The Fuss and William Phillips, Part Seven

William Phillips

William Phillips

Parts 123, 4, 5, 6

On the seventeenth of May, 1855, William Phillips finally got his lynching after weeks of waiting. It involved real tar and real feathers, despite his earlier suggestion that they use molasses. He probably could have waited longer, decades even, but the mob would not. Phillips had not left Leavenworth as ordered, after all. Furthermore, they had an election coming up on the twenty-first. They had Phillips to blame for that so they might as well use him to set an example for others.

Matthew France and Adam Fisher both had Phillips example in mind when they went to serve as judges of the special election. Avoiding it would have required fairly heroic measures considering only a few days had gone by. Both reference it in their testimony. If they did not go along with J.M. Lyle, their fellow judge and a member of the lynch mob, things could go very badly for them. France would take the risk, but Fisher demurred.

But one could draw a different lesson from the proslavery terrorism. It took weeks for the mob to work up to seizing Phillips and working their will. He twice before faced simple notice that he should leave, and once got out of trouble thanks to a shortage of tar and feathers and a promise that he would go eventually. When the mob did strike, they had to carry him over to Missouri to do their work and a marshal in Leavenworth tried to get together a rescue party to come save him.

McNamara reports that after his lynching

Phillips returned to Leavenworth, but the editorial corps dare not go back for some days, the indignation at Leavenworth was so great against them.

The Mayor of the city of Weston called a meeting to consider the steps, if any were to be taken, with reference to the disgraceful proceeding. The Mayor declared that he would resign, if such riotous conduct was approved by the citizens generally. A large meeting was held, and a most exciting debate took place, but the proceedings were finally disapproved of by the majority of the people.

Even in the town where the lynching finally happened, plenty of discontent apparently existed. The same area had refused to chase out Frederick Starr not that long ago. One could favor slavery, even strongly favor it, and not approve of lynching whites. Phillips himself had lived under threat for weeks without threat turning to reality. France doesn’t tell us that he took that risk by calculating from Phillips’ example, but he did have those facts before him.

Samuel Lecompte

Samuel Lecompte

The official reaction in Leavenworth leaned heavily toward approval. George F. Warren

saw Phillips the next morning. He had just finished getting tar off him and was running bullets. One side of his head was shaved. These men were never punished for this offence. They were at one time brought before Judge Lecompte and bound over to keep the peace. He said it was his duty to remove the clerk and prevent the lawyers from practicing at the bar, but he would not do it for that time. To my knowledge they were never indicted or tried. Most of them are still living in the Territory and holding office.

One can imagine Lecompte, chief justice of the territorial supreme court and speaker at one of the anti-Phillips meetings, wagging his finger at the the mob and telling them that next time he would have to pull the wagon over and come back there. They would then act properly chastised and take him out for drinks later on. A. Payne practically bragged about having impunity on the matter:

To my knowledge, no one has been arrested, tried, or examined for the mobbing of Phillips […] These acts were done by persons well known, and no effort was made to conceal the persons or the acts.

Secrecy  would have defeated their purpose. If one did not toe the proslavery line in Leavenworth, one now had named protagonists who would come and punish as they liked. No law would save you. Making a stand meant taking a serious risk, whatever McNamara told his readers about other people objecting to vigilante terrorism. Lynching would abuse, terrify, and possibly kill the victim but lynch mobs had the larger goal. Through the fear of violence they would control those would who not otherwise comply, in far greater numbers than they could ever lynch.


The Fuss and William Phillips, Part Six

William Phillips

William Phillips

Parts 123, 4, 5

The Leavenworth proslavery men took William Phillips over to Weston, Missouri. There they tarred and feathered him, shaved half his head, rode him around on a rail, and then staged a mock auction where a black man sold him for a quarter of a cent. He earned their immediate opprobrium back at the end of April for an imagined role in the shooting of Malcolm Clark by Cole McRea, though that concern clearly fell by the wayside quickly. The more serious threat, in the eyes of Leavenworth’s proslavery party, came from simply having in their midst a man they fancied an abolitionist. Already he had caused Andrew Reeder to set aside the election that Missourians stole for the proslavery party fair and square. What would he do next?

