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Gov. Geary had won ripe and rich honors from the people of this nation in the official positions he had heretofore held, and which he had discharged with such eminent ability. The position of the Governor of Kansas, as seen from afar, and under the _glamour_ that surrounded it, was a position of high honor.

 

Every child has heard the story of old "Blue Beard," how that, having married a number of wives who had mysteriously disappeared, he courted and married a beautiful young lady, possessing every accomplishment that can give grace and attractiveness to a woman, and had carried her to his castle, where she should have at her disposal an unlimited amount of money and be served by obsequious servants, and stand on a level with all the fine ladies and gentlemen in the land. Old Blue Beard gave to her the keys unlocking all the rooms in his castle, but said to her, "There is one key, unlocking one door, into one room, and into that room you must in nowise enter." But, overcome by her woman's curiosity, she did unlock that door and enter that room, and there she beheld the horrid sight of all the murdered wives of the wicked old Blue Beard, hanging and rotting on its walls, and now this was also to be her sad fate.

Kansas was becoming the graveyard of Territorial Governors.  Reeder and Shannon had already lost their official heads. Within six months Gov. Geary's head was also to drop into the basket. Three more governors were to succeed him, each one of whom should in his turn lose his official head. Gov. Geary's position was indeed very like that of the wife of the wicked Blue Beard, only that she had certainly some advantages over the Governor. She had a great and fine castle, rich and costly dresses, many servants ready to come and go at her beck and call, and the company of great lords and fine ladies; but when Gov. Geary came to his castle, his private Secretary shall tell us what he found:

Lecompton is situated on the south side of the Kansas River, upon as inconvenient and inappropriate a site for a town as any in the Territory. It was chosen simply for speculative purposes. It contained, at the time of Gov. Geary's arrival, some twenty or more houses, the majority of which were employed as groggeries of the lowest description. It was the residence of the celebrated Sheriff Jones, who is one of the leading members of this town association, and was the resort of horse-thieves and ruffians of the most desperate character. Its drinking saloons were infested by these characters, whose drunkenness, gambling, fighting, and all sorts of crime, were indulged in with impunity.

Here was congregated, and here was the headquarters of, that band of desperate men, who were in a conspiracy to make Kansas a slave State at whatever cost of blood, of fraud, or violence. Here the Territorial Legislature met to enact their bloody code of laws, and here the Territorial Judges held their courts, which were a burlesque on the very name of a civilized and Christian jurisprudence; and here, also, were kept the treason prisoners, while atrocious murderers were not molested, because they were "sound on the goose question."

We have already told how Harvey's men, that had attacked and taken prisoners the "Law and Order" robbers that pillaged the defenseless village of Grasshopper Falls, were themselves taken prisoners by the United States troops. These were tried for treason in the Pro-slavery courts, and were condemned to various terms of imprisonment, varying from six months to six years. They were kept in a wretched, old, tumbledown house, without doors or windows, during the bitter cold of a Kansas winter, guarded by "Law and Order" militia, exposed to every insult, wallowing in filth, and eaten up with lice. But there was one circumstance to mitigate their hapless condition--their jailer was a good-hearted, honest Kentuckian, who had humanity enough to pity them, and bravery enough to do what he could to mitigate the hardships of their lot. Their hard-hearted judges had condemned them to wear a ball and chain; but Gov. Geary refused to provide balls and chains for them, and the honest Capt. Hampton refused to fasten these symbols of degradation on the limbs of men he knew to be decent American citizens; and thereat Sheriff Jones became furious. The facts of the case were just these: All the people were, so to speak, fighting. The Governor issued his proclamation. These Hickory Point "Law and Order" militia were simply robber banditti, and Captain Harvey and his company thought they ought to be "cleaned out," and proceeded to do so, and this act, though intrinsically it was a righteous act, yet technically, laid them open to the law. This happened on the 12th of September, but up to the 14th of September 3,000 "Law and Order" militia, coming into Kansas as outside invaders, refused to be disbanded by the Governor's proclamation, and both before and after continued the business of murder and robbery. Yet this was nothing, because these were "Law and Order" men. The other was treason, for these were Free State men fighting for their homes and firesides. But Capt. Hampton saw the matter just as it was, and acted accordingly. Dr. Gihon testified of these treason prisoners, "These prisoners were not all rough and desperate adventurers. Some of them were gentlemen of polished education."

The sunlight may sparkle and shimmer on the surface of the foul and putrid marsh, noxious with offensive and poisonous exhalations--so Dr. Gihon throws a kind of grim and ghastly humor over his narrative of the repulsive and brutal surroundings of himself and Governor Geary during the winter they were imprisoned at Lecompton. The Doctor tells the following story at the expense of a Southern gentleman:

A good anecdote is told by a gentleman from one of the Southern States, in regard to these Free State prisoners, when under the charge of Captain Hampton. Having expressed a desire to see these robbers and murderers, as he styled them, the Governor directed him to the prison.

He immediately started, and looking in vain for anything that resembled a prison, he approached two men who were enjoying themselves with a game of quoits.

"Can you tell me," he inquired, "where the prison is where these robbers and murderers are confined?"

"That's it," said one of the men, pointing to a house near at hand.

"What! that old building, falling to pieces, without either doors or windows?"

"That is the only prison we have here," replied the man, deliberately pitching his quoit.

"Well," said the Southern gentleman, "I want to see these prisoners."

"I am one of them," said the quoit-player, "and that is another," pointing to his companion.

"What! you convicted felons? You the terrible murderers about whom I have heard so much?"

"Yes, we are certainly two of them. The others are gone over to the House of Representatives, to hear the members abuse the Governor."

"But," says the old gentleman, "they don't allow convicted murderers to go about in this way, without a guard to watch them?"

"O! yes," says the man interrogated; "they used to send a guard with us when we went over to the Legislative Halls, to protect us against violence from the members, but they found that too troublesome, so they gave each of us a revolver and bowie-knife, and told us we should hereafter be required to protect ourselves."

"But why don't you run away? There is nothing to prevent you."

"Why, to tell the truth, we have often been persuaded to do that, but then these rascally legislators have been threatening to assassinate the Governor, and we have determined to remain here to watch them and protect him."

The old gentleman had no desire to see any more of these thieves, murderers and assassins.

There are those who find a Spanish bull fight or a civilized American boxing match very enjoyable events. Such men would have found great enjoyment in one incident that served to enliven the monotony of the winter's residence of the Governor at Lecompton. There was one Sherrard who came from Virginia. He was of a good family, but strong drink had been his ruin. He had been appointed by the Legislature Sheriff of Douglas county in place of S. T. Jones, who for some reason was to go out of office. The Governor refused to commission this Sherrard because he was a drunkard, a brawler, and a cursing, swearing, gambling ruffian and bully. This made Sherrard furious, and Sheriff Zones and all his crowd of bullies were furious with him. Then Sherrard tried to raise a row by insulting individuals in the personal service of the Governor. This failing, Sherrard spit in the Governor's face; but Mr. Geary, mindful of the dignity of his office, and that it did not become the Governor of Kansas to get into a brawl with a common blackguard, walked straight on. Afterwards Sherrard, who kept himself crazy drunk, provoked a general affray in a large company of men, in which pistols were fired in every direction; when John A, W. Jones, the young man on Gov. Geary's staff whom Sherrard had assaulted a few days before, shot him in the forehead.