountiful harvests of malice, intolerance,
suspicion, strife, bloodshed, and civil war. In Kansas the South lost, and the history of the Territory and the
State has been written by the victors—those founding a Free State through much tribulation. No dispassionate account
of the actions of Northern emigration organizations has been written. But the time has come to set down the truth,
even if it should prove that ardent friends of liberty and of free Kansas were carried beyond the bounds of right
by their devotion to freedom. If the spirit of freedom was commercialized—sold for gain—the man base enough to
do it should be singled out. For war and death followed his act, and innocent blood lay at his door. And if a historian
has not the courage to record the facts, even though these facts are sometimes to the disparagement of those laboring
on the side of right, then he should lay down the pen. For, man is, after all, but man laboring under the weaknesses
common to mankind. There is no perfection. Zeal even for the right may carry the best beyond due bounds. "When
the passions are moved to the depths, human nature does not always see the signal marking good from evil. So, were
set herein this primal land the final lines between Freedom and Slavery. Far flung were the battle-lines. Whether
by right or by wrong—there they stood. "Would that they had been set in good will—as they might have been.
Henceforth the murky night would be lighted up by the red glare, and blood was to cry to heaven for vengeance in
Some settlers began to arrive in Kansas as early
as April, 1854. They increased in numbers constantly from that date. We have already noted the staking out of claims
in the Salt Creek Valley by settlers from Platte County, Missouri. While some of these squatters did not make a
home in Kansas Territory, and had no intention of doing so, a good many of them, in fact, were acting in good faith;
they erected dwellings on the claims they had taken.
Two of the early settlements of Kansas became most noted in the history of the Territory and the State. These were
Lawrence and Atchison. Lawrence was founded in what was later made Douglas County, and Atchison was laid out in
what became Atchison County. When the first settlements were made, however, no counties had been formed, and these
towns had not been located.
Douglas County, containing the city of Lawrence, which was the headquarters of the Free-State men in Kansas, had
the leading part in Kansas Territorial history. The capital of Kansas Territory, Lecompton, was also in Douglas
County. The old Santa Fe trail passed through the south part of the county, and a number of ambitious towns were
formed along that famous highway. Among them were Palmyra, Louisiana,'and Brooklyn. Prairie City was only two miles
south of it, and Baldwin City about one mile south. The post-office of Hickory Point had been fixed on the site
of Louisiana before the town had been laid out. Hickory Point came to notice later as the place where some of the
events leading to the Wakarusa War transpired.
The first arrivals, in what became Douglas County, were probably pro-slavery men, although Free-State men began
to arrive early in June. The Oregon Trail, locally known as the California Road, passed through the northern part
of the county. This trail crossed the Wakarusa at the house of Charles Blue-Jacket, a chief of the Shawnees. The
pro-slavery settlers established the town of Franklin, on the California Road, about two miles west of the crossing.
The trail passed up Mount Oread and followed the "back bone ridge" which divided the waters of the Kansas
from those of the Wakarusa. Six miles west of Mount Oread, on a fine elevation, there was a noted spring. At that
point Judge John A. Wakefield, who arrived in the Territory on the 8th of June, 1854, made his home. Another noted
place on the trail was Big Springs, within a mile of the west line of the county. A settlement was made there.
Some of the names of those arriving in 1854 are set out: J. W. Lunkins, a South Carolinian, April 13th. A. R. Hopper,
May 9th. Clark Sternes and William H. R. Lykins settled on the land upon which Lawrence was afterwards founded,
May 26th. A. B. and N. B. Wade came on the 5th of June. Brice W. Miller, June 6th. Martin and Calvin Adams arrived
June 10th. H. H. Eherhart, June 12th. J. H. Harrison arrived June 14th. H. S. and Paul Eberhart came on the 15th
of June. S. N. Wood, later to become prominent in many of the affairs of the Territory and State, arrived on the
24th of June. James P. Legate came on the 5th of July. Joel K. Quodin, from Ohio, settled south of the California
Road in May. Thomas W. Barber, later to become a martyr in the cause of freedom, settled on the Wakarusa, southwest
of Lawrence, early in 1855.
