and the Kansas Epoch
"- - - ,/
Charles Robinson and the Kansas Epoch
There arc no greater heroes in the history of our country than
EH Thayer of Massachusetts and Charles Robinson of Kansas.
William H. Taft.
EXT to the Revolutionary Period, the Kansas
Epoch furnishes the chapter of importance
and absorbing interest in the history of our
The creation of Kansas Territory was a political ex-
pedient, undertaken and exploited at the instance of
Southern statesmen for the purpose of restoring, be-
tween the Free States and the Slave States, the "equi-
librium," or balance, of power, that had been disturbed
by the admission of California into the Union as a
The maintenance of this equilibrium between the
sections had been the special concern of the South
from the time of its establishment by the admission
into the Union of Louisiana. The loss of it was, to
the South, a political catastrophe; and the reinstate-
ment of it was in the highest degree necessary to safe-
guard the institution of s^av^^ry against legislation in-
imical thereto, then becoming i eminent as a result of
the growth of anti-slavery sentiment. The heroic
measures adopted by the South in its attempt to fur-
ther this end precipitated a crisis in public affairs that
shook the foundations of the Government and in-
volved the existence of the Nation.
The importance of the public services rendered by
Charles Robinson in this contention is not exceeded
by those of any citizen in the history of our country,
and entitles him to a broader fame than has yet been
accorded to him. It is true the events which he pro-
moted and controlled were localized within the bound-
aries of Kansas Territory, but the struggle for su-
premacy here was the affair of the Nation. It was
between the two great factions of the country, the
North and the South, then practically divided in sym-
pathy and interest upon the subject of the further ex-
tension of slavery. No American was ever charged
with greater responsibility; the future of a race and
the destiny of this Nation were in his hands.
The slavery question was not new. It was a dis-
turbing factor in the first councils of the Republic,
and had evoked the intense solicitude of every sub-
sequent generation. The differences that patriotism
and statesmanship had failed to adjust during more
than sixty years of debate and diplomatic effort had,
at that time, been transferred from the forum to the
people, from Congress to the field of actual physical
Slavery was originally a merciful institution, sug-
gested by the earlier promptings of humanity. In-
stead of giving up prisoners of war to indiscriminate
slaughter, it gradually became the practice of victors
to make slaves of them, and there were no exceptions
to the rule because of race, color or social conditions.
Our Pilgrim Fathers made slaves of Indians. They
made a slave of the son of the Indian King Philip, and
sold him in the Barbadoes, where he died under the
lash of the slave-driver. White men were sold into
slavery in this country for debt. They were called
"redemptioners." Lord Altham, of Ireland, was thus
sold at Philadelphia in 1728, and during twelve years
he was bought and sold by different masters in Lan-
caster County of that State. It is only a little more
than a hundred years since the corsairs of the Bar-
bary States raided the seas, and captured hundreds
of American sailors, whom they sold into slavery.
Negro slavery existed at one time or another in all
of the Thirteen Colonies ; but by the year 1804 it had
been abolished in the seven Northern States. That
portion of our population then, having no further pe-
cuniary interest in the matter, moved up onto higher
ground and became critical. It began to take cogni-
zance of the objectionable features of slavery, and to
contemplate with horror that which it had thereto-
fore observed with complacency. The inhumanity of
the system, the heartless cruelties inflicted upon the
helpless slaves, the notorious immorality inseparably
connected therewith, the enervating and demoralizing
influence it wrought upon society — all these were taken
up and enlarged upon until public sentiment revolted
at the spectacle, and organizations along political lines
were formed to oppose the further extension of this
crime against humanity.
In the South the trend of public sentiment was in
the opposite direction. Broadening markets for South-
ern products awakened that section into new life and
activity. With the invention and use of improved
machinery for the culture and care of their great
staple, cotton, came a season of unparalleled pros-
perity which disclosed before the Southern vision a
vista of illimitable possibilities. The demand for
slaves increased beyond precedent; the slave markets
presented scenes of wild excitement and speculation,
and the breeding of slaves and the traffic in them be-
came an established and profitable industry. It was
only natural that the South should resent, as both an
infringement upon its rights under the Constitution
and a menace to its prosperity, any attempt on the
part of the North to abridge its sphere of operations
or "meddle with its domestic affairs." Thus were the
two sections of the Union arrayed against each other
upon this question.
The claims of the two factions to the public domain
lying west of the "States" had been satisfactorily ad-
justed in 1787, both sections accepting the Ohio River
as the line of division between them. But with the
acquisition of Louisiana the problem of "dividing the
public domain" was revived. Beyond the Mississippi
lay the great plains, devoid of any topographical sug-
gestion of a line that might demark the sections. The
question of partitioning this territory between the
free and the slave-holding sections thereof was pre-
cipitated upon Congress in 1817 by the presence of
Missouri at the portals of the Union, asking for ad-
mission into the family of States. The northern
boundary of the new State was drawn at nearly forty-
one degrees north latitude, suggesting the Platte River
as the dividing line from the Missouri River to the
Mountains. Slavery had existed in Missouri Territory
under the Territorial Government, and the Constitu-
tion of the new State provided for its continuance.
