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 31 Part 2

An Indiana party was coming overland to Kansas. It was halted in Platte County, Missouri. The Squatter Sovereign of the same date gave this account of the capture of that party:

A party of about twenty-five Abolitionists from Indiana and Illinois, on their way to this Territory, were recently captured in Platte County, Mo., disarmed and ordered back home. We learn that they had two guns apiece, with pistols and bowie knives in proportion, all of which fell into the hands of the "border ruffians." They were boasting on their way that they intended to march through the fortress of the "ruffians," and land in Kansas opposite Platte County - the hot-bed of "border-ruffianism." Their expectations were not realized, however, and in Platte County they received the order to "'bout face" and march for home, which they promptly did, just as all good soldiers should do. The Kansas road is a hard route for some people to travel.

Dr. Cutter led a party from Massachusetts. This party took passage on the steamboat Sultan, which was boarded at Waverly, Missouri, by the Ruffians. They confiscated the arms and all the property the company carried. The party was turned back. The Squatter Sovereign contained this account of that affair:

The steamer Sultan, having on board contraband articles, was recently stopped at Leavenworth City and lightened of forty-four rifles and a large quantity of pistols and bowie knives, taken from a crowd of cowardly Yankees, shipped out here from Massachusetts. The boat was permitted to go up as far as Weston, where a guard was placed over the prisoners, and none of them permitted to land. They were shipped back from Weston on the same boat, without even being insured by the shippers. We do not fully approve of sending these criminals back to the East to be re-shipped to Kansas - if not through Missouri, through Iowa and Nebraska. We think they should meet a traitor's death, and the world could not censure us if we, in self-protection, have to resort to such ultra measures. We are of the opinion, if the citizens of Leavenworth City or Weston would hang one or two boat loads of Abolitionists it would do more toward establishing peace in Kansas than all the speeches that have been delivered in Congress during the present session. Let the experiment be tried.

Notwithstanding these precautions, the Border-Ruffians were much disquieted. Rumors of the formation of Lane's Army of the North constantly drifted in and disturbed them. It was supposed that Lane would lead his army into Kansas in time to protect the Free-State Legislature at Topeka. An appeal was made to the South signed by D. R. Atchison for Missouri, J. Buford for South Carolina, and W. H. Russel, B. F. Stringfellow, A. G. Boone and Joseph C. Anderson. It was extensively circulated, being published generally in the papers of the South. The following is an extract from it. Lane's army of the North was mentioned as one of the reasons for the appeal:

That a state of insurrection and civil war exists among us, is abundantly evident. The Law and Order party on the one side, opposed on the other by the Abolitionists, who are backed up and sustained by the Emigrant Aid Societies of the North. A brief review of the points at issue, and their controlling circumstances, may be useful to justify this, our appeal for aid. In Territorial politics, the question of Free or Slave State has swallowed up every other. The Abolitionists on the one hand, in accordance with their early teaching, regard slavery as the greatest possible evil. They deem it a monstrous national evil, which their false theories of government impute equally to every portion of the confederacy, and thus feeling themselves individually responsible for its existence, they feel bound each to struggle for its overthrow; to such extremes have wicked demagogues stimulated their fanaticism, that their perverted consciences justify any mode of warfare against slaveholders, however much in violation of law, however destructive of property or human life, and however atrociously wicked it may seem to others; nay, many of them already go so far as to oppose all religion, property, law, order and subordination among men as subversive of what they are pleased to call man's natural and inherent equality. And with them it is no mere local question of whether slavery shall exist in Kansas or not, but one of far wider significance; a question of whether it shall exist anywhere in the Union. Kansas, they justly regard as the mere outpost in the war now being waged between the antagonistic civilizations of the North and the South; and winning this great outpost and stand-point, they rightly think their march will be open to an easy conquest of the whole field. Hence, the extraordinary means the Abolition party has adopted to flood Kansas with the most fanatical and lawless portion of Northern society; and hence, the large sums of money they have expended to surround their brother Missourians with obnoxious and dangerous neighbors.

