Kansas in a New Shape—Sweeping Coup d’etat of Lecompton Convention

Source citation
"Kansas in a New Shape—Sweeping Coup d’etat of Lecompton Convention," Charleston (SC) Mercury, November 23, 1857, p. 2.
Original source
New York Herald
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Charleston (SC) Mercury
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Kansas in a New Shape—Sweeping Coup d’etat of Lecompton Convention
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Kristen Huddleston
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The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

Kansas in a New Shape—Sweeping Coup d’etat of Lecompton Convention

The Kansas pro-slavery Constitutional Convention, in the work which they have achieved, have exceeded all expectations and all conjectures. The prevailing opinion was that this Convention would frame a pro-slavery constitution and hurry it up to Congress, dispensing with a popular ratification.  This proceeding, however, is but an incidental trifle in the programme which has been adopted: for this aforesaid Convention has completely superseded the regular federal and territorial authorities by a dictatorship of its own choosing.

This is a coup d’etat which nobody outside of the secret affiliation of this of this Convention could have anticipated. It is, in fact, a revolutionary movement, which puts the local affairs of Kansas in a more critical shape than any of the many other phases through which they have passed. It appears that the Solons of this aforesaid Convention have decreed:

A strong pro-slavery State Constitution, which is not to be referred to the people.
A separate reference of the slavery question to a vote of the people, which will not affect the slavery provisions of the Constitution in the slightest degree neither one way nor the other.
That Gov. Walker is disposed.
That the regular Territorial Legislature is superseded.
That a regency or provisional government is established, with dictatorial powers, of which Mr. John Calhoun is the chief, under the title of Governor, and that this regency is to go into operation immediately.
Now, this beats the Topeka government of Generals Lane and Robinson all hollow. It surpasses anything that we have seen of the political pretensions of Brigham Young; for, with all his assumptions of divine rights and squatter sovereignty, he has never so daily repudiated the supreme authority of the General Government as these Lecompton Constitution makers. Their proceedings are without a parallel, and there is nothing like a precedent for them in the case of any other territory of the Union, past or present. On the contrary, the Federal constitution, the organic law of Kansas, all popular rights, and Territorial forms and usages, are boldly set at defiance by these Kansas disorganizers.

The proceedings in question would amount to nothing more than a contemptible farce, did we not know that they are intended for mischief, and that the mischief-makers are dispersed over a much larger area than that of Kansas Territory. It is thought that the design of this Lecompton Regency is to stifle the Legislature and the popular voice of Kansas upon the main issue in exciting a general squabble among all parties in the Territory upon the local question of jurisdiction. It is further supposed that this regency, through this cloud off smoke and dust, will push off to Washington and attempt to hurry through the admission of Kansas upon the basis of their pro-slavery constitution, in advance of the meeting of the Territorial Legislature.

We are glad to learn, however, that Governor Walker has been appealed to, to convene an extras session of the legislature to meet this contingency: and, for the sake of peace in Kansas, we hope that the next news will be that an extra session has been ordered. Otherwise these Lecompton philosophers might be permitted freely to run the end of their rope, inasmuch as the admission of Kansas into the Union as a State is a thing which cannot be done except by act of Congress. But, for the sake of law and order in the territory, it is desirable that this Lecompton regency should be dealt with promptly and efficiently by the regular authorities, federal and local.

The party of the Topeka Constitution some time ago, in an irregular attempt to set up their peculiar government, were dispersed by the United States troops, and if a milder process should prove inadequate against any overt act of this Lecompton regency, the dragoon should be again called into requisition. In the meantime, we have no fears of the result at Washington. We have a sagacious and reliable President at the head of affairs, and his just and honest Kansas policy will command a majority in both branches of Congress, which no faction of sectional disorganizers can shake. We have no apprehensions, therefore, that Kansas will be admitted into the Union upon the basis of any Constitution which shall not have received the endorsement of the people of Kansas. We have no fears of the ultimate issue of this Lecompton movement. It will fail. The parties interested in it cannot entertain a serious hope of its success. We presume that their objects are agitation, sectional discord, and a Southern ultra sectional rebellion. We believe that their immediate purpose is to cast the firebrand into Congress upon which our southern fire-eaters have resolved to cut loose from the Administration, and to set up a sectional party on their own account for the next Presidency.

It is impossible to believe that these Lecompton proceedings are solely the fruits of a reckless determination of the members of the Convention to accuse the spills and plunder of the new State, at all hazards. They are, undoubtedly, in hot pursuit of the spoils; but the wore-workers, we fear, are behind the scenes in Virginia, South Carolina and Mississippi. Mr. Calhoun and his regency, we daresay, are as much the instruments employed by the southern fire-eaters in this Kansas game for the succession, as Messrs. Lane and Robinson have been the tools of the Seward anti-slavery party. The Lecompton Convention has done its work. it cannot be ratified; but it may still accomplish its ends in working out the secession of the fire-eaters from the Administration and the conservative democracy. Very well. Our only fears are that they may be serious trouble in Kansas from this Lecompton regency: for we have no doubt that very short work will be made at Washington of this ungratified Lecompton constitution. Let them send it along. New York Herald.

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