But John McNamara’s In Perils by Mine Own Countrymen suggests a further complication. He reports that The Platte Argus, the paper of David Rice Atchison and the Platte County Self-Defense Association, expressed considerable displeasure that after their men stole the election

they found a Yankee Lawyer bold enough to run up and spike their gun! The charge of the light brigade at Balaklava was child’s play compared to this! Everything was to be done over again.

Artillery crews had the responsibility to spike field pieces they couldn’t save to deny their use to the enemy. A cannon will fire for whoever loads and shoots it, and in the nineteenth century most artillery saw use as direct fire against the enemy. Consider that artillery batteries would form part of the line, or sit closely adjacent to it, and you can see the urgency of ensuring they could not quickly or easily convert cannons to their own use. This usually involved a literal spike shoved into the breech. I haven’t examined any spiked artillery myself, but I had a teacher who did and declared that a hundred and forty years after, the spike would still not budge.

The Missourians did, of course, did do it all over again in Leavenworth come the special election. They did not engage in their repeat performance happily and without protest, though:

“The Platte Argus” generated, and shot its lightning, and rolled its thunder weekly against the cowards of Leavenworth City. When its battery would be too highly charged with electricity to hold a week, it was obliged to let off in “extras” against the devoted of Leavenworth! “The Argus” “doubted whether there was a true friend of ‘the goose’ in Leavenworth.” “If there are any of the faithful there, why is the traitor Phillips permitted to live!” It continually harped against “the Leavenworth Herald.” “The ‘Herald’ must not call itself the advocate of ‘the goose’ while that traitor Phillips lived in the same town in which it was published.

The “goose” meant slavery, of course. Asking if one stood “all right” by it served as a password during election stealing, as did “all right on the hemp.” Nichole Etcheson explains the reference in Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era:

To Missourians, Kansas-Nebraska was a “gift,” a special treat like a “Christmas goose.” Missourians preserved that sense of delighted receipt of an unexpected present in the term they used for the Kansas issue, “the Goose Question.”

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

The Herald, paper of the editors who signed on to the resolutions against Phillips, published apologies and insisted that it had no control over whether William Phillips lived in Kansas or not. The Argus wouldn’t accept such excuses:

Come, “Mr. Herald,” stir your stumps, the Diplomats of the Army of Occupation in Kansas, “The Weston Regency,” the “Self-Defensives” are after you with a long pole! Give an account of your stewardship.

I don’t have access to the Argus archives to check, but these sound more like genuine quotes or close paraphrases than the dialog that McNamara imagines elsewhere. He credits this with inspiring the Herald’s editors to stage Phillips’ lynching. It might have. In some districts, Kansas’ proslavery men agreed to set aside their own choices and vote for men that the Missourians nominated for public office. They may very well have feared for their own safety, since failure to deliver something might easily come to look like cooperation with the hated abolitionists.

But I think McNamara oversells this, and not just because his account invites some skepticism in general. The Missouri papers could not predict the murder of Malcolm Clark. That did not constitute all of the grievance against Phillips, or even the most important part, but it did prompt the proslavery Kansans to their first direct action against him. It reads to me more as an additional factor among the others. The Herald editors did not lynch Phillips and may not have driven the movement to do so at all. But if the lynching got the Argus and its mob across the river off their backs then so much the better for them. It paid off; McNamara reports that after Phillips received his tar and feathers the Argus endorsed the Herald as sound on the goose.

The Fuss and the Industrial Luminary, Part Seven

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Magers’ paper.

The Platte County Self-Defense Association’s mob of two hundred sent George Park’s printing press to the bottom of the Missouri River, thus silencing the Parkville Industrial Luminary’s non-agitation on slavery and criticism of the proslavery border ruffians’ intervention in Kansas. As a nice bonus for David Rice Atchison, the destruction also revenged him on Park for publishing remarks that Bourbon Dave made in his cups. The incident sheds light on the fact that the filibusters feared for Missouri’s slavery in more than an abstract sense. As B.F. Stringfellow set down, they feared they may have already lost Missouri to slavery. Certainly their failure to evict Frederick Starr for his suspected abolitionism earlier on gave them reason to wonder. An enslaved Kansas would reverse their nightmare of an abolitionist safe haven, instead giving Kansas-based border hooligans a base to police proslavery orthodoxy on the Missouri frontier.

The story could end with the Industrial Luminary’s press rusting in the river. But Park’s reaction sheds more light on the complicated nature of slavery politics in the Missouri hinterland. He circulated a letter in response to the destruction of his press, pronouncing himself

filled with the deepest concern for the events that have transpired and the passions that bear sway-premeditated as they have been, by a large and powerful secret organization.

