ch. xxn. " since there is no escaping your challenge, I accept it in behalf of Freedom. We will engage in competition for the virgin soil of Kansas, and Gk>d give the victory to the side that is stronger in numbers as it is in right." With fifteen millions in the North against ten millions in the South, the result could not be in doubt.
Feeling secure in this evident advantage, the North, in general, trusted to the ordinary and natural movement of emigration. To the rule, however, there were a few exceptions. Some members of Congress, incensed at the tactics of the Nebraska leaders, formed a Kansas Aid Society in Washington City and contributed money to assist emigrants.1 Beyond this initiatory step they do not seem to have had any personal participation in it, and its office and working operations were soon transferred to New York. Sundry similar organizations were also formed by private individuals. The most notable of these was a Boston company char-1854. tered in April, named " The Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company." The charter was soon abandoned, and the company reorganized June 13th, under private articles of association;2 and in this condition it
*-became virtually the working agency of philan-
thropic citizens of New England, headed by Eli Thayer. There were several auxiliary societies and a few independent associations. But from what then and afterwards came to light, it appears that Mr. Thayer's society was the only one whose
Testimony of the Hon. Daniel braska," p. 229. It was once more
Mace, page 829, House Reportincorporated February 21,1855,
No. 200, 1st Session, 34th Con-under the name of " The New
gress. " Howard Report."England Emigrant Aid Com-
E. E. Hale, ''Kansas and Ne-pany."
THE BORDER RUFFIANS '398
operations reached any degree of success deserving ch. xxn. historical notice.
This company gave publicity, through newspaper advertisements and pamphlets, of its willingness to organize emigrants into companies, to send them to Kansas in charge of trustworthy agents, and to obtain transportation for them at reduced rates. It also sent machinery for a few saw-mills, the types and presses for two or three newspapers, and erected a hotel or boarding-house to accommodate newcomers. It purchased and held only the land necessary to locate these business enterprises. It engaged in no speculation, paid no fare of any emigrants, and expressly disavowed the requirement of any oath or pledge of political sentiment or conduct. All these transactions were open, honest, and lawful, carefully avoiding even the implication of moral or political wrong.
Under the auspices of this society a pioneer company of about thirty persons arrived in Kansas in July, 1854, and founded the town of Lawrence. Other parties followed from time to time, sending out off-shoots, but mainly increasing the parent settlement, until next to Fort Leavenworth, the principal military post, Lawrence became the leading town of the Territory. The erection of the society hotel, the society saw-mills, and the establishment of a newspaper also gave it leadership in business and politics as well as population. This humane and praiseworthy enterprise has been gravely charged with the origin and responsibility of the political disorders which followed in Kansas. Nothing could be further from the truth. Before it had assisted five hundred persons to their new
ch. xxn. homes, the Territory had by regular and individual immigration, mainly from the Western States, acquired a population of 8601 souls, as disclosed by the official census taken after the first summer's arrivals, and before those of the second had begun. It needs only this statement to refute the political slander so industriously repeated in high places against the Lawrence immigrants.
Deeper causes than the philanthropy or zeal of a few Boston enthusiasts were actively at work. The balance of power between the free and slave States had been destroyed by the admission of California. To restore that balance the South had consummated the repeal of the Missouri Compromise as a first and indispensable step. The second equally indispensable step was to seize the political control of the* new Territory.
Kansas lay directly west of the State of Missouri. For a frontier State, the pro-slavery sentiment of Missouri was very pronounced, especially along the Kansas border. The establishment of slavery in this new region had formed the subject of public and local discussion before the Nebraska bill, and Senator Atchison had promised his western Missouri constituents to labor for such a result. From the time the unlooked-for course of Senator Douglas made it a practical possibility, Atchison was all zeal and devotion to this object, which he declared was almost as dear to him as his hope of heaven. When it finally became a question to be decided perhaps by a single frontier election, his zeal and work in that behalf were many times multiplied.
Current reports and subsequent developments
THE BOEDER RUFFIANS397
leave no doubt that this Senator, being then acting ch. xxii. Vice-President of the United States,1 immediately after the August adjournment of Congress hurried away to his home in Platte County, Missouri, and from that favorable situation personally organized a vast conspiracy, running through nearly all the counties of his State adjoining the Kansas border, to decide the slavery question for Kansas by Missouri votes. Secret societies under various names, such as " Blue Lodges," " Friends' Society," " Social Band," " Sons of the South," were organized and affiliated, with all the necessary machinery of oaths, grips, signs, pass-words, and badges. The plan and object of the movement were in general kept well concealed. Such publicity as could not be avoided served rather to fan the excitement, strengthen the hesitating, and frown down all dissent and opposition. Long before the time for action arrived, the idea that Kansas must be a slave State had grown into a fixed and determined public sentiment.
