The First District, Part Two

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

F.P. Vaughn told the Howard Committee that he saw and traveled with Missourians who had come from as far as two hundred miles off to vote in Kansas’ first territorial elections. They spoke openly of having done the same in the delegate election back in November, 1854. Some bragged about voting four or five times. If Yankee interlopers could vote, they could vote too.

Vaughn traveled with a party of border ruffians for a while, but his testimony made it clear that he did not count himself in their number. Jordan Davidson did:

I came here with my neighbors to the election of the 30th of March, 1855, and voted here in this district. I should suppose there were nine hundred or one thousand, though I did not count them, in that company.

They came ready for trouble:

The companies generally had arms for that occasion. I had none myself. I think each individual bought or borrowed his own arms.

And they came because they

understood in Missouri that Governor Reeder had sent to the east and mustered up a large force to come here, and we came here to vote, too, though that was not all the inducement. We intended to vote first here, and after we had got through were willing to let anybody vote who wanted to.

When pressed by Andrew Reeder himself, Davidson changed his mind on the details:

We did not understand that Governor Reeder had brought on voters from the east, but that he made the day of election known there before it was known here, in order to induce voters to come on here.

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Reeder testified that he did no such thing and, if anything, may have given that advantage to the men from Missouri. Given the slow speed of communication in the nineteenth century, even his impartiality would give Missourians an edge over those from farther afield. But even if Reeder had tipped his hand for freedom

The other inducement we had for coming here was to extend slavery into Kansas Territory. The general talk among our people who came here was that they had a right to vote here. I contented myself that I had a right to vote here.

Davidson testified that he came in a large mass of Missourians, even going so far as to point out apparent leaders among them, he didn’t know all the details or the organization and planning. What he saw, however, both reinforces what F.P. Vaughn told about ferry expenses paid in advance and expands upon it:

I do not know of money being raised. Men that had not means to come could come with the provision wagons, and were fed there.

Somebody had to pay for that food, whether the Blue Lodges pooled their cash to fund wagons or individual slaveholders did it on their own.

For all the organization and rhetoric, Davidson owned up to not seeing or hearing of any such person come from the east to vote and then going back, unlike the Missourians. Of course, Yankee interlopers only partly justified the invasion of Kansas and the theft of its election. Saving the territory for slavery remained sufficient to get boots on the ground and ballot boxes stuffed.

Davidson insisted that everyone who came, free state men included, got to vote in Lawrence that day. Well, almost everyone:

There were free State men vote, but I do not think any were hindered from voting except, perhaps, Mr. Bond, who got into a fuss and went off and did not come back again. He was run off the ground, but I do not think it was to prevent him from voting. He got into a personal difficulty, I understood, and they run him off to the river. Just as he jumped down the bank a pistol was fired at him, the contents going perhaps six feet over his head, though I do not think it was aimed at him. The cry was “kill him,” “kill him.”

How many of us, seeing a crowd capable of that, would proudly go up and vote contrary to their stated preferences? Even if Bond’s “fuss” boiled down to a personal dispute unrelated to slavery, it showed any watching what the Missouri men could do.

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