To receive Missouri thus into the Union was to fix the
new line dividing the Trans-Mississippi country much
farther north than the anti-slavery sentiment of the
country was willing to concede. It was accepted, how-
ever, after exhaustive debate and bitter controversy,
with a stipulation forever prohibiting slavery in all of
the remaining territory acquired by the Louisiana pur-
chase north of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north
In this contention, the aggressive attitude of the
North against slavery was clearly developed; and the
South, learning the lesson that only by force of num-
bers and representation could the institution of slavery
be preserved, gave itself diligently to the work of ex-
tending its territory and strengthening its resources.
The scheme adopted to accomplish these results was
the most comprehensive ever attempted in American
politics. It involved upon a grand scale the reforma-
tion of the boundaries of our country; providing for
territorial expansion on the south and an abridgement
of territory on the north. All of which was, in due
process of time, successfully executed.
The United States claimed the "Oregon Country" at
that time, up to fifty-four degrees and forty minutes
north latitude. We held the Spanish title thereto, and
had rights of our own by virtue of discoveries and oc-
cupation to offset the claims of England. These pre-
tensions were supported by public sentiment in the
South, although especially accented in the Northern
States. So popular had this sentiment become that
the Democratic party, in the presidential campaign
of 1844, took advantage of the fact, and appealed
with great success to the patriotic spirit and war spirit
of the voters with a campaign cry in the catchy alliter-
ation "Fifty-four Forty or Fight." It transpired after
the election that Mr. Calhoun, Secretary of State, had
already proposed to Her Majesty's Minister, Paken-
ham, to settle the boundary dispute by adopting the
forty-ninth parallel as the line of division between
the two countries, with Vancouver and its strategic
advantages thrown in for good measure. The territory
thus voluntarily given up to Great Britain would have
made three Northern States each as large as Oregon.
In the meantime, the Republic of Texas had been an-
nexed, and admitted into the Union as a Slave State,
with a provision that it might subsequently be di-
vided into four States. The Conquest of Mexico, and
the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo completed the list
of these undertakings.
By this treaty a million square miles — an area from
which twenty States of the size of Pennsylvania could
be made — were added to "southern" territory, and the
problem of maintaining the "parity" for all time was
Such, however, was not the fact. The immediate
results of the war, and of the annexation of Mexican
territory, were exactly the reverse of what had been
expected. Instead of strengthening the position of the
South in the Union, they laid the foundation for the
destruction of the Southern oligarchy. The South
sowed the seeds ; but the North gathered in the sheaves.
The first disaster was the defeat of the Administration
in the election of 1848, which made possible the ad-
mission of California as a Free State.
While the war was strictly a Democratic conception
and was being promoted expressly to exploit the for-
tunes of the Democratic party, there were no generals
of that political faith to lead, and win the laurels of
victory. Scott and Taylor, both Whigs, by virtue of
their military rank commanded the armies of invasion.
These Generals would inevitably win the splendid vic-
tories of the war and become popular candidates for
the presidency. The danger was anticipated, and the
"situation" corrected as far as possible. The increased
military establishment, requiring the appointment of
three Major-Generals and seven Brigadier-Generals,
Democrats without military education or experience
were promptly selected for these places, and a bill
was introduced in Congress, and passed the House,
to create the grade of Lieutenant-General, in order that
Thomas H. Benton might be appointed to supersede
General Scott. Taylor's army was depleted immedi-
ately after Buena Vista, and Scott was relieved of
command by General William 0. Butler immediately
after the capture of the City of Mexico; but it was
too late. The war was over. "Old Rough and Ready"
and Scott were the heroes, and Taylor was elected
President in a whirl of military enthusiasm.
The maximum of disaster was to follow. Immedi-
ately after the conclusion of the Peace Treaty with
Mexico, gold was discovered on the Pacific Coast, and
the allurements of fortune invited thereto ambitious
and adventurous spirits from every land. The sturdy,
rugged men who went there to dig for the precious
metal were opposed to slavery on general principles,
and had neither time nor inclination to study the phi-
losophy of Southern Rights. In 1849 the people of
California adopted a constitution, by the terms of
which slavery was forever prohibited, and sought to
be admitted into the Union. After a memorable strug-
gle in Congress, second only to the contention over
the admission of Missouri and over the adoption of the
"Wilmot proviso," California was admitted as a Free
State. There were compromises and concessions in
the premises, one being the passage of the "Fugitive
Slave Law," but none that could in any degree com-
pensate the South. It had lost a State from the very
territory it had secured for its exclusive benefit and
use; the "equilibrium" between the sections had been
destroyed; the North held the balance of power; and
there was no territory south of the "dead line" avail-
able for the creation of a compensating Slave State.*
From a political point of view, the plight of the
South was absolutely deplorable. One sole resource
remained, namely, to create a Territory and from it
make such a State. The only portion of the public do-
main that could by any possibility be made available
for the purpose was that lying immediately west of
Missouri ; but from this, slavery had been expressly
excluded by the terms of the Missouri Compromise.