On the other hand, the Pro-slavery element of the Law and Order party in Kansas, looking to the Bible, find slavery ordained of God; they find there, as by our law, slaves made an "inheritance to them and their children forever." Looking to our national census, and to all statistics connected with the African race, and considering, too, their physical, intellectual and moral nature, we see that slavery is the African's normal and proper state; since in that state the race multiplies faster, has more physical comforts, with less vice and more moral and intellectual progress than in any other. We believe slavery the only school in which the debased son of Ham, by attrition with a higher race, can be refined and elevated; we believe it a trust given us of God for the good of both races.

The one Kansas man feared by the Missourians was James H. Lane. Many of them had served with him in the Mexican War and knew that he was a brave and resourceful soldier. They never deceived themselves about his courage. They had seen him at Buena Vista and other battlefields, and knew that he was the equal of any man in courage and daring. The other Free-State leaders were without military reputation, and the Ruffians held them in contempt as soldiers. This led to some rude shocks to their preconceived ideas - as, for instance, in the affair at Dutch Henry's Crossing. From the time that information concerning Lane's Army of the North drifted into Missouri, there was gloom in the camps of the Border-Ruffians. A distinct tone of pessimism at once sounded through the Western Missouri press. The Missourians had hoped he would not again appear upon the border. But now, it seemed, he was preparing to not only descend upon the Law and Order party in Kansas Territory, but to do so at the head of an army which rumor and their fears magnified into a mighty host with banners.

The Border-Ruffians began at this time to insist upon the removal of Governor Shannon. He never had the confidence of the Missourians after his negotiation of the Treaty of Peace in the Wakarusa War. His later extravagant pretension of devotion to the Pro-Slavery cause never could atone, in the eyes of the Border-Ruffians, for that crime. It became apparent to him that he was the object of suspicion, and that it was not safe for him to remain in Kansas. He was as much despised by the Border-Ruffians as by the Free-State men. In this dilemma, he resigned his office. He left the Territory on the 23d of June, after having ordered Colonel Sumner to disperse the Free-State Legislature at Topeka. When Governor Shannon left the territory, the duties of Governor devolved upon Secretary Daniel Woodson, who became the Acting Governor. Woodson's attitude toward the Free-State men was entirely different from that of Governor Shannon. He believed that they should be dealt with as traitors. It was his judgment that no mercy should be shown them. He too was influenced by the rumors of Lane's Army of the North. He directed Colonel P. St. George Cooke to scour the country between Ft. Riley and Topeka to discourage any preparations to receive the invasion from the North.

We have already noted the dispersion of the Free-State Legislature on the 4th day of July, 1856, at Topeka. Colonel Sumner was under orders to obey the officers of the Territorial Government. It was not the policy of the Free-State party to resist the military force of the United States. Colonel Sumner wrote the following letter to a committee, at Topeka, which had been appointed on the 2nd of July to confer with him. The committee had been appointed by a mass convention convened to discuss the course which ought to be pursued in this emergency.


JULY 3, 1856.

Gentlemen - In relation to the assembling of the Topeka Legislature (the subject of our conversation last night), the more I reflect on it, the more I am convinced that the peace of the country will be greatly endangered by your persistence in this measure. Under these circumstances I would ask you and your friends to take the matter into grave consideration. It will certainly be much better that you should act voluntarily in this matter, from a sense of prudence and patriotism at this moment of high excitement throughout the country, than that the authority of the General Government should be compelled to use coercive measures to prevent the assembling of that Legislature.

I am, gentlemen, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel First Cavalry Commanding.

Governor Woodson decided that it was necessary for him to issue a proclamation forbidding the meeting of the Free-State Legislature. It was also read to the convention:

WHEREAS, We have been reliably informed that a number of persons claiming legislative power are about to assemble in the town of Topeka, for the purpose of adopting a code of laws, or of executing other legislative functions in violation of the act of Congress organizing the Territory, and of the laws adopted in pursuance thereof, and it appears that a military organization exists in this Territory for the purpose of sustaining this unlawful legislative movement, and thus, in effect, to subvert by violence all present constitutional and legal authority; and

