Kansas MemoryKansas Memory

Kansas Historical SocietyKansas Historical Society

Charles Robinson and James M. Winchell to William H. Seward

Item Description Bookbag Share

Lawrence, Sept. 28th, 1860

Hon. William H. Seward.

Dear Sir:

The undersigned, emboldened by your words of sympathy and encouragement, in your address to our citizens on the 26th inst. at Lawrence, propose to briefly state what in their judgment is the condition of our people and what are their necessities and wants. We believe that there is nearly enough of corn and a sufficiency of meat in the Territory to supply the necessities of the people, if properly distributed, and that the only articles necessary to import are clothing, groceries, flour, and seed for spring planting. Neither do we anticipate high prices for these articles as the states immediately east and north-east of us, with which we have steam communication, are abundantly supplied, and must sell at low prices. Neither are our people, paupers. Nearly all our farmers have 160 acres of land, a comfortable cabin, with other improvements, and more or less stock, while our mechanics are as well situated as the same class in the states, ready to do with their might whatever their hands can find to do. What then is our address? We answer: want of money, or credit. Our merchants as a   


[Page 2]


class will compare favorably with merchants of any state for uprightness and benevolence, but they are not princes in wealth; they have to buy their goods for cash or on short credit, and cannot trust them out to the farmers until next harvest, although abundantly secured. Our Bankers have but little money to loan and that at exorbitant rates of interest – from 2 to 5 per cent a month. If our Farmers who have been unable to secure a crop in consequence of the drouth, can be supplied with credit or money till the next harvest at a reasonable rate of interest – from 10 to 20 per cent per annum – for which they can give ample security, there will be no occasion for charity from abroad. A few may not be able to give security, but in most cases they can arrange to work for their neighbors who can give it, and in this way the number that will need charity will be small and can easily be relieved by our own community. The census shows a population in eastern Kansas of over 100.000, or 20.000 families. Of these we estimate that one-fourth, or 5000 families will need aid as above, or become object of charity. Some will require more and some less aid but an average of $200. to each family would probably be sufficient to meet their necessity, amounting to $100.000. This amount we believe could meet our necessities, but we have some pressing wants besides, that we would be glad to have supplied, not however,


[Page 3]


as a charity. Many of our people on account of the unsettled state of Kansas up to the time of the first sales of land, were unable to pay for their homes without borrowing money for one year or more, at large interest. Most of these persons, would have raised the money this year from their crops to pay off these debts, had not the drouth prevented. Now they are at the mercy of their creditors and if they will not give an extension of the time for payment at the reasonable interest, or if our people cannot borrow the money to meet these payments, their homes with all they have, must be sacrificed. If some of the money of the east could be made accessible to our people who are thus situated, at a rate of interest not exceeding 15 or 20 per cent per annum, it would afford great relief to a worthy class of our people and be perfectly safe to the lender. Our people have already received so many favors and so much sympathy from their friends in the older states, that it is with great reluctance on the part of the most of them, they speak of their distress. We feel sure they do not ask charity if they can get relief in any other way. We believe our people are as energetic and persevering as those of any state in the Union, and that they are determined to deserve success, but they cannot command the clouds of Heaven, and the boldest, most resolute and deserving may be baffled in his efforts and compelled to see his family suffer for the necessaries of life.    


[Page 4]


Now dear Sir, if one word from you to the capitalists, or others, who have enough and to spare, will enable our people to get relief as above, that word will place them under renewed obligations to one they already regard with the affection due to a benefactor. Very Respectfully

C. Robinson

J.M. Winchell

Item Description

Copyright © 2007-2021 - Kansas Historical Society - Contact Us
This website was developed in part with funding provided by the Information Network of Kansas.