J.B. Donaldson’s Army

Wilson Shannon

Wilson Shannon

 

The latest invasion of Kansas by proslavery forces aimed at the free state headquarters of Lawrence could claim federal imprimatur. Governor Shannon declared he would not stand in its way, as Lawrence faced only a posse gathered under the authority of the federal district court to serve out its warrants. The hundreds of armed men converging on the town didn’t look much like a posse to anybody else, but this time Shannon hadn’t done anything to make himself responsible for its formation. Instead, that distinction went to J.B. Donaldson (or Donelson), the United States Marshal.

Donaldson could have reasonable apprehensions about serving process in Lawrence; the last person who came in unasked to do that job got shot. Nobody can fault a person for wanting some safety while carrying out a dangerous task. If Donaldson wanted extra protection, he could deputize people formally or informally to watch his back. The Marshal did just that, issuing a proclamation to the people of Kansas on May 11, 1856. He reminded them that he had warrants from the district court, which he had to execute. When he sent a deputy, Fain, to get that done, his deputy

was evidently resisted by a large number of the citizens of Lawrence, and there is every reason to believe that any attempt to execute these writs will be resisted by a large body of armed men

Donaldson didn’t mention Jones and his shooting, but no large group of men with guns had confronted Fain. At best, he entered a room with thirty people inside and tried to arrest Andrew Reeder. Reeder told him to get lost, which Fain then did. The Howard Committee might have provided a hostile audience to Fain, but they decided that they had no power to intervene in his business. I’ve found no reference to the deputy otherwise facing serious threats. A group of men did turn out to frustrate Jones until he got a detachment of the 1st Cavalry as bodyguards, but Donaldson specifies that the deputy Marshal, not the Sheriff, had trouble.

William Addison Phillips

William Addison Phillips

To whomever and however the threats, real or imagined, came about, Donaldson answered them thus:

the law-abiding citizens of the territory are commanded to be and appear at Lecompton, as soon as practicable, and in numbers sufficient for the execution of the law.

One doesn’t issue a call like this when one only wants five or ten trusty men. Donaldson could have gone around town and scared up as many in a few hours, most likely. He wanted an army and had to know he had one waiting for such a call, in the person of the many bands that Marc Parrott and Andrew Reeder reported moving into Kansas before the eleventh. Donaldson declined to circulate his proclamation in Lawrence, but they got wind of it all the same and sent their appeal to Shannon with it in mind.

According to William Phillips, the governor consulted with the proslavery leadership and Jefferson Buford before telling Lawrence that he would do nothing to help them.

 

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Instructions for the Army, Part One

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis

On May 8, 1856, Marcus Parrott went up to Fort Leavenworth and had a talk with Colonel Edwin Sumner, in command, about the brewing invasion from Missouri. Since the Wakarusa War’s muddled end, Franklin Pierce had granted Wilson Shannon the authority to call out Sumner’s men to preserve law and order in Kansas. Pierce’s proclamation made only fig leaf gestures to neutrality, casting antislavery agitation as the more serious threat. But Pierce’s orders to Sumner (PDF), by way of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, charged the Colonel with aiding the territorial government against both “insurrection” and “invasive aggression.” Davis’ orders focused entirely on the things that antislavery Kansans had done, reducing the threat of Missourian invasion to a single reference in passing. In that he followed the lead of the President, or the President followed his. We don’t know exactly how things worked out between them, but at least some of the time Davis seems to have had practical control of the executive branch.

Sumner noticed the omission and wrote back to the War Department. Did they mean for him to intervene also if Shannon called on him to stop invaders from Missouri? The Governor had tried just that back in December, but Sumner had demurred for lack of authority to comply on his own. He also seems to have asked about an invasion from parts more distant, whether Jefferson Buford’s men or some sort of armed Emigrant Aid formation. Jefferson Davis wrote back via the Adjutant General’s office on March 26:

in reply to the question as to where the men may come from, or whether armed or unarmed, is not one for the inquiry or consideration of the commanding officer. It is only when an armed resistance is offered to the laws and against the peace and quiet of the Territory, and when, under such circumstances, a requisition for military force is made upon the commanding officer by the authority specified in his instructions, that he is empowered to act.

Colonel Sumner had no authority to act against border ruffians. Should Shannon call on him, he must act in concert with them. Thus Sumner visited Lecompton on May 12, a few days after promising Marcus Parrott that he would look into things. He had bad news, which he shared with the Adjutant General:

Great excitement is prevailing in the country at this moment in consequence of the Marshal and Sheriff summoning large posses, without reference to the Governor, as they say to maintain the law.