WHEREAS, The President of the United States has, by proclamation bearing date eleventh February, 1856, declared that any such plan. for the determination of the future institutions of the Territory, if carried into action, will constitute insurrection, and therein command all persons engaged in such unlawful combinations against the constituted authority of the Territory of Kansas, or of the United States, to disperse and retire to their respective places of abode; and

WHEREAS, Satisfactory evidence exists that said proclamation of the President has been, and is about to be disregarded: Now, therefore,

I, Daniel Woodson, Acting Governor of the Territory of Kansas, by virtue of the authority vested in me by law, and in pursuance of the aforesaid proclamation of the President of the United States, and to the end of upholding the legal and constituted authorities of the Territory, and of preserving the peace and public tranquillity, do issue this my proclamation, forbidding all persons claiming legislative power and authority as aforesaid, from assembling, organizing or attempting to organize, or acting in any legislative capacity whatever, under the penalties attached to all unlawful violation of the law of the land and disturbers of the peace and tranquillity of the country.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my hand, and caused to be affixed the seal of the Territory, this 4th day of July, 1856, and of the Independence of the United States the eightieth.

DANIEL WOODSON, Acting Governor of Kansas Territory.

Colonel Sumner had written below the signature of Governor Woodson that he would be governed by the proclamation at all hazards.

These proceedings occupied the convention and the Pro-Slavery forces until about noon, on July 4, 1856, when Colonel Sumner aproached,[sic] with his dragoons and artillery. They appeared at the south boundary of Topeka and marched north on Kansas Avenue. This was just as the Topeka companies, F and G, were formed in front of Constitution Hall to receive a flag which the ladies of Topeka had made for Company G. Colonel Sumner planted his cannon about three hundred feet from Constitution Hall. The dragoons were formed on the street. The Legislature had adjourned on the 13th of June to meet at 12 o'clock, July 4. Colonel Sumner entered the hall and was invited to come forward to the Speaker's platform. When the roll of the House was called, Sumner rose and said:

Gentlemen, I am called upon this day to perform the most painful duty of my whole life. Under the authority of the President's proclamation, I am here to disperse this Legislature, and therefore inform you that you cannot meet. I therefore order you to disperse. God knows that I have no party feeling in this matter, and will hold none so long as I occupy my present position in Kansas. I have just returned from the borders where I have been sending home companies of Missourians, and now I am ordered here to disperse you. Such are my orders, and you must disperse. I row command you to disperse. I repeat that it is the most painful duty of my whole life.

Upon being asked if the Legislature would be driven out at the point of the bayonet, Colonel Sumner replied, "I shall use all the forces in my command to carry out my orders," whereupon he descended to the street and mounted his horse, when it occurred to him that he had omitted to disperse the Senate. He then went to the Senate Chamber in company with Marshal Donalson. The Senate had not yet convened. The members were told that they would be required to disperse. Marshal Donalson informed the Senators that they would be arrested if they did not agree to disperse and not assemble again. Colonel Sumner was assured by the Senators present that they would disperse, which they proceeded to do. He had assured those present that he would not disperse the mass convention, nor the two military companies, whereupon three cheers were given for Colonel Sumner.

The dispersal of the Free-State Legislature served only to emphasize the former convictions of the Free-State men, that their only course lay in resistance to the Ruffians in every possible way. From that date guerrilla parties spontaneously appeared in Kansas. Guerrilla warfare spread over the Territory. A state of anarchy prevailed. The Free-State men not only armed to protect themselves but to attack the Pro-Slavery settlers and the Law and Order militia. These guerrilla parties became predatory. They preyed upon Pro-Slavery merchants and settlers. Many a Pro-Slavery settler was stripped of all his property, and was sometimes fortunate to escape with his life. The Border-Ruffians soon began to come in from Missouri. Finding that it was impossible for the Pro-Slavery settlers to remain on their claims, they were advised to assemble in forts. These were garrisoned by Buford's men and the Missouri Ruffians coming in with them. A fort was established on the claim of J. P. Saunders, on Washington Creek, twelve miles southwest from Lawrence. Franklin was fortified. Colonel H. T. Titus turned his residence into a fortification, which he called Fort Titus. These points had already been fortified to some extent, and garrisoned by Buford's men and other Ruffians. The United States troops had not molested them when directed to break up the armed bands in the country. In other parts of the Territory the Pro-Slavery men assembled and made preparations to defend themselves.

