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The Convention that had been called to frame a State Constitution, and in which election the Free State men had taken no part, had met to do its work in September of 1857, and finished in November; but to the last it refused to make provision to submit the Constitution, when framed, to a vote of the people, for acceptance or rejection. But in place of this thing, had virtually said to them: "You must accept this Constitution whether you like it or not. We will allow you to vote _for_ the Constitution with slavery; or, _for_ the Constitution without slavery; but you must vote in every contingency _for_ the Constitution."

 

But admitting the people had voted for the Constitution _without_ slavery, still a trap was set for them in the following proviso, which would still remain an integral part of the Constitution.

"If, upon such examination of such poll-books it shall appear that a majority of the legal votes cast at said election be in favor of the 'Constitution with no slavery,' then the article providing for slavery shall be stricken from this Constitution, and slavery shall no longer exist in the State of Kansas; _except that the right of property in slaves now in this Territory shall in no manner be interfered with_."

Thus, which ever way they should vote, Kansas would still remain a slave State. Of course the Free State men did not walk into the trap, but staid away from the election, which was ordered for December 21, 1857; and the Constitution was adopted by a strictly one-sided vote. And now Gov. Walker began to realize in the bitterness of his heart that "uneasy lies the head of him that wears a crown." He had staked his manhood, his veracity, his honor, his everything, that this Constitution, when framed, should be submitted to a vote of the people for acceptance or rejection, and now he was to be put to shame in the eyes of the whole world; and Gen. Lane was proved a true prophet when he had said to the Governor with such withering power: "Gov. Walker, you can't control your allies." Mr. Walker was able to show a private letter from President Buchanan, assuring him in the most positive terms, that this Constitution, when framed, should be submitted to a vote of the people; but of what avail was such a promise? There was a power behind the throne at Washington stronger than the throne itself; and Gov. W. was able to see what a hollow mockery was that power which he supposed himself to possess.

The Governor made known to the people that he would be absent on business for three or four weeks; and he went away to Washington, never more to return. There was neither pity nor justice for him there; and in unspeakable disgust he resigned; and Mr. Stanton took the oath of office and reigned as Governor _for one month_. Then he also was removed, and Gov. Denver took his place. Thus, five Kansas Governors had each in their turn been officially decapitated. Stanton had been superseded by Denver because he had called a special session of the now Free State Legislature, and it had ordered an immediate election to vote for or against the Lecompton Constitution, and at this election 10,226 votes were polled against it.

It had been intended that under whip and spur Kansas should be admitted by Congress as a slave State before the time should arrive for the regular assembling of the Territorial Legislature, which had now passed into the hands of the Free State men; but by calling a special session of the Legislature, he had enabled that body to order an immediate election, that should give official evidence that an overwhelming majority of the people were opposed to the Lecompton Constitution.

And now Stephen A. Douglas, at Washington, came forward as State Senator from Illinois and made it impossible that Kansas should be admitted as a State unless that document should first be submitted to the people for acceptance or rejection. A bill to this effect was finally passed by Congress. It was called the English bill. It proffered a magnificent bribe if the people would accept the Lecompton Constitution--five million five hundred thousand acres of public land should be given to Kansas; besides other munificent donations. But the English bill also contained a menace as well as a bribe. It threatened that if the people rejected this offer they should be remanded back for an indefinite period, to all the miseries of a Territorial life.

In the face of such a menace, and tempted by such a bribe, the whole voting population of the Territory turned out at the election, which was ordered to be held August 2, 1858. At this election, 1,788 votes were cast for the Constitution, and 9,512 against it. From whence then came this overwhelming majority? The majority of the Free State party was about two to one. "Wilder's Annals," the best extant Free State authority, puts it at this. "The Free State or Republican party has carried every election in Kansas since this date (1857), usually by two to one." But here is a majority of six to one; and we must go outside of the Free State or Republican party to find it. Dr. John H. Stringfellow wrote at this time to the Washington Union against the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution. He says: "To do so will break down the Democratic party at the North, and seriously endanger the interests and peace of Missouri and Kansas, if not of the whole Union."

