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Prominent army surgeon. Medical director department of the Platte, 1874

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Member of early legislatures and president of council
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Member second territorial legislature
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Very early settler of Bellevue, Nebraska.
Army surgeon during the Civil War



of South Carolina, signed the minority report for Ferguson, ably conducted his case on the floor of the House. The testimony of our whilom councilman and capital commissioner, James C. Mitchell, tells us of the population of Florence at that time. It was charged by Chapman that a large illegal Mormon vote had been polled, and in answer to a question as to total population and the number of Mormons, Mitchell said: "I think not less than two thousand population and not more than one hundred actual Mormons." Though the testimony was very conflicting, Mr. Washburne urged with great force that Chapman's part of it was ex parte and hearsay, while Ferguson's was given by actual residents and in regular form.

    ANNEXATION TO KANSAS. The year 1859 marked the culmination of sectional strife, and its last manifestation was in the attempt by the South Platte section to secede and become attached to Kansas. There appears to have been no mention of this project until J. Sterling Morton introduced a memorial to Congress in its favor, in the lower house of the legislature, on the 17th of January, 1856. The very boldness and originality of the important movement which the memorial started would alone point to Morton as its author:

    To the Honorable, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress Assembled:

    Your memorialists, the House of Representatives of the legislative assembly of the territory of Nebraska, desiring not only the welfare of the territory of Nebraska, but wishing harmony and quiet throughout the entire domain of our cherished government, respectfully represent to your honorable bodies that the annexation to Kansas of all that portion of Nebraska south of Platte river will be to the interests of this territory and to the general good of the entire Union.
   The great Platte river is a natural boundary mark, and seems as though intended by nature for the dividing line between two great states. It is almost impossible (and thus far has been perfectly so) to either ford, ferry or bridge this stream. It, therefore, separates both in identity of interests, and in fact, the portions of Nebraska lying upon opposite sides of it.
   Your memorialists most earnestly solicit, then, that their representations to your honorable bodies, though they may be ever so imperfectly set forth, may meet with due and favorable consideration.
   Lastly, your memorialists represent that this addition to Kansas of south Platte Nebraska, will effectually prevent the establishment of slavery in either of the territories, and that it will guarantee to freedom the territory of Kansas, whose fate in regard to this great question is still undecided and doubtful; our interests are advanced, and the agi-

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Surveyor of boundary line between Kansas and Nebraska

tation and strife now rife throughout the Union upon the momentous query, "Shall Kansas be free?" is forever answered by an irrevocable affirmative.1
   Though consideration of this movement was postponed by a vote of 20 to 5, yet the strength which it subsequently acquired shows that it was more than an audacious personal device of Morton's to alarm and harass the hated North Platte. But the project slumbered till the beginning of 1858,

   1 House Journal, 2d ter. sess., p. 120.



when it was awakened and started with a real vigor by the shock and suggestion of the Florence legislative dismemberment. The News now pressed on the movement with vigor, and the Advertiser soon became an industrious second. It was charged that all the federal appropriations had gone, and would continue to go for improvements north of the Platte, and an ardent annexation correspondent of the News aptly "dropped into poetry" to enforce his plausible argument for division:

"Lands intersected by a narrow frith abhor each other --
Mountains interposed make enemies of nations
That had else like kindred drops been mingled into one." 2

   The News3 itself begins a vigorous editorial bombardment against the hateful tie that binds it to the north country.

   As an ultimate result of the adjournment of the twenty-nine members of the Nebraska legislature, we see other than a doubtful triumph of an arrogant majority or the temporary success of a faction breeding minority. We see in it the cheering sign that Nebraska is to be politically dismembered; we see in it another and overwhelming argument, as we think, in favor of the speedy, peaceful, separation of South Platte Nebraska from North Platte . . .
   Our purpose is to deduce from the fact that another session of the legislature has been frittered away, another and important argument in favor of a quiet, peaceable separation of South Platte Nebraska from North Platte. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace so long as we remain in the same political organization with North Platte. Is not three years experience enough to teach every thinking, sensible man south of the Platte that fact? To leave them is the only remedy we can see. Some may say, let us stay and fight it out. But what has been the result? What do we gain by "fighting it out?" The able communication of our correspondent last week showed what has been the result of three years "fighting it out." We are as willing to "fight it out" as any one when there is anything to be made by it for South Platte; but we submit that the tale of the Kilkenny cat battle does not convey philosophy particularly cheering or encouraging.

