Print
Category: Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
 

It is now one-third of a century since Kansas began to be settled. Great as has been the progress of the States of this Union within this period, the progress of Kansas has been exceptionally and peculiarly so. Its chief glory is not in its large agricultural and mineral resources; it is not in its railroads and lines of telegraph; it is not in the rapidly increasing population of educated men and women, but it is in this, that it was not only the first State in the nation, but the first Commonwealth in the world, to solve the problem of the drink evil, the giant curse of Christendom, by incorporating prohibition into its fundamental law.

 

In union there is strength. Jesus said so. He said, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation." And so evidently does this principle commend itself to the common sense of men, that we have engraved on our national ensign the motto, "_E Pluribus Unum_" --one out of many.

How did such growth in Kansas come to be? Not in division, but in union. We have thought it would do us good to look squarely in the face that hard, cruel, and bloody period when it seemed the business of the people to cut each other's throats. But cutting each other's throats does not create such growth as we have had in Kansas.

Two peoples came together in Kansas, one from the South and one from the North. They were of one original stock, but circumstances had intervened and made them two peoples. For two years this bloody strife had been going on. It is said that in revolutions men live fast. It was two years, if we count the time by the revolutions of the earth around the sun, but if we count by the experience men had gained, it was many years.

Dr. Gihon tells that when Gov. Geary disbanded this Missouri army on the Wakarusa, there grew up a marked antagonism of sentiment among its leaders. He says: "Some of the more judicious of the officers were not only willing but anxious to obey this order, whilst others, resolved upon mischief, yielded a very reluctant assent." There was really a large majority that accepted the result with hearty good will, but there was also a small and malcontent minority determined on mischief.

Gen. B. F. Stringfellow, because of the vehement zeal with which he had addicted himself to the enterprise of making Kansas a slave State, had won for himself a national notoriety. He had staked life and good fame and everything on the final issue of his work, yet himself and his law partner, Peter T. Abell, went back from the Wakarusa never to lift a finger again in that business. Mr. S. is a high-spirited, hot-blooded, proud-spirited Virginian. His law partner, Col. Abell, had a temper as unbending as Andrew Jackson, and did to the day of his death hold a faith in the institution of slavery as abiding as John C. Calhoun. But he was a wise and a just man, and both himself and Mr. Stringfellow recognized the fact that, with such a population as had come into Kansas, its becoming a free State was only a question of time; and both these men were too sagacious to be found fighting against fate. Mr. S. had always relished a joke, and, when rallied by his friends on his sudden abandonment of this enterprise, he facetiously replied: "Yes, I did try to make Kansas a slave State; but I could not do it without slaves, and the South would not send slaves, and so I had to give it up." From the time these gentlemen returned from the Wakarusa there was a general softening of the asperities of feeling of the people of Atchison and vicinity, and one year after they were prepared to announce to the Free State people, "You deal fairly with us, and we will deal fairly with you"--and they made their words good by deeds, for they took Free State men into partnership with themselves in the management of the Atchison Town Company.

But by this change Robert S. Kelley found "Othello's occupation gone," and the control of the _Squatter Sovereign_ passed into the hands of John A. Martin, now Governor of Kansas, and "Bob Kelley" shook off the dust of his feet and walked away, respected for his bravery and for his outspoken honesty and sincerity, even by those that did not love him.

The writer will tell of his last interview with the South Carolinians in a future chapter of these Recollections.

Peter T. Abell and Gen. B. F. Stringfellow were State's rights men in their political opinions, and, therefore, according to the light that was in them, owed their allegiance to the State of Kansas; and from that allegiance they never swerved to the breadth of a hair. Still, the people of the South were their brethren, and they gave to them their profoundest sympathy during that bloody struggle that was to decide whether the South should be an independent nation. Let us admit that this did put these gentlemen in a strait betwixt two, like Paul, the Apostle, but they never swerved to the right hand nor to the left.

We have, with some particularity, drawn out the history of the two most distinguished of the Southern leaders, because that, with slight change, it would be the biography of a great number of citizens of Kansas that came from the South. Now, who does not see that here is the basis of hearty co-operation, whether in the church or in the world, of men from the South or from the North? provided always we can take into our hearts the law of love: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets."

In further illustration of this remark we will relate an incident concerning a Disciple, who will come prominently before us in the formation of our first missionary society. Spartan Rhea was from Missouri, and belonged to a family intensely Southern in their convictions. He was commissioned a justice of the peace by the Territorial authorities. A horse had been stolen by the Kickapoo Rangers from Gains Jenkins, of Lawrence. Gov. Geary requested Bro. Rhea to recover the horse, and he did so with some peril to himself, and made a journey to Lawrence to restore the animal to its proper owner. He sought to make it evident that the men of his party wanted justice done.

But Dr. Gihon also tells us that there was at the Wakarusa a small faction of irreconcilables, who, if they could do nothing else, could at least curse.

"Gen. Clarke said he was for pitching into the United States troops rather than abandon the objects of the expedition. Gen. Maclean didn't see any use of going back until they had whipped the Abolitionists. Sheriff Jones was in favor, now that they had sufficient force, of wiping out Lawrence and all the Free State towns. And these and others cursed Gov. Geary for his interference in their well-laid plans.

"The broad ground assumed by these rabid leaders of the Pro-slavery party in Kansas was, that an equilibrium of the slave power must be maintained at any sacrifice in the American Union, and this could only be effected by increasing the slave States in proportion with the free. Whilst, therefore, the South was willing to give Nebraska to the North, they demanded that Kansas should be ceded to the South. It was of little consequence what number of Northern men located in Kansas--they had no right to come unless with the intention to make it a slave State."

This malcontent minority did, therefore, become a dangerous and revolutionary faction, entertaining criminal purposes, which they were ready to carry out by desperate methods. They were also in possession of dangerous elements of power. They controlled the Territorial Legislature, and all the Territorial judges were parties in this conspiracy. Dr. Gihon testifies that "every federal officer in the Territory, and every Territorial officer from the supreme judges to the deputy marshals, sheriffs and clerks, were wedded to the slave power, and pledged at all hazards to its extension."

But daylight had already begun to dawn. Some of the wisest Pro-slavery men in the Territory were beginning to call a halt, and to say: "We will travel no further in this road in which we are being led by these desperate and scheming adventurers."

powered by social2s