Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Confederate "Heritage" Month - April 11: The March 1855 election in Kansas (1)

The Howard Committe Report leaves no doubt about the systematic theft of the March 1855 election in Kansas by the Missouri Border Ruffians:
On the same day that the census was completed, the governor issued his proclamation tor an election to be held on the 30th of March, A. D. 1855, for members of the legislative assembly of the Territory. It prescribed the boundaries of districts, the places for polls, the names of judges, the apportionment of members, and recited the qualification of voters. If it had been observed, a just and fair election would have reflected the will of the people of the Territory, Before the election, false and inflammatory rumors were busily circulated among the people of western Missouri. The number and character of the emigration then passing into the Territory were grossly exaggerated and misrepresented. Through the active exertions of many of its leading citizens, aided by the secret society before referred to, the passions and prejudices of the people of that State were greatly excited, Several residents there have testified to the character of the reports circulated among and credited by the people. These efforts were successful. By an organized movement, which extended from Andrew county in the north, to Jasper county in the south, and as far eastward as Boone and Cole counties, Missouri, companies of men were arranged in irregular parties and sent into every council district in the Territory, and into every representative district but one.  The numbers were so distributed as to control the election in each district.  They went to vote, and with the avowed design to make Kansas a slave State.  They were generally armed and equipped, carried with them their own provisions and tents, and so marched into the Territory.
This description of events in the 2nd district gives an idea of the character of the gentlemen who came over from Missouri.  After stealing the poll books:
They then chose two new judges and proceeded with the election.  They also threatened to kill the judges if they did not receive their votes without swearing them, or else resign. They said no man should vote who would submit to be sworn; that they would kill any man who would offer to do so, "Shoot him;" "Cut his guts out," &c. They said no man should vote this day unless he voted an open ticket, and was all right on the goose [i.e., pro-slavery];  and that if they could not vote by fair means, they would by foul means. They said they had as much right to vote if they had been in the Territory two minutes as if they had been there two years, and they would vote.  Some of the citizens who were about the window, but had not voted when the crowd of Missourians marched up there, upon attempting to vote were driven back by the mob, or driven off.  One of them, Mr. I. M. Mace, was asked if he would take the oath [which only legal residents who were Free State would be expected to agree to]; and upon his replying that he would if the judges required it, he was dragged through the crowd away from the polls, amid cries of "kill the damned nigger-thief," "cut his throat," "tear his heart out," &c. After they got him to the outside of the crowd, they stood around him with cocked revolvers and drawn bowie-knives; one man putting a knife to his breast so that it touched him; another holding a cocked pistol to his ear, while another struck at him with a club.
The Missourians said they had a right to vote, if they had been in the Territory but five minutes. Some said they had been hired to come there and vote, and got a dollar a day, and by God they would vote or die there.  (my emphasis)
Such was the slaveowners idea of "democracy".  It's no wonder the Missouri Border Ruffians were also known as "Pukes".
In Missouri, US Senator David Atchison recruited Missourians to go vote illegally in Kansas.  James McPherson in Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1988) quotes the honorable Senator's lieutenant John Stringfellow as follows speaking to a crowd in St. Joseph, Missouri:
Mark every scoundrel among you that is the least tainted with free-soilism, or abolitionism, and exterminate him.  To those having qualms of conscience ... the time has come when such impositions must be disregarded, as your lives and property are in danger. ... Enter every election district in Kansas ... and vote at the point of a Bowie knife or revolver!
Obviously, the Missourians from the 2nd district followed that latter advice.  Sen. Atchison himself led a band of Pukes into Kansas to vote illegally.  He told them, "There are eleven hundred men coming over from Platte County [Missouri] to vote, and if that ain't enough we can send five thousand - enough to kill every God-damned abolitionist in the Territory".  (Also quoted by McPherson)
This was obviously an intense situation.  And the pro-slavery forces had every intent of preventing a fair election by force and violence.  And did so.  Throw away your qualms of conscience, this pro-slavery agitators said.  We can "kill every God-damned abolitionist in the Territory," the distinguished Senators told his followers in election-stealing.
An Index to Confederate "Heritage" Month 2006 postings is available.

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