And, besides, the lands were occupied under treaties
by various tribes of Indians. These were serious
complications and might have deterred more conserva-
tive statesmen; but, spurred by the direst necessity,
the South faced the problem, and, in 1853, with the
change of the Administration, undertook the creation
of a Slave State upon this territory.
The political situation at the time was favorable
for the accomplishment of the task; the Administra-
*During the pendency of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mr.
Trist, the American Commissioner, said to the Mexican Commis-
sioners, who desired to have slavery excluded from the territory to
be ceded: "Were this territory increased tenfold in value, and, in
addition to that, covered a foot thick with pure gold, on the single
condition that slavery should be forever excluded therefrom, I
would not entertain the offer for a moment, nor even think of
sending it to Washington. No American President would dare to
submit such a treaty to the Senate."
tion was Democratic; its ablest leaders were Southern
men; and upon a question affecting so vitally the wel-
fare of the whole South, the Administration could be
depended upon to render such aid and assistance as
might be necessary. The danger attending the at-
tempt to execute the undertaking lay in the shock to
the public conscience that would result from the re-
peal of the Missouri Compromise, and the effect that
might have upon public affairs. The gravity of the
situation was not overlooked nor lightly considered.
The crisis had long been anticipated. The ultimate
repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the opening
of the territory west of Missouri to slavery had been
incorporated into the program with the annexation of
Texas and the conquest of Mexico. The loss of Cali-
fornia forced the issue. It then became an imme-
diate political necessity; the redemption from failure
of the whole Southern scheme depended upon the suc-
cessful execution of this movement. It was to be the
last act of that great political drama. With Kansas
admitted as a Slave State, the commanding position
of the South in the Union would be restored. It could
then prevent for all time the admission of other Free
States, unless balanced by compensating Slave States;
and when the existing territorial limits should become
exhausted, another conquest could secure for it the re-
mainder of Mexico. The necessary legislation was
therefore decided upon, and, without reserve or apol-
ogy, Mr. Dixon, who had succeeded to the seat of Henry
Clay in the Senate, arose in his place and announced
that when the bill to create the Territory of Nebraska
should come before that body he would move "that the
Missouri Compromise be repealed, and that the citizens
of the several States shall be at liberty to take and
hold their slaves in any of the Territories." This per-
emptory challenge by the Southern Democracy was
ominous of the coming storm. The demand for this
concession was in the nature of an ultimatum to the
North, or an alternative proposition; namely, if the
North would consent to the repeal of the Missouri Com-
promise and the restoration of the equilibrium between
the sections by the admission of Kansas as a Slave
State, the Southern States preferred to, and would,
remain in the Union ; otherwise, they would disrupt it
and set up a Government for themselves. There was
no middle ground for agreement or compromise upon
the questions at issue, and none was attempted.
May 30th, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska bill became a
law, and by its terms the Missouri Compromise was
repealed. The result was greeted with wild demonstra-
tions of joy throughout the South. In Washington a
salute of one hundred guns greeted the passage of the
act; in the North bells were tolled, announcing "the
death of Freedom."
Because of the geographical situation, the Southern
statesmen expected an easy victory. According to
their estimates, they could colonize the Territory from
Missouri and the South, elect a Territorial Legisla-
ture, frame a State Constitution, and, with the Con-
gress and National Administration favorable to their
course, be admitted into the Union before any consid-
erable immigration could arrive from the North.
These propositions were all reasonable, and would
have been successfully executed but for the prompt
and systematic organization of colonization societies
in the North, in aid of emigration to Kansas. The
plan originated with Hon, Eli Thayer, a member of the
Massachusetts Legislature, who, while the Kansas-
Nebraska bill was pending in Congress, obtained a
charter for the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Society,
which, within sixty days after the passage of the act,
placed the first band of colonists in the Territory. The
affairs of the Company were placed under the direction
of Charles Robinson, who located the colony in what
is now Douglas County, and founded the town of
Lawrence, named by him in honor of Amos A. Law-
rence, of Massachusetts. This was the advance guard
of the Army of Freedom that was moving up to resist
the designs of the Slave Power and prevent the further
extension of its dominions. Only the prompt arrival
of these colonists upon the scene, and the timely and
intelligent intervention in affairs by their wise and
courageous leader, secured the success of the move-
ment. Delay, which often impedes such efforts, would
in this case have proved fatal. If these colonists had
not been present in force, there would have been no
invasions of the polls by citizens of Missouri, nor any
necessity for them, nor any of the disgraceful scenes
incident thereto, that aroused the righteous indigna-
tion of all Christendom. The Border Ruffians and the
Red Legs would have found no place in history, and
civilization would have been spared the spectacle of
crimes and atrocities being perpetrated upon citizens
of the United States by officers of the Federal Govern-
ment. Kansas would have quietly and peacefully en-
tered the Union as a Slave State; the supremacy of
the South would have been reestablished and slavery
intrenched for all time. These prospective conditions
were all reversed by the Northern invasion.
Robinson was especially equipped by heredity, edu-
cation and experience for the difficult role he was to
assume in the Kansas struggle. The blood of the
French and English kings coursed through his veins*
and gave him the commanding poise and mein that
make leaders of men and masters of destiny.
