Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5 v. (lvi, 2731 p., [228] leaves of plates) : ill., maps (some fold.), ports. ; 27 cm.

1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 26 Part 2

The returns show that forty-eight delegates were elected to the Constitutional Convention, and that a special election was called in Burr Oak and Wolf River precincts for three additional delegates. However, only thirty-six signed the roll of the Convention. Thirty-seven signed the Constitution. The missing name from the roll is that of M. F. Conway. The roll shows the former political affiliation of the delegates. Twenty-one had been Democrats, nine had been Whigs, four had been Republicans, and two subscribed themselves as Independents, Dr. Charles Robinson being one of these.

For the purpose of showing the wide field from which Kansas Territory was then drawing her population, the native States of the delegates are given:

New York4Massachusetts2
South Carolina2Ireland1
North Carolina1

Twelve of these delegates to form a Free-State Constitution for Kansas Territory were from the South - one-third of the Convention.

Twenty-one were from Ohio Valley States.

Two were from Massachusetts.

Only four were from all New England.

And this is about the proportion of Kansas population that these states and sections always furnished.

The New England Emigrant Aid Company was then already past its zenith and on the wane in Kansas. Its part in settling Kansas and in making her a free State was negligible.

But when it comes to the office-holders in the Convention we find a different state of affairs. There were thirteen officers, and five of them were from New England - three from Massachusetts and two from New Hampshire.

The roll of the Convention is given on following page.

Members NameResidenceOccupationWhere bornAgeMarried or SingleFormer Politics
Prest. of Convention
J. H. LaneLawrenceLawyerKentucky33MarriedDemocrat
John LandisDoniphanFarmerKentucky28MarriedDemocrat
James M. ArthurSugar CreekFarmerIndiana38MarriedDemocrat
Alfred CurtissBloomingtonLawyerNew York32SingleWhig
James L. SayleKickapooFarmerIllinois37MarriedWhig
David DodgeLeavenworthLawyerN. Y.25SingleDemocrat
Joel K. GoodinClear LakeLawyer & FarmerOhio31MarriedDemocrat
Geo. S. HillyerGrasshopper FallsFarmerOhio35MarriedWhig
J. S. EmeryLawrenceLawyerMaine26SingleDemocrat
Philip Church SchuylerCouncil CityFarmerNew York50MarriedRepublican
Morris HuntLawrenceLawyerOhio27SingleWhig
John A. WakefieldElysian PlainsLawyerSouth Carolina59MarriedWhig
George Albert CutlerDoniphan CityPhysicianTennessee23SingleRepublican
Orville C. BrownOsawatomieFarmerNew York44MarriedWhig
Charles Walter StewartDoniphanFarmerKentucky42MarriedDemocrat
Samuel MewhinneyPrairie CityFarmerOhio45MarriedDemocrat
Marcus J. ParrottLeavenworth CityLawyerSouth Carolina26SingleDemocrat
Mark. Wm DelahayLeavenworth CityLawyer & JournalistMaryland37MarriedDemocrat
Chas RobinsonLawrenceAgent Em. Aid Co.Mass.37MarriedIndependent
Geo. W. SmithlawrenceAtty At LawPenna.50MarriedWhig
Harrison BursonBloomingtonFarmerVirginia36MarriedWhig
Richd KnightHampdenClergymanEngland48MarriedIndependent
Robert KlotzPawneeMerchantPennsylvania35Married & 1 BoyDemocrat
William GrahamPrairie CityPhysicianIreland39MarriedDem
Samuel N. LattaLeavenworth CityAttyOhio36MarriedWhig
C. K. HollidayTopekaLawyer & FarmerPennsylvania29MarriedDemocrat
James Madison TutonBloomingtonMinister & FarmerTenn33MarriedDemocrat
William Young RobertsWashingtonFarmerPenna41SingleDemocrat
John G. ThompsonSilver LakeSaddlerPenn55MarriedDemocrat
R. H. CrosbyOceanaMerchantMaine21SingleRepublican
Amory HuntingManhattanPhysicianMass.61MarriedRepublican
Stanford McDanielResidence Round PrairieFarmerN Carolina31MarriedDemocrat
John H. NesbittWabaunseeMerchantPa29SingleDem
Wm. R. GriffithFort ScottFarmerIndiana35MarriedFreesoil Demo.
Thomas BellBurr Oak BottomFarmerKentucky45MarriedDemocrat
Caleb MayOceanaFarmerKentucky40MarriedDemocrat

The Constitutional Convention met at Topeka, on Tuesday, the 23rd day of October, 1855. It assembled in a building fronting East on Kansas Avenue, just north of 5th street. This building still stands and is known as Constitution Hall. The Convention was called to order by Judge John A. Wakefield. The deliberations were opened with prayer by Reverend Richard Knight. The roll of the delegates was called by Joel K. Goodin, Secretary of the Executive Committee. But twenty-one members answered to the roll call. A quorum not having been secured, the Convention adjourned until 9 o'clock Wednesday morning. The roll call on Wednesday showed a quorum present, - thirty members. The organization of the Convention was proceeded with. G. O. Smith, of Lawrence, was chosen Secretary. On motion of Colonel M. W. Delahay, James H. Lane was elected President. He received fifteen votes out of nineteen cast. On taking the chair Lane delivered an inspiring address, in which he pictured the glory of Kansas, and her sacrifices voluntarily made for liberty.

