Going for a Sequel: The Arrest of Samuel Wood, Part Five

Samuel Jones

Samuel Jones

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4


Douglas County sheriff Samuel Jones gave it another go. After first failing to arrest Samuel Wood, he went back to Lawrence the next day with a larger posse. He aimed to take Samuel F. Tappan, who had resisted him the day prior, and then move on to the rest of Wood’s defenders. He had the poor luck to come on Tappan near to a Sunday service attended in chief by armed antislavery Kansans. They came to the rescue of Wood, sending Jones packing for a second time in as many days. According to Merrill’s True History of the Kansas Wars, resistance on April 20th included how

the Free State secretary, pro tem., declared that he would sooner obey the laws of hell, than the laws of the Territory.

In addition, Jones enjoyed “every imaginable indignity .” That banquet of delights so pleased Jones that he removed to Lecompton and turned the clock back to the heady days of early December. Just as when Samuel Wood rescued Jacob Branson from Jones’ custody, the sheriff wrote Governor Shannon. He related how “a mob” of Lawrence citizens rescued Wood “and with violence and force took him from me.” The mob even took Jones guns, which they retained.

I came back to this place for an additional force, and returned to Lawrence with a posse composed of four men, citizens of this county, to assist me in recovering my prisoner; and arresting other persons for theft and other crimes. When there, I summoned an additional posse from among the citizens of Lawrence, -they refused to act, and with my small posse of four men, I attempted to make the arrests, and was again repulsed, and the prisoners taken from me by force, and violent threats uttered against me, and the laws of the territory.

Wilson Shannon

Wilson Shannon

Jones might as well have just told Shannon that he starred in the sequel to December’s trials. No law of nature demands history repeat; people insist on that. If Lawrence chose to resist him again, Jones could choose to move against the town with military force for a second time. He called on Shannon, who must have seen this coming from a sentence or two into the letter,

to furnish me with such military force as may be at your disposal, to assist me in enforcing the laws.

In late 1855, the force at Shannon’s disposal amounted to the half-organized territorial militia. This time around, Wilson Shannon had authorization from Franklin Pierce to call out the Army.



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