The Crime Against Kansas, Prologue

Charles Sumner (R-MA)

Charles Sumner saw the way out of his political difficulties in the direction his conscience pointed and where he had proven talents: a big antislavery speech. He had previously inveighed against the Fugitive Slave Act, but the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and more than a year of increasing troubles in the nation’s newest territory gave him good cause to change subjects. Letters full of proslavery horrors filled his correspondence. Of course the Democrats in the Senate got the other side of the story and in an era before live news feeds and swift long distance travel, no one could much tell beyond the Kansas-Missouri border which side lied more often. Neither the Herald of Freedom nor the Squatter Sovereign would shy away from inventing suitable news or slanting real stories to serve the cause.

Kansas debates opened up with Stephen Douglas making an impassioned attack on the free state movement. They only made trouble for the law-abiding citizens of the territory, who ought to have their legal government recognized at once. Never a fan of Douglas, Sumner found his aggressive tone nearly intolerable. William Seward answered him with a proposal that the Topeka government be admitted to the Union at once. Things went downhill from there, but more and more northerners lined up against Douglas and his allies as the debate went on.

Sumner stayed out of it, instead sitting down for one of his research sessions. He took a copy of Don Quixote out of the Library of Congress to make sure he got his insults right and busied himself with histories of Georgia and the Carolinas to check his facts. He wrote more than a hundred pages, gilded with quotations from Antiquity, the British parliament, and past American debates. Then Sumner memorized the whole thing, so he wouldn’t have to check his notes as he spoke. He did a dry run with Seward and then deemed himself ready.

At one in the afternoon on May 19, as Marshal Donaldson’s proslavery army gathered at Lecompton and dreamed of razing Lawrence for good, Charles Sumner gained the floor in the United States Senate. He would hold it (PDF) for three hours:

Mr. President: You are now called to redress a great transgression. Seldom in the history of nations has such a question been presented. Tariffs, army bills, navy bills, land bills, are important, and justly occupy your care; but these all belong to the course of ordinary legislation. As means and instruments only, they are necessarily subordinate to the conservation of government itself. Grant them or deny them, in greater or less degree, and you will inflict no shock. The machinery of government will continue to move. The State will not cease to exist. Far otherwise is it with the eminent question now before you, involving, as it does, liberty in a broad territory, and also involving the peace of the whole country with our good name in history for evermore.

“With a borrowed overcoat and cap” The Hunt for Andrew Reeder, Part Five

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4

On Thursday, May 8, 1856, Andrew Reeder met with some friends in Lawrence. He had planned to accept his arrest while Charles Robinson bolted Kansas to raise money and arms for the free state government’s defense. Kansas’ first governor changed his mind on learning that if he went to Lecompton, he might not make it out alive. He wrote to Governor Shannon and Judge Lecompte asking that they guarantee his safety in exchange for cooperation.

Reeder’s concern for his life must have grown still further when a new rumor came in

that the enemy were ordered to muster at Lecompton, and had scouts out over the country, and that men were prepared to come from Kickapoo and Atchison, most of them Missourians, of course.

The Missourians at arms would have stronger resolve than the small posse that had tried to take Reeder before. Lawrence could outnumber a dozen or so men without trouble, but not thousands as might come over the border again. Particularly as Reeder learned that Lawrence had a mere “ten kegs of powder … and only 200 Sharps’ rifles.” Five thousand cartridges on hand meant that those rifles wouldn’t soon go silent, but they still numbered only two hundred, with three cannons to back them.

Friday, May 10, Charles and Sarah Robinson quit Lawrence “openly,” leaving the free state government to Lieutenant Governor Roberts. Reeder got word from Shannon and Lecompte. He found Shannon’s answer “unsatisfactory.” Lecompte wrote only to say he would give no answer. With that news, Reeder decided he had best get out of Lawrence before it fell under siege. He

left in a buggy with Lyman Allen, and with a borrowed overcoat and cap, drove to the ravine and walked down its bed to E.W. Clark’s, where [he] remained secreted all day.

While Reeder hid, the free state militias gathered around Lawrence and posted guards on the road to Lecompton. Three hundred had come by the evening. Friends called on Reeder at Clark’s, including William Howard of the Committee and Lieutenant Governor Roberts. The luminaries visited Reeder in hiding apparently to convince him to get out of Kansas, arguing that his absence would avert battle. G.P. Lowrey offered the use of a skiff and horses to get Reeder to Nebraska, but he decided to go by way of Topeka. Further consultation prompted Reeder to opt for a westerly route. About midnight he went back to Lawrence to make the necessary arrangements. The delegate spent the remainder of the night in a house a mile south of town.