Sumner informed Shannon that he would follow his instructions when called upon, to

arrest and hold subject to the orders of the civil authorities any men in the territory against whom writs were issued; and further, that in order to preserve the peace of the country, I would place my entire regiment immediately at any point he might designate.

Shannon, Sumner thought, wanted that badly to keep the peace. He had said as much back in December and now faced a situation much the same, down to the cast of characters. But Shannon didn’t think it proper to “assume the responsibility of controlling them under civil officers”. All of this sounds like Shannon wanted Sumner to go out on a limb face the consequences of intervention against the proslavery party.

“Such neighborly considerations and eloquent innuendoes”

James Henry Lane

James Henry Lane

Once again, Gentle Readers, please note that I have transcribed Parrott’s letter from his handwritten original and, despite the generous and extensive help of AskHistorians’ Caffarelli, I might have gotten some points wrong.

After informing his brother about the great affairs of Kansas, Marcus Parrott holed himself up in his law office with a gun and hoped for the best. He had some further thoughts about Kansas’ future. He relayed news of James Lane’s challenge to Stephen Douglas, which he called

a good trick of Lane’s. The Col is [one] excellent good shot & understands the duello. There will be no fight, but I think Lane will [rearrange or ravage] “Dregs” Southern swarth & mollify his rampant spirit, which is much delighted in metaphors drawn from the profession of arms.

Marc had heard that Lane had gotten back to Lawrence in time, which gladdened him. I don’t know who would have had charge of the town at just this point, with so much of the leadership fled. Either way, he though Lawrence could use someone who would answer Southerners in a language they understood and respected: honor and violence.

But our author also had personal news. His law practice had not gone well and Marc now hoped to make a fortune for himself in real estate:

If the impending troubles should blow over, I shall start on a trip to the Neosho river, 100 miles south to look at a town title in which I am offered an interest on good terms. […] I wrote to Father yesterday a proposition to let me have money enough to keep a good bargain when I get it. It would relieve me a great deal. If more happens that I struggle along with just enough to keep my head above water from one month’s end to another. Further the proposition with such [neighborly] considerations and eloquent innuendoes as the humble [theme] may inspire.

Marcus Parrott’s money troubles don’t change the course of history, but they do offer us a look into the day to day lives of people in territorial Kansas. Parrott came in as a professional, expecting to do well in law. His practice had not taken off, probably not helped by the disabilities the slave code put on white men who refused to declare for slavery. He wanted to try land, always a good bet in a new territory, but that required capital he didn’t have. His father apparently did, so would dear Edwin kindly lean on the old man a bit?

I don’t know Marc’s terms or the land in question, but he may have had a good deal. Undeveloped land, especially if bought at preemption rates, would almost surely rise in value in the short to medium term as Kansas filled up with land-hungry white colonists. Many a middle class man had staked a claim in a new territory, seen it develop for a few years, then sold it at a tidy profit and moved west to repeat the process.

 

More Leavenworth News from Marc

Wilson Shannon

Wilson Shannon

As before, Gentle Readers, please note that I have transcribed Parott’s letter from his handwritten original and, despite the generous and extensive help of AskHistorians’ Caffarelli, I might have gotten some points wrong.

We left Marcus Parrott telling his brother, Edwin, that the second proslavery company headed for Lawrence passed by his window just as he wrote. The timing might come more from Marc’s flair for the dramatic than actual events, but Parrott lived at Leavenworth and proslavery forces had come through there often enough before. The Missouri interfered with the most direct route for many and it had only so many ferries available.

Marc feared what would come. He himself spent time as a prisoner of a proslavery army back in December. Back then, the free state party feared that Wilson Shannon, Governor of Kansas, would summon the 1st Cavalry from Fort Leavenworth against them at Lawrence. Shannon tried at least half that, but without orders from Washington Colonel E.V. Sumner turned him down. Since then, Shannon had gotten the authority from President Franklin Pierce to summon Sumner’s men at will to preserve law and order in the territory. Concerned about all this, Marc reported that he went to the fort that morning, May 9, 1856, and informed Sumner about the proslavery movements. The Colonel told him “he would go over tomorrow”. Marc doesn’t elaborate, but it seems from further context that Sumner promised to look into things on behalf of the antislavery party:

The pro-slavery n[illegible] are now clamorous to have Sumner Removed from the Army – they charge him with being a free soiler. It is doubtless true. It is good for us that if he is. I dare not say that they may regret having him removed.

