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1855 rescue of free stater Jacob Branson

1855 rescue of free stater Jacob Branson
Creator: Abbott, James Burnett, 1818-1897
Date: Between 1855 and 1860
James Abbott, a free state activist who participated in several Kansas Territory conflicts (including the rescues of John Doy and Jacob Branson), wrote this account of the 1855 rescue of Jacob Branson. In his account, Sheriff Jones, supported by the proslavery "bogus" legislature, had arrested Jacob Branson, a free state man who witnessed the murder of Charles W. Dow by Franklin Coleman, a proslavery neighbor. Abbott and his cohorts successfully rescued Branson, although their actions were controversial even among fellow free state supporters. Certain aspects of Abbott's account of these events disagreed with an earlier account provided by Samuel Wood, and Abbott addressed those discrepancies in this document. [Abbott's account, obtained either by handwritten manuscript or personal interview, is presented here as an annotated typed transcript.]


A. Finch to Thaddeus Hyatt

A. Finch to Thaddeus Hyatt
Creator: Finch, H.
Date: December 22, 1856
This letter, written from Osawatomie by A. Finch to Thaddeus Hyatt, chairman of the National Kansas Committee, provided general information about the inhabitants of Osawatomie and neighboring areas. It included a list of about half of the settlers residing in Osawatomie at this time, including the four pro-slavery voters. Mr. Finch went into detail about the most fertile areas that would be excellent sites for free state settlements, and about the economic conditions and financial needs of the settlers.


A. Pierse to Eli Thayer

A. Pierse to Eli Thayer
Creator: Pierse, A.
Date: March 31, 1857
A. Pierse wrote from Washington, D.C. to Eli Thayer in Worcester, Massachusetts. Pierse was born in North Carolina and lived most of his life in the South but had been living in Minnesota Territory for the past seven years. He told Thayer that he planned to move to Kansas in the spring of 1857. Pierse offered Thayer his opinion on what free state supporters should do in Kansas Territory. He informed Thayer that, although he had "Southern opinions on the subject of slavery" and believed the federal government had no right to prohibit slavery in the territories, he was "without prejudice for or against either side" in the debate over slavery in Kansas Territory. Pierse suggested that the best course for free staters to take would be to accept the Dred Scott decision, actively participate in the political process in Kansas Territory, and work for the admission of Kansas as a state with or without slavery. Once Kansas was admitted, he contended, free state supporters would be on firmer legal ground to advocate for the prohibition of slavery, since it was generally accepted that "the people have the power to prohibit slavery in their state." He concluded by stating that once Kansas was a state, free staters could make the case that property would be worth 3 or 4 times more if slavery was prohibited in the state.


A.S. Harris to Thaddeus Hyatt

A.S. Harris to Thaddeus Hyatt
Creator: Harris, A S.
Date: September 22, 1856
A.S. Harris wrote from New York to Thaddeus Hyatt regarding an article in the Journal of Commerce that dealt with the upcoming Presidential election and the strife in Kansas. The clipping was attached to the letter, and it included a rather lengthy attack on emigrant aid societies.


Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
Date: 1850s
A portrait of Abraham Lincoln. In December 1859, Lincoln traveled to the Kansas Territory and spoke at Elwood, Troy, Doniphan, Atchison, and Leavenworth. His speeches covered several issues including preventing the expansion of slavery, the theory of popular sovereignty, and the evils of states seceding from the Union. In 1860, Lincoln received the Republican party's nomination for president. Although Kansans liked him the delegation from the territory did not support his nomination. He won the election, and on February 22, 1861, at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA, Lincoln raised the United States flag bearing a 34th star, honoring Kansas as the newest state.


Address of the Constitutional Convention to American Public

Address of the Constitutional Convention to American Public
Date: April 3, 1858
A committee made up of John M. Walden, James Fletcher, Thomas Ewing, Jr., Isaac T. Goodnow, Henry J. Adams, T. Dwight Thacher, and Addison Danford prepared this eleven-page manuscript "address to accompany the instrument" adopted at the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention. The statement essentially laid out the philosophical foundations and rationale for the new document. It argued that the facts showed the overwhelming majority of Kansans desired admission as a free state.


Address to the American People on the Affairs of Kansas, pamphlet

Address to the American People on the Affairs of Kansas, pamphlet
Date: 1857
This address recounted the history and purpose of the formation of the Kansas State Government of Topeka, in peaceful opposition to that of the Territory. The free state message accused the systems of the Territorial Government of encouraging influence from abroad in their election process, and indicated that they had nothing inherently against Missouri's citizens as a whole, but implored that they not attempt to violate the rights of Kansas settlers. The address stated that the Territory was "organized for defence" by a pledge from Governor Walker, and appealed that outsiders remain in their homes for the benefit of all.


