New York Times, “A Few Words About Kansas,” March 20, 1857

    Source citation
    “A Few Words About Kansas,” New York Times, March 20, 1857, p. 4: 4-5.
    Newspaper: Publication
    New York Daily Times
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    A Few Words About Kansas
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    Newspaper: Column
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    Leah Suhrstedt, Dickinson College
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    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    A Few Words About Kansas.

    The Tribune wishes to know whether the TIMES counsels the people of Kansas to obey the laws enacted by the Territorial Legislature of 1855. We are perfectly willing to gratify its “anxiety” for an “explicit” answer on this point,- though we consider it a matter of small importance to the public at large. We beg the Tribune, then, to understand that we have no “counsel” to give the people of Kansas upon this subject,- and that we are anxious they should be left entirely free to follow their own convictions of duty and good policy. That the Legislature referred to was a sham,- imposed upon the people by outrage and violence,- that its enactments lack the first elements of valid laws, and are not morally or legally binding upon the people of Kansas, we have not the slightest doubt. But whether they are to be resisted,- rebelled against and thus annulled, or whether the best interests of the inhabitants of Kansas require that they should rather be tolerated, acquiesced in and obeyed until they can be repealed in the regular course of political events, is a question which ought to be left to their free and unbiased decision. They are the parties in interest:- the penalties and labors of resistance will fall upon them:- the power of ultimately redressing all these wrongs and providing other laws by legal and peaceful means, is in their hands:- and we think they should be left to take the course which to them seems best. We have no hesitation in saying that we do not see how they can possibly gain anything- and we do see how they must inevitably lose much- by an open, armed rebellion against the Territorial laws. Such a course will inevitably bring them into collision with both the Territorial and the federal authorities, and involve them in losses of property and of life, which are not called for by the emergency, and which would not be justified by the result.

    We repeat what we have said more than once already,- that “the chief danger to Kansas now springs from outside interference with its affairs.” The Territory is regarded as an arena upon which contending sections and political parties are to fight the battle for supremacy. The people who have gone there are not permitted to attend to their own affairs,- to establish homes, enter upon the culture of the soil, build school-houses, churches, and other means of mental and moral improvement; or start railroads, factories, and other agencies of material development. They are regarded exclusively as “the champions of a cause,” and are constantly goaded on to acts of violence and pushed into a position of peril by the charge that otherwise they will be guilty of its “betrayal.” The fact at the bottom of all this is, that the people of Kansas are made to play the game of political parties in the States,- to their own serious detriment, and in out judgment to the injury of the cause of Freedom.

    We believe we do not underrate the importance of making Kansas a Free State. But it is a work likely to be hindered, rather than aided, by the outside interference to which we refer. The people of the Territory are the parties most deeply interested, and it is for them to do the work. They are on the spot, and know best how it may best be done. We would rather trust Governor ROBINSON’S judgment in the premises than our own, or than the Tribune’s even. And we are confident that if they can be left alone- if the crusade against them from both North and South can be stopped- if Governor GEARY can be sustained in his evident desire to suppress and prevent all intrusion upon them from any quarter and to secure for the bona fide inhabitants the free exercise of their sovereignty,- the affairs of Kansas will eventually be settled peacefully and satisfactorily. All sections of the Union are virtually pledged to abide by the decision of the people,- or rather to permit them to regulate their affairs in their own way. We believe that this is now the best policy that can be pursued and are anxious to see it fairly and fully carried out. The question of Freedom in Kansas, and in the rest of the Territories- as in Missouri and other Slave States- is not to be settled in a day or in a year. It is a question of time,- and we must not become impatient if the desired result is not reached in a hurry. A Slave Constituency may possibly be framed, and Kansas may possibly come into the Union under it:- but even that would by no means be the end of the matter. There would still be in the State itself a large, earnest, powerful and probably controlling party who would make the abolition of Slavery their leading object, and we have no doubt they would sooner or later succeed in its accomplishment. We agree with the sentiment expressed by the Tribune on Wednesday last, that “the emigration now pouring into Kansas will ultimately make her a Free State:”- and we think it in all respects preferable that the result should be brought about by this agency, even if it be slower in its operation, than by violent counsels, armed resistance or any outside interference that looks to those agencies, which are sure to be bloody and are very likely to be vain.

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