The Mob and the Territorial Register, Part One

William Phillips

William Phillips

After William Addison Phillips finished speculating about why Leavenworth’s free state men didn’t rise up and put down the proslavery mob that stormed their polls and brutally attacked George Wetherell, he related another story. It seems that the proslavery men found Wetherell’s plight and the disruption of the election not entirely satisfactory. They wanted more.

The mob was swaying uneasily to and fro, and was evidently animated by some new work of mischief. The words “abolition papers,” “Delahay,” “D–n it! burn the whole infernal thing up!” “Throw it in the river!” showed that mischief to Colonel Delahay’s office, the Territorial Register, was contemplated.

Mark Delahay hasn’t appeared in our story to date. He lived, as one might imagine, in Leavenworth and there operated the Territorial Register. That the proslavery mob wanted to give him the Parkville Industrial Luminary treatment tells you his politics as of December 15, 1855. Before that, he attended the Topeka Convention and presented a motion endorsing the principles of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It had, after all, served Kansas so very well in preventing strife over slavery.

George W. Brown

George W. Brown

George Washington Brown profiled Delahay in the December 29 Herald of Freedom, in support of his nomination by the free state party for delegate to Congress:

Mr. Delahay is a native of Maryland. He is a Free State man rather from material than moral considerations. He has been a slaveholder; says he “would as lief buy a negro as a mule;” but is in favor of freedom in Kansas because our soil, climate, and productions are not adapted to slave labor. he is a “National” or Douglas Democrat, and of course in favor of Squatter Sovereignty. As he truly represents the political opinions of the majority of the citizens in Leavenworth, and is personally popular, his name will serve greatly to make the ticket popular in those districts of Kansas were freedom is not regarded as infinitely preferable to slavery, but is weighed in the balance of political expediency, and found to be rather “more desirable, if anything, to the peculiar infamy of the South.

Delahay received his nomination on the same day as the mob convened at Lawrence, so they probably didn’t know about it when they chose to bedevil his paper. His association with the free state movement and promotion of it in his paper sufficed for an unkind visit. Phillips reports that Leavenworth’s free state mayor sent to Fort Leavenworth for men to maintain the peace, but received no help from that quarter.

The mob found

the Register office was locked up. Its owner, who had refused to go to the aid of Lawrence during the siege, might have been found, peering down from a back street on the mob who threatened his press, and in a state of trepidation which showed he was not very anxious for political martyrdom just at that moment.

Some people just don’t want to rush off and die for the cause.


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