There were no laws, no courts, and it was necessary for the settlers to make such regulations as would preserve
order until a government could be set up. Two associations were formed in what is now Douglas County. One was the
Wakarusa Association, the other the Actual Settlers' Association. The latter was composed of men who had actually
staked out their claims and were then living on them. On the 12th of August a meeting of the Actual Settlers' Association
was held at the house of Brice W. Miller. John A. Wakefield was its President, and S. N. Wood was the Recorder.
The residence of Mr. Miller was known as Miller's Spring, or Millersburg, and was one mile from the site of the
future Lawrence. The constitution of the Association provided that none but the actual settlers should vote, but
there appeared at the meeting the members of the Wakarusa Association. They had not yet become residents in the
Territory, but had staked out their claims. They desired to take part in the proceedings of the meeting. A Mr.
Dunham was put forward to make the plea for the Wakarusa Association. A controversy arose and it seemed that bad
feelings would be engendered. Mr. H. D. Woodworth, from New Orleans, of the Wakarusa Association, made a conciliatory
speech and proposed the appointment of a committee of conference, to be composed of members of each association.
The committee was to agree upon a plan of united action. The Wakarusa Association appointed Dunham, Lykins and
Hayes. On the part of the actual settlers, John Doy, William Lyon and A. H. Mallory were the members. The meeting
then adjourned to give the committee time to formulate a report. Within an hour the following report was brought
Whereas, The laws of the United States confer upon citizens the privilege of settling and holding lands by preemption
rights; and, whereas, the Kansas Valley, in part, is now open for the location of such claims; and, whereas, we,
the people of this convention, have, and are about to select homes in this valley, and in order to protect the
public good, and to secure equal justice to all, we solemnly agree and bind ourselves to be governed by the following
1. We recognize the right of every citizen of the United States, of lawful age, or who may be the head of a family,
to select, mark and claim, 200 acres of land, viz.: 160 acres of prairie, and forty acres of timber land, and who
shall within sixty days after the treaty is ratified. proceed to erect thereon a cabin, or such other improvements
as he may deem best, and shall, within sixty days after the ratification of the treaties, enter thereon as a resident.
2. A claim thus marked and registered, shall be good sixty days from the ratification of the treaty, at which time
the claimant, if the head of a family, shall move upon and make his home on either the prairie or timber claim,
which shall make them both good, and shall be regarded so by the settlers. Single persons or females making claims
shall he entitled to hold them by becoming residents of the Territory, whether upon their claims or otherwise.
Any person making a claim as above shall be entitled to a day additional for every five miles they have to travel
to reach their families.
3. No person shall hold more than one claim, directly or indirectly.
4. No one shall be allowed to enter upon any previously made or marked claim.
5. All persons failing to commence improving or entering thereupon within the time specified, shall forfeit the
same and it shall be lawful for any other citizen to enter thereon.
6. Each claimant shall, at all reasonable times, hold himself in readiness to point out the extent of his claim
to any person who may wish to ascertain the fact.
7. It shall be the duty of the register to put every applicant upon proof, oath, or affirmation, that the claim
offered for registry is free from the claim of any other person.
8. Every application for registry shall be made in the following form, viz.: "I apply for certificate of registry
for claim selected and marked, on this day of 1854, lying and being in, containing 160 acres of prairie and forty
acres of timber land, and declare upon honor that said claim was selected and marked on the day of , and that I
am claiming but the one in my own right, and that it was not claimed or selected by any other person." To
be signed by the applicant. Any person failing to make this certificate shall not be entitled to register.
9. We agree, upon the survey of the Territory, to mutually deed and re-deed to each other, so as to leave as near
as possible as claimed.
10. The officers of this association shall be, one Chief Justice, one Register, one Marshal and one Treasurer.
11. The duty of the Chief Justice shall be to try and decide all disputes between settlers in reference to claims
or otherwise, and to try all criminals or persons guilty of the violation of the laws of the Territory. The said
Chief Justice shall always take justice between man and man as his guide; and upon the demand of either party shall
summon a jury of six persons to try all disputes or violations of law, the jury to be selected as follows, viz.:
The Chief Justice to write down the names of eighteen persons, and each party to mark alternately until six names
only are left, the defendant marking first. The Chief Justice shall also act as President of all meetings of the
association, and in his absence a President pro tern shall be appointed.