Reporters for various newspapers were present, including the Chicago Tribune, New York Tribune, Missouri Democrat outside of Kansas, and the Herald of Freedom and Kansas Tribune in the State.

The Convention remained in session until the 11th of November, when it adjourned, its work having been completed. It framed a state constitution, which upon examination, stands the test of time for patriotism and statesmanship. There had not been sufficient time since the opening of the Territory for the requirements of the Territory to be fully manifest. Only the eastern part of the State contained settlers. The struggle for a free State centered the energies of the Convention on questions affecting that issue. The convention dealt much with generalities and considered seriously only those specific things affecting directly the erection of a free State. The great underlying principles of all government were considered.

It was provided that the Constitution should be presented to the people for ratification at an election held December 15, 1855.

At the same election there was submitted to the people for adoption or rejection, a general banking law.

A second provision was also submitted. This was the exclusion of all negroes and mulattoes, both free and slave, from the State of Kansas, forever.

A Memorial to Congress was framed praying for the admission of Kansas as a State under this Constitution, should it be adopted by the people.

In case of the adoption of the Constitution, a State government was to be organized under its provisions. This government was to have the usual officers, and generally the functions of a State of the American Union. As a matter of defense, and to render nugatory the just charge of insurrection, it was insisted, and generally understood, that the action of the government to be formed, and in the enactment of its Legislature, was to be inoperative and null and void, until the state movement, under the Topeka Constitution should be recognized by the Federal Government and the State admitted into the Union.

The Constitution provided that there should be no slavery in Kansas, no involuntary servitude, except for crimes committed. It also provided that the indenture of any negro or mulatto made or executed out of the bounds of the State should not be valid within the State. By sections, the constitution was divided as follows:

Article I. Twenty-two sections under the head of Bill of Rights.

Article II. Thirteen sections; the Elective Franchise.

Article III. The Distribution of Powers; one section.

Article IV. The Legislative Department of Government,twenty-seven sections.

Article V. The Executive Department; twenty-one sections.

Article VI. The Judicial Department; eighteen sections.

Article VII. Educational System; four sections.

Article VIII. Five sections; Public Institutions.

Article IX. Five sections; Public Order and Public Work.

Article X. Militia; seven sections.

Article XI. A scheme of Finance and Taxation; four sections.

Article XII. Four sections; County and Township Offices.

Article XIII. Two sections; Corporations.

Article XIV. Four sections; Jurisprudence.

Article XV. Miscellaneous Matters; five sections.

Article XVI. Ways for Amendments to the Constitution; four sections.

Article XVII. Eleven sections; Banks and Currency.

The result of the election for the ratification of the Constitution was: For the Constitution, 1,731. Against the Constitution, 46.

In Leavenworth the election was disturbed by a Pro-Slavery mob, and the polling lists destroyed. Not counting the votes of that precinct, the total vote cast was 1,778. The Constitution having been adopted, a convention was called for the purpose of nominating a ticket for officers, under its provisions. This convention met at Lawrence, Saturday, December 22, 1855, and put up a Free-State ticket as follows: For Governor, Charles Robinson; Lieutenant Governor, W. Y. Roberts; Secretary of State, P. C. Schuyler; Treasurer of State, J. A. Wakefield: Judges of the Supreme Court, S. N. Latta, M. F. Conway, and Morris Hunt; Attorney General, H. Miles Moore; Auditor, G. A. Cutler; State Printer, John Speer; Clerk of the Supreme Court, S. B. Floyd ; Reporter of Supreme Court, E. M. Thurston; Representative to Congress, Mark W. Delahay. Opposition to Robinson appeared immediately after the Convention. There was a large element in the Free-State party of Kansas who always distrusted Robinson. It was said that the radical element had secured the offices. The ticket of the dissatisfied element deposed Robinson for Governor and substituted W. Y. Roberts. Other changes were made. Colonel Lane, and other leaders, took strong grounds against this schism, saying that the Free-State party could not afford to wrangle and show a divided front on any question. The revolt was soon suppressed, but there was some dissatisfaction up to the day of the election. The bolting ticket was voted for, Roberts receiving 410 votes for Governor to 1,296 for Robinson.