   A bill to create a new county -- Strickland -- out of parts of Otoe and Cass helped to precipitate the trouble, and the day after Morton's motion to reject it was defeated -- 9 to 25, only two North Platte members sustaining the motion -- he for the second time introduced an annexation memorial. It is characteristic of Morton that in spite of this plain provocation of the threatened dismemberment of his county he remained in Omaha with the Douglas members when the Florence secession occurred two days later. The Advertiser at first strongly opposed annexation, insisting that nothing whatever would be. gained by it, but on the contrary there was everything to lose, and it denounced those "who would tie us to Kansas in order to settle without doubt the slavery question." In the opinion of this journal not a hundred voters in the South Platte country favored annexation. By the 2d of December, however, the Advertiser has become a positive annexationist:

    For two years past -- in fact nearly ever since the organization of Nebraska and Kansas -- there has been considerable said in Congress and out of it as to the practical operations and beneficial results most likely to arise by annexing "South Platte" Nebraska to Kansas . . . We have opposed such a proposition for the single reason that we would thus become mixed up in the "Kansas difficulties." These difficulties being now removed, or settled, we are forced to admit that there are many and weighty reasons in favor of the movement . . .
   In the first place, the Platte river is a natural boundary line; has been, is, and always will be, an almost insuperable barrier dividing the two sections of Nebraska, known as "North Platte," and "South Platte." Full one half the season it is utterly impassable. It cannot be bridged except at enormous expense; and should this be done, owing to the treacherous embankments and bed of the river, nine chances to one, the first freshet after its completion would sweep it away.
   Again, there has grown up a bitter sectional or local feeling between these two portions of the country, entering into almost every question that may be agitated; which always has and always will prevent harmonious effort and retard the progress and

   2 The Nebraska News, January 9, 1858.
   3 January 16, 1858.



development of the territory. In short, there are no interests in common at stake.
   And still again, while we remain as we are, we cannot reasonably expect to be admitted into the great sisterhood of states short of ten years to come. We have not the population to gain admittance. We have not the financial ability to sustain ourselves as an independent state government.
   In the second place, the line as it now exists between Kansas and Nebraska is really only imaginary -- on paper -- in passing from one to the other it cannot be found; not even a stone or stake denotes the separating line, except perhaps some private mark of the surveyor known only to himself. The natural interests of the two sections spoken of are one and the same; nature has so arranged, and it cannot be otherwise.
   By annexation we assist to swell a population sufficiently large to gain immediate admission into the Union, and thus take our place in the rank as a sovereign state, with a voice, votes, and influence in our National Council. We become identified with a portion of the country possessing a world wide notoriety. And however much we may deplore the manner of obtaining, and the cost of that notoriety, yet must admit Kansas has an advertisement unprecedented; attention has been drawn to her from, we might say, almost every portion of the known world.
   The Advertiser is now able to find in Nemaha, Johnson, and Clay counties a very general opinion in favor of annexation; but Samuel G. Daily, who begins to assume a position of leadership in the republican party in the territory, opposes annexation:

