Abraham Lincoln and Kansas

Abraham Lincoln and Kansas

Abraham Lincoln took a sabbatical from politics from 1849 to 1854, when he reentered the political ring to combat the spread of slavery to the Kansas-Nebraska Territory. Five years later, Mr. Lincoln visited Kansas at least once at the request of Mark Delahay, an old Illinois legal colleague who was the proprietor of a small newspaper. Lincoln scholar Rufus Rockwell Wilson observed that “Delahay went to the territory a Democrat, but, trimming his political sails to the prevailing breeze, soon announced himself an anti-slavery advocate, and as such edited the Leavenworth Times with a spirit and vigor that once prompted the destruction of his press and type by a pro-slavery mob.”1

The ambitious Delahay made several requests for Mr. Lincoln to visit the state in 1859. Mr. Lincoln wrote Delahay in May: “I find it impossible for me to attend your Republican convention at Ossawatan [Ossawatomie] on the 18th. It would have afforded me much personal gratification to see your fine new country, and to meet the good people who have cast their lot there; and still more, if I could thereby contribute any thing to the Republican cause. You probably will adopt resolutions in the nature of a platform; and, as I think, the only danger will be the temptation to lower the Republican Standard in order to gather recruits. In my judgement such a step would be a serious mistake – would open a gap through which more would pass out than pass in. And this would be the same, whether the letting down should be in deference to Douglasism, or the southern opposition element. Either would surrender the o[b]ject of the Republican organization – the preventing the spread and nationalization of Slavery. This object surrendered, the organization would go to pieces. I do not mean by this, that no southern man must be placed upon our Republican National ticket for 1860. There are many men in the slave states for any one of whom I would cheerfully vote to be either President or Vice President provided he would enable me to do so with safety to the Republican cause – without lowering the Republican Standard. This is the indispensable condition of a union with us. It is idle to think of any other. Any other would be as fruitless to the South, as distasteful to the North, the whole ending in common defeat. Let a union be attempted on the basis of ignoring the Slavery question, and magnifying other questions which the people just now are really caring nothing about, and it will result in gaining no single electoral vote in the South and losing ev[e]ry one in the North.”2

Mr. Lincoln finally acceded to Delahay’s request to visit Kansas at the very end of November 1859. Crossing the prairie, Mr. Lincoln ran across journalist Henry Villard, a journalist whom he had met on his1858 senatorial campaign. Villard was returning from Colorado where he had visited gold mine regions for the Cincinnati Commercial: “About thirty miles from St. Joseph an extraordinary incident occurred. A buggy with two occupants was coming toward us over the open prairie. As it approached, I thought I recognized one of them, and, sure enough, it turned out to be no less a person than Abraham Lincoln! I stopped the wagon, called him by name, and jumped off to shake hands. He did not recognize me with my full beard and pioneer’s costume. When I said, ‘Don’t you know me?’ and gave my name, he looked at me, most amazed, and then burst out laughing. ‘Why, good gracious! You look like a real Pike’s Peaker.’ His surprise at this unexpected meeting was as great as mine. He was on a lecturing tour through Kansas. It was a cold morning, and the wind blew cuttingly from the northwest. He was shivering in the open buggy, without even a roof over it, in a short overcoat, and without any covering for his legs. I offered him one of my buffalo robes, which he gratefully accepted. He undertook, of course, to return it to me, but I never saw it again. After ten minutes’ chat, we separated. The next time I saw him he was the Republican candidate for the Presidency.”3

It was relatively warm when Mr. Lincoln arrived in Kansas. He was met by Daniel W. Wilder, who recalled: “Delahay came to Elwood and stayed all night, I supposed. He and I went to St. Joseph [Missouri] the next morning, and way down south to the Hannibal depot (the Hannibal & St. Joe R.R., completed that year) and took Lincoln up town in an omnibus. I took him to a barber shop near the Planters’ House and bought for him the New York or Chicago papers at the postoffice news-stand…That night he spoke in the dining-room of the hotel; the meeting announced by a man going through the streets pounding a gong.” At Elwood on November 30, Mr. Lincoln spoke on limiting slavery in the territories:

“The general feeling in regard to Slavery has changed entirely since the early days of the republic. You may examine the debates under the Confederation in the Convention that framed the Constitution and in the first session of Congress and you will not find a single man saying that Slavery is a good thing. They all believed it was an evil. They made the Northwest Territory, the only Territory then belonging to the government, forever free. They prohibited the African Slave trade. Having thus prevented its extension and cut off the supply, the Fathers of the Republic believed Slavery must soon disappear.”4

After spending the night in Elwood, Mr. Lincoln went to Troy where, according to Wilder, he “spoke in the courthouse; speech replied to by Col. Andrew J. Ege [Agey], a native of Maryland.”5 Only a few people were present for the exchange. New York journalist Albert D. Richardson recalled: “In the imaginative language of the frontier, Troy was a town, possibly a city – but, save a shabby frame courthouse, a tavern and a few shanties, its urban glories were visible only to the eye of faith. It was intensely cold. The sweeping prairie wind rocked the crazy buildings, and cut the faces of travelers like a knife. Mr. Wilder froze his hand during our ride, and Mr. Lincoln’s party arrived wrapped in buffalo robes.”

“Not more than forty people assembled in that little bare-walled courthouse. There was none of the magnetism of a multitude to inspire the long, angular, ungainly orator, who rose up behind a rough table. With little gesticulation – and that little ungraceful – he began, not to declaim, but to talk. In a conversational tone, he argued the question of slavery in the territories, in the language of an average Ohio or New York farmer. I thought: ‘If the Illinoisans consider this a great man their ideas must be very peculiar.’ But, in ten or fifteen minutes, I was unconsciously and irresi[s]tibly drawn by the clearness and closeness of his argument. Link after link it was forged and welded, like a blacksmith’s chain. He made few assertions, but merely asked questions: ‘Is not this true? If you admit that fact, is not this induction correct?’ Give him his premises, and his conclusions were as inevitable as death.”
“His fairness and candor were very noticeable. He ridiculed nothing; burlesqued nothing; misrepresented nothing. So far from distorting the views held by Mr. Douglas and his adherents, he stated them with more strength probably than any one of their advocates could have done. Then, very modestly and courteously, he inquired into their soundness. He was too kind for bitterness and too great for vituperation.”
“His anecdotes, of course, were felicitous and illustrative. He delineated the tortuous windings of the Democracy upon the slavery question from Thomas Jefferson down to Franklin Pierce. Whenever he heard a man avow his determination to adhere unswervingly to the principles of the Democratic Party, it reminded him, he said, of a ‘little incident in Illinois.’ A lad, ploughing upon the prairie, asked his father in what direction he should strike a new furrow. The parent replied: ‘Steer for that yoke of oxen standing at the further end of the field.’ The father went away and the lad obeyed. But just as started the oxen started also. He kept steering for them, and they continued to walk. He followed them entirely around the field, and came back to the starting-point, having furrowed a circle instead of a line.”
“The address lasted an hour and three quarters. Neither rhetorical, graceful, nor eloquent, it was still very fascinating. The people of the frontier believed profoundly in fair play, and in hearing both sides; so they now called for an aged ex-Kentuckian, who was the heaviest slave-holder in the territory. Responding, he thus prefaced his remarks: ‘I have heard, during my life all the ablest public speakers, all the eminent statesmen of the past and present generation, and while I dissent utterly from the doctrines of this address and shall endeavor to refute some of them, candor compels me to say that it is the most able – the most logical – speech I ever listened to.”6

After Troy, Mr. Lincoln spoke at Doniphan. Finally on Friday, Mr. Lincoln spoke at Atchison. “He was taken to our best hotel, the Massasoit House, and a good many of the citizens came into the hotel office to shake hands with him, and to hear him talk, recalled Atchison resident Franklin G. Adams. “He was soon started, with his chair tipped up, and among the first to engage in conversation with him was Colonel P. T. Abell, the head and brain of the pro-slavery party in our town and largely in the territory. Both had been Kentuckians. Abell knew many citizens of Illinois who had moved there from Kentucky. The two immediately found mutual acquaintances about whom they could converse, and Lincoln began to tell stories, relating incidents in the life of Illinois Kentuckians.”

