A Frontier State at War: Kansas, 1861-1865

By Albert Castel | Go to book overview
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The Political Gallery

I asked Mr. Colton if Kansas politicians were generally honest and reliable. Mr. Colton looked up and smiled, whereupon I looked down and blushed.1

KANSAS in 1861 was already the political preserve of the Republican Party. In the 1859 elections for state officers under the Wyandotte Constitution the Republicans had elected their ticket by a large majority and gained overwhelming control of the legislature. The Democratic Party, except at Atchison, Leavenworth, Wyandotte, and a few other localities, was only a negligible force in the state. Although many of its leaders and adherents had been stanch Free Staters, it was in disrepute with most Kansans as the "Pro-Slavery Party." Furthermore, the unpopular and disastrous land policy of Buchanan had caused thousands of debt-ridden and land-hungry settlers, including erstwhile Democrats, to give their allegiance to the Republican Party, with its promise of free homesteads.2 The Republicans,

C. M. Chase to the Sycamore, Ill., True Republican and Sentinel, August 15, 1863, C. M. Chase Letters, KSHS. Colton was a local Kansas politician met by Chase while traveling in Kansas.
Leavenworth Daily Conservative, March 21, 1861; White Cloud Kansas Chief, January 16, 1861; Edmund N. Morrill, "The Early Settlers of Kansas: Their Trials, Privations, Hardships, and Sufferings," KHC, V ( 1891- 1896), 150.


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