Attracted to California by the public interest the
discovery of gold there had awakened, he crossed the
plains in 1849, and settled at Sacramento, where public
affairs, rather than prospecting for gold, absorbed his
attention. A class of settlers called "Squatters" were
involved in controversy about the titles to their lands,
with speculators who claimed title by virtue of deeds
from one Captain Sutter, who held under a grant of
land from a former Mexican governor. Recognition
of such titles had been provided by the Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo. The boundaries of these grants
were very indefinitely described, and this one was in-
terpreted to cover almost any property that was de-
sirable. In the attempt of the speculators to eject the
Squatters from their claims, before the validity of their
titles had been determined, Robinson espoused the
cause of the Squatters and became their counsellor and
leader. His position in relation to the controversy was
defined in a resolution adopted by the Squatters, to wit :
"Whereas, The land in California is presumed to be
public land ; therefore
"Resolved, That we will protect any settler in pos-
session of land to the extent of one lot in the city and
*NoTE: — The ancestry of Charles Eobinson runs back through
twenty-two generations to Queen Isabelle, mother of Henry IH. and
wife of King John of England. Through Isabelle his line of descent
runs through the long line of Carlovingian Kings and Emperors
back to Charles Martel and Pepin Heristal.
one hundred and sixty acres in the country, until a
valid title shall be shown for it."
A crisis was reached August 13th, 1850, when the
Sheriff of Sacramento County ejected a Squatter and
seized his property. An armed band of Squatters, led
by Robinson and "Captain" Maloney, retook the prop-
erty and reinstated the settler. In the fighting several
persons were killed, including "Captain" Maloney, on
on side, and the Sheriff and the City Auditor of Sac-
ramento on the other. Robinson was among those se-
verely wounded; a rifle ball had passed through his
body two inches below his heart. He was held a pris-
oner and placed aboard a prison ship on the Sacra-
mento River. The speculators won the victory in the
battle, but the Squatters won their contention. In the
District Court of Sacramento, the Grand Jury found
four true bills against Robinson : one for murder, two
for assault with intent to kill, and one for conspiracy.
While still a prisoner and resting under these indict-
ments, he was elected to the Legislature for the Sac-
ramento District. After the election, the cases against
him were dismissed for want of prosecution. While a
member of the Legislature, he voted for John C. Fre-
mont for United States Senator, and against a bill to
extend slavery over that portion of the State south of
thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude. In
1851 he returned to Massachusetts.
Early in July, 1854, a little more than thirty days
after the passage of the Enabling Act, Charles Robin-
son arrived in Kansas Territory.*
*A year after this, attracted by the spectacular struggle then in
progress, General Lane arrived in Kansas, and a few months later
John Brown came and took up his residence at the home of his
son, John Brown, Jr.
The South had not been idle. It, too, had organized
colonization societies; and in addition to all such
proper methods to promote immigration, it attempted
to discourage and obstruct the immigration of Northern
men by methods of annoyance, intimidation and vio-
lence. In pursuance of this policy, residents of Mis-
souri came into the Territory in great numbers and
"marked for preemption" the most desirable tracts of
land. These Proslavery men, like the "speculators"
at Sacramento, claimed everything; and whenever a
Free State man attempted to locate a preemption, a
Proslavery man could always be found to assert a prior
claim. As Robinson expressed it, "It was the Sacra-
mento game over again, with Squatters' titles instead
of Sutter's deeds." Immediately the Lawrence Town
Company had purchased the site for the city of Law-
rence, numerous claimants appeared, demanding pos-
session, among them John Baldwin. Robinson sug-
gested the plan of settlement adopted in California —
"That each settler be protected in his occupancy until
a legal decision could be had." This was rejected.
October 5th eighteen men, armed and mounted, col-
lected at Baldwin's tent, and the next day war was de-
clared in the following terms :
"Kansas Territory, October 6th.
"Dr. Robinson: Yourself and friends are hereby
notified that you will have one-half hour to move the
tent which you have on my undisputed claim, and from
this date desist from surveying on said claim. If the
tent is not moved in one-half hour, we shall take the
trouble to move the same.
(Signed) John Baldwin and Friends."
The challenge was promptly accepted, as follows:
"To John Baldivin and Friends: If you molest our
property, you do it at your peril.
(Signed) C. Robinson and Friends."
After this exchange of courtesies, some thirty Free
State men, well armed, joined the Doctor's party and
took a position about ten rods from the tent in dis-
pute. The demonstration was sufficient. The incident
closed with an indignation meeting, called by the Pro-
slavery element, to "adopt measures that will protect
us from all moneyed associations and influences; also
the tyrannical encroachments made by the Lawrence
Association. On which occasion there will be speeches
made to vindicate the Squatter's right of preemption
and the protection of his claim until entered." Later
an attempt was made to cut down Robinson's house
on Mount Oread, but it was abandoned upon his ar-
rival with a few friends.
As the time approached for the selection of a Terri-
torial Delegate to Congress, it transpired that prepa-
rations were being made by the Proslavery men to
carry the elections ; and in pursuance of these arrange-
ments, large numbers of citizens of Missouri appeared
at the polls on election day, November 29th, 1854,
and voted. The total vote cast was 2,833, of which
1,729 were illegal. The importation of voters was un-
necessary, for at that time the Territory was Pro-
slavery by a large majority. Robinson, however, pro-
tested to the Governor (Reeder) and asked that the
entire vote of the districts receiving the votes of citi-
zens of Missouri,be not counted.