The fact is not singular if we remember the peculiar situation of that locality. It was before the great expansion of railroads, and western Missouri could only be conveniently approached by the single commercial link of steamboat travel on the turbid and dangerous Missouri River. Covering the rich alluvial lands along the majestic but erratic stream lay the heavy slave counties of the State, wealthy from the valuable slave products of hemp and tobacco. Slave tenure and slavery traditions in Missouri dated back a full century, to the
i By virtue of his office as Pres- denoy was vacant; William R. ident pro tempore of the United King, chosen with President States Senate. The Vice-Presi- Pierce, had died.
oh. xxii. remote days when the American Bottom opposite St. Louis was one of the chief bread and meat producing settlements of New France, sending supplies northward to Mackinaw, southward to New Orleans, and eastward to Fort Duquesne. When in 1763 " the Illinois " country passed by treaty under the British flag, the old French colonists, with their slaves, almost in a body crossed the Mississippi into then Spanish territory, and with fresh additions from New Orleans founded St. Louis and its outlying settlements; and these, growing with a steady thrift, extended themselves up the Missouri Eiver.
Slavery was thus identified with the whole history and also with the apparent prosperity of the State; and it had in recent times made many of these Western counties rich. The free State of Iowa lay a hundred miles to the north, and the free State of Illinois two hundred to the east; a wall of Indian tribes guarded the west. Should all this security be swept away, and their runaways find a free route to Canada by simply crossing the county line f Should the price of their personal " chattels " fall one-half for want of a new market ? With nearly fifteen million acres of fresh land to choose from for the present outlay of a trifling preemption fee, should not the poor white compel his single " black boy nto follow him a few miles west, and hoe his tobacco for him on the new fat bottom-lands of the Kaw Eiver 1
Even such off-hand reasoning was probably confined to the more intelligent. For the greater part these ignorant but stubborn and strong-willed frontiersmen were moved by a bitter hatred of
THE BOEDEE EUFFIANS399
" abolitionism," because the word had now been ch. xxn.
used for half a century by partisans high and
low—Governors, Senators, Presidents — as a term
of opprobrium and a synonym of crime. With
these as fathers of the faith and the Yice-Pres-
ident of the United States as an apostle to preach
a new crusade, is it astonishing that there was
no lack of listeners, converts, and volunteers?
Senator Atchison spoke in no ambiguous words.
"When you reside in one day's journey of the
Territory," said he, " and when your peace, your
quiet, and your property depend upon your action,
you can without an exertion send five hundred
of your young men who will vote in favor of
your institutions. Should each county in the
State of Missouri only do its duty, the question
will be decided quietly and peaceably at the ballot-
box. If we are defeated, then Missouri and the sireeoiun
other Southern States will have shown themselves
recreant to their interests and will deserve their
Western water transportation found its natural terminus where the Kaw or Kansas River empties into the Missouri. From this circumstance that locality had for years been the starting-point for the overland caravans or wagon-trains. Fort Leavenworth was the point of rendezvous for those going to California and Oregon; Independence the place of outfit for those destined to Santa Fe. Grouped about these two points were half a dozen heavy slaveholding counties of Missouri,— Platte, Clay, Bay, Jackson, Lafayette, Saline, and others. Platte County, the home of Senator Atchison, was their Western outpost, and lay like an outspread
ch. xxil fan in the great bend of the Missouri, commanding from thirty to fifty miles of river front. Nearly all of Kansas attainable by the usual water transportation and travel lay immediately opposite. A glance at the map will show how easily local ' sentiment could influence or dominate commerce and travel on the Missouri Eiver. In this connection the character of the population must be taken ' into account.
The spirit of intolerance which once pervaded all slaveholding communities, in whatever State of the Union, was here rampant to an unusual degree. The rural inhabitants were marked by the strong characteristics of the frontier,—fondness of adventure, recklessness of exposure or danger to life, a boastful assertion of personal right, privilege, or prowess, a daily and hourly familiarity with the use of fire-arms. These again were heightened by two special influences — the presence of Indian tribes whose reservations lay just across the border, and the advent and preparation of each summer's emigration across the great plains.
