The First District, Part Three

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

F.P Vaughn told the Howard Committee about all the Missourians who came over to vote illegally in Kansas’ first elections for territorial legislature. Jordan Davidson, one of those Missourians, expanded on that by telling the committee about the arrangements made by Missouri slaveholders to meet the expenses of the border ruffians, and related a story about how the well-armed Missourians chased a free soil man into a river with gunfire. Davidson emphasized, however, that the aforementioned altercation involved a personal dispute. They shot at the free soil man for reasons unrelated to his politics. I have no doubt that greatly reassured everyone.

Carmie Babcock took the census of the Lawrence district and so had better reason than most to know just who did and did not live in the area, as well as a broad understanding of their activities.

It was currently reported here, for some weeks before the election, that the Missourians were preparing to come up here, and had organized what they called a Blue Lodge for that purpose. I was intimately acquainted with several pro-slavery men in this immediate vicinity, who were reported to belong to that lodge, and whom I had every reason to believe did belong to it, from conversations with them. The first thing I observed that made me think they were coming was this: I had just opened our post office here in a little log building with a partition in it; the building was owned by a young man named William Lykins, who was deputy postmaster; we occupied but one-half of the building. The rats and mice made considerable noise in the other part of the building, which was unoccupied, and I inquired of Mr. Lykins what they were up to. He took me in there and showed me a lot of provisions, consisting of a large quantity of bacon, some corn, and I think some flour and meal, though I will not be certain about that.

The Missouri men came:

Nearly all these men had guns of some description; shot-guns and muskets. Most of them had revolvers, and a great many had bowie-knives.

But men could not live on weapons alone:

When they arrived, the provisions in Mr. Lykins’s house were taken out and given to them. On once occasion a  young man came up to the house and asked for the provisions. I asked who they belonged to, and he said they belonged to the company, and he wanted some of them. He took off a sack of corn for the horses. i delivered but that one sack; Mr. Lykins delivered the rest. I do not know what became of the rest of the provisions. Mr. Lykins wanted to clear out that part of the house for the election to be held in, and he set out several sides of bacon and some corn, and I saw persons come up promiscuously from the camp and get them.

One can’t get much more blatant than storing provisions for the border ruffians in the very polling place where they will vote. When that time came, Babcock sat in his office with only a wooden wall between him and the voting. He had his windows open and heard a great deal. The group’s apparent leader, a Colonel Samuel Young, spoke to the men at the polls and told them to behave themselves while stealing the election: no noise, no destruction of property.

Before they put in their votes, I heard several of them take the oath. I was in the next room and heard Col. Young swear that he was a bona fide resident of Kansas Territory. He did not say he was a resident of his district, so far as I recollect, but that he was an actual and bona fide resident of Kansas Territory, and owed no allegiance to the State of Missouri. He told the judges that it was unnecessary to swear the rest of the men, as they would all swear the same thing. He was not a resident of this district when I took the census, and was not a resident at the time of the election. I should have known it if he had become a resident. I do not believe that he has ever become a resident of this district. I do not recollect that the judges asked him any questions about his residence here when he took the oath.

Babcock peered through cracks in the wall between his post office and the polls to watch as Andrew Reeder’s two free state election judges gave way to three proslavery judges, two appointed on the spot. One free stater did not appear. The other resigned. That left their replacement to the voters, and “voters” present. The two replacements naturally suited the politics of the Missourians.

And about that gunplay involving a free soiler by the name of Bond?

Some time before noon, as I was in the office, I heard a gun discharge. I came out and saw a crowd rushing towards the bank of the river. I went down with the rest of them, and saw Mr. Bond, a citizen of this place, come up from below the bank. They said they had shot at him, and he had jumped off the bank. They said there had been some conversation with him, and that some one called him a damned abolitionist, and then the mob pitched on him.

I know that convinces me that Bond’s treatment had nothing at all to do with his politics. Who could think such a thing?

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