According to Adams: “The best audience in town was that of the Methodist Church. Our committee hunted up the trustees and Wilcox says he had considerable difficulty in gaining consent to have a political meeting in a church. I scarcely remember how it was, but Wilcox says we met with such a rebuff and refusal that he lost his patience, and it took the best I could do in the way of persuasion to get the church, which we did. I still remember the appearance of Mr. Lincoln as he walked up the aisle on entering the church and took his place on the pulpit stand. He was awkward and forbidding, but it required but a few words for him to dispel the unfavorable impression, and he was listened to with the deepest interest by every member of the audience.”7

From Doniphan, Mr. Lincoln traveled to Atchison to speak at the Methodist Church that night. As usual, Mr. Lincoln distinguished his rhetoric with his respect for reason and logic. Typically, one listener in Atchison described Lincoln’s address as “most logical and vigorous.”8

On Saturday, December 3, Mr. Lincoln traveled to Leavenworth. A Republican escort accompanied him to Mansion House, where he spoke briefly in response to a welcome from John C. Vaughan, editor of the Leavenworth Times. That night, Mr. Lincoln spoke at Stockton’s Hall: The Leavenworth Times reported the speech in detail:

“‘Ladies and Gentlemen: You are, as yet, the people of Territory; but you probably soon will be the people of State of the Union. Then you will be in possession of new privileges, and new duties will be upon you. You will have to bear a part in all that pertains to the administration of the National Government. That government, from the beginning has had, has now, and must continue to have a policy in relation to domestic slavery. It cannot, if it would, be without a policy upon that subject. And that policy must, of necessity, take one of two directions. It must deal with the institution as being wrong or as not being wrong.'”
“Mr. Lincoln then stated, somewhat in detail, the early action of the General Government upon the question – in relation to the foreign slave trade, the basis of Federal representation, and the prohibition of slavery in the Federal territories; the Fugitive Slave clause in the Constitution, and insisted that, plainly that early policy, was based on the idea of slavery being wrong; and tolerating it so far, and only so far, as the necessity of its actual presence required.”
“He then took up the policy of the Kansas-Nebraska act, which he argued was based on opposite ideas – that is, the idea that slavery is not wrong. He said: ‘You, the people of Kansas, furnish the example of the first application of this new policy. At the end of about five years, after having almost continual struggles, fire and bloodshed, over this very question, and after having framed several State Constitutions, you have, at last, secured a Free State Constitution, under which you will probably be admitted into the Union. You have, at last, at the end of all this difficulty, attained what we, in the old North-western Territory, attained without any difficulty at all. Compare, or rather contrast, the actual working of this new policy with that of the old, and say whether, after all, the old way – the way adopted by Washington and his compeers – was not better way.'”
“Mr. Lincoln argued that the new policy had proven false to all its promises – that its promise to the Nation was to speedily end the slavery agitation, which it had done, but directly the contrary – that its promises to the people of the Territories was to give them greater control of their own affairs than the people of former Territories had had; while, by the actual experiment, they had had less control of their own affairs, and had been more bedeviled by outside interference than the people of any Territory ever had.”
“He insisted that it was deceitful in its expressed wish to confer additional privileges upon the people; else it would have conferred upon them the privilege of choosing their own officers. That if there any just reason why all the privileges of a State should not be conferred on the people of a Territory at once, it only could be the smallness of numbers; and if while their number was small, they were fit to do some things, and unfit to do others, it could only because those they were unfit to do, were the larger and more important things – that, in this case, the allowing the people of Kansas to plant their soil with slavery, and not allowing the people of Kansas to plant their soil with slavery, and not allowing them to choose their own Governor, could only be justified on the idea that the planting a new State with slavery was a very small matter, and the election of Governor a very much greater matter. ‘Now,’ said he, ‘compare these two matters and decide which is really the greater. You have already had, I think, five Governors, and yet, although their doings, in their respective days, were of some little interest to you, it is doubtful whether you now, even remember the names of half of them. They are gone (all but the last) without leaving a truce upon your soil, or having done a single act which can, in the least degree, help or hurt you, in all the indefinite future before you. This is the size of the Governor question. Now, how, is it with the slavery question? If your first settlers had so far decided in favor of slavery, as to have got five thousand slaves planted on your soil, you could, by no moral possibility, have adopted a Free State Constitution. Their owners would be influential voters among you as good men as the rest of you, and, by their greater wealth, and consequent, greater capacity, to assist the more needy, perhaps the most influential among you. You could not wish to destroy, or injuriously interfere with their property. You would not know what to do with the slaves after you had made them free. You would not wish to keep them as underlings; nor yet to elevate them to social and political equality. You could not send them away. The slave States would not let you send them there; and the free States would not let you send them there. All the rest of your property would not pay for sending them to Liberia. In one word, you could not have made a free State, if the first half of your own number had got five thousands slaves fixed upon the soil. You could have disposed of, not merely five, but five hundred Governors easier. There they would have stuck, in spite of you, to plague you and your children, and your children’s children, indefinitely. Which is the greater, this, or the Governor question? Which could the more safely be intrusted to the first few people who settle a Territory? Is it that which, at most, can be but temporary and brief in its effects? Or that which being done by the first few, can scarcely ever be undone by the succeeding many?'”
“He insisted that, little as was Popular Sovereignty at first, the Dred Scott decision, which is indorsed by the author of Popular Sovereignty, has reduced it to still smaller proportions, if it has not entirely crushed it out. That, in fact, all it lacks of being crushed out entirely by that decision, is the lawyer’s technical distinction between decision and dictum. That the Court has already said a Territorial government cannot exclude slavery; but because they did not say it in a case where a Territorial government had tried to exclude slavery, the lawyers hold that saying of the Court to be dictum and not decision. ‘But,’ said Mr. Lincoln, ‘is it not certain that the Court will make a decision of it, the first time a Territorial government tries to exclude slavery?'”
“Mr. Lincoln argued that the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, carried out, renews the African Slave Trade. Said he: ‘Who can show that one people have a better right to carry slaves to where they have never been, that another people have to buy slaves where they please, even in Africa?'”
“He also argued that the advocates of Popular Sovereignty, by their efforts to brutalize the negro in the public mind – denying him any share in the Declaration of Independence, and comparing him to the crocodile – were beyond what avowed pro-slavery men ever do, and really did as much, or more than they, toward making the institution national and perpetual.”
“He said many of the Popular Sovereignty advocates were ‘as much opposed to slavery as any one;’ but that they could never find any proper time or place to oppose it., In their view, it must not be opposed in politics, because that is agitation, nor in the pulpit, because it is not religion; nor in the Free States, because it is not there; nor in the Slave States, because it is there. These gentlemen, however, are never offended by hearing Slavery supported in any of these places. Still, they are ‘as much opposed to Slavery as anybody.’ One would suppose that it would exactly suit them if the people of the Slave States would themselves adopt emancipation; but when Frank Blair tried this last year, in Missouri, and was beaten, every one of them threw up his hat and shouted ‘Hurrah for the Democracy!'”
“Mr. Lincoln argued that those who thought Slavery right ought to unite on a policy which should deal with it as being right; that they should go for a revival of the Slave Trade; for carrying the institution everywhere, into Free States as well as Territories; and for a surrender of fugitive slaves in Canada, or war with Great Britain. Said he, ‘all shades of Democracy, popular sovereign as well as the rest, are fully agreed that slaves are property, and only property of. Canada now had as many horses as she has slaves belong to Americans, I should think it just cause of war if she did not surrender them on demand.”
“‘On the other hand, all those who believe slavery is wrong should unite on a policy, dealing with it as a wrong. They should be deluded into no deceitful contrivances, pretending indifference, but really working for that to which they are opposed.’ He urged this at considerable length.”
“He then took up some of the objections to Republicans. They were accused of being sectional. He denied it. What was the proof? ‘Why, that they have no existence, get no votes in the South. But that depends on the South, and not on us. It is their volition, not ours; and if there be fault in it, it is primarily theirs, and remains so, unless they show that we repel them by some wrong principle. If they attempt this, they will find us holding no principle, other than those held and acted upon by the men who gave us the government under which we live. They will find that the charge of sectionalism will not stop at us, but will extend to the very men who gave us the liberty we enjoy. But if the mere fact that we get no votes in the slave states make us sectional, whenever we shall get votes in those states, we shall cease to be sectional; and we are sure to get votes, and a good many of them too, in these states next year.”
“‘You claim that you are conservative, and we are not. We deny it. What is conservatism? Preserving the old against the new. And yet you are conservative in struggling for the new, and we are destructive in trying to maintain the old. Possibly you mean you are conservative in trying to maintain the existing institution of slavery. Very well, we are not trying to destroy it. The peace of society, and the structure of our government both require that we should let it alone, and we insist on letting it alone. If I might advise my Republican friends here, I would say to them, leave your Missouri neighbors alone. Have nothing whatever to do with their slaves. Have nothing whatever to do with the white people, save in a friendly way. Drop past differences, and so conduct yourselves that if you cannot be at peace with them, the fault shall be wholly theirs.”
“‘You say we have the question more prominent than heretofore. We deny it. It is more prominent; but we did not make it so. Despite of us, you would have a change of policy; we resist the change, and in the struggle, the greater prominence is given to the question. Who is responsible for that, you or we? If you would have the question reduced to its old proportions go back to the old policy. That will effect it.”
“‘But you are for the Union; and you greatly fear the success of the Republicans would destroy the Union. Why? Do the Republicans declare against the union? Nothing like it. Your own statement of it is, that if the Black Republicans elect a President, you won’t stand it. You will break up the Union. That will be your act, not ours. To justify it, you must show that our policy gives you just cause for such desperate action. Can you do that? When you attempt it, you will find that our policy is exactly the policy of the men who made the Union. Nothing more and nothing less. Do you really think you are justified to break up the government rather than have it administered by Washington, and other good and great men who made it, and first administered it? If you do you are very unreasonable; and more reasonable men cannot and will not submit to you. While you elect [the] President, we submit, neither breaking nor attempting to break up the Union. If we shall constitutionally elect a President, it will be our duty to see that you submit. Old John Brown has just been executed for treason against a state. We cannot object, even though he agreed with us in thinking slavery wrong. That cannot excuse violence, bloodshed, and treason. It could avail him nothing that he might think himself right. So, if constitutionally we elect a President, and therefore you undertake to destroy the Union, it will be our duty to deal with you as old John Brown has been dealt with. We shall try to do our duty. We hope and believe that in no section will majority so act as to render such extreme measures necessary.'”
“Mr. Lincoln closed by an appeal to all – opponents as well as friends – to think soberly and maturely, and never fail to cast their vote, insisting that it was not a privilege only, but a duty do so.”9