    If the object was to divide Nebraska and Kansas and take all between the Platte and Kansas rivers, and make a new territory, I would have no objections. But to annex all south of the Platte to Kansas I have many objections. As we now stand in Nebraska, south of the Platte has the majority, and has the controlling power in this territory. According to the apportionment passed at the last session, we have one majority in the House, and in another year will have more. We can control legislation to our own benefit, and have a due share of all public improvements. But if annexed to Kansas it will throw us away off in the northeast corner of the territory, without number or power to ever control legislation for the benefit of this portion of the state or territory, and all the improvements will be taken south of us, nearer the center, and we will be outsiders -- mere hangers-on -- only useful to them to help pay their enormous public debt, and without strength to help ourselves in any way.
   And again, all the good lands within one hundred miles of the Missouri river, in Kansas, are already claimed or preëmpted while we have much fine land unclaimed, within ten miles of the river. The consequences will be that with their twenty million acre grants, and numerous railroad grants, that will almost certainly be given, they will literally sweep all our good lands near the river and hold them above Congress prices, and so they can neither be claimed or entered by actual settlers, thus virtually stopping all improvements for years.
   And still again, I am opposed to it because it is a Lecompton-English-Bill-Administration measure, intended to give a chance to get out of, or rather to sustain, the position taken, that no more free states shall be admitted into the Union unless she has the 93000 in population.
   On the 1st of January, 1859, a mass meeting was held at Nebraska City for the furtherance of annexation, and a numerous committee, of which Charles F. Holly was chairman, reported a resolution which declared that "the people residing south of the Platte river in Nebraska territory are nearly unanimously in favor of the incorporation of the proposed part of said territory within the boundaries of the proposed state of Kansas, and its speedy admission into the Union; that the Platte (with one weak solitary exception) have proven themselves correct exponents of the sentiments of the people, and we commend them as faithful sentinels on the watch-tower of the public weal! Congress should immediately exercise the power reserved in the organic act of carrying out the wishes of the people residing south of the Platte by providing for a change of the boundary line between the two territories, as prayed for by this convention; that the Platte river is a natural and almost impassable boundary while the country south in Kansas and Nebraska, now divided by an imaginary line, is perfectly similar in climate, soil and



productions, and the interests of the people are as identical as the country is naturally indivisible."
   These rhetorical pyrotechnics were the mere firecrackers of the resolutions; the sky-rocket was put off later:

   Resolved, That Kansas, bounded on the North by the Platte river, extending west to the 100th degree of longitude, or so as to include a suitable amount of territory, would soon become one of the most important states in the great west. With a mild and genial and healthy climate, and exuberantly fertile soil, valuable rocks and minerals, sylvan groves and sparkling streams, situated on the great national highway between Europe and Asia, and if her enterprising population were protected by the aegis of a constitutional government of their own choice, her march to greatness and power would be steadily, but speedily onward and upward.

   On the 5th of January the delegate convention was held at Brownville at which Clay, Gage, Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, and Richardson -- all the South Platte counties except Cass, Saline, and Lancaster --were represented. T. M. Marquett, we are told, though present, declined to act as a delegate because he had not been commissioned by the people of his county. For a man who is to run for Congress this very year and on a specific profession of sympathy for South Platte interests, the question whether the voters of his section are for or against annexation must settle the question whether the principle of annexation is sound or unsound; and so Daily becomes a member of the committee on resolutions which are to come out strong for the dismemberment scheme, though his organ, the Advertiser, afterward defended him against the charge that he was an annexationist, by insisting that he spoke against annexation in the convention. Marquett, who was waiting to take his turn as candidate for delegate to Congress when the inevitable reaction against this temporary pro-annexation sentiment should be spent, but might be remembered injuriously in the North Platte, twice declined the invitation of the convention to take part in its proceedings. Stephen F. Nuckolls, of Otoe county, was president of the convention, and the still familiar names of Elmer S. Dundy, Robert W. Furnas, and Jefferson B. Weston -- the last even then from Gage county -- were on the list of those who were to prepare an address "to the people of Kansas and South Platte."
   The memorial presented to Congress epitomized the resolutions passed at the convention. There was dissent -- though apparently weak -- from this action, and "a few persons from four counties met at a private residence in Nebraska City," and adopted adverse resolutions.
   In the meantime -- December 23, 1858 -- Mr. Parrott of Kansas introduced a bill into the House of Representatives making the Platte river the northern boundary of that territory, but it was never reported from the committee on territories. A considerable number of Kansas newspapers, among them the Leavenworth Herald and the Topeka Tribune, favored annexation.
   On the 2d of May a mass convention was held at Nebraska City and adopted more resolutions which recited, among many other things, that "the pestiferous Platte should be the northern boundary of a great agricultural and commercial state"; that "we, the citizens of Nebraska, are invited to participate in the formation of the constitution" to be adopted by the Wyandotte convention which was to meet on the 5th of July; "that it is the inalienable right of every people in the formation of a state government preparatory to admission into the Union to define the boundaries of said state." The meeting decided that an election should be held in the several South Platte counties on the 7th of June to choose delegates to the Kansas convention, the basis of representation being "the same as it was for the lower house of the Nebraska legislature." This meeting appointed a central committee for each county to organize the election machinery in the precincts, composed as follows: Cass county, William H Spratlin, Samuel M. Kirkpatrick, Alfred H. Townsend; Gage county, Jefferson B. Weston, Dr. Herman M. Reynolds, Capt. Albert Towle; Johnson county, Charles A. Goshen,



