Page images

"I will tell you why this is so. The reason is simply this: The democratic principle that every man ought to be the owner of the soil that he cultivates, and the owner of the limbs and the head that he applies to that culture, has been adopted in some of the states earlier than in others; and where it was adopted earliest it has worked out the fruits of higher advancement, of greater enterprise, of greater prosperity. Where it has not been adopted, enterprise and industry have languished in proportion. But it is going through; it is bound to go through. [A voice-'It's not going through here.'] Yes, here. As it has already gone through eighteen states of the Union so it is bound to go through all of the other fifteen. It is bound to go through all of the thirty-three states of the Union for the simple reason that it is going through the world."

On Monday (September 24), Mr. Seward reached Kansas. As he passed down the Missouri river, he was recognized at several places on the Missouri and Kansas shores of the river, and saluted with cheers, entering into frank and familiar conversations with the people. His first step on the soil of Kansas, at Leavenworth, was announced by the firing of cannon and the shouts of thousands of people. He was escorted to the hotel by a procession of citizens, including all the mechanics in the city, bearing their various tools and implements. Mr. A. C. Wilder, in introducing Mr. Seward to the people, spoke of him as the representative of Kansas in the senate of the United States.' Mr. Seward's remarks in response were, at the time, briefly sketched as follows:

"Mr. Seward began his reply by saying that it was well that he had not the voice to enable him to speak at length, for the emotions which were crowding upon him could not be expressed in words. He would not have them think him wanting in gratitude, if his language failed to express the feelings which oppressed him. Many years ago, when he visited General Lafayette, the brave Frenchman who fought for us, he saw, at the entrance of his residence, two brass cannons, which bore the inscription, 'Presented by the liberty-loving citizens of Paris.' Here, at his entrance into Kansas, he found two symbols of the spirit of her free people. The one was the cannon which was booming on the hill near by. He had heard that it was captured by the free state men during the commotion which existed several years ago, when they were struggling for free institutions. Another evidence of the free impulses by which we were animated was the organization of the wide-awakes whom he saw around him, not in the customary costume of that body, but as an army of free laboring men-carpenters, masons, and mechanics of all kinds-who had come out, in their working clothes, with their tools of all kinds, in a body, to welcome him. Mr. Seward proceeded to pay a handsome compliment to the wide-awake club. He then alluded again to the subject of free labor, and said that it must be respected as being the foundation of

1 See Appendix.

our strength and prosperity. Whatever of reputation he had acquired was due mainly to the fact that he had endeavored, in his public capacity, to lay the foundation of free states, and especially the free state of Kansas. He then paid a glowing tribute to the people of this territory. He said they had achieved freedom for themselves; and now it was their duty to aid in securing it to the embryo states around them. Kansas stood as a sentinel in the pathway to the large region of country extending from the British possessions on the north to Texas on the south and west beyond the Rocky mountains. It was our duty to give our influence to secure freedom to the states which would spring up in that wide domain. Mr. Seward then apologized for the brevity of his remarks. He could make but one extended speech in this territory, and that would be at Lawrence, on account of its central position. He closed by urging the people to cherish the free institutions for which they had so long contended. Freedom was not only established here, but would eventually prevail in the whole Union, on the whole continent, and through the whole world."

Mr. Seward, desirous of learning the actual condition of Kansas, avoided, as far as possible, any further public notice, and traveled by private conveyance over as large a portion of the territory as his limited time would permit, visiting, especially, Lecompton and Topeka. At the latter place he was, although entirely unexpected, honored with salutes from cannon. He pertinaciously declined to address the people, but received them all, of both sexes, in a free and easy conversational manner, mingling with them in the streets by the light of their bonfires.

It had already been arranged that he should speak at Lawrence on the twenty-sixth. On that day, as he approached the city, he was met by an immense cavalcade of citizens, and conducted to the place appointed for the meeting. Here he was welcomed to the city and territory, in eloquent speeches' by Mayor Deitzler and Governor Robinson, and by the enthusiastic and hearty cheers of the people. Mr. Seward's speech, on this occasion, is a condensed but eloquent review of the struggle for freedom in Kansas, containing vivid pictures of its beautiful scenery, with touching allusions to its impend ing calamity. It will be found in another part of this volume, and should be read in this connection, as a portion of the history of Mr. Seward's visit to Kansas. Its delivery was hailed with the most enthusiastic plaudits of the people, who had come from all parts of the territory, some of them long distances on foot. The day was closed with the festivities of a public dinner and ball.