But at the same time:

I am happy to know that the people of Parkville and vicinity took no part in it

Men from Platte County did, but not from Parkville and environs. The mob surely didn’t let Park or any associates run a census of its members, but one imagines that small town residents in a frontier area knew one another well enough by sight to spot any familiar faces. That said, Park knew the limits of his town and his own conscience. He may favor a free soil Kansas on economic grounds, but

the charge of abolitionism is false; I have never harbored such a thought, nor meditated an action, detrimental to the honor, the interests, or institutions of Missouri; but have labored unceasingly to promote her prosperity. It is true I have not believed the honor and interests of Missouri to be in that course of policy marked out by some politicians-duty has compelled me to cross their path, which has brought on my devoted head the bitterest persecution.

That stand brought a mob of Atchisonians down on Park, but not his close neighbors. Would they permit no dissent at all? Park declared his love for both sections, his desire for a peaceful Union, and reminded readers of his service in the Texas Revolution. He dared the mob to come, insisting he would not leave his home. He’d rather be consigned to the waters with his press, but even his death would not destroy freedom of the press. But

If there is no security in the land of Washington-if an American home affords no protection-if the time has arrived when this union must be dissolved, and all its kindred ties and mighty interests broken and destroyed, and drenched with fraternal blood, then let me be buried beneath the turbid waters of the Missouri, rather than live to see such a scene. God save our country!

Park’s brave words did not stop him from leaving town in the end. Magers’ paper references a circular letter dated November 8, 1855. Therein the people of Parkville protested his eviction and said they needed him back. They could decide for themselves who did and did not belong among them, even if they disclaimed abolition and free soil in the doing. Park did return, and got $2,500 in damages out of the mob, but later found himself in Illinois and did not return to Missouri until after the war.

We can take from this that the people of Parkville tolerated George Park just fine and resented the Self-Defense Association’s meddling in their affairs. His free soil beliefs might make that tolerance less than pleasant on occasion, or they may have distanced themselves from it in the name of not bringing a mob down on their heads, but they felt confident enough to take a stand in his favor. In their forebearance, they lived up to the Self-Defensives’ nightmare: Missourians who would not tolerate proslavery vigilantes dictating to them the range of permissible opinion.

The Fuss and the Industrial Luminary, Part Six

The Alton mob attacking Lovejoy's warehouse.

The Alton mob attacking Elijah Lovejoy’s warehouse.

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Magers’ paper.

The fact that George Park criticized the actions of the Platte County Self-Defense Association and other border ruffian bands who crossed into Kansas to control its elections might have in itself earned him a visit from the mob and a printing press delivered with care to the bottom of the Missouri River. Furthermore, while Park’s surname and founding of the town put the Park in Parkville, he did have the poor fortune to hail originally from Vermont in an area where most men, per Magers, treasured Virginian, Kentuckian, and Tennessean heritage instead. That he had gone off to fight for Texas’ independence, where he escaped a firing squad, might not enter into it. Nor his long and successful residence in the town that bore his name. His decision to channel Thomas Hart Benton and curse abolitionists and nullifiers alike, in the heart of Atchison Country, could not have done him any favors. But Magers suggests another factor in bringing the Self-Defense Association to the Industrial Luminary‘s office that Saturday morning. He draws on a letter sent by Frederick Starr to the New York Tribune and published on June 4, 1855. I didn’t find a letter bearing Starr’s name, but I think Magers means this. It begins by setting the scene:

On a warm day last Summer a large crowd had assembled at the town site of Atchison in Kansas to attend a sale of lots. “Dave” himself was there, and as there was much whisky and many friends, he got “glorious” a little earlier in the day than usual. So with much spitting on his shirt and making himself generally more nasty than common, the Vice-President delivered himself something after this wise:

“Gentlemen, you make a d[amne]d fuss about Douglas-Douglas-but Douglas don’t deserve the credit for this Nebraska bill. I told Douglas to introduce it-I originated it-I got Pierce committed to it, and all the glory belongs to me. All the South went for it-all to a man but Bell and Houston-and who are they? Mere nobodies-no influence-nobody cares for them.”