Albert D. Searl to Thaddeus Hyatt

Albert D. Searl to Thaddeus Hyatt
Creator: Searl, Albert D
Date: August 21, 1856
The author wrote from Tabor, Iowa to Thaddeus Hyatt, president of the National Kansas Committee. He began the letter by mentioning a skirmish between pro-slavery and free state forces somewhere between Lawrence and Topeka. This correspondence also deals with emigrant settlements within the territory, the shipment of weapons and provisions, and the morale among the emigrants as they struggled to make ends meet. Furthermore, Searl mentioned a great deal about James Lane and his activities within Kansas Territory.


Albert G. Patrick

Albert G. Patrick
Date: Between 1865 and 1869
This is an engraving of Albert G. Patrick, who came to Leavenworth, Kansas Territory, on February 12, 1856. He became involved in the free-state party. Patrick joined Captain Wright's Stranger Creek company and participated in the Hickory Point engagement on September 14, 1856. He was captured by United States troops and sent to Lecompton where he was held by Governor Geary under indictment for murder. He was later acquitted. In the summer of 1857, he was elected clerk of the Supreme Court and, in the fall of that year, was elected to the Council of the first Free-state Legislature, serving two years. Although a free-state man, he was elected to the Senate under the Lecompton constitution. In 1867 he was elected to the legislature from Marshall County. Patrick moved to Jefferson County in 1868 and, in 1869, he was elected clerk of the county, serving two years. He owned and published the Valley Falls New Era newspaper.


Alfred Larzelere

Alfred Larzelere
Date: 1854-1860
Alfred Larzelere of Doniphan County was active in free state politics. He served as speaker of the Kansas House in 1859 and as a delegate to the Leavenworth constitutional convention. He was also a member of the Free State Central committee.


Amos A. Lawrence to Charles Robinson

Amos A. Lawrence to Charles Robinson
Creator: Lawrence, Amos Adams
Date: January 31, 1856
Amos Lawrence writes from Boston, Massachusetts, to advise his friend, Charles Robinson, to submit to the authority of recognized officers of the U.S. government, no matter how unjust their actions appeared. Lawrence suggests that Robinson follow the "Fabian policy" of non-violent, peaceful resistance, and do what he could to discourage "all aggression" on the part of free-state men.


Amos Adams Lawrence to John Brown

Amos Adams Lawrence to John Brown
Creator: Lawrence, Amos Adams
Date: February 19, 1857
Amos Lawrence, Boston, sent John Brown $70 which had been donated by the people of East Jaffrey, New Hampshire, for Brown's "own personal use, & not for the cause in any other way than that. Lawrence did not believe Brown would receive much financial support from the National Kansas Committee: "the old managers have not inspired confidence, & therefore money will be hard for them to get now & hereafter."


Amos Adams Lawrence to John Brown

Amos Adams Lawrence to John Brown
Creator: Lawrence, Amos Adams
Date: March 20, 1857
While John Brown was touring the East in March of 1857 he received this letter from Amos Lawrence, Boston, who informed Brown that he (Lawrence) had recently "sent to Kansas near $14,000 to establish a fund" for the support of common and secondary schools. As a result, Lawrence wrote he was short of cash and could not give Brown what he had requested. Nevertheless, "in case anything shd occur while you are engaged in a great & good to shorten yr life, you may be assured that yr wife and children shall be cared for more liberally than you now propose."


Andrew H. Reeder to Charles Robinson

Andrew H. Reeder to Charles Robinson
Creator: Reeder, Andrew H. (Andrew Horatio), 1807-1864
Date: February 18, 1856
On February 18, 1856, former Kansas Territorial governor, Andrew Reeder, writes Charles Robinson to advise Robinson of the current situation in Washington, D.C., and to urge caution. Reeder believes that Robinson, and the Topeka movement and legislature, must clearly state that they are organizing a "state government" solely for the purpose of being ready to assume authority if and when Congress admits Kansas Territory to the Union. Reeder believes the "state movement" was on solid constitutional ground if this is its official position in the meantime, and cautions Robinson that they must take care not to usurp the power and authority of the territorial government.


Andrew H. Reeder to Charles Robinson

Andrew H. Reeder to Charles Robinson
Creator: Reeder, Andrew H. (Andrew Horatio), 1807-1864
Date: February 16, 1856
From "Washington City" on February 16, 1856, former Kansas Territory governor Andrew H. Reeder wrote Charles Robinson regarding Reeder's efforts to influence Kansas Territory policy in the nation's capital. Reeder was working through friends, since he no longer had personal influence with President Pierce, and he was not pleased with the president's February 11 proclamation, which he called "the low contemptible trickstering affair which might expected from Pierce, and is like the Special Message [of January 24] a slander on the Free State Party." Nevertheless, Reeder thought it could have been worse and insisted that Robinson and the other free-state leaders "should not organize the State Govt" as Pierce would just use that action to justify aggressive moves to suppress the free state movement.