1 See Appendix. 2 Kansas, as is well known, was then suffering from a drouth of unparal 4eled severity, which had prevented the raising of any kind of grain or vegetable food.

On the next morning Mr. Seward left Lawrence, turning his steps, for the first time, eastward and homeward. Hoping to escape any further attention in Leavenworth, he arrived in that city in the evening. But the wide-awakes and the citizens generally had assembled in large numbers, awaiting his appearance. With the usual accompaniments of music and torchlights, he reëntered the city. Unable to resist the demands made upon him, he took the stand which had been erected in front of the hotel for the occasion, and, after the cheering had subsided, spoke briefly, as follows:

"FELLOW CITIZENS: I would talk to you until midnight, pouring forth all my most earnest and hopeful thoughts, if I were sure that the outside world could know, as you do, that I speak on your compulsion, overcoming more determined resolutions of silence than I ever before had formed in similar circumstances.

"I sometimes allow myself to indulge speculations concerning the period when there shall be on this continent no other power than the United States; and a new constitution of human society opens itself before me when I contemplate the influence then to be wrought on Europe and on Asia by the American people, situated midway between the abodes of western and oriental civilization. One great, influential state must then exist here, west of the Mississippi and east of the Rocky mountains. Which would that great and influential state be? It ought to be Missouri. It certainly would have been, if her people had, from the first, been as wise as you are. I do not, indeed, know, nor think it certain, that Missouri will not yet be that great and influential state; for there is hope there is assurance that Missouri, taught, though slowly and reluctantly, by the instructions and example of Illinois, Iowa, and especially Kansas, will consent to become a free state. She has, with vast dimensions, a soil as fertile and skies as genial, and a position for commerce as favorable, as those with which God has blessed any part of the earth. She has need, however, to study the moral conditions of

national greatness. "The fundamental moral conditions of a state, or a republic, are simply these, that every man shall enjoy equal and exact justice, and thus have the fullest opportunity for improving his own condition, his intellect, and his heart, and to win the rewards of character and of influence on society and on mankind. In this respect, you, the people of Kansas, have passed Missouri, and are ahead even of Nebraska, Iowa, and every other state in the American Union. All other states have compromised more or less of these conditions. A stern experience of wrong received from slavery has awakened among you a love of freedom, and a discriminating appreciation of its value, that can never admit of demoralization. You alone have escaped demoralization, which all the other states have, at some times and in some degrees, undergone. Freedom, and not slavery, in the territories of the United States, has been, in fact, only an abstract question in other states. But here it has been a vital, an inspiring, a forming principle. Your territory was made the active arena of that 'irrepressible conflict' between free labor and slave labor, where it came to the trial of mind with mind, of voice with voice, of vote with vote, of bullet against bullet, and of cannon against cannon. You have ac

quired, practically, and through dangers and sufferings, the education and the discipline and the elevation of freedom.

"If there is a people in any part of the world I ought to cherish with enduring respect, with the warmest gratitude and with the deepest interest, assuredly it is the people of Kansas; for, but for the practical trial you have given to the system which I had adopted-but for the vindication, at so much risk and so much cost, of your highest rights under the law, I must have gone to my grave a disappointed man, a false teacher, in the estimation of the American people. Yours is the thirty-first of thirty-four states of the Union which I have visited for the purpose of knowing their soils their skies, and their people. I have visited, in the course of my lifetime, more than three-fourths of the civilized nations of the world; and of all the states and nations which I have seen, that people which I hold to be the wisest, the worthiest, and the best, is the people of this little state. The reason of it is expressed in the old proverb, 'handsome is that handsome does.' If other nations have higher education and greater refinement, and have cultivated the virtues and accomplishments of civilized life more than you have, I have yet to see any other nation or people that has been able, in its infancy, in its very organization, to meet the shocks of the aristocratic system through which other nations have been injured or ruined, to repel all attacks, overcome all hindrances, and to come out before the world in the attitude of a people who will not, under any form of persuasion, seduction or intimidation, consent, any one of them, to be a slave, any one of them to make a slave, any one of them to hold a slave, or consent that any foot of their territory shall be trodden by a slave, or by a man who is not equal to every other man in the view of the constitution and of the laws."