The crisis in the whole contention was reached
March 30th, 1855, when the election for members of the
Territorial Legislature was carried by the Proslavery
party. The Legislature would determine the question
of slavery in the Territory and provide the machinery
for its admission into the Union as a Slave State. The
control of this Legislature was the acme of Southern
hope; it was the goal that had been set up a third of
a century before by the Southern Propaganda. The
scenes enacted in connection with this election were
without a parallel in the history of political atrocities.
Organized bands of citizens of Missouri invaded the
Territory, and in the most brutal and offensive man-
ner took possession of the polls and elected a Pro-
slavery Legislature. They claimed, in justification of
their conduct, that the North had sent citizens of the
Northern States into the Territory to vote at the elec-
tions, and the South had an equal right to do the same
thing. When a judge of the election at one of the polls
resigned rather than receive the votes of the non-
residents, the leader of them said: "We will appoint
a judge to represent Missouri. You have two judges
on the board, and it is only fair that we should have
one to look after our interests."
The victory for the South seemed complete and de-
cisive. Overwhelmed and brushed aside by the force
of numbers, the handful of Free State men stood
aghast, mute witnesses of the ruthless invasion of their
sacred rights. Never was a cause, apparently, more
hopelessly and irretrievably lost. The great contention
seemed to have been determined. It was the hour of
fate. There was one man there, however, whose
dauntless spirit no force nor circumstance could in-
timidate. Amid the bluster and the brawling, the
shouting and the swearing, and the tumult of the
drunken, swaggering vandals that had invaded the
polls, he stood self-contained and undismayed — the
man of destiny, whom the fates had ordained for this
emergency and thrown into the breach in the hour of
victory to wrest from the victors its priceless trophies.
That man was Charles Robinson. In silence he con-
templated the carnival of political spoliation, but the
next day he despatched George W. Deitzler to Boston
with an order for one hundred Sharp's rifles, which
were received within thirty days and distributed
among his followers at Lawrence. And an intelligent
policy of resistance was thereupon formulated and put
into practical operation. June 25th, 1855, after pub-
licly resolving to repudiate the fraudulently elected
Legislature, and to disregard the laws by it enacted,
the people of Lawrence further "Resolved, That, in
reply to the threats of war so frequently made in our
neighboring State, our answer is, 'We are ready'." His
clear comprehension of the magnitude of his responsi-
bility is shown by the closing words of a request writ-
ten July 26th, 1855, to Eli Thaj^er, for more rifles with
which to arm the company organized by Captain Henry
Saunders, of which J. B. Abbott was First Lieutenant :
"In haste, Yotirs for Freedom for the World." Thus,
under his sole leadership, was inaugurated the revolt
against the Southern program that won the great vic-
tory for the North, that made Kansas a Free State,
and involved in its ultimate results the War of the
Rebellion and the extinction of slavery.
The outrages committed at the election March 30th
were formally reported to the Territorial Governor,
and another election was ordered for some of the pre-
cincts, to be held the following May. Of these elections
the Southerners took no notice; but when the Legis-
lature convened at Pawnee, they declared vacant the
seats of the members chosen at the May election and
seated the Proslavery members elected in March.
Then, after changing the capital of the Territory to
Shawnee Mission, which was voted over the veto of
the Governor, they proceeded to enact a code of laws
for the Territory. The sections relating to slavery
were unique; in a collection of legislative curios they
would have distinctive merit. They were intended to
encourage the ownership of slaves, and in every pos-
sible way promote sentiment favorable thereto, and to
stamp out and repress even a semblance of opposition
to it by either word or action. The bare expression of
dissenting opinion to it constituted a misdemeanor.
The theft of a slave was made a capital crime, pun-
ishable by death.
The Free State men gained substantially by the
passage of these harsh proscriptive measures, which
were at once a justification of the rebellion and a con-
firmation and publication of their grievances to be
read of all men; and this, in a contest where the ulti-
mate appeal lay to public sentiment, was invaluable.
They strengthened their position further by the move-
ment to form a constitution, and under it seek admis-
sion into the Union. The organization of a State
Government, with Charles Robinson as Governor, was
effected. It brought into their lines ambitious men
from the "quts" of the Democratic party, whose power
and influence were valuable. The experiment was
dangerous, but the substantial gains to be secured
thereby warranted the risk. Their situation, under
any circumstances, was extremely critical, and the
most serious complications confronted them. To create
a standard of loyalty that would justify avowed re-
bellion against the Territorial Government, created
and recognized by the Federal Government, required
fine discrimination. To oppose the former and nullify
its acts without giving offense to the latter was a
Except in one essential element, the situation and
outlook were altogether favorable for the Southerners.