The " Argonauts of ?49"were not all gamblers and cut-throats of border song and story. Generally, however, they were men of decision and will, all mere drift-wood in the great current of gold-seekers being soon washed ashore and left behind. Until they finished their last dinner at the Planter's House in St. Louis, the fledgelings of cities, the lawyers, doctors, merchants, and speculators, were in or of civilization. Perhaps they even resisted the contamination of cards and drink, profanity and revolver salutations, while the gilded and tinseled Missouri Eiver steamboat bore them for
•KOSIHOIY 'H aiAVCI
THE BOEDER RUFFIANS401
three days against its muddy current and boiling ch. xxn. eddies to meet their company and their outfit.
But once landed at Independence or Leaven-worth, they were of the frontier, of the wilderness, of the desert. Here they donned their garments of red flannel and coarse cloth or buckskin, thrust the legs of their trousers inside the tops of their heavy boots, and wore their bowie-knife or revolver in their outside belt. From this departure all were subject to the inexorable equality of the camp. Eating, sleeping, standing guard, tugging at the wheel or defending life and property,—there was no rank between captain and cook, employer and employed, savant and ignoramus, but the distribution of duty and the assignment of responsibility. Toil and exposure, hunger and thirst, wind and storm, danger in camp quarrel or Indian ambush, were the familiar and ordinary vicissitudes of a three months' journey in a caravan of the plains.
All this movement created business for these Missouri Biver towns. Their few inhabitants drove a brisk trade in shirts and blankets, guns and powder, hard bread and bacon, wagons and live stock. Petty commerce busies itself with the art of gain rather than with the labor of reform. Indian and emigrant traders did not too closely scan their sources of profit. The precepts of the divine and the penalties of the human law sat lightly upon them. As yet many of these frontier towns were small hamlets, without even a pretext of police regulations. Passion, therefore, ran comparatively a free course, and the personal redress of private wrongs was only held in check by the broad and acknowledged right of self-defense.
ch. xxii. Since 1849 and 1850, when the gold fever was at its height, emigration across the plains had slackened, and the eagerness for a revival of this local traffic undoubtedly exerted its influence in procuring the opening of the territories in 1854. The noise and excitement created by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act awakened the hope of frontier traders and speculators, who now greedily watched all the budding chances of gain. Under such circumstances these opportunities to the shrewd, to the bold, and especially to the unscrupulous, are many. Cheap lands, unlimited town lots, eligible trading sites, the multitude of franchises and privileges within the control of a territorial legislature, the offices to be distributed under party favoritism, offer an abundant lure to enterprise and far more to craft.
It was to such a population and under such a condition of things that Senator Atchison went to his home in Platte County in the summer of 1854 to preach his pro-slavery crusade against Kansas. His personal convictions, his party faith, his senatorial reelection, and his financial fortunes, were all involved in the scheme. With the help of the Stringfellows and other zealous co-workers, the town of Atchison was founded and named in his honor, and the " Squatter Sovereign" newspaper established, which displayed his name as a candidate for the presidency. The good-will of the Administration was manifested by making one of the editors postmaster at the new town.
President Pierce appointed as Governor of Kansas Territory Andrew H. Keeder, a member of his own party, from the free State of Pennsylvania.
THE BORDER RUFFIANS403
He had neither prominent reputation nor conspicu- ch. xxn. ous ability, though under trying circumstances he afterwards showed diligence, judgment, integrity, and more than ordinary firmness and independence. It is to be presumed that his fitness in a partisan light had been thoroughly scrutinized by both President and Senate. Upon the vital point the investigation was deemed conclusive. ."He. was appointed," the " Washington Union " naively stated when the matter was first called in question, " under the strongest assurance that he was strictly and honestly a national man. We are able to state further, on very reliable authority, that whilst Governor Eeeder was in Washington, at the time of his appointment, he conversed with Southern gentlemen on the subject of slavery, and assured them that he had no more scruples in buying a slave than a horse, and regretted that he had not money to purchase a number to carry with him to Kansas." With him were appointed three Federal judges, a secretary, a marshal, and an attorney for the Territory, all doubtless considered equally trustworthy on the slavery question. The organic act invested the governor with very comprehensive powers to initiate the organization of the new Territory. Until the first legislature should be duly constituted, he had authority to fix election days, define election districts, direct the mode of returns, take a census, locate the temporary seat of government, declare vacancies, order new elections to fill them, besides the usual and permanent powers of an executive.
Arriving at Leavenworth in October, 1854, Governor Eeeder was not long in discovering the