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Edmund Burke Whitman to Franklin B. Sanborn

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Lawrence Jany 16 1858
My dear friend Sanborn
It is really too bad; my procrastination in answering your many and kind letters since Oct. 5. No one who does not see me from day today and from morning to night can appreciate my position for the last five months. I have had at least three things to do where there was really but time to do one, I live in daily hope of Emerging from the whirl in which I live, but you know the old adage of a free horse. I aim to write to my children regularly but I take Sunday for that, while I desire to postpone to the week days my secular business. Your letters of Oct 26, Nov 19, Dec 17 and Jany 2nd are all before me as the political topics are nearly the same in all I can answer them in one. What to say to you in regard to our political prospects I know not. We Elected the Legislature in October and they held the special session as you suggested enacted a new Election law under which it would seem we might have overwhelmed the foul thing and so far as voting is concerned we have done so, but what avails our votes or our wills? The Convention of Dec 23 decided in no way to touch their polls or to vote under their laws. The special session had solemnly enacted that all further action under the Act calling a Constitution Convention to be null & void and without the form of law – and also enacted stringent laws to prevent fraud. Our convention

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of Dec 28 decided fairly not to go into their election for the choice of State officers under the Lecompton constitution. An opposite policy was urged, namely to possess ourselves of the officers under it so as to embarrass the action of Congress and if admitted to have the whole thing in our hands and the officers by refusing to take the oath could let the dirty thing fall to the ground and make way for the peoples government. This was plainly a democratic policy among us aided by the National democrats. The course to be pursued was predetermined. They bolted and nominated a ticket most of which is a disgrace to the cause by deceptive circulars and the desire of the people to avoid a split, quite a large vote was polled and the returns show about 300 majority for the Free State candidates and a good working majority in both houses and so our people proclaim it a victory, And!! The offices elect now openly avow their purpose to be, to take the oath under that constitution and to organize the government under it, trusting to the future to set things right. The people are indignant. But I think we shall be spared this disgrace. Calhoun is too many guns for them. He declines to give any certificates until after Congress has acted upon the Constitution.
There are also remonstrances against some of the returns which if allowed will turn the scale the other way. The wily politician and vilian declines to sit in judgement on their remonstrances also until after Congress has taken action. If the Lecompton Swindle is adopted by Congress then the remonstrate

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will be heard favorably and the certificates refused to the free state officers but if Congress rejects the constitution then we will do the fair thing that is grant the office loving gentlemen their certificates, [xxx], O the tricks of Slavery! What seems to anger us no good is the fact as is pretty well understood that Robinson sides with these men. He has made peace with Brown, favored the voting at their polls etc. He is charged with aspiring to the U.S. Senate in some form. The two Legislatures are now in session here. The territorial & Topeka and a sort of antagonism seems to have sprung up between them.
Jany 23
I had proceeded thus far when a new call rushed in upon me and this has lain untouched until today. Yesterday yours of Jany 12 came to hand enclosing another letter to John Brown and here I will say what I can of that person. I have several letters on hand for him but cannot forward them, from ignorance of his whereabouts. About two months since he appeared at my house with two companions one of them a son. he spend two days with me but did not show himself abroad and desired secrecy. I fitted him out with tents & bedding and paid him in gold $500. He then left me declining to tell where he was going or where he could be found, but simply said “that when any difficulty occurred he should be there.” I could neither learn from him whether his arms were in the Ter. Or not. Subsequently one of his men was in town but no persuasions could induce him to tell any of us where

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the old man was tho we had urgent need of his assistance and a committee had been appointed to wait on him. From that time to this no one knows of his whereabouts. On several occasions we needed his aid and advice but he was still absent. The general impression now is that he has left the Territory. A rumor has recently been afloat that he has returned to Tabor with a few followers and has there opened a Military School. If so, he will soon be calling for funds as the young men who were with him were penniless. The confidence of the people in him has departed - of what use say they is a man we can never find and who will consult with no one. Some openly express the opinion that one of his old fits of insanity has returned upon him. He had with him the draft from your county treasurer for the money you appropriated. So much for our friend Brown. If I learn [aught?] more of him I will inform you.
To return to our Territorial Legislature. It is now busy enacting a law for a new Constitutional Convention. A vote was taken yesterday upon the proposition to ask an enabling act of Congress and thus help the democrats out of a dilemma – but the proposal received but a solitary vote in the house. We mean to have another convention and enable

