The First District, Part Four

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

Parts: 1, 2, 3

The affair at Lawrence involving a Mr. Bond, an abolitionist to hear the Missourians tell it, has appeared in the testimony of F.P. Vaughn, Jordan Davidson, and Carmie Babcock. None of those men, however, saw the actual confrontation. Babcock, despite spending most of the day with just a wall separating him from the polling place and storehouse, did not see where most of those stores went either.

Doctor John Doy saw more on both counts. Doy had a friend from Missouri, Red Robinson, who took him off to the post office/polling place in Lawrence, on the other side of the partition that separated Carmie Babcock’s post office from Lykins’ storehouse. There he saw much of what Babcock saw:

He took me into where the post office was then held, in Lykin’s log house, on the other side of the ravine, and I saw a great quantity of provisions, bacon, flour, meal, corn, and oats, &c. He said that we were going to have a number of boys shortly to help us to vote and this was to provision them. In looking around I saw that the provisions seemed all arranged, the bacon in a pile; the flour in a pile; the corn mean in a pile, and the oats in bags in a pile, and the corn in bags in a pile. Before he had told me what the provisions were for I had bought some corn and meal from him. At the time of the election I saw Robinson and William Lykins deal out the provisions to the companies here encamped in the ravine.

The multiple spellings of William Lykins/Lykin come from the Howard Report, not my uncoordinated fingers.

Now we have an eyewitness affirming that the provisions went to the Missourians exactly as planned. A spontaneous or ill-coordinated movement would not have supply dumps in the field in advance. Whether every Missourian who came over had also joined a Blue Lodge or not, they benefited from and might not have made the trip at all without the Lodges’ preparations.

I was with Mr. Bond and Mr. Stearns when Mr. Bond was driven off the ground and shot at. Mr. Milt. McGee, a Missourian, came up and pointed at Mr. Bond, and said there was a Lawrence bully. Some four or five persons amde at him, as I was stnading close to him, and he ran round the end of the building down towards the river. I heard a shot, then Mr. Jackson Bush shoved aside a rifle that was levelled at Bond.

Maybe the men chasing Bond only called him an abolitionist because they imagined anybody in Kansas that they disliked harbored antislavery feeling. Maybe someone denounced Bond to settle a personal score. Either scenario could fit with past testimony declaring the Bond affair an apolitical dispute. Stranger things have happened.

Doy puts those notions to rest:

The same party came back, with an addition, with Colonel Young with them, to where Mr. Stearns and myself were still standing. Stearns was pointed out as an abolitionist, and Colonel Young took him up in his arms and asked them if they intended to injure such a little man as that, as he weighed but 125 pounds, balancing him in his arms at the same time. After some preliminaries, Colonel Young took Mr. Stearns away, off the ground.

Who would hurt a little guy? Especially when you could tote him around like a piece of luggage. He would get the idea either way. A group of hostile people demonstrating the ease with which they can manhandle you does that.

They then came back to me, headed by George Thornton, of Independence, who pointed me out as an abolitionist. He said he knew it by my discussion with him the night before in the streets, against their coming here to take away our political privileges, &c. I asked him if my time had come now, as they had driven off Mr. Bond and Mr. Stearns. His lips began to tremble, and he asked if I had intended to insult him by what I had said the evening before. I said he knew I did not by the way we discussed the subject. He turned round and said, “if you will say you did not intend to insult me by what you said, that is sufficient.” He then requested the men to leave me and walked off himself.

Doy got to cast his impotent vote against the Missourians’ fraud, but Bond and Stearns clearly did not. Even with that, the border ruffians made it very clear to him through the example of the two previous men just where they stood and what they could do to him. At that point, they hardly needed to manhandle or open fire on him as well. Provided he backed down, they could call their honor satisfied and move on.


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