William P. Walker, William R. Spears; Nemaha county, Robert W. Furnas, Seymour Belden, Dr. Jerome Hoover; Otoe county, Allen A. Bradford, William E. Pardee, William L. Boydston; Pawnee county, Christian Bobst, II. G. Lore, Pleasant M. Rogers; Richardson county, William P. Loan, Elmer S. Dundy, Abel D. Kirk.
   The Advertiser relates that, though the elections in Nemaha county "were poorly attended as we had every reason to expect," yet "the expression in favor of annexation was seven to one, which we think really about the feeling in the county on the subject." The News says that every county south of the Platte river had elected delegates. In Otoe county there was a light vote because the opposition "played the Black Republican game of Kansas and refused to vote," yet, while 1,078 ballots were cast at the previous election on a full vote, 900 electors had signed an annexation petition.
   We may assume that the sentiment of Otoe and Nemaha counties touching this weighty matter was representative of that of the whole South Platte district. Its remarkable strength and approximate unanimity should be attributed to three nearly distinct sources: the bitter sectional feud, the physical impediment of the Platte river, and the prospect of much earlier admission to statehood by annexation to an already important territory than by continual unnatural connection with the insignificant North Platte country. And then the still lingering sense of the uncertainty of the future of the little-tried Plains country, stimulated, too, by the ever-present sense of isolation, had evidently and naturally produced a feeling of dependence. The prospect of the exchange of a physically unnatural, sentimentally hateful, and therefore weakening union, for a union to whose completeness there was no obstacle, physical or sentimental, and which promised immediate strength and importance in a political, and also in a wider sociological sense, might well have been alluring. This remarkable annexation movement may be really understood only from this psychological viewpoint.
   The Wyandotte constitutional convention was organized by the election of James M. Winchell as president and John A. Martin, a prominent figure in our contemporary Kansas, as secretary. Winchell was elected by a vote of 32, to 13 for his democratic opponent, J. T. Barton. This fact suggests a reason why the convention wished, and was able to reject the proposition for the annexation of the democratic South Platte. On the 12th of July "Messrs. Nichols, Reeves, Furnas, Hewett, Keeling, Chambers, Taylor, Niles, Croxton, Bennet, Dawson, and Doane, the Nebraska delegates, are given seats as honorary delegates with the privilege of discussing the northern boundary question. On the 15th the Nebraska delegates were heard. On the 16th it was voted by 25 to 13 that the northern boundary remain unchanged." Of the Nebraska delegates named, Samuel A. Chambers, Robert W. Furnas, Obadiah B. Hewett, and William W. Keeling were from Nemaha county, and William H. Taylor, John H. Croxton, Jacob Dawson, and Mills S. Reeves from Otoe county. On the morning of July 11th "the credentials of the delegation to this body from the territory of Nebraska" were referred to the committee on credentials, and the next day Mr. Thatcher presented a memorial from "the delegation to this convention elected by the people of that portion of Nebraska lying south of the Platte river," and moved that it be referred to the committee on preambles and bill of rights; but on motion of Mr. Forman it was referred to a special committee of thirteen which was appointed the next day. On the 12th the Nebraska delegates were admitted to the floor of the convention, but were not permitted to vote. On the 15th Mr. Reeves and Mr. Taylor, "the gentlemen representing southern Nebraska upon the floor," delivered addresses which occupy thirteen pages of the report of the proceedings. Tried by their home reputation and achievement, Nebraska's oral representatives in the convention must have been quite moderate. Taylor had been dubbed "The Oratorical" in the legislature of 1858, and