This would square with John Speer’s account that the garrison generally leaned antislavery. Marc wouldn’t put sacking Sumner past Pierce, who had dismissed Andrew Reeder at the request of Kansas’ proslavery men.

Rumors also flew about that someone had shot Wilson Shannon, which Marc didn’t believe. He did think

Reeder & Robinson are probably at this time under arrest. […] Their arrest is equivalent to their death.

Andrew Reeder, in disguise

Andrew Reeder, in disguise

At the time of Parrott’s letter, Robinson had probably left Lawrence. Reeder waited until well into the night. Both men had good cause to fear for their lives in proslavery custody, though ultimately only Robinson got captured and he survived. Bringing things closer to home, Marc informed Edd that, “One or two attempts have been made to waylay me at night, but failed.”

Proibably Marc couldn’t count them because he had seen men he suspected of tailing him or setting an ambush, but managed to get away. He may have succumbed to ordinary paranoia, but proslavery Kansans and Missourians really did want to get antislavery militia leaders like Marcus Parrott. Consequently, he armed himself and holed up in his office.

Leavenworth News from Marc

Wilson Shannon

Wilson Shannon

It wold take an especially obtuse reader of the May 10, 1856 Herald of Freedom to miss the point: the cause of freedom in Kansas stood on a precipice. Its leaders, facing arrest, had fled. Its semi-official organ, the paper itself, had a grand jury judgment for its suppression. Ordinary Kansans, like Pardee Butler, and low-level free state operatives, like J.N. Mace faced mortal peril. Proslavery men roamed the countryside, harassing travelers and trying to settle old scoresJefferson Buford’s army, a few hundred strong, had come to destroy the free state party. In response to the shooting of Samuel Jones, a new invasion from Missouri seemed in the offing.

That new invasion appears to have turned from fear to reality in the few days prior to the Herald’s edition. The night Andrew Reeder fled Lawrence, he remarked on

Picket guards posted a mile on the road to Lecompton. Reports that they have 300 men assembled.

That number would about match the size of Buford’s expedition. During his flight and long sojourn hiding in a Kansas City hotel, Reeder noted several groups passing through on their way to Kansas. Marcus Parrott, living in Leavenworth, saw more. A lawyer and free state militia leader, Parrott appeared previously as the man that Patrick Laughlin accused of telling him to engage in election trickery. He had also stood for governor against Charles Robinson, on the more conservative Young America ticket.

Gentle Readers, you may also remember Parrott as the author of a letter that I lacked the ability to read a few weeks ago. I got some help from a fellow flair over at Reddit’s AskHistorians, Caffarelli. She kindly donated some of her lunch time to the task and between the two of us (mostly her) I have a fair transcription. Some best guesses remain; I’ll mark them in the quotes with brackets.

Parrott put pen to paper on May 9, writing his brother Edwin. In the customary manner of nineteenth century correspondents, he opened by saying he had just received the latest from “Edd”, complete with $200, but

We are again unfathomably deep in the matter of territorial trouble.

During the last [two] days, arrived men, have been [horsing] toward Lawrence. The town is again investe[d]. Before this reaches you, the telegraph will relieve your suspense. To me, the moment looks big with fate. A Company reached from here at day light this morning, unarmed, or it is said by Shannon who having found the regulars unmanageable, has turned again to his favorite militia.

Wilson Shannon had tried and failed to get the 1st Cavalry to move from Fort Leavenworth to suppress a proslavery invasion in the past, but he could have just as easily used them to suppress the free state movement. That fear didn’t pass when he brokered a tense peace back in December. Since then, Franklin Pierce had placed the Army officially at Shannon’s disposal for the preservation of law and order.

Moreover, at the very moment Parrott wrote, “a company -the second- marched past my window for the scene of strife.”

Back in Lawrence with the Herald of Freedom

George W. Brown

George W. Brown

We’ve followed Andrew Reeder and Charles Robinson out of Kansas, both fleeing their arrest in pursuit of Samuel Lecompte’s grand jury investigation. Reeder made it to safety, while Robinson got as far as Lexington, Missouri before proslavery men took him off his boat and back to Kansas. Both feared that they would share in Reese Brown’s fate if taken, killed either extrajudicially or after a jury declared them traitors. However, events progressed around Lawrence even without Reeder and Robinson in attendance. We left the Emigrant Aid Company’s town in the aftermath of Samuel Jones’ shooting. He had come to arrest the just-returned Samuel Wood, who had rescued free state militia leader Jacob Branson from Jones custody back in late November. The last time Wood and Jones crossed paths, a proslavery army came near to destroying Lawrence. The locals could hardly forget that so soon and took pains to distance themselves from whichever of them shot the infamous Jones in the back.

