The Third District, Part Four

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

The Third District, Parts 1, 2, 3

The proslavery border ruffians who came over from Missouri to dominate Kansas’ elections for territorial legislature had their way in the Third District as much as in the First or Second, if with less attacking the architecture and gunfire. Nobody even suggested that obstinate free soil judges, like Henry Burgess, should have their heads torn from their shoulders by a Missourian who, one presumes, ate a lot of spinach.

The Missourians held Henry Burgess as a hostage while they voted and finally let him go some time thereafter. They tried to get him to sign off on the returns, but Burgess refused. When he earlier offered to sign off if they let him write up a report of what happened, they declined to oblige him. But once clear of the mob, Burgess wrote his report and sent it off to Andrew Reeder so he would know that his hopes for a fair election where only Kansans voted came to naught. If Burgess could not preserve the election, he could let everyone know how badly it went.

Kansas’ proslavery settlers, in turn, had not quite finished with Henry Burgess:

I was indicted for telling the truth in regard to the election, in making an affidavit in a protest against the election setting forth the facts, and sent in to the executive of the Territory. I was not bound over before a justice of the peace. I suppose the first complaint was made before the grand jury; a warrant, I understood, was in the hands of a deputy marshal of this Territory for me, and before it was served I hitched up- my team and came down here, as I had understood before this time a bill was found against me. I have never learned who my accuser was, nor upon what testimony the indictment was found. The indictment was found, as far as I can recollect, about a year ago, during the sitting of the court early last spring, and it is still pending.

Nothing appears to have come of Burgess’ indictment by the time the Howard Report went to press, but having it hang over him could not have been fun. Maybe it amounted to a one-off threat with no intention of really prosecuting him. Maybe someone intended it as an insurance policy, hoping he would take the hint and keep quiet.

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Another minister got a bit worse. John Long testified, based on his lengthy time on the frontier in various states, that

it is frequently the case that there are fights at election, but I never saw much of it myself where I have been.

He did, however, see possibly the only actual violence at Tecumseh on election day

Just at evening, pretty near time to close the polls, I had got on my horse to go home, and the Rev. Mr. Gilpatrick (whose name I afterwards learned) was standing near the door, and I saw someone strike at him, but I do not know who he was.

Gilpatrick went into Thomas Stinson’s house, the polling place, and asked for his protection. Stinson opened the back door for him, but refused to give shelter. Long went into the house and tried to walk Gilpatrick out the front.

He remarked that he had been insulted; that he had come there to vote and could not have the privilege of voting. I remarked that it was not worth the while, as there was a great deal of excitement, and we had better not try to vote.

They went out together and Gilpatrick found a friend of his to stick with in safety. It didn’t come to much, but Long thought someone had really hit him, if not hard enough to draw blood or leave a mark immediately visible.

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