A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Friday, November 30, 2012

1855...when 791 + 5,427=2,905 ...only in Kansas!

We have moved on to Bleeding Kansas and I get to show one of my favorite primary sources!

Absttract-Kansas Voting Ledger 1855 (National Archives)

This ledger is the Abstract of Census and Returns of Election for the first territorial election in Kansas. The territorial governor had already been appointed by Pesident Peirce so the election is for the teritorial delegate to Congress. Look at the bottom of the ledger. According to the abstract, there were 5,427 votes for the pro-slavery candidate and 791 votes for the Free State (anti-slavery candidate).

5427+791=6218, right? Well, according to the census prior to the vote, there were only 2,905 elegible voters in the territory but more than 6,000 actual voters.

I love that there is a column in the ledger for illegal votes. Look at Leavenworth (#16). The number of illegal votes is more than double the number votes even possible. Leavenworth was a solidly proslavery town but it even happened the bastion of the Free State movement, Lawrence (#1)! There are 269 elegible voters and it is logical that more than 250 of the votes were for the Free State candidate. Then there are the almost 500 voters who cast a pro-slavery vote in Lawrence.

The answer is one of the reasons for the Border War between KU and Mizzou. At election time thousands, of Missouri residents cross the border to vote in the election. All they had to do was state they were intending to take residency and they were allowed to vote.

Letter to E. Thayer by Charles Robinson, 1855 (Source: Kansas Historical Society)
Future governor of Kansas, Charles Robinson wrote to a friend back east:
For E. Thayer
This is sent to Mr Rice to avoid opening & [xxx] [xxx].
Lawrence April 2 1855
Dear Sir
Another election in Kansas Territory has passed & like the first was controlled entirely by Missourians. A few days before the election I was travelling in the Southern & eastern part of the territory & met hundreds of people from Missouri on their way to the different voting precincts in the Territory. Encampments were formed in the vicinity of the polls varying in size according to the number of voters required in the several districts to secure their end - The grand rendevous was at Lawrence where they had reinforcements stationed for all parts –
At Tecumseh two of the judges of election refused to take the oath prescribed by the Governor & the third refused to proceed when the mob, after snapping pistols at the antislavery judge & threatening to destroy all the judges if they did not leave, proceeded to choose judges of their own & go on with the election - The free state men accordingly abandoned the polls & did not vote - At Douglas the judges attempted to conform to the law & instructions of the Gov. when they were mobbed & driven off. No antislavery voting was consequently done at that place

It will take two concurrent state legislature (one Free State and one "Bogus"), John Brown's Potawotomi Massacre, the sacking of Lawrence, four state constitutions, and a Civil War to get Kansas in the union. Kansas was a mess. Some things never change! ;)

Have a great weekend.

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