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St. Louis-San Francisco Railway depot, Rosedale, Kansas. St. Louis-San Francisco Railway depot, Rosedale, Kansas.

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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.]


Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal

Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal
Date: April 2, 1858
When the convention considered Article 7, Education, near the end of the afternoon session on Friday, April 2, James Davis of Leavenworth moved to insert "white" before "child," but Sam Wood's motion to table passed 44 to 36. The yeas and nays were recorded.


Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal

Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal
Date: March 26, 1858
Kansas's third constitutional convention, convened at Minneola, Franklin County, on March 23, 1858, elected officers (including Samuel F. Tappan, secretary), and then adjourned to reconvene at Leavenworth on March 25. During the afternoon session, March 26, 1858, some interesting debate occurred regarding the viability of the Topeka Constitution, and a minority of the Leavenworth delegates reaffirmed their support for the 1855 instrument. (The Leavenworth Convention nevertheless drafted and adopted a new constitution, and adjourned on April 3, 1858.)


Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal

Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal
Date: April 3, 1858
At the final session, Saturday afternoon, April 3, 1858, all the delegates signed the convention's proposed constitution, but several took the opportunity to make one last protest of the inclusion of "negro suffrage" because they believed their constituents opposed it and/or insisted that the instrument did "not extend the right of suffrage to negroes." This protest included Caleb May of Atchison County, the entire Linn County delegation (Addison Danford, Robert B. Mitchell, Thomas H. Butler, and Robert Ewing), and A. W. McCauslin of Jefferson County. The latter individual also expressed concern about the Education clause, "which appears to permit colored children to go to Common Schools with white children" and "the subject of negro immigration."


Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal

Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal
Date: April 2, 1858
At the beginning of the afternoon session, on Friday, April 2, 1858, suffrage was briefly discussed, with Samuel N. Wood moving to strike "male" wherever it occurred in the instrument and "to insert after the word 'he' the words 'or she." The motion failed, but 20 delegates supported what arguably amounted to an equal rights amendment for women. The yeas and nays were recorded.


Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal

Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal
Date: March 31, 1858
During the course of the convention's business on Wednesday, March 31, 1858, the delegates took up the article on "elective Franchise reported back from Committee on Phraseology." Samuel N. Wood's motion "to strike out the word 'male'" failed, 21 to 35, but interestingly, the yeas and nays were recorded. The votes for the unsuccessful effort to insert the word "white" were also recorded.


Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal

Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal
Date: April 1, 1858
On Thursday afternoon, April 1, the delegates began considering the proposed constitution in its entirety. When they reached Article II, the elective franchise, Hampton P. Johnson of Leavenworth, "moved to insert the word 'white' before the word 'male'." Jim Lane's motion to refer the matter to a special committee failed, as did B.B. Newton's motion to table "the whole subject"--yeas 35, nays 41. The yeas and nays were recorded. Among those voting to table, and thus to stifle the effort to add the word "white," were Lane, Ritchie, Preston B. Plumb, Thacher, and Amasa Soule.


Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal

Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal
Date: April 2, 1858
After considering a few other issues, such as the selection of Topeka as "the temporary seat of Government," the convention took up the motion from the previous day on the elective franchise, with T. D. Thacher explaining that his select committee had considered the insertion of the word "white" and "unanimously report against its insertion." After some debate over procedure, Thacher offered an amendment that instructed the first legislature to put "the question of universal suffrage to the people at the general elections." The amendment passed, 50 to 29.


Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal

Leavenworth Constitutional Convention journal
Creator: Tappan, S. F. (Samuel Forster), d. 1913
Date: April 1, 1858
The Leavenworth constitution was the third of four constitutions proposed for Kansas statehood and the second free-state constitution (after the Topeka and before the Wyandotte constitutions). Delegates for the territory's third constitutional convention were elected on March 9 and assembled in Leavenworth on March 25, 1858. The delegates considered the "Homestead Exemption" during the morning session, April 1, 1858. The provision was amended so as to make the basic exemption 160 acres or not over $2,000. The vote on this was recorded and the yeas and nays are followed by numerous explanations--many delegates who voted nay did so not because they opposed the concept.


Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson

Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson
Creator: Tappan, S. F. (Samuel Forster), d. 1913
Date: March 15, 1858
In this letter, written from Lawrence, Kansas Territory, Samuel Tappan informs Thomas W. Higginson of the state of affairs in Kansas Territory. He begins by mentioning the constitutional convention that would soon meet at Minneola and hopes that the free state side would be triumphant. Tappan also mentions the recent election for mayor of Lawrence, stating that Carmi Babcock won over James Blood. The last page, tacked on as if it were a separate note, gives a brief summary of where influential leaders were currently located, so Higginson would know of their whereabouts.


Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson

Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson
Creator: Tappan, S. F. (Samuel Forster), d. 1913
Date: July 6, 1857
In this letter, Samuel Tappan writes to Reverend Thomas W. Higginson, an agent of the Massachusetts Kansas Aid Committee, to update him on the situation in Kansas Territory. He discusses the "bogus" constitutional convention and Gov. Walker's actions against the free state cause. He mentions that the proslavery forces "did all they could to have us 'partake' in the bogus election without success." Tappan still has confidence that the forces of "democracy" willd triumph. In the postscript, he speaks briefly of a census taken by free state leaders.


Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas  W. Higginson

Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson
Creator: Tappan, S. F. (Samuel Forster), d. 1913
Date: December 14, 1857
This letter, written from Lawrence, Kansas Territory, by Samuel Tappan, begins with small talk about his personal life. Tappan quickly moves on, however, to the political affairs of the area. Apparently, Charles Robinson and James Lane are encouraging the free state population to vote in the next election regarding the Lecompton Constitution. They are planning on holding a free state convention in a couple of weeks to decide if this is the best course of action. Tappan believes that if free state men vote in the upcoming election, it would be a tacit acceptance of slavery (because proslavery supporters would most likely carry the election, to participate in the election was to legitimize its, possibly, proslavery results). He is also disappointed that the Topeka government has failed, blaming its collapse on the fact that it had been too concerned with weighing "the chances of success in Washington." The free state territorial legislature has just opened its session in Lecompton, Kansas Territory.


Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson

Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson
Creator: Tappan, S. F. (Samuel Forster), d. 1913
Date: April 7, 1858
Samuel F. Tappan of Lawrence, Kansas Territory, writes this letter to Reverend Thomas W. Higginson, informing him that the last letter he received from Higginson was lost in the Kansas River while Tappan was crossing it on horseback. Tappan also tells Higginson that he has been elected secretary of the Leavenworth constitutional convention meeting that month. He discusses in detail the turn out of the votes concerning negro suffrage and women's suffrage and describes the joyful reaction to the defeat of a Senate bill. According to Tappan, the border warfare has ceased and "it is almost impossible to excite a war spirit in Kanzas," further stating that "we rely wholly upon numbers now, and not upon Sharp's rifles." He expresses interest in having more women emigrate to Kansas, writing that "the fact is, women are scarce in Kansas and unmarried men numerous."


Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson

Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson
Creator: Tappan, S. F. (Samuel Forster), d. 1913
Date: April 17, 1859
In this letter, Samuel F. Tappan continues to keep Reverend Thomas W. Higginson, of Worcester, Massachusetts, apprised of the current situation in Kansas Territory. He mentions such topics as the Pike's Peak gold rush and the affairs of the New England Emigrant Aid Company, stating his belief that Robinson and Pomeroy are innocent of any charges of speculation. He praises John Brown's work to free slaves and the work of the Doy family in that same endeavor. However, he does not agree with Charles Robinson, who too readily looks to the interests of the Republican Party instead of supporting John Brown's work in the territory. Tappan writes that he appreciated the Atlantic Monthly magazine and Higginson's contributions to it.


Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson

Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson
Creator: Tappan, S. F. (Samuel Forster), d. 1913
Date: June 27, 1859
The main focus of this letter, written from Lawrence, Kansas Territory, by Samuel F. Tappan, is the case of Dr. John Doy, who had just been convicted of abducting slaves from Missouri. Doy had been sentenced to five years imprisonment, but his lawyers got a two month suspension so they could file an appeal with the state Supreme Court. Tappan outlines the evidence against Doy, which he said rested on the testimony of one proslavery man. He reiterates the story behind the Doy kidnapping in case the recipient, Reverend Thomas W. Higginson, is not aware of all the details. The letter ends by mentioning the strength of the Democratic Party in Kansas Territory.


Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson

Samuel F. Tappan to Thomas W. Higginson
Creator: Tappan, S. F. (Samuel Forster), d. 1913
Date: June 24, 1860
Samuel Tappan writes this letter from Lawrence, Kansas Territory, to Reverend Thomas W. Higginson of Worcester, Massachusetts. Tappan is leaving for Colorado in a week or two, presumably to meet some family members who are working the gold fields there. He mentions Theodore Parker, a supporter of John Brown, who had a terminal illness and passed away while in Italy. Tappan also writes of James Redpath's biography of John Brown, including a portion of the book that discusses a mail coach robbery in the summer of 1856.


Samuel Forster Tappan

Samuel Forster Tappan
A portrait of Samuel Forster Tappan, who was born in Massachusetts and came to Kansas when he was in his twenties. He listed his occupation as a journalist but was best known as secretary at the Leavenworth and Wyandotte Constitutional conventions. He was a free state supporter and settled in Lawrence. This image was taken a number of years after the territorial era.


Samuel Tappan to Ellen Douglas Denison Goodnow

Samuel Tappan to Ellen Douglas Denison Goodnow
Creator: Tappan, S. F. (Samuel Forster), d. 1913
Date: June 29, 1855
Samuel Tappan wrote from Barker's Mission on the Shawnee Reserve in present-day Johnson County, Kansas Territory, to Ellen Goodnow, Isaac Goodnow's wife, near Manhattan. Tappan updated Ellen on the status of some misplaced luggage, providing a good description of local shipping and travel procedures. He praised the land of Kansas, " a glorious country to try 'men's soles' (sic)". Tappan also described the recent scuffle between Governor Reeder and Benjamin Stringfellow, an incident which embodied the tension between anti and proslavery supporters.


Topeka Constitutional Convention

Topeka Constitutional Convention
Date: October 24, 1855
According to a copy of the 1902 cover letter written by Samuel C. Smith of Lawrence, secretary/chief clerk for the convention, this incomplete "copy of the Journal of the Topeka Constitutional Convention" was made at Lawrence in November 1855. It began with the opening of the second day's session, October 24, 1855, and continued daily, except for Sunday, October 28 and November 4, through Saturday, November 10 (the convention officially adjourned, according to Wilder, "Annals," November 11 during the very early hours of that Sunday morning). The first few pages of the journal detailed organizational matters, including the election of James H. Lane as president of the convention and the creation of standing committees.


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