Thursday, August 26, 2010
Some Kentucky Reports on Bleeding Kansas
As promised in the previous post I thought I'd share some of the Kentucky newspaper reports on Bleeding Kansas that I have recently come across. Admittedly my search has been limited and most of what I have found are merely reprints from Missouri newspapers. But, that in itself says a great deal. By purposely choosing pro-slavery reports over free-state or more balanced accounts shows, not surprisingly, a bias.
On the front page of the April 1, 1856 edition of the Frankfort Commonwealth, a lead-in to the re-published article clearly shows this bias. It reads:
"The following circular, over the signature of many of the most reputable gentlemen in Lexington, Mo., will disabuse the public mind of erroneous impressions sought to be made by the Free-soil presses of the country, and we cheerfully republish it as an act of justice to the people of Western Missouri."
One paragraph of the re-printed Missouri article was especially interesting:
"It will not, we hope, be considered improper for us in this connection to say, as near neighbors deeply concerned, we are not indifferent spectators of the strife in Kansas. Many of us have brothers and sons legitimate settlers in the Territory-our prayers for life, health and prosperity went with them to their new homes. We have seen pouring through our own State, from the East, a corrupt horde, concentrating for plunder and destruction around our kindred, and we have heard 'The cry of our strong swimmers in their agony' breasting the waves of aggressive fanaticism, yet we as a people, have moved not. True, some of our impetuous youths, visiting their brethren with hospitality they have enjoyed, have shared the dangers of the day; but Missouri, always mindful of the Constitution, though vitally interested, has hopefully awaited the interposition of the Executive arm for the protection of her energetic emigrating children. She asks for the enforcement of constitutional law and the observance of legislative enactments. An arbitrament by the SWORD is her last wish; she has no hope of tranquility which looks beyond the existence of this glorious Union; yet if shorn of her constitutional rights, like the blind giant of old, she will gather to its fall the pillars of the temple." (Italics in original)
In the March 25, 1856 issue the Frankfort Commonwealth ran a story under the headline: "Arms for Kansas Arrested---Hostilities Commenced." This story was a reprint from the Lexington (Missouri) Express and explained that on a westbound steamboat was found a box that contained "one hundred Sharpe's rifles and two cannons!" It went on to say that "The proceedings were orderly, and although the determination to arrest the arms was decided, no one talked of violence to the poor tool that could heartlessly lend himself to such unnatural work. The arms were boxed up and marked 'Carpenters' Tools'...The passengers and officers were highly incensed at the disclosures, but no indignity was offered to the miserable disorganizer." The arms were found on the boat due to the carelessness of passenger who was conveying them, as apparently he dropped two letters to his mother back in Massachusetts describing his trip and how he was successfully slipping by the Missourians. The article closed by stating that, "The 'Carpenters' Tools' are now safely stored in this city...We suggest that a committee be appointed by our citizens, at a meeting to be held a the Court House to-morrow, (Monday) morning, at ten o'clock, whose duty it shall be to examine for, and intercept, all similar shipments." For some reason I have a hard time believing that "no indignity was offered to the miserable disorganizer."
An another article under the headline "Kansas Outrage," reprinted by a St. Louis newspaper, it explained that, "As Mr. Cosgrove and Dr. Brannon, were going from Lecompton to Franklin, they were hailed by a party of Free State men, who enquired who they were, and where they were going. On being answered, the commander of the party turned to his men and asked their motto. They replied, Sharp's rifles, and immediately fired on Cosgrove and Brannon. Brannon was wounded, but Cosgrove sent a ball through the leader. The balance fled."
Again, as previously mentioned, these are limited examples, but apparently, and not surprisingly, the pro-slavery press of Kentucky specifically chose to print articles from pro-slavery Missouri papers that expressed positive sentiments with their political stance. When I find the time I hope to look up more Kentucky examples from the 1854-1860 Bleeding Kansas period to see if this trend continued.