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

A friend of Bourbon Dave’s heard the remarks and came back to Parkville with them. George Park’s partner in the newspaper, Patterson, took the words down and published them in the next issue. The Tribune’s correspondent remarked that Atchison’s friends, though not the man himself, had sobered up by this point. His paper, The Platte Argus, published a denial but the Parkville witness shot back that he heard what he heard and any man who said otherwise lied.

It might have all ended there, but John Bell had a nephew in St. Louis who read the account and did not care for Atchison calling his uncle a friendless nobody. Said nephew wrote Atchison. Did he say it?

The tone of the letter was strongly suggestive of “the usual satisfaction.” Dave evidently thought his three hundred pounds of flesh too good a mark for a pistol-ball, and he accordingly replied to the nephew that he had the most distinguished consideration for his uncle and never said such a word about him-if he had said anything that the lying scoundrels had tortured into what they had published, he begged that it might be passed by as he was “in liquor at the time.” And thus the Vice-President escaped the vexation of personal responsibility for his language. Drunkenness is not unusually regarded as a valid plea for a lawyer to make in behalf of a client, but it seems very good for a Vice-President.

To hear the correspondent tell it, Atchison got the proper number of cold shoulders from the affair. That would surely keep it fresh in his mind. If he wrote anything like the letter to Bell’s nephew it must have galled him. The author of his troubles? Surely not Bourbon Dave or his bottle, but rather George Park’s paper. Magers writes that Atchison kept up a strong grudge against the Industrial Luminary. When Park criticized Atchison’s border ruffians, he finally had a casus belli to let him take his revenge and, conveniently, police proslavery orthodoxy at the same time.

The Fuss and the Industrial Luminary, Part Five

The Alton mob attacking Lovejoy's warehouse.

The Alton mob attacking Elijah Lovejoy’s warehouse.

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4. Magers’ paper.

What did George Park do, in the eyes of the Platte County Self-Defense Association, to earn the destruction of his printing press and the threatening of his life if he remained in Missouri or dared move to Kansas? The Herald of Freedom cited an article that Park published in the Industrial Luminary, happily reprinting the it. This took a bit of cheek, especially given what had already happened in Kansas proved that proslavery Missourians would not stay on their own side of the line and could very well bring violence when they came. The Herald’s press could go in the drink just as the Industrial Luminary’s had, possibly with the editors tied to it. Magers at one point says that the mob planned to do that with George Park, but he never provides any evidence on that front.

The Herald had some things to say to any Missourians thinking of such mayhem, which it used to preface its reprinting of Park’s offensive article:

It was said that destruction of the LUMINARY OFFICE was designed as an example to others, and it is very knowingly hinted that ours will meet a similar fate. Very well, we have concluded to give any number of persons who wish to perpetrate such an act of folly a free pass to “kingdom come,” and we pledge them every assistance in our power. Probably many of them never took an upward journey, and would like to try the experiment of sailing on a blaze of glory, such as a couple of kegs of gunpowder, exploded at an opportune occasion, would furnish. We have not a member in our family, ourself included, who would not deem a transit into the future life with, companions deu voyage of a goodly number of printing press destroyers as a favor rarely to be met with.

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Their “eyes would see the glory of the coming of the Lord,” all right. To make it clear to any aspirant proslavery martyrs that they would die in vain, the editors also told the reader that they had duplicate subscription books and arrangements with others to continue publication should circumstances ever require them to ride their gunpowder straight into Heaven.

Park’s own piece began with a fairly straightforward account of the theft of the legislative elections at the end of March. He put on Reeder, who he supposed would soon go off to Washington to get the opinion of the Pierce administration, the decision to set aside the election and so “Abolitionize” the territory “or countenance such action which has for its ulterior object a dissolution of the Union.” But what else could Reeder do?

Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton

We have occupied a conservative and national ground, promptly opposing the measures and men who have brought this crisis. Will the President meet it? Surely he cannot longer follow counsels from among Abolitionists and Nullifiers? The country demands that, sound, firm, energetic men have the direction of public affairs-who will impress and enforce justice and law. There is virtually no law in Kansas, and no security for life and property, save in the sense of honor and justice cherished by every true pioneer. This may save the country from bloodshed; but the Government is held up to ridicule and contempt, and its authority disregarded-Judges of elections have been displaced, and others appointed-the polls have in some instances been guarded with pistols and bowie-knives-and some of those elected are going to the governor swearing that if he does not give a certificate of election immediately, they will “cut his throat from ear to ear!” Is the flag or our country to be no longer a protection?-or are individuals, or companies of men to declare WE WILL! and it MUST be so, without regard to law? Is this what the authors of the Nebraska-Kansas bill meant by Squatter Sovereignty?