At Atchison city he was again detained by the people, who had prepared for him a most flattering reception. A triumphal arch formed of oak trees bore the inscription, "Welcome to Seward, the defender of Kansas and of Freedom." The houses in the city were covered with festoons made of oak boughs. He was received by the mayor under a banner, bearing the motto "THE SUBDUERS ARE THEMSELVES SUBDUED." Apparently, the whole population of the city and neighborhood had assembled to meet him. After being introduced to the people, in an appropriate speech by the mayor,'

Mr. Seward addressed them as follows:

"Referring to the apology made by Mr. Martin, for the inadequacy of the reception, he said that they might judge of what he himself thought of it, when he delared to them that his welcome bore all the impress of those that he had seen given in other countries to hereditary princes. Compared with other demonstrations in the territory, this was unsurpassed. He said he had tried to avoid

all such demonstrations which only tend to make him misunderstood, for the world

1 The Mayor was a democrat. General Pomeroy, also made a few remarks, followed by General Nye in an eloquent speech.

2 Atchison was one of the “border ruflian" towns on the Missouri river.

might think that in coming to Kansas he came to receive honors, instead of coming to learn what was necessary to enable him to perform his duty to her citizens and their cause, better than he had heretofore been able to do.

"I find," said he, "the territory of Kansas as rich if not richer, in its soil and in its resources of material prosperity, than any state with which I have been acquainted, and I have already visited thirty-one of the thirty-four states of the Union. In climate, I know of none that seems to be so desirable. It is now suffering, in its southern and western counties more especially, the privations of want, falling very heavily on its latest settlers, resulting from the absence of rain for a period of ten or twelve months. I go out of the territory of Kansas with a sadness that hangs over and depresses me, not because I have not found the country far surpassing all my expectations of its improvement and cultivation, not because I have not found here a prosperous and happy people, but because I have found families, some from my own state, some from other states and some from foreign countries, who were induced, and justly and wisely induced, to come to this region within the last year or two, and who, having exhausted all their means and all their resources in establishing homes for themselves, have been disappointed in gaining from their labor, provision for the supply of their wants. And all this the result of a desolating drought which pervades a large portion of the state.

"I hope that the tales which I have heard are exaggerated, and that families are not actually perishing for want in some of the western counties of Kansas. I have faith in the complete success of your system, and in the ultimate prosperity and development of the state of Kansas; I have it for the most obvious reason, that if. Kansas is a failure my whole life has been worse than a failure; but if Kansas shall prove a success, as I know it will, then I shall stand redeemed, at least in history, for the interest I have taken in the establishment of civilization on the banks of the Missouri river upon the principles and policy which you have laid down. I pray you, you who are rich, you who are prosperous, to appoint active and careful men to make researches in the territory for those who are suffering by this dreadful visitation of Providence; to take care that the emigrant who came in last winter and last spring be not suffered, through disappointment and want, to return to the state whence he came, carrying back a tale of suffering and privation and distress which might retard for years the development of society here. I hope you will not regard this advice of mine as being without warrant. I give it for your own sake, I give it for the sake of the people of Kansas, as well as because my sympathies have been moved by the distress I have seen around me. If this advice shall be taken in good part, then I am free to tell you, that in my judgment, there is not the least necessity for any person leaving this territory, nothwithstanding the greatness of the calamity that has befallen it. I have seen whole districts that have produced neither the winter wheat, nor the spring wheat, nor the rye, nor the buckwheat, nor the potato, nor the root of any kind; yet I have seen on all your prairies, upland and bottom land, cattle and horses in great numbers, and all of them in perfect condition; and I am sure that there is a surplus supply of stock in this territory which, if disposed of, would produce all that is necessary to relieve every one in the territory. What is required, therefore, is simply that you should seek out want where it exists, and apply your own surplus means to relieve it. If this should fail, and if you should feel it necessary to apply to your countrymen in the east for aid, I will second that appeal, I and the

« PreviousContinue »