“If he arrested me, he did so at his peril” The Hunt for Andrew Reeder, Part Four

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Parts 1, 2, 3

A Mr. Fain, late of Georgia, had a grand jury subpoena for Andrew Reeder, Kansas’ first governor and present delegate to Congress under the free state government. He took it to Reeder on the evening of May 7, 1856. The delegate decided that he didn’t care for an arrest just then, pointed to irregularities in the warrant, and sent Fain on his way. The next afternoon, he saw Fain in Lawrence. Reeder’s “Georgia friend” came to town with an armed posse. He went upstairs to speak with Mordechai Oliver, the Howard Committee’s lone proslavery member.

He soon came into the room and informed me he had an attachment for me.

The room in question housed the committee’s proceedings. They had gotten to their fourth witness of the day and eighty-seventh overall, Joseph Steward. He had information for them on the elections for the Kansas legislature. Reeder declared, as he had the day before, that he had privilege from arrest thanks to his status as Kansas’ delegate to Congress and asked the committee to protect him. The Howard Committee had that power and Congress had sent them to Kansas with a sergeant-at-arms specifically so they could arrest anybody who tried to interfere with their business and haul the guilty party off to Washington for contempt of Congress proceedings.

But Reeder tells that the committee felt otherwise:

They decided they had no power to interfere, but Howard and Sherman expressed a positive opinion in favor of my privilege from arrest; Oliver differing from them on that point. I then stated how I was privileged, made a full explanation, and declared that I would protect myself, and warned the officer that if he arrested me, he did so at his peril.

That sufficed; Fain took Reeder at his word and departed. He had a posse with him, but may not have wanted to seize Reeder in front of the congressmen. Given how well Sheriff Jones’ arrest attempt had gone for him not that long ago, and Fain’s previously-expressed concern for his safety probably played a major role in his decision. Jones got shot while in the company of United States soldiers and Fain lacked such an exalted bodyguard.

Reeder’s travail did not end there. He and the free state leadership agreed that Reeder should submit to arrest in time, which would put him in Lecompton without bail for at least six months. The delegate got word that if he went, he would be “in danger of nightly assassination and daily insult.” Given the option between fighting the good fight, either in Kansas or Congress, and risking his life “in some miserable dog-hole”, he would rather pass on the latter. That evening he wrote to Governor Shannon and Lecompte promising that if he had their guarantee of safety and ability to return to his work on the committee at the end of his questioning, he would come before the grand jury as required. He did that on the advice of unnamed friends and likewise mulled with them whether he should wait on an answer, ready to fight it out if the posse came, or quit Kansas.

Reeder’s friends came to no consensus for him save that if the US military got involved, as they had on Jones’ behalf, he must submit.

“I was not yet ready to be arrested for treason” The Hunt for Andrew Reeder, Part Three

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Andrew Horatio Reeder

Parts 1, 2

We left Andrew Reeder, Charles Robinson, and probably the antislavery members of the Howard Committee. They had news of indictments handed down against Reeder, Robinson, and most everyone else who held office in the illegal free state government of Kansas territory. They agreed that Reeder should submit to arrest, as his national reputation would make him an ideal rallying point for the free state party’s friends abroad. Robinson should get out of Kansas and set to work raising money, men, and guns. It might come to armed rebellion at last. If it did, the free state men resolved to fight it out and hope for the destruction of the proslavery territorial government. They had to act soon, or Samuel Lecompte’s grand jury would have the entire leadership imprisoned before the fall elections.

Reeder’s diary puts this all as happening on May 7, 1856, a Wednesday. Next, “toward evening” a Georgian named Fain called on Reeder and “very politely” told the delegate that he had a subpoena for him.

I requested him to let me see it, and he handed me a copy. On looking at it I discovered that it was very irregular in form, and, as I was not yet ready to be arrested for treason, I determined not to obey it. I accordingly so informed the officer, giving, as the reasons, my privilege as Delegate in Congress, and the informality of the subpena.

The Congress itself hadn’t decided on whether or not Reeder had any privilege as delegate, but he persuaded Fain not to make an issue of it. Instead the Georgian took his leave and came on Reeder’s grand jury informant, James Legate. Fain asked Legate where he might find Charles Robinson. Legate told him that Robinson had gone off to Topeka. Fain felt sure enough in Tecumseh, but Topeka worried him. He asked if he could go and conduct his business there in safety.

