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Kansas Territory," 1855, p. 248.

" Statutes

Territory

of Kansas,"

1855, p. 332.

422 ABRAHAM LINCOLN

ch. xxin. paid his territorial tax should be a qualified voter for all elective officers. Under so lax a provision Missouri invaders could in the future, as they had in the past, easily give an apparent majority at the ballot-box for all their necessary agents and ulterior schemes.

In a technical sense the establishment of. slavery in Kansas was complete. There were by the census of the previous February already some two hun­dred slaves in the Territory. Under the sanction of these laws, and before they could by any pos­sibility be repealed, some thousands might be ex­pected, especially by such an organized and united effort as the South could make to maintain the vantage ground already gained. Once there, the aggressiveness of the institution might be relied on to protect itself, since-all experience had shown that under similar conditions it was almost ine­radicable.

After so much patriotic endeavor on the part of these Border Euffian legislators "that the Union and law may not be trampled in the dust," it can­not perhaps be wondered at that they began to look around for their personal rewards. These they easily found in the rich harvest of local monopolies and franchises which lay scattered in profusion on this virgin field of legislation, ready to be seized and appropriated without dispute by the first occupants. There were charters for rail­roads, insurance companies, toll-bridges, ferries, coal-mines, plank roads, and numberless privileges and honors of present or prospective value out of which, together with the county, district, and mili­tary offices, the ambitious members might give and

THE BOGUS LAWS 423

take with generous liberality. One-sixth of the ch. xxm. printed laws of the first session attest their modest

J- '

attention to this incidental squatters' dowry. One of the many favorable opportunities in this cate­gory was the establishment of the permanent ter­ritorial capital, authorized by the organic act, where the liberal Federal appropriation for public buildings should be expended. For this purpose, competition from the older towns yielding gracefully after the first ballot, an entirely new site on the open prairie overlooking the Kansas River some twelve miles west of Lawrence was agreed upon. The proceedings do not show any unseemly scram­ble over the selection, and no tangible record remains of the whispered distribution of corner lots and contracts. It is only the name which rises into historical notice.

One of the actors in the political drama of Kan­sas was Samuel Dexter Lecompte, Chief-Justice of the Territory. He had been appointed from the border State of Maryland, and is represented to have been a diligent student, a respectable lawyer, a prominent Democratic politician, and possessed of the personal instincts and demeanor of a gen­tleman. Moved by a pro-slavery sympathy that was sincere, Judge Lecompte lent his high author­ity to the interests of the conspiracy against Kansas. He had already rendered the bogus Legislature the important service of publishing an extra-judicial opinion, sustaining their adjournment from Pawnee to Shawnee Mission. Probably because they valued his official championship and recognized in him a powerful ally in politics, they made him a member of several of their private corporations, and gave

424 ABBAHAM LINCOLN

ch. xxm. him the honor of naming their newly founded capital Lecompton. But the intended distinction was transitory. Before the lapse of a single decade, the town for which he stood sponsor was no longer the capital of Kansas.

CHAPTER XXIV

*

THE TOPEKA CONSTITUTION


T


HE bogus Legislature adjourned late on the ...ch.xxiv. night of the 30th of August, 1855. They had elaborately built up their legal despotism, com­missioned trusty adherents to administer it, and provided their principal and undoubted partisans with military authority to see that it was duly exe­cuted. Going still a step further, they proposed so to mold and control public opinion as to prevent the organization of any party or faction to oppose their plans. In view of the coming presidential campaign, it was the fashion in the States for Democrats to style themselves "National Demo­crats "; and a few newspapers and speakers in Kansas had adopted the prevailing political name. To stifle any such movement, both houses of the Legislature on the last night of their session adopted a concurrent resolution declaring that the proposi­tion to organize a National Democratic party, hav­ing already misled some of their friends, would divide pro-slavery Whigs from Democrats and weaken their party one-half; that it was the duty of the pro-slavery, Union-loving men of Kansas "to know but one issue, slavery; and that any party making or attempting to make any other

425

426 ABRAHAM LINCOLN

ch.xxiv. is and should be held as an ally of abolitionism and disunion."