"Missouri was nearer than Boston." They were the
majority party in the Territory, had the Territorial
organization and Legislature, and supporting these
were the Federal Administration and its forces. The
Northerners had the advantage in leadership. Their
colonization bureau could be depended upon, in time, to
reverse the relations of the parties as to numbers,
while the local organization, directed by its wise leader
and supported by able, conservative and courageous
men, inspired by a single purpose, the creation of a
Free State, was incomparable and invincible. From
every assault upon it, the South recoiled in defeat and
humiliation. They murdered Dow, and Barber, and
Brown, and Stewart, and Jones; they attempted to
prosecute and punish the Free State men for treason,
and, in pursuance thereof, arrested Charles Robinson,
who had been elected Governor under the Free State
Constitution, and other prominent citizens, and held
them for months as prisoners without bail, guarded by
United States troops. July 4th, 1856, with a battalion
of United States Cavalry and a section of Artillery,
under the command of Colonel E. V. Sumner, United
States Army, they dispersed the Free State Legislature.
They sought by force to prevent Free State men from
entering the Territory, and closed the Missouri River
against such travel; and, with United States troops
and a Deputy United States Marshal, arrested immi-
grants who attempted to come into the Territory
through Iowa and Nebraska.
Notwithstanding these extreme measures, they made
no substantial progress; they won no victories. Pas-
sion and prejudice prevailed where calm judgment
should have been enthroned, and reason forsook their
councils. Outgeneraled and outwitted in their military
invasion, the "Wakarusa War," they became the de-
rision and jeer of all parties. By prostituting the op-
portunities of victory to exploit their vengeance. May
21st, 1856, they discredited their cause and largely
alienated the support of their Northern allies. In the
sack of Lawrence they set the seal of their defeat; the
country refused to uphold such vandalism. That tri-
umph was their Waterloo.
One blot upon the Free State men's escutcheon, one
awful crime, the most reprehensible and brutal of all
the shocking events of that sanguinary struggle, sullies
their otherwise irreproachable record. During the
night of May 24th, 1856, three Proslavery men, Allen
Wilkinson, William Sherman and John P. Doyle, and
two boys, sons of the latter, all living on Pottawatomie
Creek, were aroused from their beds, taken a few
yards from their homes, and hacked to death with
swords, their skulls being split open and their bodies
otherwise horribly mutilated. The identity of the per-
petrators of this tragedy remained concealed for a long
time; later it was proved to be the work of John
Brown, assisted by three of the younger members of
his family and two Free State men. The motive for
committing the crime was to get the horses owned by
the victims. With the possession of these horses,
Brown began his spectacular career.
Whittier's famous lines on the affair on the Marais
des Cygnes apply with equal force to Brown's work on
These murders stirred the South into a frenzy, and
preparations for reprisals were made upon a scale that
augured ill for the Free State men. Colonel Sumner,
appearing on the scene with his Cavalry, turned back
some of the raiders, and for a time prevented the in-
vasion. In September they mobilized their forces and
entered the Territory in formidable numbers. What
the result of this invasion would have been had their
operations been allowed to proceed unchecked to ulti-
mate conclusion, none can say. Fortune again smiled
upon the Free State cause. This time, the exigencies
of the general political situation intervened. ''Bleed-
ing Kansas" had become the paramount issue. The
country. North and South, was aflame with excitement.
The success of the Democratic party in the Presidential
campaign then pending was imperilled by the implica-
tion of the Administration with the Proslavery atroc-
ities, and a halt in the proceedings had been ordered
from Washington. The Territorial Governor, Wilson
Shannon, was removed, and Colonel John W. Geary, a
Pennsylvanian, appointed to succeed him. The ap-
pointment of Geary was highly gratifying to Charles
Robinson. Each had known the other by reputation
during the trying times in California, and when they
met in Kansas they became frank and confidential
The arrival of Geary at Lecompton September 10th,
1856, was opportune. The most distracting conditions
imaginable existed throughout the Territory. In addi-
tion to the armed bands of both parties that were raid-
ing the country, fighting battles and despoiling and
terrorizing the inhabitants, war upon a grander scale
was imminent. A hostile army, twenty-seven hundred
strong, led by David R. Atchison, a United States Sen-
ator from Missouri, was marching upon Lawrence.
The Governor, upon being apprised of the movement,
ordered Colonel Philip St. George Cooke, of the United
States Army, with five hundred men, then stationed at
Lecompton, to move at once to the protection of Law-
rence. He arrived on Mount Oread at midnight, Sep-
tember 14th, and placed his command in position to
defend the town. Governor Geary arrived the next
morning, proceeded to the camp of what now had sud-
denly become the insurgents, at the mouth of the
Wakarusa, and commanded them to retire and disperse.
The order was imperative, and, supplemented by the
military demonstration, was reluctantly obeyed.
From this blow the Proslavery men never rallied. It
was their last invasion in force from Missouri. The
Democratic party was victorious at the National elec-
tion in November; Governor Geary was forced to re-
sign, and Hon. Robert J. Walker was appointed to
succeed him. But by the time the new Administration
was fairly inaugurated, it was plainly evident that the
Free State men had occupied the Territory in such
overwhelming numbers that they could never be dis-
lodged. The South stood beaten. The end was at hand.