One thing was clearly shown in the organization of the Free-State party, and the framing of the Topeka Constitution. That was, that James H. Lane was the leader of the Free-State forces in Kansas Territory. The record of the Executive Committee of Kansas Territory is preserved in the library of the Kansas State Historical Society. The proclamations and all public utterances were evidently the work of Lane. They show a wonderful insight into the conditions of those times, and reveal genuine statesmanship in dealing with the dangerous conditions through which the Free-State people of Kansas Territory were passing. Lane seemed equal to every occasion. A system of revenue was devised by him. It was a currency signed by himself as Chairman of the Executive Committee, and attested by J. E. Goodin, Secretary. The expenses of the Executive Committee and the Constitutional Convention were defrayed in this currency. Its total issue amounted to $15,265.90. Much of it has come into the library of the Kansas State Historical Society. It is the Continental money of Kansas. It has never been redeemed, for the reason that the Topeka movement ultimately failed of recognition by the United States government. There was no repudiation in the non-payment of this currency. It had been understood from the first that it would be worthless should the Topeka movement fail of Federal recognition. The period of the formation of this Constitution was the beginning of the dark period for the Free-State men in Kansas, and Lane is the man who stood in the breach. We shall see that he stood at the front and fought back the Border-Ruffians in the civil war which prevailed in the summer of 1856. The establishment of Kansas as a free State is due to James H. Lane more than any other man.


The first Thanksgiving in Kansas was appointed by James H. Lane, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Kansas Territory, as follows:



In pursuance of a long established usage, which has always found a cheerful acquiescence in the hearts of a grateful people, and by direction of the Executive Committee of Kansas Territory, I do hereby appoint and set apart Tuesday, the 25th day of December next, to be observed by the people of Kansas as a day of public Thanksgiving and praise.

While insult, outrage, and death has been inflicted upon many of our unoffending citizens, by those whom we desire to recognize as brothers, while the attempt is being made to inflict upon us the most galling and debasing slavery, our lives have been spared, and a way pointed out by which, without imbuing our hands in blood, we can secure the blessings of Liberty and a Good Government. The fields of the husbandman have yielded abundantly, and industry in all its channels have been appropriately rewarded. For those and the innumerable blessings we are enjoying let our hearts be devotedly thankful. From every altar let Thanksgiving and Songs of Praise ascend to that God from whom the blessings flow. Let the occasion be improved by the people of Kansas, for the advancement of Freedom, Virtue and Christianity - let the poor be remembered and relieved, and the day be wholly spent as Wisdom shall direct, and God approve and bless.

Given under my hand, at the office of the Executive Committee of Kansas Territory, in the City of Topeka, this 27th day of November, A. D. 1855.

J. H. LANE, Chairman.

J. K. GOODIN, Sec'y.

Among other proclamations issued by Lane were:

1. Address and call for election to choose Delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

2. Proclamation for special election in Burr Oak and Wolf River Precincts.

3. Proclamation calling an election to be held December 15, 1855, for the ratification of the Constitution, the vote on the Bank Law, and the Exclusion of Negroes and Mulattoes.

4. The proclamation announcing the result of the election for State officers.

5. A proclamation calling an election for State officers and members of Congress to be held January 15, 1856.

The election held under the Topeka Constitution, December 15, 1855, resulted in the choice of the Free-State ticket as nominated at the Lawrence Convention. The result of the election was announced by James H. Lane, Chairman of the Executive Committee of Kansas Territory, on the 6th of February. On the 8th of election of Mark W. Delahay for Representative to the 34th Congress was announced.

The Federal Government began to take notice of the Topeka movement in February, 1856. On the 24th day of January, President Pierce sent a special message to Congress endorsing the Kansas Territorial Legislature. He characterized the formation of the Topeka government as revolutionary, and an act of rebellion. On the 15th day of that month. Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, committed to Governor Shannon, then in Washington, an order which he had addressed to Colonel E. V. Sumner at Fort Leavenworth, and to Brevet Colonel P. St. George Cook, at Fort Riley. With the order was a copy of a proclamation issued on the 11th of February by President Pierce, as follows:

The order says that the President has "warned all persons combined for insurrection or invasive aggression against the organized government of the Territory of Kansas, or associated to resist the due execution of the laws therein, to abstain from such revolutionary and lawless proceedings, and has commanded them to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes, on pain of being resisted by his whole constitutional power. If, therefore, the Governor of the Territory, finding the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, and the powers vested in United States Marshals, inadequate for the suppression of insurrectionary combinations, or armed resistance to the execution of the law, should make requisition upon you to furnish a military force to aid him in the performance of that official duty, you are hereby directed to employ for that purpose such part of your command as may in your judgment consistently be detached from their military duty.

