Samuel Young

Richard Cordley (1829-1904)

Congregational Pastor in Lawrence for nearly 40 years. He remembered Samuel Young as an able lawyer and cultured gentlemen.

Samuel A. Young was a prominent attorney and Whig politician from Boone County, Missouri. As slavery in the territories became an issue, with fellow Whig John B. Clark, he broke with the majority of the party and formed a "states-rights" wing. In 1852, he found himself again in the mainstream when the party moved from its earlier position that "Congress possessed power over slavery in the territories but should not use that power" to a "repudiation of the power question as having no importance either for practical affairs or as a test of Whig orthodoxy." Deserting Clark, Young used the occasion to reinstate himself in Whig favor by sponsoring a resolution in the Missouri State Senate that characterized secession as from "the original warehouse of hell." [Mering, Whig Party in Missouri, 179]

Boone County was divided over the Kansas issue in 1855. A meeting was held on June 2 at the county fairgrounds. Two resolutions were offered condemning abolition, one more provocative than the other. After "great noise and confusion," backers of the more radical resolution moved outside the grounds and with Samuel Young presiding, passed their language. [Switzler, Boone County, 377]

At the Lexington Convention in July, Young "voiced the sentiment of many when he professed that law sometimes did not protect one's rights and that a higher law, the 'law of nature,' permitted self-protection." A veiled threat of force of arms to protect slavery was clearly intended. [Hurt, Agriculture and Slavery, 285] Young also disrupted the proceedings when he announced publicly that Whig leader James Rollins had written a letter requesting his followers to break up the meeting if a "certain (unspecified) contingency" did not occur. Although this charge was apparently baseless, the suspicious Central Clique Democrats were temporarily disturbed. [Rollins, Letters of George Caleb Bingham, 191]

With Claiborne F. Jackson, Young led 1,000 Missourians to Lawrence in March, 1854. They came in "about one hundred and ten wagons, and upon horseback, with music, and banners flying. They were armed with guns, pistols, rifles and bowie-knives. They brought two cannon loaded with musket balls." [Robinson, Interior and Exterior Life, Ch. 2]On election day, Young was first at the polls and took the residency oath. One of the three election judges challenged Young who then addressed the crowd, claiming "as the people of the Territory had two Judges, it was nothing more than right that the Missourians should have the other one to look after their interests." A new judge was selected to represent Missouri interests who declared that "every man had a right to vote, if he had been in the Territory but an hour." [Cutler, History, Part 10]

In July 1856 Young chaired a meeting in Columbia, Missouri to raise a company of 100 men to fight in the border war in Kansas. Young was elected captain and in September led a combined Boone and Cooper county group across the border. They saw no action and returned home promptly. [Craik, Southern Interest, 378]

In 1858, Young returned to Douglas County to establish a legal practice in Lecompton with William B. Almond from Platte City. The two experienced Missouri attorneys represented free-state leader James H. Lane who was charged with the murder of Gaius Jenkins. A St. Louis newspaper account of Young's successful closing argument described Young as "a fine specimen of the western jury lawyer," using "fragments of of humor, sarcastic, keen and occasionally forceful and lawyer-like." [Connelly, The Lane-Jenkins Claim Contest, 176] The Reverend Richard Cordley of the Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence, writing in 1895, said "Colonel Young afterwards removed to Lawrence, and was very much respected--an able lawyer and a cultured gentleman." [Cordley, History of Lawrence, 32]

Charles Clark