On Sunday December 4, Mr. Lincoln eschewed politics in favor of friends. But Monday found him again moving around Leavenworth, according to the New York Tribune: “He was to be found on the street, in offices or workshops, and took especial delight in familiarizing himself with our people… In the afternoon he delivered another speech to an immense audience.”10

“Mr. Lincoln opened by reviewing the Territorial policy of our Government at the start, proving conclusively that it was in favor of liberty and was ever so exerted except in some of the Southern States where slavery existed by municipal law or was made a distinctive feature of the articles of cession. But where these causes were not there was freedom proclaimed.”
“The Fathers did not seek to interfere with slavery where it existed but to prevent its extension. This was the policy of the Republican party of to-day.”
“The divisions of sentiment in the Democratic Party in regard to slavery were flimsy and material. The most advanced element could boast of no higher sentiment than an indifference to the peculiar institution. No part of the Democracy ever declared slavery wrong in itself; and they reached a sublime height when they said they didn’t care whether it was voted up or voted down.”
“This indifference was all the slave-power could ask. It was a virtual recognition of the right of slavery to universal extension.”
“If a house was on fire there could be but two parties. One in favor of putting out the fire. Another in favor of the house burning. But these popular sovereignty fellows would stand aloof and argue against interfering. The house must take care of itself subject only to the constitution and the conditions of fire and wood.”
“The speaker alluded, with much force and wit, to the great line (which we are assured by Senator Douglas was ordained of God) on one side of which slave-labor alone could be employed – on the other free-labor. Thought the Missouri River might be the line referred to. If the line was ordained of God it ought to be plain and palpable, but he had never been able to put his finger upon it.”
“The attempt to identify the Republican party with the John Brown business was an electioneering dodge. Was glad to know that the Democracy underrated the good sense of the people as the great Republican victories in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota and Iowa – where the argument was brought out with extraordinary emphasis – clearly demonstrated. In Brown’s hatred of slavery the speaker sympathized with him. But Brown’s insurrectionary attempt he emphatically denounced. He believed the old man insane, and had yet to find the first Republican who endorse the proposed insurrection. If there was one he would advise him to step out of the ranks and correct his politics. But slavery was responsible for their uprisings. They were fostered by the institution. In 1830-31, the slaves themselves arose and killed fifty-eight whites in a single night. These servile upheavings must be continually occurring where slavery exists.”
“The democracy was constituted of two great elements. First. The original and unadulterated Democrats. Second. The Old line and eminently conservative Whigs. This incongruous party was ever charging the Republican with favoring negro suffrage, sustaining this charge by instancing the two Republican States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire where negroes are allowed to vote., But it so happens that the law conferring this franchise was enacting by the Old Whigs in Massachusetts and the Democrats in New Hampshire. Kansas was the only State where the Republicans had the framing of the organic law and here they confined the elective franchise to the white man alone.”
“Mr. Lincoln said that, in political arguments, the Democracy turned up their noses at ‘amalgamation.’ But while there were only on hundred and seventy-nine mulattoes in the Republican State of New Hampshire, there were seventy-nine thousand in the good old Democratic State of Virginia – and the only notable instance of the amalgamation that occurred to him was in the case of a Democratic Vice President.”
“Mr. Lincoln wanted the races kept distinct. Because he did not wish to hold a negro woman as a slave it did not follow that he wanted her for a wife. Such flimsy diatribes were perpetrated by the Democracy to divert the public mind from the real issue – the extension or the non-extension of slavery-its localization or its nationalization.”
“Mr. Lincoln closed by a clear and forcible definition of the aims and the principles of the Republican party. He showed how they harmonized with the teachings of those by whom the Government was founded and how their predominance was ‘essential to the proper development of our country – its progress and its glory – to the salvation of the Union and the perpetuity of Free institutions.'”11

