Geary and Kansas by John H. Gihon, M.D.



Pay of the militia.--Settlers ordered from Indian reserve.--Sales of Delaware trust lands.--No prison in Kansas.--The capital appropriation.--Governor Geary between two factions.--False reports.--Settlement of Hyattville.--Peace still prevailing.

    THE important events in the history of the territory for the month of December, 1856, are all embraced in the following extracts from letters to the president and secretary of state. In a letter to Mr. Marcy, of December 8th, the governor says:--

    "Since my dispatch of 22d ultimo, the United States troops have retired to winter quarters, and the territorial militia have been mustered out of service, as before indicated. To be discharged in mid-winter, without means of support, seemed so cruel and unjust, that at very considerable inconvenience to myself, I raised the money and paid off the disbanded militia. I therefore request, that an order be made by the proper department, authorizing the payment of the amount due to the three militia companies for two and a half months' service. This, I think, could be done from the general army appropriation, and I could be reimbursed at an early day.

    "The commission, alluded to in my former dispatch, as sent to the southern portion of the territory, with a squadron of United States dragoons, have returned, having succeeded in breaking up, as far as I can learn, the only party of robbers infesting the territory, capturing several of them, and succeeding in arresting one man charged with participation in the murders committed on the Potawattomie, in May last, upon the Doyles, Wilkinson and Sherman. The result of this commission has fully equalled my anticipations. Much has been accomplished in a brief time, and the squadron accompanying it has retired to Fort Leavenworth for winter quarters.

    "In the territory there are numerous Indian reserves, under the government of Indian agents, as entirely independent of the executive of the territory as one state is of another. Questions of jurisdiction, calculated to produce bad feeling, are constantly arising, and collisions between the agents and the citizens have ensued.

    "On the 5th inst., a deputation, representing citizens of Wise county, residing near Council Grove, called upon me in behalf of numerous settlers in that vicinity, stating that the agent of the Kansas Indians had notified them to leave their claims within three days, at the peril of being forcibly ousted by United States soldiers. The petition states that the petitioners made settlements and valuable improvements, commencing in 1854, by virtue of a map issued under the authority of the Indian department, excluding the land settled upon from the Kansas reserve, with the assurance of the Indian agent himself, that the land was open for settlement, and that they have since been living there with their families. The statements of the petitioners seemed so equitable and reasonable, and the season of the year so inclement for their removal, that I advised the Indian agent to permit the settlers to remain undisturbed until I could lay the matter before the government, having satisfactory assurances from the settlers, that they would peaceably acquiesce in a decision from that quarter."

    In a letter, dated Leavenworth City, December 15th, the governor writes to President Pierce, as follows:--

    "In response to a letter from the mayor, and accompanying petition of leading citizens of Leavenworth City, I came here for the purpose of aiding with my counsel and presence, in averting a threatened disturbance. I find the public mind greatly excited in consequence of some recent instructions from the commissioner of Indian affairs, entirely changing the police which has thus far governed the land sales, with the results so entirely satisfactory to all interests.

    "Solicitude for the peace of the territory brought me to this city on the 17th of November, at the beginning of the sales. Many purchasers were here from every part of the country, invited by your proclamation, and great apprehension of difficulty between them and the squatters was entertained. The lands had been previously appraised at from one dollar and twenty-five cents to twelve dollars per acre. In accordance with his instructions, the commissioner announced that the actual bona fide settler would be permitted to take his land at its appraised value, and that only vacant quarter sections would be opened for competition. This announcement met with universal favor. The speculators themselves, the only parties really aggrieved, having come here hundreds of miles at heavy expense, on the invitation of the government, not only acquiesced in the decision, but actually lauded its justice; while the Indians, on the other hand, were satisfied with the price they were getting for lands only made valuable by the industry, skill and capital of the pioneers who had braved everything to improve them.

    "Such of the speculators as desired farms, made satisfactory arrangements with the settlers; while others, on the faith of the policy established by the government, and acquiesced in by the Indian agent, made large investments in the lots of this city.

    "In pursuance of the policy and understanding adopted at the opening of the sales, all the Delaware lands advertised for sale, including the environs of this city, and also South Leavenworth, with the exception of the city itself, have been sold. The large sum of nearly four hundred and forty thousand dollars has been realized, which, together with the proceeds of the sale of this city, will make over four hundred and fifty thousand dollars, to be distributed among about nine hundred Indians, who have yet a magnificent reserve, more than quadrupled in value by the sale and settlement of the trust lands.

    "The city of Leavenworth has been appraised by lots, making it average thirty dollars per acre. The people here are desirous that it may be sold to the original town company by the lot, at the appraised value, which would be a much more stringent rule than that which has been applied to the rural claims. This city, containing a population of over two thousand, consists of three hundred and twenty acres, or two claims, which, by the original settlers, were thrown into a town company, and divided into shares.

