James P. Fox was an anomaly, a pro-slavery man elected to both the Big Springs and Topeka conventions. He had been the free-state candidate for the First Territorial Legislature, pledging to help make Kansas a free state because that drew votes in his nominating meeting.
Robert B. Mitchell
Mitchell settled in Paris, Kansas in 1856 and was active in free-state politics. He may have been one giving the "earnest solicitation" that James Fox "remove to a more healthy, or at least safer location."
[Kansas State Historical Society]
Fox had settled on a claim near the center of Linn county. The community of Paris, named for the Kentucky town, grew up on his claim. The town grew to between 300 and 400 people before being abandoned in the 1860's. Fox was one of its most prominent citizens:
"...a typical exponent of the fire-eating Southerner of his day in Kansas; by profession a lawyer, but without much ability in this line beyond a vocabulary of invective, abuse, and an abundant supply of cuss words, which he used without stint in addressing a jury or haranguing a crowd."
Paris was made the county seat when Fox as county treasurer and his fellow county judges, appointed by the Bogus Legislature searched the county over and decided that the most suitable place was on Fox's claim. Fox was paid $100 for his cabin, which became the first county courthouse. [Sanborn, Some Notes, 430]
The first Linn county convention for nominating candidates for the First Territorial Legislature was held at Miller's "whisky grocery" in Sugar Mound on February 20, 1855. Fox called the meeting and was said to have had assurances of support from Missouri. With cunning, he spoke at length without mentioning slavery. When it became clear that he was arranging to have himself nominated, there was opposition and calls for postponement of the meeting. With his back to the wall, Fox announced for a free-state Kansas, but ultimately the meeting was postponed. At the second meeting, pro-slavery men predominated and A.M. Coffey and David Lykins were nominated. Fox and M.G. Morris received free-state nominations, but lost the March 30 election, with many Missourians voting. [Cutler, History, Linn County, Part 2]
Remaining active in free-state affairs, Fox was on the resolutions committee at Big Springs with S. N. Wood and John Brown, Jr. [Connelly, History, Ch. 25] and went to Topeka as a delegate from Linn county. [Kansas Historical Collections 13:132] His pro-slavery feelings came out, though. He served as a Major in the pro-slavery 1856 Kansas Militia, with a commission from Governor Woodson. [Kansas Historical Collections 3:320] In the end: "...at the earnest solicitation of some free-state men in 1858 he concluded to remove to a more healthy, or at least safer location." [Sanborn, Some Notes, 430] One account says Fox was in "such desperate straits that he stopped a friend on the road, robbed him of his horse, and escaped to Missouri, and afterwards became the leader of a "posse" of marauders that murdered and pillaged in Linn county." [Mitchell, Historic Linn, 615]