Robinson’s arrest at Lexington took place on May 10, 1856. He remained briefly with a judge there, but soon the word came from the legal governor of Kansas, Wilson Shannon, that the territory wanted its illegal governor back on charges of usurpation of office. I meant to hop back to Kansas with Marcus Parrott’s letter to his brother about the current situation, but an unfortunate infirmity prevents that: I can’t read the handwriting with enough confidence to use it at present. I’ve asked some friends if they might make heads or tails of it, but for now Parrott must wait.

On May 10, 1856, the Herald of Freedom began its second page with an item titled “Another War Threatening Us!” It ran just beneath the endorsement of John C. Fremont for president, “subject to the decision of the national Republican convention.”

George Washington Brown opened up with just the kind of appeal in writing that Charles Robinson and Andrew Reeder hoped to make in print:

“Let our friends in the North be ready! Kansas is again invaded by armed ruffians. They are gathering in by tens, and fifties, and hundreds.”

Wilson Shannon

Wilson Shannon

Brown probably had the numbers right, to judge from what I’ve seen elsewhere. The hundreds could come in the form of Jefferson Buford’s men. Smaller contingents fit with the pattern established at previous Missourian invasions: local groups would travel together and only collect once within Kansas. The free state editor also claimed that Wilson Shannon had enrolled the lot in the militia, as he had done back during the Wakarusa War. Shannon might well have repeated himself, particularly as the leaders of the proslavery force then proved amenable to calming their men and seeing them off to home when enrolled. Rumors also held that Shannon wanted to bring in the United States Army to handle any arrests, as had happened when Jones tried to take Wood from Lawrence, “but the other officials swear this shall not be.”

With so much of the present crisis looking like a repeat of the previous, one can’t fault Brown for expecting everything to continue.

Then Brown opted to dramatize the real fear that many in Lawrence must have felt, himself included:

The Reign of Terror has commenced. The bowie knife and revolver, the hatchet and hempen rope, are the instruments brought into requisition to awe, intimidate, and crush out the liberty-loving portion of our fellow citizens. Stealthy assassins roam over the country, under cover of night, dogging the footsteps of unsuspecting citizens, and watching the opportune moment to strike the cowardly blow. Men known of men to be murderers, walk unabashed, unwhipped of Justice, in the very presence of the shameless officers of misnamed Law, boldly and boastingly proclaiming their complicity in crime. No man’s life is safe from one day to another, if he has declared, never so mildly, his opposition to the aggressions of Slavery.

Samuel Jones

Samuel Jones

Whether you think Brown a bit purple here or not, you can’t argue with his facts. Proslavery Kansans and their Missourian allies had bragged of their hooliganism. Samuel Jones started his career in Kansas by pulling a gun on the judges of election at Bloomington and telling them they had five minutes to let anyone vote or he would kill them. The bogus legislature made him a sheriff. Knives, revolvers, and hatchets all feature into violent clashes -some of which happened at night- as well as more mundane intimidation.

The Anti-Abolition Free State Ticket

 

Cyrus Holliday

Cyrus Holliday

George Washington Brown reported that two rival tickets, in addition to the one approved by the free state convention, contended at the polls on January 15, 1856. The first of those, the Young America ticket, first tried to swap the governor and lieutenant governor positions from the candidates the free state convention used. Rebuffed in this, they put forward their own lieutenant governor, Marcus Parrott. He lost handily to Charles Robinson.

The other party of antislavery Kansans dubbed themselves the Anti-Abolition Free State ticket. Brown named “Messrs. Garvey, Holliday, Elliott, & Smith” the principals. I recognize Cyrus Holliday’s name from past efforts to unite antislavery Kansans under a single banner, which makes his participation here seem odd. He can’t have had very cold feet, given his participation not that long prior in the Kansas Legion.

According to Brown, the Anti-Abolition ticket

charged the [free state] Convention with corruption, perfidy, and abolitionism.

It also hadn’t nominated them for office, which Brown noted. Garvey, Holliday, Elliot, and Smith all put themselves forward at the convention and won defeat “by overwhelming majorities.” In the nineteenth century, every politician but one’s own comes off as a venal office-seeker, but the convention did spurn them.