Legate mischievously told him he did not know, that he must run his own risks, which so alarmed the Georgian that he at once turned back to Lecompton. The same evening we went back to Topeka; stayed till after breakfast the next day.

The Howard Committee

The Howard Committee

Reeder doesn’t say it in so many words, and Robinson declines to note his movements in detail, but it sounds like Legate told Fain that Robinson had gone while the governor remained nearby. Reeder’s “we” might or might not include the governor, but he says that Fain “was told” Robinson had gone rather than that the governor actually had.

Possible Delegate Reeder found himself back in Lawrence later on May 8. There he continued his work representing the free state side before the Howard Committee, starting at two in the afternoon. He didn’t shake Fain for long, though. He reports that he

saw my Georgia friend of yesterday come in and go up stairs for a consultation with Major Oliver, and some friends; had a small posse with him, all armed.

A “Startling Assumption” : A Minority of One, Part Three

Felix Kirk Zollicoffer (KN-TN)

Felix Kirk Zollicoffer (KN-TN)

Parts 1, 2

Majority Report: parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Reports with the Kansas petition here.

From his attack on the majority of the Committee on Territories’ argument for Kansas statehood under the free state constitution written at Topeka, on the grounds of population, and casting aspersions on the free state movement as an illegal, insurrectionist force, Felix Zollicoffer proceeded to the issue of the petition’s provenance. Like Stephen Douglas, he doubted that even if the free state movement had a shred of formal legitimacy its members had signed the document that James Lane presented to the Congress. “Several passages,” he wrote “have been suppressed, as it appears, here in Washington.”

Lane admitted to doing editing work on the memorial, claiming that he had authorization from Governor Charles Robinson. But Zollicoffer had what he considered the full version and quoted an offending passage:

By the provisions of the organic act a government was established over the Territory, and officers were appointed by the President to administer said government. This form of government is unknown to the constitution, is extra-constitutional, and is only the creature of necessity awaiting the action of the people, and cannot remain in force contrary to the will of the people loving under it. It may be regarded as a benevolent provision on the part of Congress thus to provide a government of their own; but when it becomes oppressive, or when the people become sufficiently strong to establish a government of their own, in accordance with the constitution of the United States, it is their right to do so, and thereby throw off that extended over them.

Zollicoffer’s emphasis.

I don’t know where he got this version from, but it does match fairly well with free state rhetoric within Kansas and all my sources agree that Lane removed some passages and added others to adjust the memorial’s test for the situation in Congress. Zollicoffer may have even read of Lane’s original turnover, which sounds like a very sloppy affair.

Either way, Zollicoffer would have none of that. He declared that the memorialists at that moment occupied their land “by permission of Congress” in “one of the Territories of the United States“. They then called themselves, without any authorization and in defiance of the actually authorized government, a legislature. He deemed this a “startling assumption.” He has a point. After establishing a wildcat government in opposition to the one that Congress set up, the free state men then had the temerity to go before the same Congress for relief whilst simultaneously declaring that Congress had no power to refuse them.

The Topeka legislature chose to suspend all its acts until admission as a state, but it had still done all that. Its existence alone constituted a rejection of Congressional authority. Nor could they, in asking for statehood and showing up constitution in hand, claim that they deemed themselves something less than a state already.  All of this had precedent, as Galusha Grow noted for the majority, but it still took remarkable cheek. If he lived in our times, Zollicoffer may have found cause here to comment on their ample endowment of gall, or some similar word.

“Only prevented from doing so by force”

George W. Brown

George W. Brown

Readers of the March 15 Herald of Freedom could have a good chuckle at the Missourians’ expense. They intercepted a shipment of a hundred rifles and two cannons on board a steamer at Lexington. Reasoning that they ought to oblige free state smugglers, they would forward those arms to Kansas almost as their buyers intended. Rather than coming to Lawrence, Topeka, or some other free Kansas center, the weapons would come into the hands of Wilson Shannon. If he used them against the new free state government, so much the better. But the free state men had the last laugh, as their smuggler had separated the weapons slides and some other necessary equipment from the rest and sent it ahead separately. Shannon would have a useless arsenal.