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ourselves. When the law is fairly through then we shall organize as Republicans or Topeka Constitution men and struggle for the election of such delegates as will sustain the past and justify and vindicate the [cause?] of the Free State men in the past. The Democracy will or rather have organized to reject the entire thing and ignore the past. Which side Robinson will take is now uncertain. The people will win I think and democracy and [xxx?] skin deep free State men be forever crushed out here. We shall do our best. The Legislature is also enacting some necessary laws and repealing the bogus code as fast they get laws to supply the place of those repealed. The Topeka body have now taken a recess until the 10 of July. In the mean time their Committes are busy framing a code of Laws. It is mutually agreed that as far as possible the laws passed by the two bodies shall be identical.
You say we are sure of success. As far as a free state is concerned it may be, but we seek now, such a free State as is a free State, principles influence and all.
One word here of Mr. Conway, he is back and engaged in his profession. He declines to take an active part forth in politics and does not do much. He says he cannot afford it.
I am under great obligations to yourself and Friend Jennison for your very kind defence and vindication of me in the Cambridge Chronicle. I have

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written to him acknowledging the favor.
Your account of Alfred gives me such satisfaction and his own letters are very satisfactory. He has written to me respecting a change of boarding place. His reasons appear satisfactory and I have given my consent for him to go Miss Barrett’s with your approval. When I learned that they were not in the habit of attending public worship on Sundays I felt a reluctance about leaving a boy with them. However good people they might be I could not but feel that the silent influence of such a practice would have an injurious effect upon a boy. I shall place confidence in your judgement about Miss Barretts being an improvement.
In yours of Jany 2 you ask on behalf of the [Mass.?] Com. for a statement of my proceedings. As my books are not fully posted up and balanced I cannot today give the precise condition of the finances and can only say that in consequence of a misunderstanding between Mr Stearns and me I am again involved or else must be guilty of a breach of trust the National Committee. I will send you a financial Statement in a few days. In the meantime I will give you a brief history of my modus operandi, premising that it has proved as a general thing perfectly satisfactory.
First I had an inventory of all goods on hand taken. I then divided each kind of articles into 35 parts calling this a Share. These Shares were appropriated to the various localities in the Territory to some one Share to another half a Share to others two or

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three shares according to the extent of territory and number of inhabitants. The appropriation for each place was then selected and valued at a low price, packed and sent off to its destination. The Agents were instructed in their duty by a printed circular, one of which I enclose.
I paid the transportation in all cases. One hundred and thirty five miles was the farthest any was sent. To Lawrence and vicinity was appropriated Three Shares valued at $1388.65. To Mapleton One Share valued at $511.60. To Moneka One Share value $460.99. Osawatomie Two Shares value 896.05. Hambden One Share Value 466.78 Humbolt One Share value 495.55. Ottumwa One Share Value 506.15. Emporia Two Shares value 905.71. Council City One Share Value 511.50. Manhattan One and half Shares value 721.00. Wabounse One Share Value 443.60. Brownsville One Share value 462.85. Grasshopper Falls One Share Value 429.65. Kansas Falls ½ Share Value 247. 05. Missouri Creek ½ Share Value 225.35. Hilton One Share Value 415.70. Washington One Share 458.35. Munrovia One Share 475.65. Winona One Share value 438.75. Burr Oak One Share value 457.50 Brooklin One Share Value 418.40 Lawrence One Share additional Value 535.06. El Dorado ½ Share Value 124.33. Topeka Two Shares Value 809.25. Clinton One Share value 414.20. Easton One Share Value 348.91 In all 30 Shares – Some of the goods I received with which to replace the contents of lost private packages and to the value of 845$ to be given away on acct of the New York

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Ladies Society - A return of sales from several places has been made and I find that the amt of sales comes nearly up to the Valuation, in some cases a few things remain on hand. The sales for cash by the Agents I hope will pay for their services –
In regard to the appropriation from the Cambridge Treasury $500 – no intimation was ever given while I was there that it was to be on any such basis as the New York mony and when the information arrived the clothing had already gone to its destination and no reservation made for that purpose. A little biddy has been reserved upon which to raise funds for a deficiency if it should be needed.
I spoke of a misunderstanding between Mr Stearns and myself the result of which is not only very annoying to me but a serious injury personally-
The position of matters was this. I reported to your Committee an actual amount due me on the National Committees acct of $1000 – also debts already incurred and which must be paid on my return of about $300. Further freight & [storage?] bills for clothing & care about the same 300. Estimated Expence of distributing the clothing to its different localities about 1000-
1000 300 300 1000 2600
Your committee gave me an order of P.T. Jackson for 1300 – The New York Ladies sent 845. And the Cambridge Committee proposed to give 500
1300 845 500 __ $2645 –of the 1300 to be paid