The Anti-Abolition men held out that the establishment free state ticket didn’t really represent Kansans; it represented the Emigrant Aid Society. No one could deny that Charles Robinson, who ran for governor on it, acted as the society’s agent. Brown reported another wrinkle in this:

C.K. Holliday, less than a year ago, applied to that Society to be appointed its agent. We state this on the highest authority. His request was refused, and since then he has been, Stringfellow and Atchison, perhaps, excepted, the most industrious calumniator of it.

Thwarted ambition probably plays its part here, but Holliday and company knew the political landscape of Kansas. White Kansans disliked slavery, at least when Missourians demanded they have it, but they also voted overwhelmingly for a black law to bar slaves and free blacks alike from the state. Back at Big Springs, the free state movement had declared itself fundamentally not abolitionist. A powerful constituency existed that explicitly wanted slavery and black Americans of all statuses kept clear of the territory. By tarring Robinson with his Emigrant Aid Society credentials, the Anti-Abolitionists could call to mind his connections to New England radicals and his stands in favor of such wild notions as black men, and even women of all colors, voting.

But Robinson made no secret of his connections. His place on a ticket with more moderate men, and his close working relationship with conservatives like James Lane, had to help ameliorate that. Thus Holliday, editor of the Freeman, went to press with an extra edition

intended for circulation in the remote parts of the Territory, in which it is stated that Dr. Robinson had declined.

Antislavery Kansans, we know you like Charles Robinson and his dirty Emigrant Aid Society. But even if you’ve made a deep, personal commitment you can’t help it if the guy refused to run. Vote for us instead.

James Henry Lane

James Henry Lane

Brown published a letter from Robinson on the issue, where he claimed in the mode of the disinterested politician that he had not put his own name forward. The free state convention did that. At the time, everyone would have understood this as nearly irrefutable evidence that Robinson had done so. They might say in public that the office found the man, but in private everyone knew otherwise. So conscripted, Robinson felt bound to oblige:

since it [Robinson’s name] has been thus used, I have not authorized, and shall not authorize any man, or set of men, except the Convention, to withdraw it; and the above statement [Holliday’s] is without a shadow of truth, as all similar statements will be.

Not content with that dirty trickery, Holliday also published that James Lane inspired and endorsed his ticket. Lane also wrote Brown to reject the notion, insisting like Robinson that the convention governed him and he gave his “earnest support” to “the entire ticket”. He further noted that he thought the odds of admission for their free Kansas “fair” and thus

would consider any division of our party at this crisis peculiarly unfortunate, and trust it may be avoided.

 

The Young America Ticket

Charles Lawrence Robinson

Charles Lawrence Robinson

Given both the predominance of orthodox free state sources and the natural focus on them by historians, as well as the plain evidence of very lopsided votes for their policies and tickets, one can get the idea the free state Kansans spoke with one voice. Their own publications reveal otherwise. When he introduced the free state ticket to his readers in the December 29 Herald of Freedom, George Brown admitted

Some gentlemen have been nominated for whom we would not vote if Kansas was a state, and admitted to the Union […] The Free State Party of Kansas is a political alliance, formed for the purpose of excluding the blighting curse of slavery from our soil. We all agree in desiring to see Kansas a Free State; but this is the only political issue in which our aspirations or opinions harmonize.

As such, the ticket reflected the diversity of thought within the antislavery ranks. National Democrats and Republicans share space with those shying away from either title in favor of euphemisms like “National Sovereignty” and “Squatter Sovereignty”. The former meant affirming that the Congress had the power to decide on slavery for Kansas, while the latter declared that Kansans ought to do the same, but both agreed that slavery ought not prevail.

That diversity didn’t satisfy everyone. Proslavery Kansans might sit out the free state elections then-upcoming under the Topeka Constitution, but Charles Robinson (Governor), W.Y. Roberts (Lieutenant Governor), P.C. Schuler (Secretary of State, J.A. Wakefield (Treasurer), Mark Delahay (congressional representative) and the others didn’t run unopposed. Rather two rival groups contended for state office, as Brown relates in the January 12 Herald of Freedom: The Young America ticket and the Anti-Abolition ticket.

“Young America” has substituted the name of M.J. Parrott, as Lieut. Governor […] and Scott Anthony, of Leavenworth, instead of Mr. Floyd, as Clerk of the Supreme Court. The other nominations of the Convention remain unaltered.