George Brown had that story in large part from the Lexington Express, which told its readers that everything went on entirely above board. Nobody uttered any threats. No one suffered violent attack. They caught themselves a free state man, but “no indignity was offered to the miserable disorganizer.” His fellow passengers, though “highly incensed” behaved as civilized people.

Or did they? Brown shared more information with his readers than the Express cared to. On discovery of the arms, nineteenth century Americans did one of their favorite things and formed a committee to investigate. During the proceedings,

A proposition was then made that the guns should be thrown overboard, and a stone tied to the necks of those in attendance, and they be sent after the guns. This proposition prevailed, but was afterwards reconsidered on the recommendation of more liberal persons

The Express had it technically right; nobody did anything to the smuggler. But it seems that they very much wanted to and it strains credulity to imagine that no one told him. If it didn’t come out very quickly in the moment, then the threat must have been passed on when the angry passengers got the smuggler alone. “In a private room” they told him

he must sign certain papers, else he would be passed over to a mob on shore.

More liberal persons might not prevail when our smuggler found himself on dry land. Indeed, it seems more liberal persons didn’t want to stay on shore either. While smuggler and passengers discussed the future of his guns, that mob

was on shore endeavoring to get on board, and was only prevented from doing so by force.

The situation quite clear to him, the free state man signed over the weaponry. That made everything quite civil again; the committee even gave a receipt.

Governor Shannon’s New Army

SJ Jones

Samuel Jones

When the free state legislature chose to defer enactment of any legislation it passed until it secured Kansas’ admission as a state, with the free state men in charge, they did so of a mind that the President of the United States considered them traitors. They might soon face arrest, a fact that could have hardly slipped their minds with the notorious Samuel Jones taking their names down as they swore their oaths of office. They might actually have committed treason. Legal niceties had hardly stopped Missourians from coming to steal their elections and in hopes of razing their towns, but the border ruffians did not operate under the color of law the way that the United States army would if Franklin Pierce gave the proper orders.

Pierce had already done something to that effect. The March 15, 1856 Herald of Freedom reminded its readers how all had hoped that Colonel Sumner would come from Fort Leavenworth to Lawrence’s rescue back in December. Sumner had not come, despite Wilson Shannon’s entreaties. Sumner said at the time that he lacked instructions from Washington and did not feel confident to act on his own authority. Now he had those instructions, which the paper printed news of by way of a letter that Secretary of State William Marcy wrote to Governor Shannon. He attached a copy of Sumner’s orders and Pierce’s law and order proclamation.

William L. Marcy

William L. Marcy

Pierce, Marcy averred, did not think Shannon’s situation so dire as to require the use of federal troops. He should call upon them only as a last resort, but

if it becomes indispensably necessary to do so in order to execute the laws and preserve the peace, you are hereby authorized by the President to make requisition upon the officers commanding the United States military forces at Forts Leavenworth and Riley

Shannon would only use the power in “extraordinary emergency”, Marcy insisted, but he had it. If the immediate establishment of the free state goverment didn’t justify calling out the troops, then some future clash might. Shannon tried desperately to secure Sumner’s aid to save Lawrence and so had established precedent that he would use the military if possible. Once the Cavalry rode, where would they stop?

George Brown put a positive spin on all of this. He insisted that Pierce’s proclamation

is not so villainous a document as the telegraph reports make it, and as for the instructions to Gov. Shannon, they are all we could expect, or even desire. While the Governor abides by the letter of those instructions, it will afford us pleasure to sustain him. Our State organization will be in no way of Gov. Shannon. Until an attempt is made to enforce the laws enacted by that body, they are harmless. If they adopt a code of laws which commend themselves to everybody’s sense of justice, and they are everywhere obeyed, how can Gov. Shannon, or anybody else, find fault?

Brown had a strong interest in painting the free state government as perfectly innocuous, but even in doing so he hedged carefully. If they adopt laws and if those laws comport to everyone’s morals, why would they give cause for objection? And if Shannon followed the letter of Franklin Pierce’s proclamation, rather than its avowedly proslavery spirit, all would work out.