This challenged the Self-Defensives and their allies directly. More keenly, Park attacked them on decisively Bentonian line. Thomas Hart Benton always said that abolitionists and nullifiers alike made problems for the Union. The best way to handle slavery involved no agitation on it at all, either for or against. For that sin, Atchison eventually conspired to unseat him. Here George Park may well have quoted the former senator, right in the heart of Atchison country.

The Fuss and the Industrial Luminary, Part Four


The Alton mob attacking Lovejoy's warehouse.

The Alton mob attacking Lovejoy’s warehouse.

Parts 1, 2, 3. Magers’ paper.

The mob pitched George Park’s printing press into the Missouri River. They wanted to tar and feather Park’s partner, W.J. Patterson, but without Park there to complete the set, the Platte County Self-Defense Association took a pass on that. At least the Herald of Freedom tells it that way. Roy Magers adds that Park went off to Kansas after getting advance word from a friendly Self-Defensive. He says this, however, in the same paragraph where he also seems to relate something more like a local legend. Given he provides only one footnote, and that an informational one rather than a source citation, one can’t tell just where the history end and stories take over. The Herald’s accounts speculate that Park got word of the party in advance, but don’t have the confidence in the notion that Magers did. A letter in the May 5 edition of the Herald suggests that the mob did not take great pains to hide themselves and Park may thus have required any inside information.

Magers also relates this probable legend:

It is said that he [Park] watched the proceedings from a hiding place just across the river from the scene of the raid.

Magers does introduce an additional consideration to Patterson’s treatment. The Herald focused on his wife’s involvement. Its May 5, 1855 issue has a letter from a frustrated mob member, or someone sympathetic to them, about how she kept clinging to him and they voted by a small majority that they just couldn’t tar and feather a woman. Magers adds to this that Patterson claimed Canadian citizenship and that his mistreatment would cause an international incident. It might have. More immediately, I’ve learned from David Brion Davis’ Inhuman Bondage that the proslavery movement in the United States convinced itself from the 1830s on that the British Empire had ruined the profits of its own colonies with emancipation and so it had a special need to destroy competition, which its statesmen pursued under the guise of advocating abolition.  To molest Patterson would give Britain an excuse to meddle further in American affairs, something many proslavery men already thought it did regularly, if covertly, though American antislavery groups. Whatever reason they had for sparing him, Patterson felt safe enough in Parkville that in the same May 5 Herald of Freedom he ran an ad offering his services as a real state broker for lands around the town. Park may have left Missouri, but his partner stuck around.

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison

This brings us to the question of why the Platte County Self-Defense Association took action against the Industrial Luminary, Park, and Patterson. Their resolutions make it clear that they consider it an abolitionist paper, as did the letter that the member of the mob sent along. Therein, the author damned the Industrial Luminary as

a Free Soil sheet, and has been aiding and abetting the eastern Abolition societies in their abortive attempt to abolitionize Kansas for the past year.

One could expect nothing less. But Park published out of the Missouri hinterland. One does not expect him to channel William Lloyd Garrison and print blistering invective against slavery, slaveholders, and the sins with which they taint the nation. He may have hailed from Vermont, but Park lived in Parkville for as long as Missouri had the territory. He put the Park into its name. He went off from there to fight in the Texas Revolution, but came right back. George Park might not have perfectly imbibed proslavery orthodoxy, but neither did he bring with him the stigma of a strange outsider nor a fire-breathing abolitionist.

However, this runs long and I’ve often transgressed my usual limit lately. Further exploration of this tomorrow.

The Fuss and the Industrial Luminary, Part Three

The Alton mob attacking Lovejoy's warehouse.

The Alton mob attacking Elijah Lovejoy’s warehouse.

Parts One and Two.

Gentle Readers, I discovered a source today that allows me to go into more depth on the matter of the Parkville Industrial Luminary: a copy of Roy V. Magers’ paper The Raid on the Parkville Industrial Luminary in the October 1935 issue of the Missouri Historical Review. I rarely get access to this kind of material, let alone in a timely matter. I hope that you’ll forgive a bit of repetition in the interest of adding more details.