At the election in 1857, the Free State party secured
a majority of both branches of the Territorial Legis-
lature. A futile effort to bring the State into the
Union with slavery, under a constitution framed at
Lecompton, failed to secure the support of the Demo-
cratic majority in the Senate. Even Douglas, the erst-
while champion of the Proslavery party, repudiated it.
Thus terminated the heroic struggle on the part of the
South to regain its supremacy within the Union; and
immediately upon the adverse decision of that struggle
it proceeded to devise and formulate ways and means
to establish an empire outside of the Union, which led
to secession and its consequences.
The record of the work accomplished by Charles
Robinson in connection with this political crisis cannot
be produced in the space allotted to this article. It is
in itself one of the most thrilling chapters in the his-
tory of our country. He was Commander-in-Chief as
Major-General of the Free State forces in the Waka-
rusa War, in which the Proslavery leaders were out-
witted and outgeneraled and compelled to disband
their "Army of Invasion" and retire in ignominy and
derision from the State. By his personal courage and
heroic bearing he inspired the Free State men to deeds
of noble sacrifice and daring. With artistic skill he in-
terested the ambitious in a scheme for Statehood, rich
in promise of emoluments and rewards. He was
elected Governor, January, 1856, under the "Topeka
Constitution," and set up the State Government at
Topeka in opposition to the Territorial Legislature,
which was dispersed at the point of the sword. With
unerring judgment he avoided the pitfalls and snares
set for the Free State men to bring them in direct con-
flict with the authority of the United States, which
would have been fatal to the cause. His life was in
constant danger. His home was pillaged and burned
to the ground by the Sheriff of Douglas County. The
delicate and dangerous role he assumed led into the
shadow of treason. He organized the Free State men
as a military force and armed them with the most
modern implements of war, which gave them courage
to resolve at the Big Springs Convention, September
5th, 1855, referring to the laws enacted by the Terri-
torial Legislature, "That we will endure and submit
to these laws no longer than the best interests of the
Territory require, as the less of two evils, and will re-
sist them to a bloody issue as soon as we ascertain that
peaceable remedies shall fail and forcible resistance
shall furnish any reasonable prospect of success." This
was treason, pure and simple, but it was justified by
the higher tests of exalted citizenship. He was ar-
rested and held a prisoner upon the charge; but the
General Government dared not bring him to trial be-
fore the Nation. He would have been murdered at
Leavenworth, while in arrest there, had his captors
dared to give him up to death. Throughout the whole
of that heroic struggle, his was the master spirit that
inspired and the guiding hand that pointed out the
';path to victory. . His .speech delivered at Lawrence
July 4th, 1855, is a classic in patriotism and loyalty;
it is the utterance of a great man impressed by the
responsibility of a great cause.
The student of history is invited to an investigation
of the results of the work accomplished by Charles
Robinson in their influence upon the course of National
events. He broke the autocratic power of the South
that had theretofore dominated the Government, and
smashed the slate that would have perpetuated that
power forever. To the Nation he gave the dawn of its
new birth of freedom, and to its Declaration of Inde-
pendence consistency and dignity. Had he faltered
March 30th, 1855, or failed in any subsequent emer-
gency in the Kansas Rebellion, the Emancipation
Proclamation would not have been written. He cre-
ated the conditions from which sprang the immortal
paper, and deserves to stand in history upon equal
terms with the man who wrote it. Upon the admission
of Kansas into the Union, he was elected Governor;
but the strength and efficiency of his administration
was weakened by the intrigues and machinations of
his political enemies, especially those of Senator Lane,
who, in the furtherance of his own political fortunes,
sought to discredit the Governor at Washington, and
appropriate to himself a portion of the Executive's pre-
rogative. The action of Mr. Lincoln in the premises is
not creditable. He placed reliance in the representa-
tions of Senator Lane and grossly wronged and insulted
the dignity of the man whom, above all others in this
Nation, he should have honored. By a cruel blow*
dealt him by the Administration, to the existence of
which he had so largely contributed, his political for-
tunes were shattered , aiH fibeVexn^nder o^ Msl lf|e
emtHt^ftd. After the close of his term of office, he
gradually severed his relations with the Republican
*In September, 18C2, Senator Lane was appointed Brigadier-
General, United States Volunteers, and authorized by Secretary of
War Staunton to organize three regiments of Volunteers in Kansas,
and to appoint the necessary commissioned officers. Governor Rob-
inson refused to issue commissions to the persons selected by Lane,
whereupon the Secretary of War ordered Robinson to issue them,
saying if he refused, the necessary commissions would be issued
from Washington; to which Robinson sent the following character-
istic reply: "You have the power to override the Constitution and
the laws, but you cannot compel the Governor of Kansas to dis-
honor his State."
party and ceased to wield a controlling interest in State
affairs. The University of Kansas thereafter became
the object of his special interest. He promoted its es-
tablishment and endowed it with his fortune. In honor
of his memory, the Legislature caused a marble bust
of the Governor to be placed in the Chapel of that in-
stitution. This was unveiled with appropriate cere-
mony February 22d, 1898. He died at his home, "Oak-
ridge," near Lawrence, August 17th, 1894.*
*His wife, who was his constant and devoted companion through
all these perils in Kansas, still survives him. She was Miss Sara
T. D. Lawrence. They were married October 30th, 1851. She is
a woman of strong character and great literary ability, and en-
joyed to the fullest extent her husband's confidence and love.