Wilson Shannon

Wilson Shannon

But would Shannon follow the letter of the president’s instructions? When he came to Lawrence’s rescue, Shannon had shown himself not quite the proslavery partisan everyone had feared. Maybe he had gotten right by popular sovereignty when he saw how far things had gone, but Shannon had helped save Lawrence from a private army of hooligans which he had unwittingly mustered himself. When they went to Lawrence, they went to serve warrants that Shannon had seen issued. A public army legally under his control presented a different scenario entirely. Likewise the governor can’t have loved the news of a rival government to his own, headed by men he probably thought had tricked him. His charge to, in Brown’s words,

put down insubordination on the one hand, and prevent invasion on the other

might mean no more Charles Dows, Thomas Barbers, Samuel Collinses, or Reese Browns, but it could also mean calling out the army to break up the government at Topeka. Insubordination, to Shannon, might very well mean wildcat state governments as much as proslavery violence. Even if he struck at both equally, that would leave the Kansas that stolen elections had already wrought. That Kansas had slavery baked deep into its laws.

Governor Robinson and Kansas’ Other Governments

Charles Lawrence Robinson

Charles Lawrence Robinson

Charles Robinson continued his message (PDF) to the free state legislature, leaving the American Indians behind in favor of the problems of white men. The territorial government came in for the usual castigation as a tool of Missourians accountable to them and to distant Washington, but not to actual Kansans. Then he moved on to a less abstracted and philosophical objection to the territory’s legal administration:

The Territorial Government should be withdrawn because it is inoperative. The officers of the law permit all manner of outrages and crime to be perpetrated by the invaders and their friends with impunity, while the citizens proper are naturally law-abiding and order-loving, disposed rather to suffer than do wrong. Several most aggravated murders on record have been committed, but as long as the murders are on the side of the oppressors no notice is taken of them. Not one of the whole number has been brought to justice, and not one will be by the Territorial officers.

If the government will not protect you from murder, why have it? Why respect its edicts when it does not respect your life? What legitimacy could a government made up of your attackers and those who stood by and let them rampage possibly have? Robinson told the legislators that Americans would suffer death, but not the dishonor of submitting to such a state. Though he doesn’t say it in so many words, the Governor cast himself and his fellow white men in the role of slaves: expected to obey without consent, to respect that very state which seeks to destroy their lives.

And what hope could free state Kansans have for legal redress? Franklin Pierce declared against them. The ballot box? Between laws restricting the franchise to those willing to ‘bow the knee to the dark image of Slavery” and the President’s avowal of his own perfect impotence to protect the polls, they could forget it. In such a situation, Kansans had the right to create their own vehicle for self-government. Pierce could threaten them with the Army and the militias of other states

Undoubtedly one-half of this force will be all-sufficient to enable him to enforce any process, or to chop, shoot, and hang all the inhabitants. But all the armies and navies in the world could not make the people believe he had a right to do it.

If popular sovereignty meant that Washington could not intervene in the affairs of Kansas to decide on slavery, then why would it permit the marching of an army to settle other domestic political questions? By the official doctrine of the Democracy, the nation ought to let the free state government alone except so far as necessary to at once admit it to the Union.

Nor would Robinson hear any of Pierce’s complaints about his movement arising out of a single party, not representative of all Kansans like past territories had done when drafting their constitutions.:

If the people, or any portion of them, failed to participate, it was their own fault, and not the fault of those who were active. Democrats, Hards and Softs, Whigs, Hunkers and Liberals, Republicans, Pro-Slavery and Anti-Slavery men of all shades participated in the formation of the State Government, and if it be a party movement at all, it certainly cannot be a movement of one party alone.

Just who Robinson meant to call a proslavery man, I suspect few then knew. But everyone else had a say and if the proslavery men hadn’t voted then why should the antislavery men bear the burden of their refusal? The rule in the United States, and of Republics in general, demanded that the few yield to the wishes of the many. If they did not, why even have an election?

Governor Robinson and the Indians

Charles Lawrence Robinson

Charles Lawrence Robinson

The new Kansas legislature, illegal to the national government and near enough to legitimate for most Kansans, got down to business on Wednesday, March 5, 1856. Said business began with a message from their new governor, Charles Robinson. The day before he had only given inaugural remarks. Now he needed to do an official message, much as Andrew Reeder did the previous July. He gravely informed the legislators that their work would require all their “learning, judgment, and prudence”. He pointed to Kansas’ diversity: people from every state and country, differing in “institutions, religion, education, habits, and tastes.”

Also in our midst are several independent nations, and on our borders, both west and east, are outside invaders.