12. The duty of the Register shall be to register all claims and other necessary matter, act as Secretary of all
meetings of the association, and to act as Chief Justice in his absence, or where he may be a party interested.
13. The Marshal shall execute all decisions of the Chief Justice or Juries, and shall see that the laws of the
association are executed, and shall have power, if necessary, to call upon all members of this association to assist
in executing the same.
14. The limits of this association shall be the waters of the "Wakarusa and Kansas Rivers, and the Territory
between the same, from the mouth of the Wakarusa up to the Shawnee purchase.
15. It shall be the duty of the Marshal, on the complaint of any citizen, by himself or Deputy, to summons and
bring before the Chief Justice the parties for trial.
16. The officers of this association shall receive a suitable compensation for their services, which sum shall
be decided by the association.
17. A Treasurer shall be appointed by the association, who shall give approved security for the faithful disbursement
of all moneys that shall be received into the treasury.
18. The Treasurer shall be authorized to pay all drafts for the expenses of the association when presented to him,
signed by the President and Secretary.
19. The officers shall be elected by the association, and, by a majority vote of the same, removed.
20. Officers of the association shall be residents of Kansas Territory.
21. The Coon River, Wakarusa, and all other associations are dissolved from this date.
Dr. John Doy and Mr. William Lyon also made a minority report in favor of an additional article, confining voting
to actual settlers. A motion was made and carried, that both reports be received, and the committee discharged.
Mr. Wood then remarked that he was in favor of harmony arid wanted to be on both sides, and moved the adoption
of both reports, which motion was unanimously carried, and the reports adopted.
On motion of Mr. Dunham, the association then assumed the name of "The Mutual Settlers' Association of Kansas
Territory." The association then proceeded to the election of permanent officers, with this result: Chief
Justice, John A. Wakefield; Register, J. W. Hayes; Marshal, William H. R. Lykins; Treasurer, William Lyon.
On motion of Dr. Doy, the money in the treasury of the Actual Settlers' Association was ordered to be paid to S.
N. Wood for his services as Register.
On motion of H. Cameron, Esq., the association adjourned sine die.
It Avill be seen that the Missourians and Free-State men were able to agree as to what should be done by the pioneers
in marking out their course for the settlement of Kansas Territory. If they could have been left free from outside
interference, much trouble would have been avoided.
At a meeting held at Westport, Missouri, on the 19th of August, 1854, Mr. Woodworth and Mr. Dunham were speakers.
The object of the meeting was "to protect this frontier from threatened invasion of the pioneers that had
arrived and were still arriving through the agency of this Emigrant Aid Association, organized by the Abolition
fanatics." Mr. Wood, the Recorder of the Actual Settlers' Association, in a letter to Eastern newspapers a
few days after the Westport meeting, had this to say:
Notwithstanding the threats and brow-beatings of the Missourians, the greatest proportion of the settlers here
are Northern people. Nine- tenths of the balance are honest Southerners, who are coming, as they say, to get rid
of slavery. I was mistaken in the character of the Missourians. A few fanatics who were resolved to extend slavery
at all hazards, seemed for a time to give tone to the whole people; but a better acquaintance convinces me that
many of the people condemned the violent resolutions passed at Westport and other places.
Mr. Wood had written a previous letter dated June 28th, 1854, in which he stated that "I have just made a
trip over into the territory, and found on the Indian reserve, scores of families from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana,
and other northern states, and still they come. Next week we have a general meeting up the Kansas River, where
hundreds of free men will be rallied; a fiat will then go forth that will sound the death- knell of slavery in
Kansas, at least.''
The site of the city of Lawrence was selected in July, 1854, by Charles H. Branscomb and Dr. Charles Robinson,
of Massachusetts. They visited the Territory as agents of the New England Emigrant Aid Company.
First House In Lawrence
After making a survey of the country, they chose
the site of Lawrence as the point where the Aid Company would make its first settlement.
The first colony sent out by the Emigrant Aid Company, left Boston, July 17, 1854, and arrived at Kansas City,
July 28th. It consisted of twenty-nine men. They reached the site selected for their settlement on the first day
of August. On that day, the hill on which the University now stands, was named Mount Oread, for Oread Seminary,
of Worcester, Massachusetts, founded by Eli Thayer. Fifteen of this party remained on the selected site, while
the others secured claims some distance away. Charles H. Branscomb was the leader of the first party.