Magers sets the scene:

On the evening of Friday, April 13, 1855, the people of Parkville were excited by the appearance of the hill north of town a company of armed and mounted men. Those who went to investigate came back to report that the horsemen were members of the Platte County Self-defensive Association, a strong pro-slavery organization whose reason for existence was to discourage and destroy, by violence if necessary, any agency or influence that seemed to be an expression of the spirit of Abolitionism. When morning came, the party proceeded to Parkville, and without delay carried into execution the purpose for which they had come.

I had the impression from past reading that the men who destroyed the press hailed from Parkville itself. Their status as local outsiders adds an interesting dimension to things. Magers doesn’t make it clear if the whole mob came from outside of Parkville or not, but clearly at least some of the two hundred did. They may not have come from far given that Platte County include Parkville, but these very fine distinctions can matter in small towns even today. I’ve seen it myself.

The mob came into Park’s building, a former hotel, and “seized the printing press, type and other equipment and brought them into the street.” He then read out the Self-Defense Association’s eight resolutions against Park, calling the paper “a nuisance which has been endured too long” and Park and Patterson “traitors to the state and county in which they live”. This brought them to the ultimatum:

That we shall meet here again, on this day three weeks, and if we find G.S. Park and W.J. Patterson in this town then, or at subsequent time, we will throw them into the Missouri River, and if they go to Kansas to reside, we pledge our honor as men to follow and hang them wherever we can take them.

The resolutions then turned to acknowledging “our Parkville friends,” who had apparently informed them of other free soil men in the area to “attend to”. Furthermore, since they had the crowd there:

we will suffer no person belonging to the Northern Methodist Church to preach in Platte County after this date, under penalty of tar and feathers for the first offense and a hemp robe for the second.

Magers’ footnote, regrettably the only one, tells us that the Northern Methodists had recently adopted an abolitionist platform that endeared them similarly to most locales along the border.

The remainder of the resolutions called on other counties throughout Missouri to engage in their own purges in the interests of “our peace, our property and safety”. One doesn’t go far in reading this sort of thing without some reference, however indirect, to the feared slave revolt. The Self-Defensives concluded by asking that the proslavery press in Kansas and Missouri reprint their resolutions.

With the speech finished, the mob went about its work:

A procession was formed, bearing at its head a banner with the words “Boston Aid.” It moved across the bridge and through the town to the foot of Main Street, where the press and type were dumped into the waves of the Big Muddy […] One can imagine that there was a good deal of whooping and yelling, horse-play and laughter, furnishing rare entertainment for the townspeople who watched the performance.

Everybody had a great time, except Park, Patterson, and those with less conspicuous antislavery ideas who now had to wonder if someone had informed on them and so if they could expect a visit. Not everybody would have the quick wits or sheer courage of Frederick Starr, and Starr  himself left Missouri within a week of the Industrial Luminary going from the soil of Missouri into the waters of the Missouri.

The Sixteenth District, Part Three

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

Parts 1 and 2

H. Miles Moore talked to other Kansans and learned how they felt about he and his Missourian comrades hijacking the election:

I had a conversation with several free State men who resided in Leavenworth city and its vicinity, in which they stated that they were disgusted with the manner in which the election was being conducted, and that the free State men would not vote, but would contest the election.

But Moore

tried to persuade them to vote, and their reply was that the people of Missouri were controlling the election, and they would not take part in it.

Moore’s own opinions of the Missourian effort evolved, as mentioned previously. I don’t know that he came around to agree with his fellow Kansans that they should have sat out the election, but he had moved away from his past justification of the electoral theft.

That change of heart had consequences for Moore. As a man of prominence, a member of Leavenworth’s town association, his activities drew the eye far more than those of some farmer out in the wilderness. Even if he did not take a leading role in antislavery efforts in the territory, Moore’s position painted a target on his back:

In consequence of my determination at this time to act thereafter with the free State party I became obnoxious to the pro-slavery men, both in Missouri and in the Territory. My person and property has been frequently threatened with violence and destruction by them for six months or more past.

