The Kickapoo Pioneer Calls for Help, Part One

George W. Brown

George W. Brown

The Herald of Freedom on Patrick Laughlin, parts 1, 2, 3


The November 17 Herald of Freedom had two pieces directly about Patrick Laughlin and his exposure of the Kansas Legion. One called him a perjurer, but insisted that if Laughlin had it right then proslavery men should shake in their boots because the free state movement had a virtual army. The second reported his killing of Samuel Collins in a dispute arising from the Legion’s exposure. George Brown further included two pieces reacting to items from the Kickapoo Pioneer. The first dismissed the story that a proslavery man caused a panic in Lawrence by putting out word that the law had come to seize Brown for illegal antislavery printing, but had another promise that Lawrence had plenty of well-armed men ready to defend the community. The second took a rather different approach. Under the heading “Signs of Distress” he included this from the Pioneer

THE CRISIS HAS ARRIVED.-The time has come when it behooves every proslavery man to be up and doing. If Southerners wish to see Kansas enter the Confederation as a slave State, they must no longer hesitate about taking up their line of march; they must come thicker and faster than ever before. Our enemies (the abolitionists,) are making every exertion to populate this Territory with hordes of their followers.

Those dastardly abolitionists raised $100,000 in the East to send along to Lawrence, used to form

a secret, midnight organization, where they meet and concoct ways and means to accomplish every kind of rascality and dishonesty to thwart the influence and strength of the pro-slavery party

Some of the cash even went to pay the passage of abolitionists to Kansas. I can’t vouch for the precise sum, but the Pioneer had basic facts right. The Massachusetts and then New England Emigrant Aid Societies had raised money to send antislavery men to Kansas. While the principals denied it at the time, it seems that the Society at least looked the other way if some of its funds went to weaponry and some of its shipments included rifles. Here every proslavery man’s nightmare had come true: not only did antislavery whites threaten to spark a slave revolt, they actively stockpiled arms for the purpose.

Thus, the Pioneer held, the South must get its act together and beat the antislavery men at their own game. The section must raise funds “”to meet every emergency” and fill Kansas with men sound on the goose. Otherwise

the glorious achievements that have been so valiantly won at the ballot-box in past elections will amount to nothing

The South, “gallant and glorious,” had the money and the men, the Pioneer said. Surely they would not abandon their fellows. Now they must act or lose the Territory. Proslavery Kansans would welcome help “in the noble cause”. Together they would defend the section’s rights and put down the “abolitionists and fanatics” who “have already been allowed too much sway, and are consequently becoming more impudent every day.” Together, proslavery Kansas of all vintages would

Strike terror to their black hearts and make them repent of past transgressions with a solemn promise never to darken the peace, happiness, and perpetuity of our glorious Republic by lifting an arm or raising a voice to proclaim negro freedom in our Territory, which soil by right belongs to the South and must be owned by the South at the sacrifice, if need be, of her best and bravest men.

I don’t think the piece requires Brown’s title to communicate distress. The Pioneer’s editor sounds desperate. They could see the free state movement organizing and news of its secret military order had to keep them up at night. With a shadow government now operating and an alternative state organization in the offing, it had to look like the early gains for slavery might come to nothing. The Pioneer may have exaggerated to get more sympathy, but the proslavery party had at least a potentially serious threat on its hands all the same.


Your input is welcome

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.