The Sixteenth District, Part One

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Gentle Readers, my copies of Nicole Etcheson’s Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era and Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke’s Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri: The Long Civil War on the Border arrived today. I interrupted my normal writing routine to read Etcheson’s chapter on the territorial election. I haven’t read anything from Earle and Burke’s book save the table of contents yet, but tore through Etcheson’s chapter. There I found many familiar incidents from the Howard Report, but also several more engagingly written, revealing moments that I will share in due course. She didn’t, at least in that chapter, shed any light on the eleventh district.

But we do have two more districts to look at. Andrew Reeder divided Kansas into eighteen, but the Howard Committee judged the election in the Seventeenth “fairly conducted, and not contested at all.” That leaves us with the Sixteenth and Eighteenth.

The findings for the Sixteenth District begin with a citation of the organization the border ruffians enjoyed back in Missouri. The committee cited H. Miles Moore, A. Macauley (rendered McAuley in the notes), and L. Kerr. No testimony from an L. Kerr appears in the listing of testimony for the district. An A. Kyle appears, but his testimony runs only a few paragraphs and doesn’t comment on organization at all. I don’t know who the clerks meant, but if anyone has an idea I’d love to hear it.

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

A. Macauley painted himself as something of a good Samaritan. He told the Howard Committee that he heard about Andrew Reeder’s census ahead of time and knew neighbors who had repaired to Missouri for a while and would miss it. Wanting everyone counted, he

notified persons who I thought ought to have been taken in the census that they had better be on their claims, so as not to be overlooked by the assessors. This notice was without regard for party.

He went off to Missouri to give out notice personally. So far as that goes, one can admire Macauley’s civic spirit. But he made a separate trip that probably seemed just as civic-minded to him, even if we might disagree:

I was in Missouri at another time, before the election of the 30th of March, and at Platte City during the sitting of the circuit court. On that occasion there was a meeting of citizens, and several speeches were delivered; among the rest, I was called, and gave them the best turn I could.

The object and purpose of that meeting was to discuss the affairs of Kansas. The subject discussed in that meeting bore upon the subject of the coming election and the affairs of Kansas generally. I did make a list of what I considered to be legal voters in this district, and took a good deal of pains with it, prior to the election of the 30th of March. I included in this list none but those I considered settlers on the soil. It was for the purpose of giving information to the pro-slavery party and to satisfy my mind.

Macauley even had the list on hand that day, while giving his testimony. The committee asked if they could have it, or make a copy. Macauley asked for time to think about it, but ultimately yielded it up.

Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow

Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow

The Platte City Macauley visited rested, and still rests, in Platte County, home to the eponymous Self-Defense Association. He doesn’t come out and say that he met with them by name, but it sounds like he did. If he didn’t, then he met with and spoke to some other group with similar politics. His civic duty ran both ways. He wanted everyone counted in the census who deserved it, but also

At the meeting of Platte City subjects were discussed of the affairs of Kansas and opposition to the Emigrant Aid Society. It was generally the belief, as expressed in the speeches, that the Emigrant Aid Society was importing paupers into Kansas to control elections in an unjustifiable and extraordinary manner, and to make Kansas a free State. The majority of the speakers, and I think myself among others, took the ground that the object of the Aid Society was to make a thrust at the institutions of Missouri. This was the pro-slavery sentiment of the people at the meeting. They expressed themselves that, if Kansas was made a free State, it would be through these societies, and, if they succeeded, they might as well give up every nigger they had in the State.

He might have quoted Negro-Slavery, No Evil chapter and verse, but then when a group to which one belongs produces a manifesto, it only stands to reason that the members will echo it. They tasked B.F. Stringfellow with writing it and voted approval for the work thereafter.

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