The territorial election was held the next day and Mr. Lincoln remained in Kansas as an observer – leaving on Wednesday for the return trip to Springfield. The Illinois State Journal reported that Mr. Lincoln “expresses himself delighted with his visit and with the cordial reception he met with from the people of that incipient State.” 12 Judge Owen T. Reeves recalled Mr. Lincoln reviewing his Kansas trip with David Davis in the office of the county court clerk in Bloomington, Illinois: “As I went in one day Mr. Lincoln, who had just returned, was talking with the judge. Judge Davis was asking Mr. Lincoln whom he met in Kansas. Mr. Lincoln told him and in the course of the conversation said: ‘I met two young men who struck me as being me of great promise.’ Judge Davis asked for their names. ‘One was named Ewing — Thomas Ewing,’ Mr. Lincoln said. ‘The other was a young man by the name of Ingalls.’ ‘Which did you think was the brightest?’ asked Judge Davis. ‘That young man Ingalls struck me as having one of the brightest minds I ever saw,’ replied Mr. Lincoln. Ewing afterward became governor of Ohio. Ingalls was the brilliant senator from Kansas. ‘I predict for that young man Ingalls a great future, was the way Mr. Lincoln concluded his description of the two young men to Judge Davis.'”13

Although Kansas Republicans won the local elections, Mr. Lincoln failed to advance his own ambitions in Kansas with his visit. Historian John G. Clark wrote that Mark “Delahay was using to advantage whatever influence he possessed to secure the senate seat. Lincoln complied with Delahay’s request and visited Kansas late in 1859. He was ably chaperoned by Delahay and spoke at several of the leading settlements. But it is unfair to accuse Delahay, as most authorities are prone to do, of merely using Lincoln to enhance his own prestige. While this is true in part, the fact remains that Delahay felt a certain sense of loyalty to his patron. Lincoln held this trait in high esteem fortunately, for it was one characteristic which Delahay had to offer.”14

The ethically-challenged Delahay was nothing if not persistent and always obsessed with the role of money in politics. In 1859, he wanted Mr. Lincoln to come to Kansas. In 1860, he wanted help with two small favors – becoming a U.S. Senator from Kansas and financial help with becoming a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Delahay evidently also sought financial to influence the composition and endorsement of the Kansas delegation. In mid-March, Mr. Lincoln wrote Delahay:

“I have just returned from the East. Before leaving, I received your letter of Feb. 6; and on my return I find those of the 17th. and 19th with Genl. Lane’s note enclosed in one of them.”
“I sincerely wish you could be elected one of the first Senators for Kansas; but how to help you I do not know. If it were permissable for me to interfere, I am not personally acquainted with a single member of your Legislature. If my known friendship for you could be of any advantage, that friendship was abundantly manifested by me last December while in Kansas. If any member had written me, as you say some have Trumbull, I would very readily answer him. I shall write Trumbull on the subject at this sitting.”
“I understood, while in Kansas, that the State Legislature will not meet until the State is admitted. Was that the right understanding?”
“As to your kind wishes for myself, allow me to say I can not enter the ring on the money basis – first, because, in the main, it is wrong; and secondly, I have not, and can not get, the money I say, in the main, the use of money is wrong; but for certain objects, in a political contest, the use of some, is both right, and indispensable. With me, as with yourself, this long struggle has been one of great pecuniary loss. I now distinctly say this. If you shall be appointed a delegate to Chicago. I wish furnish one hundred dollars to bear the expenses of the trips.”
“Present my respects to Genl.[James] Lane; and say to him. I shall be pleased to hear from him at any time.”15

The same day, Mr. Lincoln wrote Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull: “Our friend Delahay wants to be one of the Senators from Kansas. Certainly it is not for outsiders to obtrude their interference. Delahay has suffered a great deal in our cause, and been very faithful to it, as I understand. He writes me that some of the members of the Kansas Legislature have written you in a way that your simple answer might help him. I wish you would consider whether you can not assist him that far, without impropriety. I know it is a delicate matter; and I do not wish to press you beyond your own judgment.”16

Lincoln eventually did help Delahay go to Chicago, but his presence didn’t help win over the Kansas delegation, which gave all six of his votes on the first, second and third ballots to New York Senator William H. Seward. Delahay was not elected as a delegate. Franklin G. Adams wrote: “The people of Kansas were for William H. Seward. Seward had fought out battles in the United States Senate. He was the idol of our people; yet Lincoln was greatly admired for his noble defense of our free-state cause in his great debate(s) with Douglas in 1858.”17

Historian John G. Clark wrote: “Following the news of Lincoln’s election, Delahay enjoyed his reputation as a tried and true friend of the President-elect. Delahay’s prestige led many Republicans to apply to him for assistance in getting an appointment to some government post.”18 As President in 1861 Mr. Lincoln named Delahay as Surveyor-General of Kansas. He also allegedly offered to nominate Delahay as U.S. Minister to Chile. In 1863, Mr. Lincoln nominated him as a U.S. District Court judge, but Delahay complained bitterly about the opposition of Senator Samuel C. Pomeroy: “Pomeroy has fought off my case, to Procure more ‘testimony’ …You have given Pomeroy a little importance, and now he is trying to kill off your friends; and as I can do no good here while borne down by this mountain of might upon me, I thought it well enough to leave the City. Genl Lane is invited to Conn to make a Political address, and I have urged him to go and do it; if I suceed it will be by your aid in my behalf for these Hounds are fierce on my trail – they are all your Enemies…”19

Lincoln biographer Jesse W. Weik wrote: “The testimony showed that Delahay was a confirmed drunkard and frequently sat on the bench and presided at trials in a maudlin, befuddled condition. In some instances at the hotel and other public places where he appeared he reeled and had to be assisted in moving from one point to another. He even staggered on one occasion in an attempt to cross the floor of the court-room and he was drunk on the bench within sixty days after his appointment by Lincoln in the fall of 1863.”20 As historian John G. Clark wrote: “Delahay’s entire career is a study of the mediocre in politics.”21

Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg reviewed Delahay’s case and wrote: “On the surface it might seem that Lincoln miscalculated his man, an instance where Lincoln’s judgment as a shrewd reader of men failed. Delahay didn’t deliver one Kansas delegate for Lincoln at the Chicago convention, losing election as delegate himself. Delahay’s influence at the convention as a ‘hustler’ for Lincoln amounted to little or nothing. Whether Lincoln paid him the promised money or whether in Delahay’s visit to Springfield after Lincoln’s election there was an understanding that the matter would be taken care of by an appointment was not evidenced in any known letters or papers. Whether Delahay performed political service worth naming in support of Lincoln in the stormy Kansas area did not appear; he was in bad odor, stood forth not merely lacking distinction but rather as a drag and a hindrance to the Lincoln cause in Kansas.”22

