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Category: Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler
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At Port William I had already become acquainted with a Bro. Hartman. He had leased a saw-mill, and was running it, and I had bought lumber of him. Having reached Port William, I went to Bro. H. and said, "I want to obtain lodging of you to-night; but as I do not want to betray any man into trouble, I must first tell you what has befallen me." I then told him my mishap at Atchison, and said: "Now if you do not want to lodge such a man, please say so, and I will go somewhere else."

He replied: "You shall lodge with me if it cost me every cent I am worth." He then went on to say that he had leased that mill of men who were very bitter, and very ultra in their views, and that they might be angry with him, and turn him out of the mill. But at last he said: "There is Bro. Oliphant living in the bluffs; he is under no such embarrassment," and Bro. Hartman took me there. The next day was the Lord's day, and Oliver Steele was to preach the first sermon in that little village on that day. Oliver Steele was a notable citizen of Platte county, Missouri. His name appears in the early days of the _Millennial Harbinger_ as a citizen of Madison county, Kentucky. Bro. Steele complains of the Reformers of Kentucky, that they are too much wedded to Old Baptist usages to be true to the primitive and apostolic order of things. Then Bro. Steele came to Platte county, Missouri, and had become one of its most wealthy and influential citizens. He was an eminent example of a courtly and courteous "Old Virginia gentleman," and was loved by the rich and loved by the poor, he was loved by white folks and black; loved by the mothers and their babies; and the people patronized his preaching, not because he was a great preacher, for he certainly was not, but because they loved the man. He was an old Henry Clay Whig, and like that great Kentucky statesman was an Emancipationist. Bro. S. was to come over the river and preach the first sermon in this new town, and it was a great event to the people. On returning to Port William in the morning Bro. Hartman said that I must take dinner with him, and he would introduce me to Bro. Steele. It was not until twenty-five years afterwards, and only after Sister Hartman had died, that Bro. Hartman told me what so much altered his feelings. She was a sweet Christian woman, and when Bro. H. went to her she said to him: "Husband, don't you know that in the last great day the Lord will say, 'I was a stranger and ye took me in'; and don't you remember how the good Samaritan showed mercy to the man that fell among thieves? Now we believe that this man is an innocent man; and what will the Lord say to us if we turn him out of doors?"

At dinner, at the house of Bro. Hartman, was also Dr. Oliphant, father of the Bro. Oliphant with whom I had lodged. He was a brusque, blunt-spoken, honest, anti-slavery Northern Methodist preacher. He said bluntly at the table: "Well, Mr. Butler, they treated you rather roughly at At-Atchison, did they not?" I said, "Yes--" attempted to say more, broke down and left the table, and went out of the house. My heart was not as hard here, among sympathizing friends, as it had been the day before, when I had to face a raging mob. When I returned no mother could be more tender seeking out the hurt of her boy bruised in a rough encounter with his fellows, than was Oliver Steele. He would hear the whole story, sighed over these "evil days," and listened with approval to the vindication I made of the purposes of the free State men. How many men that, through a sense of bitter wrong, are in danger to become desperate, could be won to a better temper the world has never fully tried.

The news of what had been done at Atchison flew like wild-fire through the country. This proved the last feather that broke the camel's back. It became apparent that the country was full of men that were ready to fight. As for my friend Caleb May, he went into Atchison and said: "_I am a free State man: now raft me_!" As no one seemed inclined to undertake that job, he faithfully promised them that if there was any more of that business done he would go over into Missouri and raise a company of men and clean out the town.

Meantime my friends at Port William provided means to send me down to Weston, there to take the steamboat Polar Star, bound for St. Louis. "Boycotting" was a word unknown to the English language at that time; and yet I was "boycotted" on board the steamboat. I heard nothing--not a word; and yet I could feel it. I had hoped to be a total stranger, but it was evident I was not, and the most comfort I could find was to keep my state-room, and employ my time writ ing out the appeal I intended to make to the people, through the _Missouri Democrat_, published in St. Louis. At length my work was done, and yet we were only half way to St. Louis. The reader will believe that my reflections were not cheerful. What would become of myself? What would become of my wife and children? What would become of Kansas, or of the United States?

At Jefferson City a man had come aboard of the boat who seemed almost as much alone as myself. Still the captain and officers of the boat paid him marked attention. One thing I noticed, he abounded in newspapers, and I wanted something to read that should save me from my own reflections. I ventured to ask him for the loan of some of his papers; then when I returned them he went to his trunk and took out a book of travels and gave it to me, saying: "Take that, please. It will amuse you." At length we could see the smoke of the city of St. Louis, and I gave back to this stranger the book he had loaned me. He said: "No, thank you." I was startled, and said with some surprise: "I do not know why you should do this to a stranger." He laughed and said: "You are not so much a stranger as you think. Your name is Butler, is it not?"

"Yes."

"And they mobbed you at Atchison?"

"Yes."

"Well, please call on me at the office of the _Missouri Democrat."_

"And what is your name?"

"_They call me B. Gratz Brown_".

And so Providence had prepared the way for making my appeal to the people. B. Gratz Brown had the preceding winter, at Jefferson City, either given or accepted a challenge to fight a duel; but the public authorities had interfered, and some business connected with this matter had called him to Jefferson City. But whence had he his knowledge of the mobbing at Atchison? The _Squatter Sovereign_ had been issued immediately after they had put me on the raft, and had contained the following editorial:

On Thursday last [it was Friday], one Pardee Butler arrived in town with a view of starting for the East, probably with the purpose of getting a fresh supply of Free-soilers from the penitentiaries and pestholes in the Northern States. Finding it inconvenient to depart before the morning, he took lodgings at the hotel and proceeded to visit numerous portions of our town, everywhere avowing himself a Free-soiler, and preaching Abolition heresies. He declared the recent action of our citizens in regard to J. W. B. Kelley the infamous proceedings of a mob, at the same time stating that many persons in Atchison who were Free-soilers at heart had been intimidated thereby, and prevented from avowing their true sentiments; but that he (Butler) would express his views in defiance of the whole community.

On the ensuing morning our townsmen assembled _en masse_, and, deeming the presence of such a person highly prejudicial to the safety of our slave population, appointed a committee to wait on Mr. Butler and request his signature to the resolutions passed at the late pro-slavery meeting. After perusing the resolutions, Mr. B. positively declined signing them, and was instantly arrested by the committee.

After various plans for his disposal had been considered, it was finally decided to place him on a raft composed of two logs firmly lashed together, that his baggage and a loaf of bread be given him, and having attached a flag to his primitive bark, Mr. Butler was set adrift in the great Missouri, with the letter "R" legibly painted on his forehead.

He was escorted some distance down the river by several of our citizens, who, seeing him pass several rock-heaps in quite a skillful manner, bade him adieu and returned to Atchison.

Such treatment may be expected by all scoundrels visiting our town for the purpose of interfering with our time-honored institutions, and the same punishment we will be happy to award to all Free-soilers and Abolitionists.

The _Missouri Democrat_ was what was known as the "Tom Ben ton" paper of Missouri, and was not ostensibly a _Free-soil_ paper, yet it vehemently inveighed against the ruffianism with which free State men had been treated. Of course there was sympathy in the office of the _Missouri Democrat_, that made some amends for the rough treatment I had got at the hands of citizens of Missouri.

Having completed my business in St. Louis I turned my face toward my old field of labor in the "Military Tract," _via_ the Illinois River. The reader will believe that my reflections were full of anxieties. What would the brethren say of me? Were my prospects blighted from this time forward?

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