The second party sent out by the Emigrant Aid Company left Worcester August 29, 1854, and consisted of sixty-seven
persons. In this party there were ten women and a dozen children. This party was led by Dr. Charles Robinson and
Samuel C. Pomeroy. There were four musicians: Joseph and F. Savage, and N. and A. Hazen. They brought their musical
instruments with them. That of Mr. Joseph Savage had a part in the sacking of Lawrence, and is now in the Museum
of the Kansas State Historical Society.
The location of the first settlement had been known as Wakarusa. The first party had settled on the site of Lawrence
near the river, on both sides of what was later Massachusetts Street. On the 9th of September, some of the second
party arrived at Wakarusa. The women and children were with this party. The remainder of the company arrived on
the 11th. The members of the first party having settled on the town- site, gaining thereby a prior right, it was
necessary for the second party to come to some agreement with these first settlers as to the disposition to be
made of the lots of the future town.
The third party of Aid Company emigrants came under the leadership of Mr. Branscomb, reaching Lawrence, October
8th and 9th. Most of these became disgusted with the outlook and immediately returned. They exhausted their vocabulary
denouncing Mr. Thayer and his agents, claiming that they had been deceived. They were probably poor material for
pioneers. Two other companies were sent out by the Emigrant Aid Company during the year.
Atchison was the stronghold and headquarters of the men determined to make Kansas a slave state. From that town
many of the operations of the pro-slavery forces were directed. The town was laid out by residents of Platte County,
Missouri, and named for Senator David R. Atchison, who spent a considerable part of his time there, but never made
it his legal residence.
The first settlers began to arrive, in what is Atchison County, in June, 1854. They staked out claims near where
Oak Mills was afterwards located. They did not erect dwellings at that time, the first houses built on claims being
put up in July, 1854. Senator Atchison had decided that a city should be built in the Territory at the Big Bend
of the Missouri, and on the 20th of July, Dr. J. H. Stringfellow, Ira Norris, Leonidas Oldham, James B. Martin
and Neal Owens left Platte City, Missouri, to make the definite location. They selected the site. A company was
formed and the town laid out. In a speech on the morning the sale of lots began, Senator Atchison made a review
of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill. He also touched upon the future of Kansas Territory, saying that if
he had his way, he would hang every abolitionist who dared show his face there. He qualified his words to prove
to his hearers that he had no prejudice against the Northern settlers, saying that he knew there were sensible,
honest, right-feeling men among them who would be as far from stealing a Negro as a Southern man. Senator Atchison
was known all 'over the South, and his connection with the town of Atchison caused the rabid slavery men, coming
into the territory, to select that city for their residence. The settlement of the country about Atchison was made
in the same manner and about the same time as other settlements of that day. Among them were many Free-State men.
Many Missourians settled in the country who acted with the Pro-Slavery men through the fear that their lives and
property would be in danger if they did otherwise. They were, in fact, opposed to slavery, and were pleased when
Kansas was made a free state.
Leavenworth was the first town in Kansas. It also bore an important part in the history of the Territory. It was
located on land adjoining the Fort Leavenworth reserve on the south. The location was one of the best in the Territory.
It enjoyed communication by steam-boats on the Missouri River, and there was much business at the Fort, which gave
it a great advantage. It was laid out by an association formed at Weston, Missouri, June 13, 1854. The first sale
of lots was held October 9th and 10th. By the first of August there were a good many settlers on the town-site.
The first settlers were Missourians, but at the time of the first sale of lots, settlers were arriving from Iowa,
Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The city of Leavenworth became a rival to Atchison as a hot-bed of pro-slavery sentiment
and operations. Some of the first disturbances in the Territory were at Leavenworth. There were among the Missouri
settlers, many Free-State men, as in the settlements back of Atchison. Topeka was founded December 5, 1854, by
Cyrus K. Holliday, of Pennsylvania. It was designed by Mr. Holliday, to be the capital of Kansas. The Free-State
men, when they set up an opposition government, made it their capital of Kansas Territory. Later it was made the
capital of the State.