After years of turmoil, Kansas won statehood in January 1861. About a week before Fort Sumter, the Kansas State Legislature elected Samuel C. Pomeroy and James H. Lane as Senators and Martin F. Conway as the state’s lone congressman. Delahay put aside his own ambitions to support Lane’s election. Lincoln biographer Albert J. Beveridge wrote: “Lane was tall and lank, his long face deeply lined, cheeks sunken, black hair thick and tousled, dark eyes brooding and hypnotic. His clothes were poor and neglected, and, in all weathers throughout all seasons, he wore an old, moth-eaten, black bearskin overcoat. Lane had been Lieutenant Governor of Indiana, a gallant and skilful Colonel in the Mexican War, a Representative in Congress where he voted for the Kansas Nebraska Act, thus wrecking his political fortunes in his District. The Indiana courts had refused to grant Lane a divorce from his wife. Soon after he arrived in Kansas he applied to the Legislature for marital release, but was again denied.”23 Beveridge wrote: “He was immoral and brave, cunning and eloquent, audacious and resourceful. His skill in intrigue was uncanny and his power over audiences like magic. In short Lane was endowed with a kind of mad genius. His insanity and suicide just after the end of the Civil War were but the natural outcome of his mental and nervous condition for a score of years.”24

Jim Lane was a real character and he immediately took the stage in the confusion and fear that followed Fort Sumter. The nation’s capital was a Southern-sympathizing city surrounded by two states where southern sympathizers abounded. Historian Eric Langsdorf wrote: “Jim Lane, who always loved a fight, must have licked his chops when he walked into the middle of this uproar to take up his duties as senator. Action and excitement were meat and drink to him. He had offered a bodyguard of Kansas men when Lincoln was ready to start for Washington to be inaugurated, but the offer was declined.”25

Lane had a fellow spirit in Kentucky’s Cassius M. Clay and they immediately organized some self-defense militia in Washington. Lane called his group the “Frontier Guard. On April 18, they took over the East Room as their barracks. As one militia member recalled it: “That night, Kansas had Supreme possession of the White House, and fifty of her ‘Old Guard’ slept sweetly on the President’s rich Brussels [carpet], with their arms stacked in martial line down the center of the hall, while two long rows of Kansas ex-Governors, Senators, Judges, Editors, Generals, and Jayhawkers were dozing upon each side, and the sentinels made regular beats around them…”26

Ernest B. Furgurson wrote in Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War, that “under arms, he was crisp and businesslike, ‘brandishing a sword of irreproachable brightness’ as he inspected his Jayhawker colleague, Senator Samuel C. Pomeroy, and other dignitaries standing at attention as privates.” 27 Historian Allan G. Bogue wrote that “Lane was a volatile man, and capable of violence in both word and deed. The Springfield Republican described him as being ‘long’ and ‘eely-shaped,’ with a ‘careless., loose-hung look,’ and ‘not an especially open countenance.’ Although he subjected his wardrobe to occasional and spasmodic reformation, Lane’s sartorial slovenliness was surpassed only by that of the Democracy’s [William] Dick Richardson” of Illinois.28

The impromptu militia provided good newspaper copy for Lane, but not much real substance, as the anti-Lane White Cloud Kansas Chief reported: “The Kansas office-seekers now in Washington, have formed themselves into a military company, called the ‘Frontier Guards,’ for the defense of the Capital. Pretty good idea, as they will thus have their board paid by the Government, besides advancing their chances for office by a show of spunk and patriotism. They may do well enough, as long as Lane commands, but…if they place themselves in Pomeroy’s clutches – he will surrender them to the enemy, as he did the Free State people of Lawrence, in 1856!”29 A day after this article appeared, the Frontier Guards were disbanded – replaced by more conventional soldiers. By that time, the group had been ostentatiously presented to President Lincoln by Senator Lane and Colonel John C. Vaughan, who said of the militia: “Brave and true men are here, who have been proved in times of trial and danger and found to be equal to the task and ready for any emergency.”30

Lane’s energy took him back to Kansas in May where he spoke to Topeka residents in a speech which the Topeka Tribune reported was “inflammatory to a high degree. He had returned to Kansas for the purpose of assisting in forming two regiments of volunteers…Though it would be the prettiest thing in the world for Kansas to pitch into Westport, Independence and Kansas City, while the secessionists were trying to take St. Louis.”31

In June, President Lincoln decided to give Lane authority to raise two regiments as a brigadier general. He wrote Secretary of War Simon Cameron that he had “concluded that we need the services of such a man out there at once; that we better appoint him a brigadier-general of volunteers to-day, and send him off with such authority to raise a force (I think two regiments better than three, but as to this I am not particular) as you think will get him into actual work quickest. Tell him when he starts to put it through. Not to be writing to telegraphing back here, but put it through.”32

Historian Allan Nevins summarized Lane’s military activities the next year: “The fanatic Indianian Jim Lane, recruiting a brigade of Kansas troops, led them into western Missouri to burn houses, shoot citizens and loot shops.”33 Late in December, General Henry W. Halleck sent a report to General George B. McClellan which stated “the conduct of the forces under Lane…has done more for the enemy than could have been accomplished by 20,000 of his own army. I receive almost daily complaints of outrages committed by these men in the name of the United States….It is rumored that Lane has been made a brigadier-general. I cannot conceive of a more injudicious appointment…” President Lincoln wrote on the letter that “I am sorry General Halleck is so unfavorably impressed with General Lane.”34

Lane wanted political and military glory. In December 1861, John Hay wrote: “Gen. Jim Lane has at last gained the tile he has so long used. He will no longer be reduced to the necessity of ‘playing Brigadier with no commission – betting high on small cards,’ to use his own graphic language, at Leavenworth. He will immediately depart for the West and take the command assigned him by the War Department. The General has not been entirely magnanimous in regard to his Brigadier’s commission. He was about to accept it and vacate his seat in the Senate last summer, when discovering that Governor Robinson, thinking he had resigned, had appointed Mr. [Frederick P. ]Stanton to succeed him, he instantly withdrew from the glittering bait he was just swallowing, and went back commissionless to his men. Stanton remained in Washington, while James was burning rebellious villages, and acting in Missouri like an ill conduced patriot of imperfect lights, and tried to operate upon the candid minds of the eminently respectable old party that formed the committee on his claim. Yesterday morning they reported, the majority being favorable to Stanton’s pretensions. The gallant Brigadier protested earnestly against being buried before he was dead, and contended for his place as earnestly as if he had not made up his mind to resign it the next day to accept the commission from the President, whose nomination, even while he spoke, was lying sealed upon the Clerk’s desk.”35

By early February, Lane’s activities had opened another front – conflict with General David Hunter who was the commanding general in Kansas. President Lincoln wrote Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton at the end of January: “It is my wish that the expedition commonly called the ‘Lane Expedition’ shall be as much as has been promised at the Adjutant General’s Office, under the supervision of Gen. McClellan, and not any more. I have not intended, and do not now intend that it shall be a great exhausting affair; but a snug, sober column of 10,000 or 15,000. Gen. Lane has been told by me many times that he is under the command of Gen. Hunter, and assented to it as often as told. It was the distinct agreement between him & me when I appointed him, that he was to be under Hunter.”36

President Lincoln wrote Generals Hunter and Lane: “My wish has been, – and is, to avail the government of the services of both Gen. Hunter and Gen. Lane; & so far as possible, to personally oblige both. Gen. Hunter is the senior officer, and must command when they serve together; though, in so far as he can, consistently with the public service, and his own honor, oblige Gen. Lane, he will also oblige me. If they can not come to an amicable understanding, Gen. Lane must report to Gen. Hunter for duty, according to the rules, or decline the service.”37

