Lucien J. Eastin

Lucien Eastin

Lucien Eastin was born in Kentucky in 1804 and edited his first Missouri newspaper in 1834. He went on to edit four others in twenty years in the state. Eastin left his post as editor of St. Joseph Gazette in the fall of 1854 and crossed to Kansas. [Johannsen, Lecompton Constitution, 239] He bought part interest in the Leavenworth Kansas Weekly Herald. His partner, William H. Adams from Platte County, was a mild-mannered person, and his paper had been rather moderate, though pro-slavery. When Eastin became a partner the paper began to emit editorial fire. [McMurtrie, Pioneer Printing, 3ff] His views on slavery and the future of Kansas were clear to all who read them. When Eastin was elected to the legislature he hired H. Rives Pollard, a young Virginian, as associate editor. Pollard turned out to be even more incendiary than Eastin. "Thus," the historian James Malin wrote, " the Herald for this critical period was not as conservatively and as ably edited as Eastin himself would have made it." [Malin, Judge Lecompte,465ff]

Eastin was appointed by Governor Shannon as Brigadier General in the Kansas Militia, in command of the Second Brigade of the Northern Division. [KHC 3:284] In this capacity he participated in the Sack of Lawrence in May 1856. As was usually the case in Territorial Kansas, Lewis Rees, the Leavenworth storekeeper who supplied Eastin's troops, was not paid and filed his claim with Adjutant Strickler for payment. [Strickler Report, Claim 188, KSHS] Despite his pro-slavery politics, Eastin was admired by H. Miles Moore, a free-state lawyer, as a man of "marked ability" and "large newspaper experience." He was over six feet tall, powerfully built, with iron gray hair and clear, piercing gray eyes. Apart from politics, Moore wrote, Eastin was a "socially pleasant, high-toned gentleman." [Moore, Early History,69]

Before leaving Kansas for Chillicothe and Glasgow, Missouri in 1859, Eastin published a miner's guide to the Pike's Peak road, although he had not been there. Of course, Eastin's guide favored his hometown of Leavenworth as the starting point and the Smoky Hill route as the best way to the mines. The guide cost 10 cents for a single copy and six cents per copy if purchased in quantity. Reportedly, Eastin printed 30,000 copies. [Gower, Prospectors,67ff] By 1859, Eastin had come to believe the pro- slavery crusade in Kansas was at an end. He wrote that a true conservative would recognize that fact and concentrate on development of the Territory:

"No man can be a conservative unless he has the spirit of submission to authority fully developed in his nature. He must premise that his judgement is not infallible, and that his reasoning faculties are as apt to be warped by his feelings as those of other men. He must know how to make the proper distinction between firmness and obstinacy, and when superior authority has stamped the ideas of his opponents with the impress and sanction of law, he must subject his private opinion to public statutes. This may be done without abating his original convictions, and if is not done, cheerfully and promptly, the refractory individual becomes, in our estimation a radical....Again he must form his opinion from deliberate and dispassionate investigation, and not permit the thought to be the offspring of the wish...Toleration is also absolutely requisite in the composition of a conservative...Time has arrived when the great sectional issue is settled on a firm basis, and we must direct our attention to topics of more immediate and urgent importance. ...Kansas must be developed; her rich alluvial (soil)...her mines...her cities.. and the whole body politic welded with iron ribs of public improvement... and when the undertaking is vigorously commenced, and citizens of all shades of politics work side by side for the common good, the paltry abstractions which separate man from man will sink into insignificance compared with the great work in which they are now engaged. Passion will cool...reason regain her sway, and men will laugh over the olden time when neighbors essayed to cut each other's throats upon matters in which they themselves were so little interested." [Weekly Herald February 26, 1859]

Lucien Eastin edited the Grand River Chronicle in Chillicothe during the Civil War and then moved on to the Glasgow Weekly Times. He died in Glasgow, Missouri in 1876.

Charles Clark