John Sherman

John Sherman

Moore did not content himself with a position as a prominent local citizen, though. Making himself obnoxious to the proslavery party included taking up a position in the illegal free state government formed in response to and rejection of the legal, but fraudulently elected, territorial government. I don’t want to leap too far ahead of the narrative, but Moore’s testimony does so and includes an incident that makes more sense to include here than to wait on:

On Wednesday, May 28, 1856, I was arrested while standing at my office door, about noon, by Major Warren D. Wilkes, who had a posse with him of some twenty or twenty-five men, armed with United States muskets and bayonets. At the time of the arrest, I was conversing with Marcus J. Parrot and Hon. John Sherman, a member of the Kansas investigating committee of the House of Representatives. This posse marched down the street in a column in platoons of four, and when they reached my office they faced about and formed a line, with shouldered muskets. A man by the name of Eli Moore, who has been, and I think is now, deputy sheriff of this county, approached with Major Wilkes, and pointed out to him Mr. Parrot and myself. Major Wilkes said to us, “Gentlemen, I have to arrest you temporarily.” Mr. Parrot said to Mr. Sherman, “What shall we do?” Mr. Sherman said, “I can do nothing; I am powerless in this matter.”

This puts the lack of testimony from the Eleventh District in some context.

The freshman congressman John Sherman with whom Moore spoke sat on the Howard Committee. He went on to serve Ohio as a senator and later on authored the Sherman Antitrust Act. He also had a brother by the name of William who quite overshadows him in the historical memory.

The Sixteenth District, Part Two

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

A. Macauley got inside the Platte County Self-Defense Association’s meeting and could report on what they said firsthand. H. Miles Moore didn’t have quite that level of access, but he got the information all the same. He also witnessed and participated in their public activities in Kansas. He confesses:

I had believed that the Missourians had had some justification for endeavoring to come and control the territorial legislation, in order to afford more security to their slave property in Missouri, and for that reason I had come with them

But just like Joseph Potter, Moore changed his mind about these things. Like Potter, he came to find the spectacle of Missourians overruling actual Kansans distasteful. He participated with them, even though he settled in Kansas way back in September, 1854, and went all the way with them. He says they were right to do as they did and meddle with the territorial legislature, but eventually they demanded too much. In Moore’s case, they flooded over the border to decide an election for so trivial a matter as locating a county seat:

their course with regard to the mere local election for county seat was so high-handed an outrage upon the rights of the people of the Territory, of whom I had then become one, that I came to the resolution that I would no longer act with a party so regardless of the rights of others that they would interfere in a matter in which they could have no personal or political interest. I determined to act with the free State party so long as they were actuated by what I considered proper motives, though I would have continued to act with the pro-slavery party had they not acted as they did.

Once Moore went over to the free soil side, he went as thoroughly as most. He spends no time in his testimony denouncing slavery, but reported freely on the level of organization taking place in Missouri:

For seven weeks previous to the election in the Territory, on the 30th of March, 1855, meetings of the Platte county self-defensive association were held in Platte County. I also learned that like meetings were being held in all the border counties of Missouri, to make arrangements to come over to the Territory to attend the election for members of the legislature and vote. I know that secret meetings of what was called the Blue Lodge were held in the Masonic Lodge room in Weston. I saw persons going up, and I learned from members of the association that their objects and plans were to come over to the Territory and vote on the 30th of March, 1855. I did not myself belong to that association. From what I have heard said, I have good reason to believe that the nominations for the pro-slavery party for members of the legislature were decided upon at these secret meetings at Weston and Platte City, so far as the fifteenth and sixteenth districts were concerned. For two or three days previous to the election large companies formed through the City of Weston, en route for the Territory

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

David Rice Atchison (D-MO)

It would tickle my fancy a bit, in a seven degrees of proslavery ideology way, if Moore got his inside information from A. Macauley. But he did not name his sources and could have heard from anybody. He did, however, spot an older acquaintance of ours:

I saw a company under David R. Atchison as they passed through Weston, and some of them told me they were going to Nemaha or the eighteenth district.

I expect to have more to report on those exploits when I reach the district itself. But back on the organization front:

I also learned that they were from counties of Missouri on the north side of the Missouri river, were to go to the district on the north side of the Kaw river, and those on the north side went to the north side.

They even had assignments. Every time I read something like this in the testimony I regret more strongly my previous skepticism about the border ruffians having a united organization. But just in case they came up short, the Missourians had one more trick up their sleeve to get men into Kansas in a hurry:

The steamboat New Lucy was lying at the levee at Weston, and we chartered her to bring down from eighty to one hundred for $2.50, round trip, meals included. I think each man paid his own fare on the boat, as this was considered rather a luxurious way of travelling here.