The first step in the work of bringing in Lane's Army of the North was the establishment of a road or way over which it should march. This was immediately attended to, as the following notice and appeal will show:


The undersigned, IOWA STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE, for the benefit of FREE KANSAS, beg leave to represent that the dangers and difficulties of sending Emigrants to Kansas through Missouri has been attempted to be remedied by opening through Iowa an Overland Route. At present Iowa City, the Capital of Iowa, is the most western point that can be reached by Railroad. Arrangements are being made by GEN. LANE, Gov. REEDER. GEN. POMEROY, Gov. ROBERTS, and others to turn the tide of emigration in this channel, and thus avoid the difficulties heretofore experienced in attempting to pass through Missouri.

It is proposed to take the following course through Iowa.

Leaving Iowa City - proceed to Sigourney, thence to Oskaloosa, thence to Knoxville, thence to Indianola, thence to Osceola, thence to Sidney, and to Quincy in Fremont county, Iowa, on the Missouri River, 80 miles from Topeka, the Capital of Kansas. An Agent has been through the State by this Route, and the citizens in each of the aforesaid Towns have appointed active committees. 'The inhabitants of this line will. do all in their power to assist Emigrants. The distance from Iowa City to Sidney on the Missouri River is 300 miles, and the cost of conveying passengers will be about $25. The "Western Stage Company" have formed a new line of coaches and will put on all the stock necessary for the accommodation of every Emigrant who may come. This can positively be relied on. You will at once see that this must be a general and concerted effort, or the project will fail, and each body of Emigrants will be left to their own guidance.

Map showing "The Lane Trail through Iowa."

We wish also to call attention to the impracticability of Committees far in the East sending men, as any number can be raised in the West, and thus save an additional expenditure. All that is wanting is the means of defraying expenses. It is hoped therefore that our friends will lend us their aid in this particular, and assist us in raising money. We would suggest that Committees in the East send an Agent here for the disbursement of their funds, if they are unwilling to entrust the same to this Committee. Our citizens have just raised the means to fit out a Company of 230 men which has this day started for Kansas. Another Company as large can be raised as soon as means can be obtained. It is hoped that all companies formed in the East will be sent over this route, and those who desire that Slavery shall not be FORCED in Kansas, should assist us in obtaining material aid. As Iowa is more deeply interested than any other State in saving Kansas from the grasp of the Slave power and in the success of the proposed project, the people of this State are urgently requested to organize Committees and contribute to the prosecution of this scheme of settling Kansas with FREE-STATE men; and all funds raised for this object should be transmitted at once, to H. D. Downey of the Banking House of Cook, Sargent & Downey, the Treasurer of this Committee, with the confident assurance that all monies thus placed in our hands will be faithfully applied to the cause of our suffering friends in Kansas.

W. PENN CLARK, Chairman,
G. W. HOBART, Secretary,
H. D. DOWNEY, Treasurer.
IOWA CITY, JULY 4, 1856.

That portion of the trail through Nebraska and Kansas was surveyed and marked by John Armstrong, Colonel John Ritchie, and others by the direction of Lane. It ended at Topeka, and its course to Iowa City and Springdale may be seen on the maps in this volume. It was known through its entire length as THE LANE TRAIL. It became later the Underground Railroad from Kansas, and hundreds of slaves who reached Canada traveled its tortuous way. The best account of any party over it from end to end will be found in Volume XIII, Kansas Historical Collections.

P. B. Plumb had visited Kansas in July. He saw the need for aid to the Free-State men. Returning to Ohio he arranged his newspaper business for a long absence and cast his lot with Kansas. He organized a company and carried in a brass howitzer, two hundred and fifty. each of rifles, bowie-knives, and Colt's Navy pistols, together with ammunition for the cannon, rifles, and revolvers. His company was one unit of Lane's Army of the North. He arrived at Topeka, September 26, 1856. Ever afterwards, as long as he lived, he was one of the foremost figures in Kansas. His long and brilliant Senatorial career has seldom been equaled in America.

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