Had the conspiracy been content to prosecute its designs through moderate measures, it would in-

iT855,rp.a253. evitably have fastened slavery upon Kansas. The organization of the invasion in western Missouri, carried on under pre-acknowledged leadership, in populous counties, among established homes, amid well-matured confidence growing out of long per­sonal and political relationship, would have been easy even without the powerful bond of secret association. On the other hand, the union of the actual inhabitants of Kansas, scattered in sparse settlements, personal strangers to each other, com­ing from widely* separated States, and comprising radically different manners, sentiments, and tradi­tions, and burdened with the prime and unyielding necessity of protecting themselves and their fam­ilies against cold and hunger, was in the very nature of the case slow and difficult. But the course of the Border Ruffians created, in less than six weeks, a powerful and determined opposition, which became united in support of what is known as the Topeka Constitution.

It is noteworthy that this free-State movement originated in Democratic circles, under Democratic auspices. The Republican party did not yet exist. The opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act were distributed among Whigs, Know-Nothings, and Free-soilers in the States, and had no national affiliation, although they had won overwhelming triumphs in a majority of the Congressional dis­tricts in the fall elections of 1854. Nearly if not quite all the free-State leaders originally went to

THE TOPEKA CONSTITUTION 427

Kansas as friends of President Pierce, and as ch.xxiv. believers in the dogma of " Popular Sovereignty."

Now that this usurping Legislature had met, contemptuously expelled the free-State members, defied the Governor's veto, set up its ingeniously contrived legal despotism, and commissioned its partisan followers to execute and administer it, the situation became sufficiently grave to demand defensive action. The real settlers were Demo­crats, it was true; they had voted for Pierce, shouted for the platform of '52, applauded the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and emigrated to the Terri­tory to enjoy the new political gospel of popular sovereignty. But the practical Democratic beati­tudes of Kansas were not calculated to strengthen the saints or confirm them in the faith. A Demo­cratic invasion had elected a Democratic Legisla­ture, which enacted laws, under whose arbitrary "non-intervention" a Democratic court might fasten a ball and chain to their ankles if they should happen to read the Declaration of Inde­pendence to a negro, or carry Jefferson's "Notes on Virginia" in their carpet-bags.

The official resolution which the bogus Legisla­ture proclaimed as a final political test left no mid­dle ground between those who were for slavery and those who were against slavery — those who were for the bogus laws in all their enormity, and those who were against them—and all who were not willing to become active co-workers with the conspiracy were forced to combine in self-defense.

It was in the town of Lawrence that the free-State movement naturally found its beginning. The settlers of the Emigrant Aid Society were

428 ABEAHAM LINCOLN

ch. xxiv. comparatively few in number; but, supported by money, saw-mills, printing-presses, boarding-houses, they became from the very first a compact, self-reliant governing force. A few preliminary meetings, instigated by the disfranchised free-State members of the Legislature, brought together a large mass convention. The result of its two days' deliberations was a regularly chosen delegate con­vention held at Big Springs, a few miles west of Lawrence, on the 5th of September, 1855. More important than all, perhaps, was the presence and active participation of ex-Governor Eeeder him­self, who wrote the resolutions, addressed the con­vention in a stirring and defiant speech, and received by acclamation their nomination for territorial delegate.

The platform adopted repudiated in strong terms the bogus Legislature and its tyrannical enactments, and declared "that we will endure and submit to these laws no longer than the best interests of the Territory require, as the least of two evils, and will resist them to a bloody issue as soon as we ascertain that peaceable remedies shall fail." It also recommended the formation of volunteer companies and the procurement of arms. The progressive and radical spirit of the conven­tion is illustrated in its indorsement of the free-State movement, against the report of its own committee.

The strongest point, however, made by the con­vention was a determination, strictly adhered to for more than two years, to take no part in any election under the bogus territorial laws. As a result Whitfield received, without competition, the

THE TOPEKA CONSTITUTION 429

combined pro-slavery and Border Ruffian vote for ch. xxiv. delegate on the first of October, a total of 2721 ballots. Measures had meanwhile been perfected by the free-State men to elect delegates to a con­stitutional convention. On the 9th of October, at a separate election, held by the free-State party alone, under self-prescribed formalities and regula- Howard tions, these were duly chosen by an aggregate vote of 2710, ex-Grovernor Eeeder receiving at the same polls 2849 votes for delegate.