GENEALOGY OF CHARLES ROBINSON
The Carlovlngrlan Ilonse.
(Fisher's Outlines of History, p. 233.)
Pepin of Hcristal, d. 714.
Charles Martel, d. 741.
Pepin the Short. (King 752-768.)
Charlemagne, 768-814. (Emperor 800. )
I,ouis the Pious, 814-840.
l,ouis the German, 843-876.
Carloman, d. 880.
Arnulf, King of Germany, 887-899. (Em-
daughter m. .
Henry I of Germany, 918-936.
Robert "the Strong;, " d. 866, a. d. (In-
vested with the County of
Paris, in 861, by "Charles the
Bold," grandson of Charle-
Robert, Duke of Normandy. (King
Hugn the Great, d. 956, m. 3. . married Hedwiga.
Hugh Capet, 987-996.
Robert I, 996-1031.
Henry I, 1031-1060.
Philip I, 1060-1108, m. Bertha, dau. of Florence I, Count of Holland.
I/)uis VI, 1108-1187 (styled "Louis le Gros").
Peter, Lord of Courtenay (fifth son of Louis VI).
Alice, m. Agnew Taillefer, Count of Angouleme.
John, King of England, m. Isabelle
1. Henry IIL
2. Edward I.
3. Edward II.
4. Edward III.
6. Duke of York.
6. Earl of Cambridge.
7. Duke of York.
8. Edward IV.
married Count de la Marche.
Thomas, Lord Berkeley.
Margaret, Lady Bassett.
— — Bassett.
Sir Symond Bassett.
9. Elizabeth, m. Henry VII. Robert Bassett.
10. Margaret, m. James IV, King of Gyles Bassett.
11. James V, King of Scots.
12. Mary, Queen of Scots.
13. James 1.
"I Jane Dighton.
14. Elizabeth, ra. Frederick, Elector |
I of Palatine. Frances Dighton, m. Richard Williams.
16. Sophia, m. Ernest Augustus, Elec- | |
I tor of Hanover. Samuel. Thomas.
I I I
16. George I. Seth. Jonathan.
I I I
17. George II. David, m^ Elizabeth .
18. Frederick, Prince of Wales. Jonathan Robinson, m. Phebe Williams.
19. George III. Jonathan Robi nson, m. Hulda Woodward.
20. Duke of Dent. Charles Robinson.
22. Edward VII.
(' (1) King John of England. Son, Henry III.
I (2) Count de hi Marche of France. Four sons
Isabelle of Aligotllcnie, m. -j (one of whom was Wm. de la Valence,
Earl of Pembroke), and a daughter,
Isabelle, "uterine sister" of Henry III.
Isabelle, m. Maurice de Creoun, a baron of note.
Isabelle, m. Maurice de Berkeley, d. April, 1281.
Thomas, I,ord Berkele3', m. Jane, dau. of Wm. de Ferress, Earl of Derby.
Margaret Berkeley, m. Sir Anselm Bassett.
Sir Henry Furnealx. Walter Rawley [Raleigh] ni. Jane, the
I I Ivord Boteler's dau. I
Bassett. Sir Matthew Furnealx, . . . . m. . . Maud Rawley.
Bassett. Sir John Bytton, m. Avis Furnealx.
. I I
Sir Symond Bassett, . . . m. . . Maud Byttou.
Robert Bassett, in. Margaret Harwell.
Gyles Bassett, m. Jane Davis.
Robert Bassett, m. Anne Spj'cer.
William Bassett, ra. Jane, dau. of John of Ashe, of Yewley.
Edward Bassett, m. Elizabeth, dau. of Henry Sygon, of Yewley.
Jane Bassett, m Dr. John Dighton, of Gloucester, England, eminent surgeon, of
I St. Nicholas parish.
Frances Dighton, m. Richard Williams, both of Gloucester, England.
Alden de Cromwell, 1066.
Robert. Dau. Margaret, m. William Smyth, bro. of Margaret.
William, m. Margaret Smyth.
John, m. Joan Smyth, dau. of William Smj'th, above.
Walter, son Thomas, Vicar General, 153.).
Katherine Cromwell, m. Morgan Williams.
1 . I
Thomas. Sir Richard Williams.*
John Williams. Sir Henry Williams, alias Cromwell.
Richard Williams. Robert Cromwell.
1 . I •
JohnWilliams. Oliver Cromwell.
William Williams, m. Jane Woodward.
Richard Williams, of Taunton, m. Frances Dightou.
David, m. Elizabeth.
Phebe Williams, m. Jonathan Robinson .
Jonathan Robinson, m. Hulda Woodward.
* Sir Richard Williams changed his name to Cromwell in honor of his uncle,
Thomas Cromwell, vicar general under Henrj' VIII, and wrote his name "Wil-
liam, alias Cromwell," as did his son Hetirj', grandson Robert, and great-grand-
son, Oliver Cromwell, in his youth. (1620.)
THt HALL LITHOGHAPHINO CO., TOPtKA
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