the voice of Reeves was all but as ubiquitous. The Wyandotte correspondent of the Lawrence Republican writes as follows: "Four delegates are here from Nebraska urging the Platte river as our northern boundary. They will receive the courtesy of a seat on the floor to discuss the boundary question. I do not think the boundaries, north or south, will be altered."

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Pioneer of Omaha

On the 22d of July Mr. McDowell offered the following resolution:

    Resolved, That congress be memorialized to include within the limits of the state of Kansas that portion of southern Nebraska lying between the northern boundary of the territory of Kansas and the Platte river.
   After a debate covering pages 270 to 287 of the report, the resolution was rejected by the decisive vote of 19 to 29.
   The News was furious at the rebuff, and in letting out its feelings it lets in some light on the motives of the Kansans. After stating that, "a vast majority of citizens residing south of the Platte had been vigilant and extremely active" in the project for state government, "so much so that strong overtures were made to our neighboring sister of Kansas for annexation to her soil and thus secure more speedy admission into the sisterhood of states"; and that "the movement was strenuously opposed by our brethren north of the Platte, mainly, as we suppose, because it would tend to retard the march of Nebraska to state organization," this leading organ of South Platte sentiment breaks into the core of its subject:

    By sheer infatuation, or most likely by corruption or its equivalent, political scoundrelism, the Kansas Constitutional Convention, largely Black Republican, has refused to extend the boundaries of Kansas to the Platte river, has refused to memorialize congress on the subject, has refused to refer the proposition to congress, and has virtually said to this great South Platte country, we don't want your valuable salt springs, your inexhaustible coal beds, your one hundred and fifty miles of river boundary, your thousands of acres of rich and fertile soil, interspersed with pleasant groves and valleys and rich bottom lands -- your rich prairies we don't want, your great geographical and central advantage, we won't have. The curious may wish to know why this rich boon was refused by the Black Republican Constitutional Convention of Kansas. It was for this reason: Its acquisition, it was believed by these worthies, would operate against their party. They said South Platte Nebraska was democratic, and that being added to northern Kansas, which is largely democratic, would make Kansas a democratic state, would deprive the Black Republican party of two United States senators, a congressman and other officers. They were dragooned into this position, too, by the republican party outside of Kansas. Kansas, they are determined at all hazards, shall be an abolition state.

   But outside appreciation of the indispensable value of the gift the Kansans had so lightly regarded was not wanting, for, in opposing admission under the Wyandotte constitution, Senator Green of Missouri insisted that not over two-sevenths of the area of Kansas could be cultivated, though the Western line had been moved eastward to the 25th meridian, its present western boundary. He urged that thirty thousand square miles should be taken from southern Nebraska and annexed to the proposed state. "Without this