Notwithstanding this warning, the Free-State party proceeded under the direction of the Topeka Constitution. The proclamation for the election of State officers had been issued on the 27th day of December, 1865. That proclamation provided that at the same time and at the same place, the voters would elect twenty persons for Senators and sixty persons for Representatives to the General Assembly of the State of Kansas. This General Assembly was elected with the State officers. The Constitution provided that it should meet on the 4th of March, 1856 at the City of Topeka, at 12 M. The Constitution also provided that the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Judges of the Supreme Court and Attorney General should all appear at the same time and same place to take the oath of office and inaugurate the government provided by the Free-State Constitution. Pursuant to this provision the Legislature assembled at Topeka, and the State officers appeared and qualified as provided by the Constitution. The minutes of the Executive Committee of Kansas Territory contain the following report of the meeting of the Legislature:


At the first session of the first General Assembly of Kansas under the Constitution of said State which was framed by a convention convened at Topeka on the 23d day of October, A. D. 1855, and ratified by the people on the 15th day of December, A. D. 1855, at 12 o'clock M. on Tuesday, the 4th day of March, A. D. 1856, in pursuance of the 3d section of the Schedule attached to said constitution. The house was called to order by J. H. Lane, Chairman of the "Executive Committee of Kansas Territory," with C. K. Holliday, Secretary pro tem of Executive Committee aforesaid.

There was a joint session of the Senate and House at 5 o'clock P. M. at which it was proclaimed that the officers voted for on the 15th day of January were duly elected. Charles Robinson, Governor, was introduced, took the oath of office and delivered an inaugural address. James H. Lane and Andrew H. Reeder were elected United States Senators. There was no opposition to either. Each received thirty-eight votes. The Legislature adjourned on the 8th day of March to meet on the 4th of the following July. On the 11th of February, 1856; the Executive Committee of Kansas Territory held a session at Lawrence, at which the following action was taken:


Committee met - Present, Lane, Holliday, Brown and Goodin.

On motion of Mr. Holliday the Sec'y was directed to write M. J. Parrott, Esq., at Washington City, reminding him of his appointment as Chairman of a Committee of the Executive Committee to draft a memorial to be presented to Congress, setting forth our grievances and asking of Congress the immediate admission of Kansas into the Union as a State.

On motion of Mr. Brown it was resolved that the four remaining members of the Committee repair to Washington in order to prove as efficient as possible in securing for Kansas her admission into the Union as a Sovereign State, and that the sum of five hundred dollars, certificates of indebtedness, be issued to C. K. Holliday, G. W. Brown, J. K. Goodin and J. H. Lane toward defraying their expenses thereto, thereat, therefrom, in view of an overland route, and the difficulties and expense incurred in traveling in the present season of the year.

Provided that should Lane, Holliday, Brown and Goodin ascertain that their efficiency would demand of them that they should remain more than thirty days in Washington, that the sum of six dollars per diem shall be issued to said deputation (certificates of indebtedness aforesaid) for the further defraying of their necessary expenses while engaged in their aforesaid duties.

Provided further, that should said deputation leave for Washington on or before the 10th of March, A. D. 1856, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the Secretary be instructed to issue the Scrip aforesaid, yet retaining the same in his hands, after the same shall be countersigned, until such time as he may be satisfied the deputation aforesaid will visit Washington.

That the Secretary be farther instructed to request of M. J. Parrott. Esq., now in Washington City, to have written on parchment ready for certifying upon the arrival of the said deputation, the Constitution of the State of Kansas, that the same may be speedily presented to the Congress of the United States asking the immediate admission of Kansas into the Union.

That the Secretary be further instructed to forward to Mr. Parrott a file of the Herald of Freedom containing the Proclamation, etc., of the Executive Committee, and affording other data to aid him in the preparation of the memorial aforesaid - and that he be requested to remain at Washington till such time as the deputation can reach that point.

Pursuant to this order, Lane left for Washington soon after his election to the United States Senate. He carried with him a copy of the Free-State Constitution. On the 24th day of March, he had it presented to the United States Senate by Lewis Cass. It was attacked by Senator Douglas and withdrawn by Cass. It was presented in the House by Daniel Mace, of Indiana. On the 7th of April, Senator Cass presented the memorial of the Topeka movement asking the admission of Kansas. On the 18th day of April Lane wrote Douglas requesting that he explain a personal allusion to him by Douglas in a speech in the Senate. Mr. Douglas made a long reply. Lane had challenged Douglas to fight a duel. Douglas declined on the ground that Lane was inferior to him in official rank.

It is enough to say that Congress never did recognize the Topeka Constitution. The dispersal of the Free-State Legislature, at Topeka, on the 4th of July, 1856, by Colonel E. V. Sumner, as directed by the Administration, practically terminated the Topeka movement.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.