The Herald of Freedom on Emigrant Aid, Part Two

George W. Brown

George W. Brown

We left the pages of the Herald of Freedom dismantling proslavery Missourian understandings of the Emigrant Aid Company. If the company sent paupers to Missouri, they came with a curious amount of money. A million dollars flowing into the Missouri frontier, preserving its economy against a general slump, hardly seemed the work of the destitute. This realized one of the Platte County Self-Defense Association’s great fears: that the lure of profit would break white orthodoxy and lead to the tolerance of dissent from slavery. This would undo their whole social system. Against that fear, George Brown offered just those profits. Would Missourians rather stand sound on the goose or line their pockets?

The men of the border had to decide soon, as these paupers had the means to establish their own businesses and

be independent of those thus disposed to slander them. Many of them have grown good corps of corn and potatoes during the last year; and it is estimated that enough of the former has been raised to meet the home demand the present season. If such has been the case the past season, with the innumerable difficulties surrounding them, what will be the case the ensuing year, when thousands of acres have been fitted for cultivation?

Kansas corn meant less demand for Missouri surplus. Worse, it meant competition with Missouri’s small farmers. The previous May, Brown said, Kansas boasted hardly a plowed acre or rod of fence. If Kansas could produce this fast, then a smart Missourian would have to get in on the boom while it lasted.

Or the Missouri frontier could decide that the pleasure of “abusive epithets” would keep them warm in the winter. Should they so decide, then Kansas would soon pluck from them ripe markets with its own surplus:

the rich harvest which they have reaped by furnishing government supplies, for overland trains to Utah and California, and to the pioneers to the Territory, will be supplied by the paupers whom they have been so liberal in stigmatizing.

Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow

Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow

Should Kansas produce as Brown expected, then basic economics dictated all of that. Vendors nearer to Kansas would take over supplying its white settlers for just the same reason as western Missouri had done. Shorter distances to travel meant cheaper goods for the consumer. Kansas would stand nearer to the far west, and so take over that trade as well as its domestic commerce. Why stock up and haul one’s goods in Weston when one could do so in Lawrence?

Brown took it further than that, though. He insisted that Missourians

may seek St. Louis, new Orleans, or any other part of the world for a market, and learn that their own insulting treatment of the people of Kansas has had a powerful effect in bringing about the result which cooler headed men in their own State most deprecate.

Missourians worked themselves into a frenzy over a free Kansas for the fear that it would lead to a free Missouri. By highlighting white dissent within the Show Me State, Brown had to strike an especially raw nerve. That said, the threat that Missouri would lose, or even face serious challenge from Kansas, the markets of St. Louis or New Orleans seems rather remote. The same geography that would prefer Kansas as the far west’s supply depot placed Missouri’s farms nearer St. Louis, just down the state’s eponymous river, and New Orleans down the Mississippi.


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