addition . . . Kansas must be weak, puerile, sickly, in debt, and at no time capable of sustaining herself." A sample prophecy! At the present time "bleeding Kansas" is, figuratively at least, bleeding in all her borders with agricultural riches.
   While the overwhelming defeat of the Lecompton constitution at the popular election of August 2, 1858, might well have reassured the anti-slavery party of Kansas that final success was within their reach, and determined them to avoid entangling alliances, yet the Lawrence legislature, which was controlled by free state members, a few months earlier had adopted a joint resolution and memorial to Congress, the preamble of which recites that the Platte river is the natural boundary of Kansas and ought to have been adopted at the time of the organization of the territory, and that "it is well ascertained from reliable information that such change of boundary would meet with the cordial approval of a large majority of the inhabitants resident upon that portion of Nebraska in question." The resolution was referred to the committee on territories of the lower house of Congress. On the other hand a similar resolution was introduced in the Kansas legislature, January 27, 1858; but though the free state element predominated there the measure was not pushed to adoption. The success of the Republican party in the national election of 1860, which assured the admission of Kansas under the Wyandotte, or some other free state constitution, ended the annexation scheme. It seems fair to conclude that the direct cause of its failure was the refusal of the Wyandotte convention to follow the legislature of 1859 in its approval. And, in view of the discouraging failure of repeated attempts of the territory of Kansas to cross the Jordan which separated it from statehood, it seems probable that the refusal was due as much to fear of further complicating the passage as to the specific motive which the News assigned. Though the leaders of the Nebraska movement were ready to abandon it when they felt the Wyandotte rebuff, yet, for some months after, the scheme was pressed from the Kansas side. In the early part of 1860 a number of leading democratic politicians from Kansas were in Washington in the interest of admission, and they proposed to extend the western boundary from the 25th meridian back to the Rocky mountains, and the northern line of the Platte river. "Marcus J. Parrott, Gen. Samuel C. Pomeroy, Judge W. F. M. Arny, and other republicans from Kansas, who are in Washington, insist on the admission of Kansas under the Wyandotte constitution, without any alteration, that constitution being already ratified by two-thirds of the citizens of the territory." All this points to the dual motives for

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Fifth delegate to Congress from Nebraska territory

opposition to the annexation project and the causes of its defeat. But sectional, or South Kaw opposition was not wanting. The following letter written by the son and secretary of Governor Medary to annexation promoters at Nebraska City indicates that southern Kansas opposed annexation for reasons of its own:

SpacerLecompton, K. T., May 16, 1859.
   Gentlemen: -- Gov. Medary is at present out of the territory, in consequence of which I take the liberty of replying partially to your communication of May 10th. I have consulted one or two gentlemen known to be favorable to the measure now being agitated in your section of Nebraska, and have concluded to give you the result. The measure was brought before the last legislature of this ter-



ritory, and a memorial passed both houses and was transmitted to congress, as also to the governor of your territory, requesting that the southern portion of Nebraska, viz., that lying south of the Platte river, be attached to the territory of Kansas. The only opposition met with was from members living south of the counties bordering on the Kaw river, and they are still opposed from local reasons.
   I would suggest that you proceed to elect your delegates to the convention quietly, as it would only create an unnecessary issue in southern Kansas at the time were it freely talked of. I speak only for myself. Gov. Medary when he arrives will reply to your letter as he may see proper. He will be in Kansas within a week. Members of the convention will be more free to act if they are not compelled to pledge themselves before their election. By this day's mail I send a copy of the constitutional convention act. SpacerSpacerVery respectfully,
SpacerPrivate Secretary.
SpacerTo W. H. Taylor and M. W. Reynolds.
   After the annexation spirit had died own in the South Platte, newspapers of the North professed that it was now favored in that section, and the Nebraskian as late as October 27, 1860, made these spirited remarks:

    The Nebraska City Press inquires the reason sentiment has changed north of the Platte river on the subject of annexing Southern Nebraska to Kansas. We gave the reason in a former number of the Nebraskian. There is no community of interest between the two sections of the territory; southern Nebraska has too many turbulent agitators, "rule or ruin" men; the people south of the Platte, if we can believe the papers of that section, all desire to be annexed to Kansas, and we "second the motion." As a part of Kansas, you claimed, a year or two since, you'd have a "hotter climate" -- although whether it would then be as hot as you deserve remains an open question.
   It was a short cry of the South Platte country from statehood through annexation to independent statehood, and the latter was now urged by the leading journals. The agitation for annexation had created a general sentiment in favor of statehood. A meeting held at Nebraska City on the 6th of August recommended that meetings in the interest of statehood be held in all the counties of the territory, and that for the same purpose the governor should call a special session of the legislature at the earliest practicable time. The reasons assigned for this movement were that the territorial government had failed to give security to life and property, to secure the prompt administration of justice, to enact wholesome legislation, and had not responded with due deference to the will of the people. With statehood would come stability and confidence, resulting in investment of capital, immediate control of school lands, and grants for internal improvements.

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