Canvassing for the Vote
George Caleb Bingham, 1852
Bingham was a Whig member of the 1849 Missouri General Assembly from Saline County.
[Nelson Gallery, Kansas City]
The normal pattern of settlement in 19th Century America was along latitude lines; from Virginia to Kentucky, from Kentucky to Missouri. Many expected Kansas would be peopled primarily from Missouri, a state with long connections to the Indian Territory. Missourians traveled through Kansas to the Mexican War, they manned the freight wagons on the Santa Fe Trail, and they were agents, farmers, blacksmiths and traders on the Kansas Indian Reserves. The rush of settlers from the North to Kansas was a surprise and Missouri "did her best to stay the tide." But John G. Haskell, early New England settler in Lawrence and long time State Architect, wrote in 1901, as memories began to fade, that the radical pro-slavery extremism embodied in the Bogus Legislature was "openly denounced and was undefended by the best citizens" of Missouri. [Haskell, The Passing of Slavery in Western Missouri, 37]
Some of Missouri's "best citizens," however, did publicly support the Kansas pro-slavery movement and more than a few rode into "Bleeding Kansas" to fight. The Lexington, Missouri Slave Owners Convention of July 12, 1855, was held during the interim between the Pawnee and Shawnee Manual Labor School sessions of the Bogus Legislature. Twenty-six Missouri counties sent delegates, 226 in all, among whom were the leading elected officials of the state and many local leaders. Ten resolutions were unanimously adopted:
- Outside interference with slavery where it exists is an attack on the reserved rights of the slaveholding states and will result in a dissolution of the Union.
- The resolution of several Northern states never to admit another slave state is a declaration of hostility against the Constitution, the compromises adopted, and slavery itself.
- The admission of new slave states is only guaranty the slaveholders have against oppressive, unconstitutional legislation.
- Approval of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law and 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act.
- Abolition companies chartered to colonize Kansas are attempts by state legislation to thwart the law of Congress to settle Kansas with bona fide settlers.
- Bands of Massachusetts and other states colonists, like military colonies of the Roman Empire, will lead to organized resistance by others but the entire responsibility will be upon the aggressors.
- Disclaimer of all intent to interfere with the bona fide, independent settler, but maintenance of the right to protection of life and property against unjust and unconstitutional aggression, and not necessary or expedient to wait until the torch is applied to 'our dwellings or the knife to our throats' before taking measures for security.
- The 50,000 slaves worth $25 Million in the eighteen counties on or near the Kansas border will be valueless if Kansas is abolitionized.
- Appeal made to Missouri and the South to take measures to prevent this antislavery disaster and to the North to put down such fanatical aggressors as the emigrant aid societies and let Kansas be settled with actual settlers.
- Recommendation to that the General Assembly of Missouri pass constitutional, retaliatory measures against Massachusetts and other states that were nullifying the Fugitive Slave Law, which would discriminate against the sale in Missouri of the products and goods of those states as long as such nullifying laws were in force." [Shoemaker, Missouri's Proslavery Fight for Kansas, Part II, 337]
The Boon' s Lick|
The area along the Missouri River with the highest number of slaves and slave owners
in Missouri; named for a salt spring in Howard County thought to have been found by
The Lexington Convention was dominated by men from the "Boon's Lick" counties, an area lying on both sides of the Missouri River along its northerly bends. It was a region described as a "farmers paradise," with deep loess soil and rolling terrain, well drained to navigable rivers feeding the Missouri River, with connections to St. Louis and New Orleans. In these counties the institution of slavery and family ties to the older border states of Virginia and Kentucky were strongest. [Phillips, Missouri's Confederate, 27]