Andrew H. Reeder to William Hutchinson

Andrew H. Reeder to William Hutchinson
Creator: Reeder, Andrew H. (Andrew Horatio), 1807-1864
Date: August 25, 1856
This letter from Andrew H. Reeder to William Hutchinson describes Reeder's efforts to raise money for the Free State cause in his travels through the northern states.


Annals of Kansas, January - February, 1855

Annals of Kansas, January - February, 1855
Creator: Wilder, Daniel Webster, 1832-1911
Date: January, 1855 through February, 1855
D. W. Wilder's "Annals of Kansas," published in 1886, provides a day-by-day chronicle of significant events in Kansas. These are digital images of Annals of Kansas entries for the territorial period of 1854-1861.


Articles of Agreement for Shubel Morgan's Company

Articles of Agreement for Shubel Morgan's Company
Creator: Morgan, Shubel
Date: July 12, 1858
In July 1858, fifteen men including Shubel Morgan, alias John Brown, J. H. Kagi, James Montgomery, and Augustus Wattles signed this document and thus "agree[d] to be governed by the following rules" of conduct. The rules included "gentlemanly and respectful deportment," obedience to the commander's orders, "no intoxicating drinks," etc.


Articles wanted for an outfit of fifty volunteers

Articles wanted for an outfit of fifty volunteers
Date: ca. January 1857
Among the articles itemized in this "Memorandum of articles wanted as an outfit for fifty volunteers to serve under my [John Brown?] direction during the Kansas war" are wagons, horses, blankets, frying pans, etc., at an estimated cost of $1,774.


Augustus Wattles to James Smith

Augustus Wattles to James Smith
Creator: Wattles, Augustus, 1807-1876
Date: June 18, 1857
From Lawrence on June 18, 1857, Augustus Wattles wrote Jas. Smith (Is this a Brown alias?) regarding affairs in Kansas Territory, specifically referring to several of the Free State Party's leaders: "Holmes' is at Emporia plowing. Conway's here talking politics. Phillips is here trying to urge the free State men to galvanize the Topeka Constitution into life. . . ." and Robinson had "dispirited the Free State party" by his absence from the legislature last winter, making it "difficult to make them rally again under him." Although one hears "much against Brown" he is "as good as ever."


Augustus Wattles to John Brown?

Augustus Wattles to John Brown?
Creator: Wattles, Augustus, 1807-1876
Date: August 21, 1857
Augustus Wattles wrote to John Brown from Lawrence, August 21, 1857, regarding several matters but focused again on problems within the Free State movement because of a loss of confidence in Charles Robinson's leadership. Robinson had openly criticized G. W. Brown and the Herald of Freedom and the factious party could accomplish little, but Wattles was confident that free staters would vote in and win the October election for territorial legislature.


Augustus Wattles to Thaddeus Hyatt

Augustus Wattles to Thaddeus Hyatt
Creator: Wattles, Augustus, 1807-1876
Date: December 3, 1860
This letter, written from New York by Augustus Wattles, was addressed to Thaddeus Hyatt, president of the National Kansas Committee. The main focus of the letter was on two proslavery men--Captain Doake and General Clark--who persisted in mistreating free state settlers along the Missouri-Kansas border. The letter also referred to Charles Jennison and to James Montgomery, whose band of free state militiamen was still active even into 1860. Wattles vehemently maintained that free state forces were only organizing for their own protection, not for a great insurrection as the Missourians believed.


Battle of Black Jack list of participants and casualties

Battle of Black Jack list of participants and casualties
Creator: Brown, John, 1800-1859
Date: June 2, 1856
According to this document listing the participants and those "men wounded in the battle of Palmyra or Black Jack," son-in-law Henry Thompson was "dangerously wounded."


Beware of frauds!  Down with the disorganizers!

Beware of frauds! Down with the disorganizers!
Creator: Central Committee
Date: 1858
This poster discusses the slate of candidates for a constitutional convention (Leavenworth?), cautioning free state men to beware of attempts to divide them and thus weaken their ability to challenge the pro-slavery force. It also warns about split Free State tickets.


Billings & Bryant to John Brown, bill of sale for horse wagon

Billings & Bryant to John Brown, bill of sale for horse wagon
Creator: Billings & Bryant,
Date: Between 1855 and 1859
The state of Iowa frequently served as a relatively safe haven for abolitionist John Brown and his followers during the late 1850s, and Iowa City was on the famous Lane Trail which carried many free-state activists and settlers to and from Kansas. This document, from "Billings & Bryant," indicates that the partners had received $100 from John Brown as payment "in full for a heavy Horse Waggon" that they agreed "to ship immediately to J B Iowa City, Iowa; care of Dr. Jesse Bowen." Bowen was a member of the Kansas Central Committee of Iowa who later lived in Leavenworth, Kansas Territory.


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