What did that mean? Brown reported the Young America set advanced Parrott on the grounds that Roberts had withdrawn from consideration, then cited letters he printed in his previous issue. There three men, W.M. McClure, E.R. Zimmerman, and G.P. Lowry, wrote to Roberts that they’d heard about the withdrawal put forward as entirely above-board and done with the assent of the free state establishment. Roberts answered:

I have heard the report to which you refer, and that I have no connection or sympathy therewith; but, on the other hand, have opposed the movement from beginning to end, as disorganizing and opposed to the interests of the Free State party of Kansas, and shall continue to discountenance the movement should it be persisted in.

George W. Brown

George W. Brown

That ought to have settled things, but Parrott and company changed their story. Roberts, they said, meant only that he would not stand for a ticket that swapped his and Charles Robinson’s places to make Roberts the governor and Robinson the lieutenant governor. When McClure, et al, wrote to Roberts they did specifically mention the position swap. That makes the claim halfway plausible, but given Roberts’ broad rejection of disorganization it sounds like a stretch.

Given that Young America didn’t field a full ticket, but rather changed only a few names, it sounds suspiciously like the work of either a few disgruntled types who hewed to the hallowed principle that they deserved public office, not those other people. Roberts suggests the darker motive that Young America’s boosters wanted to sabotage the free state movement as an end unto itself. Either, or both, explanations withstand scrutiny. The business of swapping positions reads very much like something designed to cause confusion and inspire jealousy. But we could point to ideology too. Parrott has played the role of conservative, aligned with James Lane’s faction, on previous occasions and might have taken the free state ticket as entirely too radical when headed by Robinson.

Resolutions of the Law and Order Party, Part Four

Wilson Shannon

Wilson Shannon

Shannon goes to Leavenworth: parts 1, 2

Parts 1, 2, 3

Resolution text.

My apologies for forgetting to link to the Squatter Sovereign in the last few posts, Gentle Readers.

Fresh off delivering an officially sanctioned resolution of scorn for the antislavery press and endorsements of the Law and Order party remembered its original promise to serve as a moderating influence  and welcome Kansans of any political stripe, so long as they eschewed the brewing insurrection of the free state movement. With due consideration, they resolved:

we, the members of this convention, the Law and Order Party, the States Right party of Kansas, the opponents of abolitionism, free soilism, and all other ISMS of the day, feel ourselves fully able to sustain the Organic Law of the Territory, and the acts of the Territorial legislature, passed in pursuance thereof, and we hereby pledge ourselves to support and sustain Gov. Shannon in the execution of all laws, and that we have the utmost confidence in the disposition and determination of the Executive to fully and faithfully discharge his duties.

They had come a long way from refusing “to discuss the relative merits of the various political sentiments”. From the start, the Law and Order movement clearly saw itself as a proslavery endeavor. However, its founders also made efforts to appeal to universal values. This sufficed to draw in one somewhat prominent antislavery man, Marcus Parrott. Parrott served as James Lane’s second in the abortive Topeka duel. According to Patrick Laughlin, he also gave orders to fix the vote for Andrew Reeder around Doniphan. However, at Big Springs Parrott stood to oppose Andrew Reeder’s resolutions.

Writing a few years later, William Phillips described Parrott as a South Carolina born lawyer who came to Kansas by way of Ohio:

He is a young man of dark complexion and Southern temperament. He was an administration Democrat when he came to Kansas; but I scarcely feel safe in laying down dates for the opinions of this class of politicians after they have experienced “squatter sovereignty as enunciated under the Kansas-Nebraska Bill.” Of thorough acquirements and profound thought, he was yet paralyzed by the listless indolence truly Southern.

John Stringfellow, Speaker of the House of Kansas

John Stringfellow, Speaker of the House of Kansas

Not the most sterling endorsement, admittedly, but Phillips thought that Parrott’s Ohio Democracy ties might help him with Shannon. No such luck:

Mr. Parrot, a free-state man, who had been an associate Democrat with Governor Shannon in this, tried to speak but was not permitted to do so. Shannon, as president of the convention, refused to notice him, and Stringfellow told him that “the convention did not want to hear a free-state man.”

You can’t say Marcus Parrott didn’t try. He had at least the potential connections to get a word in and if the Law and Order party really wanted to collect a few antislavery men to the banner, they had one right there. But they ultimately had little to offer and little interest in such a recruit. In light of this, the convention looks much more like the official marriage of the territorial government under Wilson Shannon with the proslavery party that he had consistently, if informally, linked himself to since he first came to Kansas.