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me by Mr Jackson I drew only 300 leaving the balance of $1000 to be drawn for in St Louis. Before I started he failed. This was the amt personally due me and through Mr Stearns I obtained the security of a note due in six months. This I left in the hands of Mr Stearns with his promise to negotiate it as soon as the times grew easier and send it by a certificate of deposit to Simmons & Leadbeater of St Louis to be by them forwarded to me. In the mean time a letter came from John Brown for $1000 and no questions asked This was an appeal to Mr Stearns. The Cambridge money had not then been secured. Mr Stearns himself suggested that if that could be procured I should have all the funds I asked for and more than I should use immediately. If I would use 500 of the amount for the time being to pay J.B. I might when in need of it draw on him for the same amount at sight. To this I agreed in order to relieve him to make me safe he gave me a letter of credit for $1845 of this I was to draw as soon as I arrived in St Louis 1345 being the amt of the NYork & Cambridge appropriations and reserve the authority for the remaining 500 to the time it should be needed. The note for the security of my funds in Jackson’s hands still remaining with Mr Stearns. On my arival at St Louis I found a Telegraphic dispatch from Mr S. saying “draw at once for the whole amt. of 1845” by this I supposed

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he had found means to advance John B.’s money at once. Accordingly when I received the money I sent him receipts as follows for New York money $45. for Cambridge Money 500. Money for J.B. 500 = 1845$. To my utter surprise he returned the latter receipt stating that he had taken half of the amount due from Jackson to me to cover the 500 to John Brown and that 500 of my money was still in his hands and only that. Moreover, that I must look to the sales of clothing to reimburse myself for the $500 so advanced to J. Brown. In effect I am thus made to pay to John Brown of my own funds 500 and lose it or else
take it from the proceeds of sales when they shall be realized a year hence – But I had no authority whatever to do this. I had paid J. B. already 500 with authority borrowing it on my own note and looking prospectively to a reimbursement from sales of clothing. I have no right to touch the value of another cents worth, for that purpose, I had indeed no right to lend Mr. Stearns 500 for that purpose and did so only on his permission to draw at sight and with a letter of Credit to that amt. If it is said by your Committee that we will authorize you to reimburse yourself for this amount. I can only reply that it is compelling me to advance 500 on my own [acct?] and wait a year or more for my pay.

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The 1000$ due me from Jackson was as I stated borrowed money and in consequence of this turn of things that part stills remains unpaid – my interests and reputation suffering in the meantime.
The whole transaction, conversation and arrangement are so distinctly recorded in my mind that I do not hesitate to speak with perfect positiveness in regard to it. I cannot conceive how there could be a misunderstanding in the minds of any one, yet I know Mr Stearns would not recede from any proposition he remembered himself to have made neither would he knowingly [involve?] me in difficulty.
It must be evident that I could have had no such understanding for I had no power to make any such appropriation from the property entrusted to me. And surly I was not in a condition to have volunteered to contribute that amount to Mr Brown. Had Mr Stearns letter of denial reached me before I had paid the money over I should not have paid one cent. I trust the error my be soon rectified. I consider Mr Jackson as still owing me $500 and the note in Mr Stearns hands as security for it. I shall write Mr Stearns fully upon the matter the first [xxx] moment.
I send you a copy of the Herald of Freedom containing a letter of mine. It had to be written at just this time. The Republican contains an account of our last public meeting. I am now at work upon a Bill to establish System of Public Schools. I am in hopes to secure from both Legislatures the appointment of Superintendent of Public Schools. I thank you for

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your frequent favors and now that you understand a little the causes that produce delay with me you will not surely wait for me but write whenever you have any thing to say. I enclose a bill of clothing as receipt of those sent out to the Agents – It is only a transcript of a charge upon the books-
The return of the Agents show on his book a corresponding number of articles sold or on hand – with the prices at which they sold. The amt of notes & cash sales plus the discount made added to the valuation of the goods on hand will equal the amt. of the charge on my books. – I see no possible way for deception or dishonesty. – It will be some time before all the returns will come in – probably I shall be obliged to visit a number of the places to get the accounts- There were some notes put into my hands for collection both by your Committee and the [T. N.?] Com, but the scarcity of money is such that there is no prospect of making any collection until spring.
I am very truly your friend
E B Whitman

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