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Edmund B. Whitman to George L. Stearns

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Lawrence April 13, 1858 Geo. L Stearns Esq
My dear Sir Yours of March 18 & 30 are both before me. Politically I can answer both in the same times. A brief review of the course which events have taken here for the last six months will enable you to understand our position and appreciate our necessities. While Kansas is blessed with many of the truest men of the age, men, who are fully up to the emergency, she is also cursed with some of the most unprincipled demagogues that ever afflicted any country. Principles are of use to them only to subserve personal or party ends, and what makes the matter worse is that some of them are among those who have heretofore been looked up to as leaders. In January last a large number of the people were induced by the grossest deception to go into an election for State Offices under the Lecompton Constitution. The distinct declaration

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was made that the aim in this move was to fill the offices to the exclusion of others, Slavery men, and then to refrain from touching the unclean thing, and allow the people to set up their own Government, either the Topeka, or some other to be inaugurated by the Legislature about to assemble. No sooner were they elected, than some of the more bold and incautious began to avow their intention to put the Government in operation and make it the parent of the future Government.
In Jany. The two legislatures met, the Territorial legislature of free State men and the Topeka State Legislature. It very soon became evident to the most casual observer that there was very little unity of purpose, and in fact a real antagonism of principle. Long before the territorial Legislature adjourned it was pretty well understood that designing men were making tools and fools of the Topeka Legislature to subserve unworthy ends; to keep the people quiet while they matured their plans for its overthrow. Nothing however was said openly, but every body was suspicious of his neighbour. The bill for a new Constitutional Convention was evidently postponed with a design to defeat it and yet it was held

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up as the compromise ground on which both extremes were to meet. On Sat, the Ter. Legislature adjourned and in the afternoon a mass meeting was held to consider of the public welfare. The Topeka Legislature had not adjourned but were anxiously inquiring what to do. – In order if possible to draw out an open declaration of secretly cherished purposes and to compel men to show their real colors. I introduced a resolution, to the effect- “That in case the Lecompton Constitution should be adopted by Congress and a Government inaugurated under it before the Constitutional Convention just created should have time to complete its work, then it would be the duty of every true free state man to fall back upon the so called Topeka Govt. and rally under it to the last.” This called forth one of the warmest and the ablest debates that has ever taken place in Kansas, which was continued until one o’clock Sunday morning. It compelled a full declaration of opinion and of purpose, Gov Robinson declared “that the Topeka Govt. was dead and had been since then last June,” other prominent men declared, Since that the free State Offices & Legislature under the Lecompton Constitution, if recognized, would

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assemble, organize and take the oath of allegiance choose two United State Senators, provide for a new Constitutional Convention and then adjourn, others that they would organize and call the convention, but not choose Senators, and still others that they should hold together and pass such laws as the occasion required, be they more or less, How the vote upon the resolution would have stood I know not, but having accomplished my purpose of drawing out an open declaration of purpose I withdrew the resolution and the meeting adjourned,
On Monday the Topeka Government formally broke up, killed by its professed friends, deserted by those who had created it. But the members went home – and the people went to work in their own way and with a full knowledge of the issue, as made of, to choose delegates to the Constitutional convention This Convention met and when I say that they elected M. F. Conway Pres it indicates their complexion. The instrument you have ere this seen and it will speak for itself. In the test votes on citizenship etc the Lecompton faction showed steadily 19 votes only out of a convention of 80 – and many of

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those had succeeded by political manouvring in obtaining seats. In the course of the debates which took somewhat of a wide range, a severe blow was given to the purpose of those who had proposed to make any [xxx] whatever of the Lecompton C, if accepted. The Lecompton Free Sate men mortified and discomfitted have returned home determined if possible to secure the offices also under this constitution and then let this one die, The doctrine of the people is for the Free State Officers under the L. constitution to take no oath, to refrain from all action under it but, letting it quietly fall and die, to give place to the peoples government just now formed, It is held that under such circumstances the Federal govt, could have no show of right to interfere and all would end well. If the Lecompton Constitution is adopted and pro Slavery men receive their certificats or enough of them to secure their ends, The boys-----------------. If the free State men get their certificates or if the Constitution is rejected then every thing will depend upon the character of

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the men elected under the new Constitution. If the right men are put in power under it, Then they will make it the living government of the State and no power on Earth can withstand it. They made it, to stand by it, and for no boys game. But the Lecomptonits – or in other words the Hunker, Conservative Democratic free state men, if they can possess its offices, will quietly let it die. They are strict legitimists and have all at once a holy horror of any thing not having the forms of law, tho it be ever so bogus – and a mental dread of the Federal displeasure They are seeking if possible to save a corrupt administration from the just retribution for its Sins.
You will easily understand from this brief expose how important we, ultra, radical men, deem it to have true men to fill the offices, The people are right but the leaders, or the would bes, are wrong, but you know how much, tact, money and wire pulling can do; to outwit and defect the will of the people.
The administration with Denver as its agent

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will have no efforts to defect this movement, and to clear the track of this peoples measures as they did of the former one, - They have means also command and will loose no time in working their cards. Our people are generally poor, except in principles, and are illy prepared to go into the canvass. If we had only the money which I solicited at Worcester for a purpose for which it never was used, to use now in this election it might change the result entirely. If any thing can be done for us in that way, no time is to be lost. The State Convention meets on the 28 to nominate State Officers and on the 3rd Tuesday of May they are to be voted for. If wrong men should secure the nomination, the field should be contested at the polls by volunteer candidates, and they would need money – As the tragedy draws to a close we all find our feelings more deeply enlisted. We feel grateful for your sympathy; for force we shall have no occasion I hope, and if so a small domestic one, will do the work effectually, But if you can furnish some funds it will

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be a God send to us in the present crisis – send News to those, but whom you know to be politically sound. If any thing is done, telegraph to Simmons & Leadbeater or to S. C. Davis etc to draw upon [Buter?] for it and forward by Express without delay-
If the peoples Government is put in operation and the Federal power attempts to interfere – there will be a desperate struggle. We shall do our best to maintain our honor and the right – The Free States must call their legislatures at once together – remonstrate with the general government, raise [cain?] [xxx] and by a loud demonstration cause the President to pause in his career.
But will they do that, I fear not. I do however believe that many a Spartan three hundred can be found here to fill the pass and who would infinitely prefer to fall with arms in hand to to a shameful and ignominious existence after having betrayed the intents of humanity so basely here in Kansas – Pardon the haste and imperfections of this, you can doubtless decipher it – The midnight hour must be the excuse
very truly your friend E. B. Whitman

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