The settlers coming from free states did not, as a general thing, stop on the border. They moved up the Kansas
River and other streams, forty to fifty miles, to stake out their claims. They hoped to avoid trouble by doing
so. It was their intention to make their settlements where they would be unmolested by the Pro-Slavery settlers
from Missouri, as far as possible.
The eastern border of Kansas, generally, was settled in about the same manner and near the same time that these
settlements already noted were formed. The rules formed by the settlers in these first communities were to be found
in substance in all the early settlements in the Territory. These squatter associations were compelled to make
rules for the regulation of the conduct of the various communities, and it will be seen that there was little friction
between the early settlers until after the enactment of laws by a regularly constituted legislature.
The first newspaper to be published in the Territory was the Kansas Weekly Herald, the first number of which appeared
September 15, 1854. "Wilder says of this paper: "It was printed under an elm tree on the Levee, near
the corner of Cherokee Street. It was a pro-slavery paper. H. Rives Pollard of Virginia was at one time its editor.''
The first Free-State paper in the Territory was the Kansas Free State. The first issue was dated January 3, 1855.
It was owned and edited by Josiah Miller and R. G. Elliott. Mr. Miller was a native of South Carolina, but was
a Free-State man. The first number of the paper had this to say: "We are uncompromisingly opposed to the introduction
of slavery into Kansas, as tending to impoverish the soil, to stifle all energy and enterprise, to paralyze the
hand of industry and to weaken intellectual effort." Having been reared in a slave state, he was in position
to state the objections to slavery in this succinct form. He also said: "There are thousands of genuine free-soilers
at the South, men like ourselves, who hold opinions in common with the fathers of the Republic regarding slavery
a great evil, and are in no wise desirous of having it extended beyond its original limits. But we say as regards
this question, that we establish our press here, knowing no North, no South, no East, no West, but the very best
interests of the American people. We come not then as the peculiar advocate of any section. We disavow all connection
with emigrant aid societies, have nothing to do with them, and have no confidence in them. We stand here upon our
own individual responsibility, claiming nothing more than to be considered two of the humble citizens of Kansas
The Kansas Tribune was established at Lawrence by John Speer, who arrived September 21, 1854. The first issue of
the paper was January 5, 1855. Mr. Speer came to Kansas from Medina, Ohio. He did not have a printing office at
the time of the issue of his first number. The Kansas City Enterprise and the Leavenworth Herald both refused to
print his paper because of its Free-State sentiments. Mr. Speer became one of the foremost editors of Kansas, and
one of the prominent men of the State. He lived to a ripe old age and died only a few years ago in Denver.
The Herald of Freedom, the organ of the Emigrant Aid Company, issued a paper dated at Wakarusa, Kansas Territory,
October 22, 1854, but this issue was printed in Pennsylvania. The second issue was dated Lawrence, January 6, 1855.
A dispute arose later between The Free State and The Herald of Freedom as to which was in fact published first
Mr. Thayer wrote Brown the following letter for the government of his actions and as a guide for his policy in
Worcester, Sept. 22, 1854. G. W. Brown, Esq.
Dear Sir—As our company have selected you as a suitable person to conduct a paper in Kansas Territory which shall
represent our interests there, I take the liberty of making a few suggestions in regard to the great work upon
which you are now engaged.
Your paper will not only be the "Herald of Freedom," but the herald of news from Kansas to its numerous
readers. We shall look to it for tidings from our pioneers in the Territory, individually and collectively. We
expect it to be the chronicle of important incidents, whether personal or public, of truthful and reliable information
in regard to the resources of the Territory and the moral, intellectual and physical progress of the people there.
Our agents there are reliable men, who will present to you their credentials, and will often furnish communications
for the columns of your paper. They are all able writers, and devoted heart and soul to the interests of Kansas.
They will explore the country minutely and give to you for publication the results of their labors. You may at
all times rely upon their truth and fidelity.
Besides these aids in your enterprise, you will often be furnished with articles from gentlemen of our emigrant
parties, many of whom are liberally educated and professional men. We hope, as far as your limits will allow, you
will give them place in your columns, and thus give each subscriber the pleasure of occasionally reading an article
over the signature of a well-known friend of Kansas.
We pledge to you our hearty good will and cheerful co-operation in the noble work to which you have devoted yourself.
President of the Emigrant Aid Company.
Source: A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans By William Elsey Connelley