While Lane was thin and energetic, his Senate cohort, Samuel C. Pomeroy was plump and sedentary. Even though both Senators were Republicans, there was a virtual civil war between then: “I wish you and Lane would make a sincere effort to get out of the mood you are in,” President Lincoln wrote Pomeroy in May 1864. “It does neither of you any good; it gives you the means of tormenting my life out of me, and nothing else.”38

Pomeroy was fervently anti-slavery. In the 1850s, Pomeroy had served as an agent of the New England Emigrant Aid Company as well as mayor of Atchison, Kansas. Erich Langsdorf wrote that Pomeroy was “incurably optimistic in business matters. He believed sincerely in the future of Kansas and the good fortune bound to accrue to anyone owning property there. He was constantly looking for new investments and recommending them to the Aid Company. This characteristic alone tended, from 1857 on, to make him an unsatisfactory agent. He seemed unable to realize that the panic of 1857 was playing havoc with business, particularly in the field of investment.”39

Pomeroy was also generally anti-Lincoln. Lincoln aide John Hay reported that after Pomeroy and Iowa Senator John Harlan visited with the President, a press report appeared that quoted one of the two as saying “I wish to God you would resign, Mr. President, and let Mr. Hamlin try it.” Hay contended the statement was never made, but historian Michael Burlingame attributes the boast to the press to Pomeroy.40

Pomeroy sided with President Lincoln on colonization in 1863 but he sided with Salmon P. Chase’s presidential aspirations in 1864 and served as the chief of Chase’s brief campaign. Historian William F. Zornow wrote: “The national committee in its expanded form became know as the Republican National Executive Committee with Senator Samuel Pomeroy of Kansas as chairman. Chase was fully aware of what was going one, for he wrote to a friend in Ohio on January 18 that a committee composed of ‘prominent Senators and Representatives and citizens’ had been formed for the purpose of making him president. He also added, ‘This Committee, through a sub-c0mmittee, has conferred with me…and I have consented to their wishes.’ As the election year dawned, Chase was a field in full panoply, and a committee had been organized to press his claims for the Presidency. ‘The fight will narrow between Lincoln and Chase,’ was the opinion of one observer, and it was shared by many.” 41 The death knell of the campaign was the circulation of a letter under Pomeroy’s name that had been written by James M. Winchell, a journalist, Kansas politician and railroad agent. The “Pomeroy Circular” stated:

“Those in behalf of whom this communication is made have thoroughly surveyed the political field, and have arrived at the following conclusions:
“First, that even were the reelection of Mr. Lincoln desirable, it is practically impossible against the union of influences which will oppose him.”
“Second, that should he be reelected, his manifest tendency towards compromises and temporary expedients of policy will become stronger during a second term than it has been in the first, and the cause of human liberty, and the dignity and honor of the nation, suffer proportionately, while the war may continue to languish during his whole Administration, till the public debt shall become a burden too great to be borne.”
“Third, that the patronage of the Government through the necessities of the war has been so rapidly increased, and to such an enormous extent, and so loosely placed, as to render the ‘one-term principle’ absolutely essential to the certain safety of our republican institutions.”
“Fourth, that we find united in Hon. Salmon P. Chase more of the qualities needed in a President during the next four years than are combined in any other available candidate; his record, clear and unimpeachable, showing him to be a statesman of rare ability and an administrator of the very highest order, while his private character furnishes the surest obtainable guarantee of economy and purity in the management of public affairs.”
“Fifth, that the discussion of the Presidential question, already commenced by the friends of Mr. Lincoln, has developed a popularity and strength in Mr. Chase unexpected even to his warmest admirers and while we are aware that this strength is at present unorganized, and in no condition to manifest its real magnitude, we are satisfied that it only needs systematic and faithful effort to develop it to an extent sufficient to overcome all opposing obstacles. For these reasons the friends of Mr. Chase have determined on measures which shall present his claims fairly and at once to the country…”42

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles correctly observed in his diary: “A circular, ‘strictly private,’ signed by Senator Pomeroy and in favor of Mr. Chase for President, has been detected and published. It will be more dangerous in its recoil than its projectile. That is, it will damage Chase more than Lincoln.”43 Publication of this letter embarrassed Chase and effectively forced himself out of contention for the Republican nomination by early March 1864.

Even after Pomeroy’s boomlet for Chase collapsed, the tension between Pomeroy and the President continued. Historian David H. Donald noted that Pomeroy paid dearly for his indiscretion – “every patronage plum in his state was snatched from his greedy hands. After a few months of dignified hostility, Pomeroy sidled up to the White House and begged forgiveness. But Lincoln, who could be so forgiving to sleeping sentinels and deserting soldiers, had no mercy for defecting politicians, and Pomeroy went hungry.”44

Lane took advantage of Pomeroy’s actions to cement a closer relationship with the President. Indeed, noted historian William B. Hesseltine, it was “patronage that caused Senator Lane of Kansas to jump on the Lincoln bandwagon. Governor Carney, who spent more time in his store in Leavenworth than in the capitol in Topeka, and whose major interest as governor had been in government contracts, wanted Lane’s seat in the Senate. But Lane enlisted Lincoln’s aid in the contest, and got General Samuel Ryan Curtis appointed to command troops in the area. Curtis’s arrival was made the signal for launching a Lincoln boom, and resolutions favoring Lincoln’s renomination passed the legislature. After the fiasco of the Pomeroy Circular, Lane hurried back to Kansas, put himself at the head of the Lincoln movement, and got himself chosen to lead the delegates to the Baltimore Union Convention.”45

Lane’s political difficulties with Senator Pomeroy, however, made him a presidential ally of political convenience in 1864. Historian Michael Les Benedict wrote: “Lane far outdistanced his colleague Samuel C. Pomeroy in claims to radical credentials. But in 1863 Lane found himself in serious trouble back home.” Pomeroy joined with other Kansas Republican leaders “in an attempt to strip Lane of power. With the state legislature also arrayed against him, Lane’s position was critical. To save himself, Lane became Lincoln’s most outspoken supporter in the state. Gaining control of the national patronage in Kansas through this maneuver, he soon regained his pre-eminent place in the party.”46

Historian Erich Langsdorf wrote the relationship between Lane and President Lincoln was problematic: “Lincoln was a practical politician, accustomed to work with whatever tools came to hand, and that Lane was an opportunist who could be used. Lane made every possible use of his position in Washington to work his way into Lincoln’s grace, and by his importunities secured concessions which made it appear that Lincoln recognized obligations to him. From the time he offered Lincoln a bodyguard, early in 1861, he was constantly on the President’s heels. Lincoln himself is reported to have given this explanation to Gov. Thomas Carney of Kansas in 1864: ‘he knocks at my door every morning. You know he is a very persistent fellow and hard to put off. I don’t see you very often, and have to pay attention to him.'”47

In April 1863, President Lincoln wrote Senator Lane: “The Governor of Kansas is here, asking that Lieut. Col. J. M. Williams, of a colored regiment there, shall be removed; and also complaining of the military interference of Gen. [James G.] Blunt in the late election at Leavenworth – I do not know how, if at all, you are connected with these things; but I wish your assistance to so shape things that the Governor of Kansas may be treated with the consideration that is extended to Governors of other States. We are not forcing a Regimental officer upon any other governor, against his protest – Can not this matter be somehow adjusted?”48