Don’t just steal the election, steal it from the comfort of a riverboat. How else would one make the next telegraphing of Lifestyles of the Rich and Proslavery?

And Moore repeats what we heard elsewhere about financing all of this, except for the individual fares on the New Lucy:

As regards the other companies, money was raised to pay their expenses, or a portion of them, to buy their provisions and outfit, by voluntary contributions from those who could not come, but were friendly to the cause.

They had this operation planned and organized like professionals.

The Sixteenth District, Part One

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Gentle Readers, my copies of Nicole Etcheson’s Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era and Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke’s Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri: The Long Civil War on the Border arrived today. I interrupted my normal writing routine to read Etcheson’s chapter on the territorial election. I haven’t read anything from Earle and Burke’s book save the table of contents yet, but tore through Etcheson’s chapter. There I found many familiar incidents from the Howard Report, but also several more engagingly written, revealing moments that I will share in due course. She didn’t, at least in that chapter, shed any light on the eleventh district.

But we do have two more districts to look at. Andrew Reeder divided Kansas into eighteen, but the Howard Committee judged the election in the Seventeenth “fairly conducted, and not contested at all.” That leaves us with the Sixteenth and Eighteenth.

The findings for the Sixteenth District begin with a citation of the organization the border ruffians enjoyed back in Missouri. The committee cited H. Miles Moore, A. Macauley (rendered McAuley in the notes), and L. Kerr. No testimony from an L. Kerr appears in the listing of testimony for the district. An A. Kyle appears, but his testimony runs only a few paragraphs and doesn’t comment on organization at all. I don’t know who the clerks meant, but if anyone has an idea I’d love to hear it.

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

A. Macauley painted himself as something of a good Samaritan. He told the Howard Committee that he heard about Andrew Reeder’s census ahead of time and knew neighbors who had repaired to Missouri for a while and would miss it. Wanting everyone counted, he

notified persons who I thought ought to have been taken in the census that they had better be on their claims, so as not to be overlooked by the assessors. This notice was without regard for party.

He went off to Missouri to give out notice personally. So far as that goes, one can admire Macauley’s civic spirit. But he made a separate trip that probably seemed just as civic-minded to him, even if we might disagree:

I was in Missouri at another time, before the election of the 30th of March, and at Platte City during the sitting of the circuit court. On that occasion there was a meeting of citizens, and several speeches were delivered; among the rest, I was called, and gave them the best turn I could.

The object and purpose of that meeting was to discuss the affairs of Kansas. The subject discussed in that meeting bore upon the subject of the coming election and the affairs of Kansas generally. I did make a list of what I considered to be legal voters in this district, and took a good deal of pains with it, prior to the election of the 30th of March. I included in this list none but those I considered settlers on the soil. It was for the purpose of giving information to the pro-slavery party and to satisfy my mind.

Macauley even had the list on hand that day, while giving his testimony. The committee asked if they could have it, or make a copy. Macauley asked for time to think about it, but ultimately yielded it up.

Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow

Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow

The Platte City Macauley visited rested, and still rests, in Platte County, home to the eponymous Self-Defense Association. He doesn’t come out and say that he met with them by name, but it sounds like he did. If he didn’t, then he met with and spoke to some other group with similar politics. His civic duty ran both ways. He wanted everyone counted in the census who deserved it, but also

At the meeting of Platte City subjects were discussed of the affairs of Kansas and opposition to the Emigrant Aid Society. It was generally the belief, as expressed in the speeches, that the Emigrant Aid Society was importing paupers into Kansas to control elections in an unjustifiable and extraordinary manner, and to make Kansas a free State. The majority of the speakers, and I think myself among others, took the ground that the object of the Aid Society was to make a thrust at the institutions of Missouri. This was the pro-slavery sentiment of the people at the meeting. They expressed themselves that, if Kansas was made a free State, it would be through these societies, and, if they succeeded, they might as well give up every nigger they had in the State.

He might have quoted Negro-Slavery, No Evil chapter and verse, but then when a group to which one belongs produces a manifesto, it only stands to reason that the members will echo it. They tasked B.F. Stringfellow with writing it and voted approval for the work thereafter.