Judge Tutt, of St. Joseph, Mo., had said to the South Carolinians: "I was born in Virginia, and have lived forty years in Missouri. I am a slave-holder, and a Pro-slavery man; and I desire Kansas to be made a slave State, _if it can be done by honorable means_. But you will break down the cause you are seeking to build up." And Judge Tutt voiced the sentiments of a large number of Pro-slavery men and slave-holders in Kansas.

The city of Atchison gave a majority of votes against the Lecompton Constitution; and Atchison county gave a majority of almost three to one against it; and Leavenworth city, which two years before had been the theater of such murders, riots and robberies, gave a majority against the proposition of the English bill of more than ten to one, notwithstanding the huge bribe offered if the people would accept it.

We are writing these "Recollections" for posterity as well as for the present generation. It is only the verdict of posterity that will justly estimate the men and the influences that went to make up the final result of the early Kansas struggle. Up to the present time the writers that have written on this subject have been too near the battle, and themselves too much a party in it, to write with perfect impartiality. Southern and Pro-slavery writers and speakers have not been able to admit that Southern men were the original wrong-doers; while Northern and Free State writers have not been able to rise to the level of such fair dealing, as to admit that when the decisive vote was cast that determined the question of freedom and slavery in Kansas, as absolutely as it had already been determined in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, the Free State people were indebted to the nobility of heart and elevation of mind, displayed by Southern and Pro-slavery men in making the vote so overwhelming as to put the question beyond the possibility of controversy forever; yet this was done in the unprecedented vote of six to one, cast in condemnation of the Lecompton Constitution.

From this time forward the two parties that had been struggling with each other for four years in such fierce antagonism were dead; and in their place have appeared the two political parties that are found throughout the United States; and the lines of difference between the men of the South and the men of the North have been as completely obliterated in thirty years, as they were obliterated in Old England, between Saxon and Norman, after 500 years of savage strife and turmoil.

And now, if the superior races of the world have been formed by the amalgamation of the kindred stocks, may we not believe that Providence has been preparing in this central State a people that shall bear a distinguished part in that mighty battle that is so swiftly coming to the American nation, in which we will be called to fight against a Christian barbarism and a paganized Christianity, for all that is precious in our Christian civilization, and for all that is true and good in our American form of government?

Rome fell under an invasion by foreign barbarians; so an inundation of the barbarians of the world is pouring in on us, and threatens to swallow us up; it is like the flood the dragon poured out of his mouth. Of our duties growing out of this catastrophe we shall write hereafter.

The writer of these "Recollections" is a fallible man, like other fallible man. He has shown at least this, that he is ready to stand by his convictions, living and dying; and he holds this conviction fixed and immutable, that there is a crisis coming on us of overtopping and overwhelming magnitude, and demanding the American people should come together and look each other honestly in the face, that they may take into their hearts this weight and extent of the reasons that call that they should join in united effort for the salvation of the nation and the conversion of the world; and that this does not allow that there shall be anything of flimsy, shallow, or hypocritical concealment of the facts of our history.

The world has had abundant experience of these border feuds. Scotland had her feuds between her Highlands and Lowlands. In Ireland there has been unceasing enmity for 250 years between her Protestant and Catholic populations. The French and English peoples of Canada are never at peace with each other; and now there is a feud that can not be healed between England and Ireland. In some of the mountain regions of the Southern States, where the people yet retain the clannish temper of their Scotch and Irish ancestors, there are neighborhood enmities that go down from father to son, from generation to generation; and that issue in such fist fights, brawls, and mobs, as sometimes to tax the whole energy of the public authorities to suppress them. And now, with such foundation laid for the indefinite perpetuation of similar feuds in Kansas, we do argue that it has manifested on the part of our population no ordinary qualities of heart and soul, that they were so soon able to eliminate from among themselves their turbulent and dangerous elements.