By this series of political movements, carried out in quiet and orderly proceedings, the free-State party was not only fully constituted and organized, but was demonstrated to possess a decided major­ity in the Territory. Still following out the policy agreed upon, the delegates chosen met at Topeka on the 23d of October, and with proper deliberation and decorum framed a State constitution, which was in turn submitted to a vote of the people. Al­though this election was held near midwinter (Dec. 15, 1855), and in the midst of serious dis­turbances of the peace arising from other causes, it received an affirmative vote of 1731, showing a hearty popular indorsement of it. Of the docu­ment itself no extended criticism is necessary. It prohibited slavery, but made reasonable provision for existing property-rights in slaves actually in the Territory. In no sense a radical, subversive, or " abolition " production, the Topeka Constitution was remarkable only as being the indignant protest of the people of the Territory against the Missouri usurpation.1 The new constitution was transmit-

1 Still another election was January 15, 1856, to choose held "by the free-State party on State officers to act under the

430

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

" Globe," March 24,

1856, p. 698.

ch. xxiv. ted to Congress and was formally presented as a petition to the Senate by General Cass, on March 24, 1856,1 and to the House some days later.

February

22,1856.

The Bepublican. Senators in Congress (the Ee-publican party had been definitely organized a few weeks before at Pittsburg) now urged the imme­diate reception of the Topeka Constitution and the admission of Kansas as a free State, citing the cases of Michigan, Arkansas, Florida, and Califor­nia as justifying precedents.2 For the present,

new organization, at which Charles Bobinson received 1296 votes for governor, out of a total of 1706, and Mark W. Delahay for Representative in Congress, 1628. A legislature elected at the same time, met, according to the terms of the newly framed constitution, on the 4th of March, organized, and elected Andrew H. Reeder and James H. Lane United States Senators.

1 Later, on April 7, General Cass presented to the Senate another petition, purporting to be the Topeka Constitution, which had been handed him by J. H. Lane, president of the convention which framed it and Senator-elect under it ("Cong. Globe," 1856; April 7, p. 826). This paper proved to be a clerk's copy, with erasures and inter­lineations and signatures in one handwriting, which being ques­tioned as probably spurious, Lane afterwards supplied the original draft prepared by the committee and adopted by the convention, though without signatures; also adding his explanatory affidavit ("Cong. Globe," App. 1856, pp. 378-9), to the effect that, the committee had devolved upon

him the preparation of the form­al copy, but that the original signatures had been mislaid. The official action of the Senate appears to have concerned itself exclusively with the copy pre­sented by General Cass on March 24. Lane's copies served only as text for angry debate. As the Topeka Constitution had no legal origin*or quality, technical de­fects were of little consequence, especially in view of the action by the free-State voters of Kan­sas at their voluntary elections for delegates on October 9, and to ratify it on December 15, 1856.

2 They based their appeal more especially upon the opinion of the Attorney-General in the case of Arkansas, that citizens of Terri­tories possess the constitutional right to assemble and petition Congress for the redress of grievances j that the form of the petition is immaterial; and that, "as the power of Con­gress over the whole subject is plenary, they may accept any constitution, however framed, which in their judgment meets the sense of the people to be affected by it."

THE TOPEKA CONSTITUTION 431

however, there was no hope of admission to the ch. xxev. Union with the Topeka Constitution. The Pierce Administration, under the domination of the South­ern States, had deposed Governor Keeder. Both in his annual message and again in a special message, the President denounced the Topeka movement as insurrectionary.

In the Senate, too, the application was already prejudged; the Committee on Territories through Douglas himself as chairman, in a long partisan report, dismissed it with the assertion "that it was the movement of a political party instead of the whole body of the people of Kansas, conducted without the sanction of law, and in defiance of the constituted authorities, for the avowed purpose senate Re-of overthrowing the territorial government estab- isTsessio3n, lished by Congress." In the mouth of a consistent advocate of " Popular Sovereignty," this argument might have had some force; but it came with a bad grace from Douglas, who in the same report indorsed the bogus Legislature and sustained the bogus laws upon purely technical assumptions. Congress was irreconcilably divided in politics. The Democrats had an overwhelming majority in the Senate; the opposition, through the election of Speaker Banks, possessed a working control of the House. Some months later, after prolonged de­bate, the House passed a bill for the admission of Kansas under the Topeka Constitution; but as the Senate had already rejected it, the movement remained without practical result.1

1 Nevertheless, the efforts of ren. The contest between Whit-the free-State party tinder this field and Eeeder for a seat in the combination were not wholly bar- House as territorial delegate not

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