Controversy emerged later in 1863 about the conduct of military operations in Kansas under General James Blunt, who commanded the District of the Frontier. Governor Carney objected to his use of military courts and wanted Kansas placed under one military command rather than split among two districts, one of which was commanded by Blunt. He also wanted complete control of military commissions issued in the state. In May, another controversy sprang regarding General Blunt and the execution of two thieves by a “citizens Court.” Mark Delahay strongly defended Blunt against charges “to the effect that Gen. Blunt has inaugurated a reign of terror in our State, over-riding the Civil Authority, which is, it is stated, sufficient to protect the Citizen; that by the military executions he has commanded, and the Mob-law he has countenanced he has virtually placed the State of Kansas at the mercy of the irresponsible despotism of a mob backed by the Military power in his hands. These, I understand to be the charges made by Gov. Carney and U. S. Senator Pomeroy, to which I refer. I put their case thus strongly that I may be able to answer in the same strain…”49

Blunt also came to his own defense, writing President Lincoln: “I well know the sources of this persecution and the causes that has prompted it. It comes from unscrupulous politicians and peculators, backed by men in the service of the Government whose disloyalty to the Union and sympathy with the Confederate cause I can substantiate. Would I have lent myself to their base schemes all would have been well. But I have chosen to preserve my honor and manhood, and serve the interests of my Country, in this its hour of peril, rather than be the recipitant [sic] of any personal favors by playing the sycophant to unprincipled men.”50

Early in June, Governor Carney wrote President Lincoln to complain about General Blunt (in a letter that no longer can be found). A few days later, Senator Lane and Kansas Congressman Abel C. Wilder wrote Mr. Lincoln to object: “We have learned with pain & sorrow that charges have reached you calculated to prejudice our gallant young Maj Genl Blunt – Confident he can cleanse himself & reinstate himself in your good opinion – we respectfully request you to permit him to visit you at this city..”51

Charges and countercharges were directed to the White House. On June 23, Senator Lane asked President Lincoln to set up a separate military command for Kansas. On June 25, Governor Carney detailed his complaints against Blunt in a letter to President Lincoln: “The disordered and anarchical condition to which the State of Kansas has been reduced by some of the Military Officials operating in that State, and acting under Federal authority reluctantly compells me as the Executive of that State to again address you, apprehensive that in my communication of the 5th inst, I had not been sufficiently explicit.”52

On July 17, Lane wrote President Lincoln: “I am pained to learn that an effort is now being made to get you to interfere in the personal quarrel going on between Gov. Carney & Maj Genl Blunt – The charges have been preferred by the Gov. against Maj Genl Blunt and an application made for his removal – Genl Blunt is now at the head of his army in the field bravely battling the Enemies of his Country – & while thus employed this effort is made – I desire to file with you this my earnest but respectful protest against any interference with Genl Blunt until his campaign against the Enemy is finished – When I ask that he may have the opportunity of confronting his accusers all of which is respectfully submitted”.53 The same day, President Lincoln responded:

“Gov. Carney has not asked to [have] Gen. Blunt removed, or interfered with in his Military operations – He has asked that he, the Governor, be allowed to Commission officers for Troops raised in Kansas, as other governors of loyal states do; and I think he is right in this.”
“He has asked that Gen. Blunt shall not take persons charged with civil crimes, out of the hands of the courts, and turn them over to mobs to be hung; and I think he is right in this also. He has asked that Gen. Ewing’s Department be extended to include all Kansas; and I have not determined whether this is right or not.”54

Governor Carney tried unsuccessfully meanwhile to see President Lincoln and wrote him on July 19: “I called to see you on Saturday morning last, and was informed by your servent that you would see me at 4. O’clk. I was at your office promptly at that time, and waited until half past 5. O’clk, but did not have the pleasure of an interview with you, therefore, hope I shall be pardoned for again[.] Calling your attention to the papers submitted to you by me, in which the people of the State of Kansas, naturally feel a deep interest in, because the State of Kansas has never yet been treated as other loyal States are treated.”

“You will remember that I asked that Kansas, be placed under one Military Commander instead of two, as is now the case. Maj. Genl. Blunt having the Command of the southern & Brig Genl Ewing the northern portion of the State.”

After detailing other problems and requests, Carney closed: “I very much regret thus to be compelled to trouble you, but duty to myself & duty to my State leaves me no alternative.” 55 On July 21, President Lincoln responded: “Yours dated Pittsburgh, the 19th Instant is received. The day after you were with me, I wrote a note to the Secretary of War, asking him to place you on the same ground, with all other Governors of loyal states, as to the appointment of military officers.”

“In reply to this, he verbally told me, when I next met him, that he had never placed you on any other ground – that the forces in regard to which you and Gen. Blunt have a controversy, were raised on special authority from the War Department, given before you were Governor, and that the officers were commissioned by him, (the Secretary of War) according to the original authority; and that he never had required you to commission officers nominated by General Blunt. The like of this has been done in some other states, as I remember.”
“As to leaving no part of Kansas in Blunt’s Department, the thing should not be hastily done. He, with his command, is now in the field South of Kansas; and while I do not know how much what you desire, might interfere with his supplies, it is very certain that he can not now be interfering with you.”
“It is my purpose to take care that he shall not any more take persons charged with civil crimes, out of the custody of the courts, and turn them over to mobs to be hanged.”56

Blunt sought to defend himself, writing President Lincoln on July 31 a caustic denunciation of Governor Carney replete with imaginative spelling: “I have learned through Several Sources that Thos Carney Gov. of Kansas has recently filed with you Charges against myself. Specifying that I had ‘Shared in the Spoils of Red Legs’ and ‘had inaugerated a reigne of terror.’ denouncing me as a ‘murderer’ and ‘that no mans life or property was Safe in Kansas.'”

“Justice to myself, & the Officers and men who have been under my Command – demands that these Charges Should be investigated, as Soon as the interest of the Service will permit. I know that he never intended that there Should be an investigation of these charges, but Expected to accomplish his purposes with them, and get rid of me upon his own Representation, but he Shall not Escape So Easily. I have denounced him publicly as a thief and a liar; the proof of which I am ready to produce whenever an opportunity is Afforded – And what is particularly mortifying to the people of Kansas he is a liar with-out method, and a fool for the want of brains. The Causes of his persecution of me are briefly these. First – because I would not permit him to dictate to me in the discharge of my duties as Military Commander, when he wished to make the Military forces Subserveant to his political schemes. Secondly – I Stood in the way of his wholesale plunder of the poor unfortunate Indians, who had been driven from their homes by Rebels His Robbery, & plunder of the Refugee Indians – in Connection with the Superintendant of Indian Affairs (Col Coffin) has been so palpable and outrageous that their names (Carney & Coffin) has become a Stench in the nostrils of Every loyal Indian man, woman & child. They knew that the Indians relied upon me – as their friend – to protect their interest, . And hence their Anxiety to get me, , out of the way in some manner or other; I Know Mr. President – the Source and motives of All the persecutions that have been waged against me, and I am prepared for the issue. I have no hesitation in Saying – that a greater thief and Corrupt Villain than Thomas Carney does not live – And all that he lacks to make him a finished Scoundrel is his Stupidity – and want of brains to enable him to Carry out his Corrupt Schemes Successfully.”57

The President replied on August 18 with a Lincolnesque rebuke of the general for his military conduct and non-military rhetoric:

