The Sixteenth District, Part Two

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

A. Macauley got inside the Platte County Self-Defense Association’s meeting and could report on what they said firsthand. H. Miles Moore didn’t have quite that level of access, but he got the information all the same. He also witnessed and participated in their public activities in Kansas. He confesses:

I had believed that the Missourians had had some justification for endeavoring to come and control the territorial legislation, in order to afford more security to their slave property in Missouri, and for that reason I had come with them

But just like Joseph Potter, Moore changed his mind about these things. Like Potter, he came to find the spectacle of Missourians overruling actual Kansans distasteful. He participated with them, even though he settled in Kansas way back in September, 1854, and went all the way with them. He says they were right to do as they did and meddle with the territorial legislature, but eventually they demanded too much. In Moore’s case, they flooded over the border to decide an election for so trivial a matter as locating a county seat:

their course with regard to the mere local election for county seat was so high-handed an outrage upon the rights of the people of the Territory, of whom I had then become one, that I came to the resolution that I would no longer act with a party so regardless of the rights of others that they would interfere in a matter in which they could have no personal or political interest. I determined to act with the free State party so long as they were actuated by what I considered proper motives, though I would have continued to act with the pro-slavery party had they not acted as they did.

Once Moore went over to the free soil side, he went as thoroughly as most. He spends no time in his testimony denouncing slavery, but reported freely on the level of organization taking place in Missouri:

For seven weeks previous to the election in the Territory, on the 30th of March, 1855, meetings of the Platte county self-defensive association were held in Platte County. I also learned that like meetings were being held in all the border counties of Missouri, to make arrangements to come over to the Territory to attend the election for members of the legislature and vote. I know that secret meetings of what was called the Blue Lodge were held in the Masonic Lodge room in Weston. I saw persons going up, and I learned from members of the association that their objects and plans were to come over to the Territory and vote on the 30th of March, 1855. I did not myself belong to that association. From what I have heard said, I have good reason to believe that the nominations for the pro-slavery party for members of the legislature were decided upon at these secret meetings at Weston and Platte City, so far as the fifteenth and sixteenth districts were concerned. For two or three days previous to the election large companies formed through the City of Weston, en route for the Territory

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

It would tickle my fancy a bit, in a seven degrees of proslavery ideology way, if Moore got his inside information from A. Macauley. But he did not name his sources and could have heard from anybody. He did, however, spot an older acquaintance of ours:

I saw a company under David R. Atchison as they passed through Weston, and some of them told me they were going to Nemaha or the eighteenth district.

I expect to have more to report on those exploits when I reach the district itself. But back on the organization front:

I also learned that they were from counties of Missouri on the north side of the Missouri river, were to go to the district on the north side of the Kaw river, and those on the north side went to the north side.

They even had assignments. Every time I read something like this in the testimony I regret more strongly my previous skepticism about the border ruffians having a united organization. But just in case they came up short, the Missourians had one more trick up their sleeve to get men into Kansas in a hurry:

The steamboat New Lucy was lying at the levee at Weston, and we chartered her to bring down from eighty to one hundred for $2.50, round trip, meals included. I think each man paid his own fare on the boat, as this was considered rather a luxurious way of travelling here.

Don’t just steal the election, steal it from the comfort of a riverboat. How else would one make the next telegraphing of Lifestyles of the Rich and Proslavery?

And Moore repeats what we heard elsewhere about financing all of this, except for the individual fares on the New Lucy:

As regards the other companies, money was raised to pay their expenses, or a portion of them, to buy their provisions and outfit, by voluntary contributions from those who could not come, but were friendly to the cause.

They had this operation planned and organized like professionals.


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