Saturday, September 7, 2013

Kansas Territory ~ After the Sack of Lawrence

Monday's winner of the Amazon gift card is Jackie Smith,
congratulations, Jackie. Please contact me with your email at christinainspirationals at gmail dot com.

In January 1865, before Lawrence, Kansas was sacked, Charles Robinson was elected governor by the free-staters. If you recall there had been a Topeka convention in which a constitution was adopted and sent to Congress for approval. Unfortunately, the Senate rejected the constitution after the House of Representatives had passed it.

Remember that whole thing about 'high treason'? Old Judge Lecompte decided that anyone who was even slightly connected to the abolitionists would be consider guilty and the pro-slavery activists went on a rampage. A grand jury was set up and they began indicting people left and right. The first indictment was for ex-territorial governor Andrew Reeder. Reeder refused to appear before the grand jury, and when a marshal attempted to arrest him Reeder took off. Story goes that Reeder disguised himself as a woodchooper until he made it to the free-states.

The current governor, Charles Robinson, wasn't as lucky.

The grand jury set up by Lecompte conducted all of their activities in private. They had hoped to act quickly and send all free-staters packing from Kansas, either that or arrest them. Fortunately for the free-staters, they had a sympathizer among the jurors who informed them of the jury's intentions.

Robinson met with several officials and decided he would go east to appeal to the Eastern governors. Charles Robinson and his wife Sara were captured at Lexington, Missouri when a group of men boarded the boat they were on. Even though there was no indictment against Robinson at this time, the men were ordered to hold him until one could be drawn up.

 Mr. Robinson was taken to Leavenworth where a group of pro-slavery men threatened to hang him. The attempt was halted and Robinson was then moved to Lecompton where he remained a prisoner with many free-staters.

The following excerpts come from Kansas: Its Interior and Exterior by Sara T. L. Robinson.

My husband and myself left Lawrence, on his way to Washington, in the public hack for Kansas city. We reached that point about six o'clock. The Star of the West, Capt. Dix commanding, soon after came down the river; and the doctor immediately went on to the boat, entered his name on the clerk's book, and procured a state-room. We remained at the hotel over night and took passage on the boat the next morning about six and a half o'clock. There were very few passengers; everything was quiet; and we were making a quick trip. In the afternoon we procured some books, and went into our state-room. From reading we soon fell asleep. At Lexington I was awakened by a noise as of many coming on to the boat.
I love her sense of sarcastic humor in the following paragraph.
Gen. Shields stated that "they had been talking to the mob fifteen minutes, endeavoring to persuade them to leave the boat; but none would be satisfied unless the governor was retained in Lexington," while others said, "Drag him out." His own manner was sufficient to show that, had the mob acted upon the advice as reported, there would have been at least one of "the first citizens" wofully disappointed. He said, moreover, "Had it not been reported that your lady was on board, violence would at once have been offered; and no restraint could have been held over the crowd." The Yankee spirit of the lady rose at this, and a mental review was made upon such chivalry, such gallantry, of men who hesitate not to steal and invade the rights of others on the public thoroughfares. Such gallantry is the index, in all nations where it prevails, of the real want of morality and principle -- a false glitter, where the whole under-current of the body politic is corrupt.
Seeing there is no other option, she seems to resign herself.
My counsels were to decline going with them. This was an unexpected phase of the matter; but the clerk of the boat stepped into our state-room at this juncture of affairs, and advised me, for the sake of my husband's safety, to consent to his going with them. The gentlemen gathered about the door pledged themselves to protect him from all violence. The exact value of such pledges I was unable to estimate, not knowing why men who would invade all the rights of American citizens on the public thoroughfares, would not as easily, without compunction of conscience, break their plighted word, if policy whispered a different course. My only hope at that moment was in this matter of policy, and I at last consented to go off the boat at Lexington.
Mrs. Robinson chose to continue her journey the next morning.She took with her all the documentation her husband was to share with the Eastern governors.

The following excerpt tells us a few things. One, Governor Robinson seemed to be some sort of freak show the way the crowds wanted to visit with him. And two, it didn't matter how willing the free-staters were to negotiate, the pro-slavery advocates were determined to have there way. Take note of the bold type.
Many of the citizens called to see him, and were acquainted with all the plans of the new invasion. They said, "There would be a fight." He told them "he did not think so; there would be no occasion for a fight. No one intended to resist the arrests of the United States Marshal." They said, 'it would make no difference whether they resisted the marshal or not, -- they were determined to have a fight. They would attack and destroy Lawrence, then the other towns generally, and drive the free-state men from the territory." A few of them said, "they did not care for Kansas particularly, or the laws, but were determined to get up a fight; then the North would be aroused, a general war ensue, and the dissolution of the Union would be the result." Others said, "it was to be a war of extermination; if the free-state men could sustain themselves against the pro-slavery men, they would acquiesce and give it up."
I hope you join me next month where I plan to wrap up my Kansas Territory posts and share a bunch of photos from Fort Scott.

 Born and raised in Kansas, where she currently lives with her husband and children, Christina loves to read stories with happily ever afters, research,  take photos, knit scarves, dig into her ancestry, fish, visit the ocean, write stories with happily ever afters and talk about her family and Jesus.

A semi-finalist in the Genesis, she just recently signed two contracts with Love Inspired Historical for a Biblical romance. You can find her at


  1. Great post! Love hearing about Kansas Territory history!
    tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

  2. Thank you for sharing more of the Kansas Territory!

  3. Thanks for sharing this information! It has caused me to reconsider the backstory of part of my family (I am writing a true life novel). They lived in Lecompton from 1859 to 1866! Why did they move Kansas from a great place like Bellefontaine, OH? And how did they survive the war there? Three infant daughters died in Lecompton during the war. They moved to Clinton, Missouri after the war, then most of the sons moved on to Colorado, where I pick them up in my story. One of the sons married into my family, my great-grandmother who lost everything when Gen. Lane burned the whole of Bates County. Your posts have given me the opportunity to think through the reasons for their losses in the Civil War and how those losses affect their characters. Thank you!

  4. Your posts about the Kansas Territory are so interesting. Thank you for sharing!