“Yours of July 31st is received. Governor Carney did leave some papers with me concerning you; but they made no great impression upon me; and I believe they are not altogether such as you seem to think. As I am not proposing to act upon them, I do not now take the time to re-examine them.”
“I regret to find you denouncing so many persons as liars, scoundrels, fools, thieves, and persecutors of yourself. Your military position looks critical, but did any body force you into it? Have you been ordered to confront and fight ten thousand men, with three thousand men? The Government cannot make men; and it is very easy, when a man has been given the highest commission, for him to turn on those who gave it and vilify them for not giving him a command according to his rank.”
“My appointment of you first as Brigadier, and then a Major General, was evidence of my appreciation of your service; and I have not since marked but one thing in connection with you, with which to be dissatisfied. The sending a military order twenty five miles outside of your lines, and all military lines, to take men charged with offence against the military, out of the hands of the courts, to be turned over to a mob to be hanged, can find no precedent or principle to justify it. Judge Lynch sometimes takes jurisdiction of cases which prove too strong for the courts; but this is the first case within my knowledge, wherein the court being able to maintain jurisdiction against Judge Lynch, the military has come to the assistance of the latter. I take the facts of this case as you state them yourself, and not from any report of Governor Carney, or other person.”58

By the fall of 1864, Republican politics in Kansas had quieted somewhat . Governor Carney wrote a Lincoln Administration official in September: “We are now all united here for Mr. Lincoln’s re-election, and I respectfully ask that the requests of the [Kansas Union Central] Committee be complied with. Kansas is now a unit for Mr. Lincoln, and any funds that you may have for the cause, can better be used in doubtful states, than to Elect Lane.”59 On election day, Mr. Lincoln carried Kansas over Democrat George B. McClellan with 79% of the vote. The political leanings of Kansas on Lincoln and slavery were no longer in doubt.


  1. Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, p. 199.
  2. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (CWAL), Volume III, pp. 378-379 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Mark W. Delahay, May 14 1859),.
  3. Henry Villard, “Recollections of Lincoln”, Atlantic Monthly, February 1904.
  4. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,Volume III, p. 495-496 (Speech at Leavenworth, Kansas, November 30, 1859).
  5. Charles Arthur Hawley, “Lincoln in Kansas”, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, June 1949, p. 183.
  6. Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, pp. 212-213 (Albert D. Richardson, “Field Dungeon and Escape”).
  7. Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor Intimate Memories of Lincoln, Volume VII, pp. 213-214 (Franklin G. Adams, Proceedings of the Kansas Historical Society, Volume VII).
  8. Charles Arthur Hawley, “Lincoln in Kansas”, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, June 1949, p. 189.
  9. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume III, pp. 497-502 (Speech at Leavenworth, Kansas , December 3, 1859).
  10. Lincoln Day by Day, (,>New York Tribune, August 30, 1860).
  11. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume III, p. 502-504 (Second Speech at Leavenworth, Kansas, December 5, 1859). .
  12. Illinois State Journal, December 10, 1859.
  13. Walter B. Stevens, Michael Burlingame, editor, A Reporter’s Lincoln, p. 203.
  14. John G. Clark, “Mark W. Delahay: Peripatetic Politician, A Historical Case Study” , Kansas Historical Quarterly, Autumn 1959, p. 308.
  15. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume IV, pp. 31-32. (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Mark Delahay, March 16, 1860).
  16. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume IV, p. 32 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull, March 16, 1860).
  17. Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, pp. 213 (Franklin G. Adams, Proceedings of the Kansas Historical Society, Volume VII).
  18. John G. Clark, “Mark W. Delahay: Peripatetic Politician, A Historical Case Study,” Kansas Historical Quarterly, Autumn 1959, p. 311.
  19. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Mark W. Delahay to Abraham Lincoln, December 23, 1863)
  20. Jesse W. Weik, The Real Lincoln: A Portrait, p. 224.
  21. John G. Clark, “Mark W. Delahay: Peripatetic Politician, A Historical Case Study,” Kansas Historical Quarterly, Autumn 1959, p. 312.
  22. Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Volume III, p. 451.
  23. Albert J. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858, Volume II, p. 323.
  24. Albert J. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858, Volume II, p. 324.
  25. Erich Langsdorf, “Jim Lane and the Frontier Guard”, Kansas Historical Quarterly, February 1940, p. 14.
  26. Eric Langsdorf, “Jim Lane and the Frontier Guard”, Kansas Historical Quarterly, February 1940, p. 16 (Kansas State Journal, May 9, 1861).
  27. Ernest B. Furgurson, Freedom Rising: Washington in the Civil War, p. 76.
  28. Allan G. Bogue, The Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate, p. 41.
  29. Erich Langsdorf, “Jim Lane and the Frontier Guard”, Kansas Historical Quarterly, February 1940, p. 18.
  30. Erich Langsdorf, “Jim Lane and the Frontier Guard”, Kansas Historical Quarterly, February 1940, p. 20.
  31. Erich Langsdorf, “Jim Lane and the Frontier Guard”, Kansas Historical Quarterly, February 1940, p. 21.
  32. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,Volume IV, p. 414 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Simon Cameron, June 20, 1861).
  33. Allan Nevins, The War for the Union: War Becomes Revolution, 1862-1863, pp. 292-293.
  34. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume V, p. 80 (Memorandum: Henry W. Halleck and James H. Lane, December 27, 1861).
  35. Michael Burlingame, Lincoln’s Journalist: John Hay’s Anonymous Writings for the Press, 1860-1864, pp. 174-175 (December 19, 1861).
  36. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume V, pp. 115-116 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Edwin M. Stanton, January 31, 1862).
  37. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume VII, p. 338 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to David Hunter and James H. Lane,, February 10, 1862).
  38. Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume VII, p. 338 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Samuel C. Pomeroy, May 12, 1864).
  39. Edgar Langsdorf, “S.C. Pomeroy and the New England Emigrant Aid Company, 1854-1858 (Concluded)”, Kansas Historical Quarterly, November 1938, p. 397.
  40. Michael Burlingame, Lincoln’s Journalist: John Ha’s Anonymous Writings for the Press, 1860-1864, pp. 308-309, 373.
  41. William Frank Zornow, Lincoln & the Party Divided, pp. 35-36.
  42. Harlan Hoyt Horner, Lincoln and Greeley, p. 336.
  43. Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Volume I, p. 529 ( February 22,1864).
  44. David H. Donald, Lincoln Reconsidered, p. 77.
  45. William B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors, p. 355.
  46. Michael Les Benedict, A Compromise of Principle: Congressional Republicans and Reconstruction 1863-1869, p. 66.
  47. Erich Langsdorf, “Jim Lane and the Frontier Guard”, Kansas Historical Quarterly, February 1940, p. 25.
  48. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois, (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to James Lane, April 27, 1863).
  49. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Mark Delahay to Abraham Lincoln, c. May-July 1863).
  50. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from James G. Blunt to Abraham Lincoln, June 9, 1863).
  51. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from James Lane, Abel C. Wilder and John Covode to Abraham Lincoln, June 8, 1863).
  52. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Thomas Carney to Abraham Lincoln, June 25, 1863.
  53. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from James Lane, Abel C. Wilder and John Covode to Abraham Lincoln, July 17, 1863).
  54. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to James Lane, July 17, 1863).
  55. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois Illinois (Letter from Thomas Carney to Abraham Lincoln, July 19, 1863).
  56. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Thomas Carney, July 21, 1863).
  57. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from James G. Blunt to Abraham Lincoln, July 31, 1863).
  58. Roy p. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume VI, pp. 395-396 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to James G. Blunt, August 18, 1863).
  59. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois (Letter from Thomas Carney to William P. Dole, September 22, 1864).