    "It seems clear to me that every principle of justice requires that the same rule should be applied to the claims upon which this city has been founded, as that which has been applied to other portions of the trust lands, with the additional reason in favor of the city, that on the faith of the policy previously announced by the government, large investments have been made here, and it would be a violation of public faith not to secure them.

    "What has induced the commissioner of Indian affairs to send the new and special instructions for this city alone, I am at a loss to conceive; but I am clear on the point, that, if carried into effect, they will destroy the peace of the community, and for years impair the prosperity of this young metropolis of Kansas.

    "A meeting of the gentlemen officially connected with the subject has been held. I strongly advised that this city should be sold to the town company, by lots or blocks, at their appraised value, in accordance with the rule that has governed the previous sales, thus giving entire satisfaction to the Indians, the original settlers and the recent purchasers, in order that the exciting question might at once be settled, and the minds of the people relieved from a heavy load of anxiety. But in this matter I have been overruled, and it was deemed advisable to send Mr. Commissioner Eddy and Colonel Russell to Washington, to lay the whole matter before the government, in order to procure more satisfactory instructions.

    "This subject is difficult to comprehend by any person not on the spot, and not conversant with it in all its bearings. I have given much thought and examination to the question, and have come to the deliberate conclusion, that the peace of the territory (which I regard as of greater importance to the country than the entire value of the lands) cannot easily be maintained unless some policy be adopted which will be satisfactory to the people, the original settlers and the recent purchasers."

    A letter to the secretary of state, under date of Lecompton, December 22d, with other useful information, contains the following facts and suggestions:--

    "There is not a prison in the territory in which a prisoner can be safely secured for a single hour. Where crime has been so abundant, the necessity of a penitentiary is too evident to require elaboration from me. An appropriation for this purpose should immediately be made by Congress.

    "The appropriation to build the capitol at this place has been nearly exhausted, and is entirely inadequate to complete the building upon the plan which has been adopted. The architect informs me that an additional appropriation of at least fifty thousand dollars will be required.

    "In order that the government may fully understand my position here, and guard against rumors and reports studiously set in motion by certain parties whose political interests most strongly commit them against the policy which has been established here, it seems proper that I should make certain developments.

    "Because I will not co-operate with certain efforts to establish a state government, and lend myself to carry out views which are outside of the constitution and the laws, I am misrepresented by a few ultra men of one party. Because I will not enter upon a crusade in support of one idea, and endorse a series of resolves passed on the night of the last session of the Kansas Legislature, making but a single issue in Kansas, to wit, the introduction of slavery; denouncing the national democratic party from which I have the honor to hold my appointment; and branding as abolitionists or disunionists all persons not agreeing with these principles,--I am equally the subject of misrepresentation by a few violent men on the other side. My uniform reply to all objectors, is, that my position shall not be prostituted to advance partisan ends, it being my simple duty to administer the government, and leave the people free to settle and regulate their own affairs.

    "The territorial officers, with scarcely an exception, were warm partisans of the last named party organization; so much so as to deprive themselves of all ability to act as mediators between the contending factions.

    "The development of my policy and its happy results has produced considerable agitation among some ultra men, and various rumors, as unfounded as they are desperate, have been put in circulation here, and exaggerated statements forwarded to Washington, directly calculated to disturb the peace of the territory, and studiously intended to produce that effect.

    "The whipping of Mr. Tuton, and the threatening of Mr. John Spicer, have been greatly exaggerated. Mr. Tuton was whipped, for the reason, as it is alleged, that he was treacherous to his former associates; but he was not seriously injured; and proper measures have been taken to redress the outrage. In reply to my note, Mr. John Spicer informs me that he has not been threatened; that he lives in a peaceable community, and feels entirely secure.

    "A party of some ninety men, mostly disbanded militia, have gone, in charge of Thaddeus Hyatt, Esq., with provisions and necessary tools, to found the town of Hyattville, on the south branch of the Potawattomie Creek, and make settlements there. These persons were out of employment, likely to become a charge on the town of Lawrence, and Mr. Hyatt projected this scheme, to furnish them with useful occupation, and prevent them from falling into habits of indolence and vice. He fully explained the matter to me previous to putting it into execution, and it met my approval."

    On the 31st of December, the governor addressed Secretary Marcy, as follows:--

    "In reviewing, on this, the last evening of the year, the events of the past four months, and contrasting the disturbed condition of affairs upon my advent with the present tranquil and happy state of things, which has held its sway for the last three months, I must congratulate the administration and the country, upon the auspicious result. Crime, so rife and daring, at the period of my arrival, is almost entirely banished. I can truthfully assure you, that in proportion to her population and extent, less crime is now being committed in Kansas, than in any other portion of the United States."


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