Wilson Shannon (American National Biography)

Scholarship
Graham Alexander Peck, "Shannon, Wilson," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00901.html.
In 1849, infected with gold fever, [Wilson Shannon] organized and financed an expedition of sixty "Argonauts" to California. Sacramento yielded no riches, and he returned to Ohio in 1851. Persuaded to run for Congress in 1852, he won easily and voted for the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 1854, basing his decision on adherence to party, commitment to popular sovereignty, and diffidence to slavery's expansion.

Trouble began in Kansas almost immediately. Although territorial governor Andrew Reeder guaranteed fair elections, Missourian "border ruffians" illegally elected a proslavery territorial legislature in March 1855. Reeder begged President Franklin Pierce to uphold popular sovereignty, but the president cashiered him, replacing him with Shannon on 10 August 1855. Although well-meaning, Shannon erred by aligning with proslavery forces upon arrival. On 1 September he declared publicly that the territorial legislature was legal and that he would enforce its decrees. Inaccurately reporting that Shannon had advocated slavery in Kansas, antislavery journalist James Redpath dealt a devastating blow to Shannon's prestige. However, the proslavery tint to Shannon's policies was unmistakable, and he did consider opposition to established territorial law to be revolutionary. In response to free-state settlers' repudiation of the "bogus" legislature and their determination to elect their own government, Shannon on 14 November chaired the proslavery "law and order" convention, which pledged to "crush" the traitors.
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