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Government and Politics - Territorial Government - Political parties - Free State - Kansas State Central Committee

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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.


Colt First Model Dragoon Revolver

Colt First Model Dragoon Revolver
Creator: Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company
Date: between 1851 and 1852
Colt First Model Dragoon Revolver with engraved cylinder. Six shot, 44 caliber single action steel revolver with walnut grips. William F. Arny reportedly gave this Colt Navy revolver to John Brown in 1856 in recognition of his efforts for the Free State cause. According to Arny, Brown returned the revolver to him when he learned that Arny did not support his methods. Arny came to Kansas in 1857 and was involved in the Free State movement, serving as a delegate to the Grasshopper Falls Convention and as a member of the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention. He was also elected to the first State Legislature. Arny donated the revolver to the Kansas Historical Society in 1879. Alternatively, it is possible that the revolver was one of fifty purchased by John Brown supporters back East and sent to him in Kansas. Because he was keeping a low profile, Brown couldn't receive the shipment and the revolvers were distributed to Kansans who might be able to use them to support the cause. Brown later attempted to retrieve the weapons with little success. Arny may have received this revolver and kept it until the time of donation.


James Blood correspondence

James Blood correspondence
Date: 1854-1861
James Blood was involved with the first party of New England Emigrant Aid Company settlers who arrived to Kansas in late July 1854. Blood was actively engaged from the beginning in the free-state movement. He served as treasurer of the Kansas State Central Committee, 1856-1857, as a member of the Topeka legislature, 1856, as the first mayor of Lawrence in 1857, as a member of the central territorial committee at the Republican Party's organizing convention in May 1859, as county treasurer in the early 1860s, and as a representative from Lawrence in the 1869 state legislature. He died in Lawrence on February 4, 1891. This folder of correspondence focuses on the years 1854 to 1861, with some letters discussing border problems with Missouri and the need for additional troops and artillery.


James M. Arthur receipt to Kansas Central Committee

James M. Arthur receipt to Kansas Central Committee
Creator: Arthur, James M.
Date: December 27, 1856
This receipt, signed by James M. Arthur and dated "Lawrence, December 27, 1856," reads as follows: "Received . . . Of Kansas Central Committee six U S. Breach loading Rifles and two U S Muskets one Box U S Caps and six Bullet molds for Rifles. Said arms to be returned on the order of said Kansas Central Committee."


Kansas State Central Committee record book

Kansas State Central Committee record book
Creator: Kansas State Central Committee
Date: Between July 3, 1856 and July 13, 1857
This record book contains the official proceedings of the Kansas State Central Committee from July 3, 1956, to July 13, 1857. The committee was established to coordinate the activities of the Free State Party. District committees were established to carry out activities at the local level.


Orville C. Brown to Samuel L. Adair

Orville C. Brown to Samuel L. Adair
Creator: Brown, Orville Chester, 1811-1904
Date: November 12, 1856
Orville Chester Brown apparently wrote this letter to Samuel L. Adair in Osawatomie, Kansas Territory, from Utica, New York. He reported that he had spoken to ten different groups about needs in Kansas. He reported that Mr. Arny of the National Kansas Committee planned to visit Osawatomie, and promised that the people there would get their fair share of relief aid. He asked Adair a number of questions about the situation in Osawatomie, including questions about pro-slavery settlers. He discussed elections and the Know Nothing party.


Receipt, Kansas State Central Committee

Receipt, Kansas State Central Committee
Creator: Colburn, Willard
Date: October 22, 1856
This receipt is signed by Willard Colburn and dated "Lawrence, October 22, 1856," for items (shirts, pants, quilts, etc.) received by the Kansas State Central Committee. In light of the receipts that precede this one in the same folder of documents, it might be assumed that the provisions and clothing listed here were intended for the Lecompton prisoners.


Record of arms disbursed by the Kansas State Central Committee

Record of arms disbursed by the Kansas State Central Committee
Creator: Kansas State Central Committee
Date: September 24, 1858
Begining with an entry signed by James Montgomery, acknowledging receipt a Sharps rifle and a Colt revolver "to be used in defense of Kansas," this small leather-bound volume contains over 30 such entries for numerous weapons.


Relief aid receipt, Lawrence, Kansas Territory

Relief aid receipt, Lawrence, Kansas Territory
Creator: Ketcham, Justus G.
Date: November 12, 1856
Itemized list of clothing, food, and other provisions issued by the Kansas Central Committee to Dr. Samuel E. Martin for distribution "in Topeka and vicinity among the destitute."


Thomas J. Marsh to George L. Stearns

Thomas J. Marsh to George L. Stearns
Creator: Marsh, Thomas J.
Date: August 27, 1857
This letter from Thomas J. Marsh to George L. Stearns regards the political delegate convention in Grasshopper Falls, Kansas which, according to Marsh, was well-attended by all portions of the territory. The letter discusses preventive measures that the Free State party planned to take in order to ensure fair elections, including utilizing a poll book. Election fraud was common in the Kansas Territory as Missourians poured into the state on election day in support of proslavery legislators. The letter ends with a note claiming that Governor Charles Robinson gave Marsh $200 for the Free State cause, which was forwarded on by Amos Lawrence. A searchable, full-text version of this letter is available by clicking "Text Version" below.


Thomas J. Marsh to George L. Stearns

Thomas J. Marsh to George L. Stearns
Creator: Marsh, Thomas J.
Date: July 18, 1857
Thomas P. Marsh in Lawrence, Kansas, wrote to George L. Stearns regarding political activities in the area. Marsh discussed attending the Free State party convention and the support for the Topeka Constitution in Lawrence and the surrounding areas. He also discussed the census and how it compared to the number of voters in the territory. During the "Bleeding Kansas" period, voter fraud was common as Missourians poured into the territory to support a pro-slavery legislature. A searchable, full-text version of this letter is available by clicking "Text Version" below.


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