What invaders Robinson saw to the west of Kansas, I can’t say. Given that the “several independent nations” he mentions came in the form of Indian reservations, he might mean some hostile tribes off in the future Colorado. If those nations had shown any real hostility, let alone in invasion, I haven’t seen evidence of it. Like many white Americans, Robinson may have simply assumed that any Indian he didn’t personally know wanted to take his involuntary donation to Locks of Love. That he describes adjacent reservations as simply nations whilst taking the others as invaders suggests as much. He might also have referenced a rumor that the proslavery side would make some kind of deal to receive Indian aid. While I have not read any such rumor, I have seen the reverse version where Robinson and company would enlist Indian tribes. It would stand to reason that both versions existed.

The majority of Robinson’s speech involves to mundane necessities and standard nineteenth century boilerplate. The legislature had to fill these appointed officers. It ought to see to the schools. It would need to establish taxes. It would also, of course, have to write a law to keep free blacks out of Kansas. And they simply had to do something about alcohol:

The indiscriminate sale of intoxicating drinks in a State like Kansas, where are numerous Indian tribes, is productive of much mischief. Some tribes within our borders are still uncivilized and indulge their appetites without restraint, while many of the other tribes are equally unfortunate.

To this, Kansas’ Indians could answer by pointing to how the whites conducted themselves, alcohol or no, but one can’t expect a nineteenth century white man to grant the point. Still, Robinson came closer than one might expect, declaring the use of alcohol in general an obstacle to

the health, morals, and good order and prosperity of any community, and the traffic in them is an unmitigated evil

He hasn’t convinced this teetotaler, but at least Robinson agreed in principle that white people could have serious problems with drink. The Indians simply had it worse because of their allegedly inferior civilization and race. They might, in unguarded moments, say the same about the Irish. Few whites at the time would have defending providing alcohol to Indians, whatever their position on Irishmen. Fewer still would have agreed that the Indians had extensive grievances with their vaunted white race which might drive them to drink or violence, even among those who literally stood on the land that they had personally and through their government just seized from said Indians and looked ever-poised to take still more.

Governor Robinson preaches forbearance

Charles Lawrence Robinson

Charles Lawrence Robinson

Kansas had a free state government seated at Topeka. Its members, sober or otherwise, now had the task of organizing a state ahead of them. Their governor, Charles Robinson, came to a joint session of the legislature at five o’clock on March 4, 1856, and received (PDF) “three hearty cheers”. He took his oath of office and made some introductory remarks. The antislavery Kansans had a big job ahead of them, with the eyes the whole territory looking on. The people would want “wise and wholesome laws and faithful administration of the Government”. But the wildcat governor knew that his wildcat government occupied a “peculiar” position in that the President of the United States had declared it illegal and treasonable. The Kansas-Nebraska Act might have promised the Kansans and Nebraskans a free hand, but neither the Missourians nor Franklin Pierce cared to see any such thing happen:

some of the people of an adjoining State unite with the President in opposing the people of Kansas in forming and regulating their own Government, and threaten our destruction if we do not conform to their dictation. Should the course indicated by the President and the people of another State be persisted in, and our rights again be trampled in the dust by official interference or lawless invasions, the people would be justified before the civilized world in asserting their rights by revolution

Having said that, Robinson immediately pulled back. Kansas might have it very bad, but the Congress would come to their rescue. In the meantime, they ought to suffer with what dignity they could muster rather than attempt “hasty resort to extreme measures.”

Forming your own illegal government and militia didn’t count as extreme to Robinson just then. He offered up even the hope that the Missouri border ruffians might clean up their act:

good policy would still dictate that every honorable effort be made to establish and cultivate friendly relations with our oppressors, especially with the people of our adjoining sister State. Nothing should be done in a spirit of retaliation, but rather of conciliation. Although our own rights have been repeatedly invaded and wrested from us, let us show that we respect the Constitution and laws of our own country and the rights of the people of the respective States

Robinson had advised peace in the past; he might even have believed it. The odds of the scales truly falling from the Missourians’ eyes, he must have rated very low. But sudden freelance action by antislavery Kansans had brought the movement near to ruin, bringing an army over from Missouri that wanted very badly to destroy Lawrence and, at the least, run Robinson and his ilk out of the territory. More likely, they wouldn’t have left Kansas alive. Given such close calls, and real fatalities suffered by others, the Governor had reason to hope, if not necessarily a strong expectation, that tempers would calm and if Kansas could just get through a few months without another confrontation.

But still, Charles Robinson knew that everyone had a breaking point. He advised “forbearance” until it “ceases to be a virtue and becomes cowardice, and the oppression becomes insufferable”. At that point, antislavery Kansans might no longer consider themselves “loyal citizens of the government.”