The Kansas Election – Letter from Governor Walker.
From the Doniphan Constitutionalist.
The Black Republican speakers and papers were declaring that Governor WALKER had said they might vote under the Organic Act in the October election, regardless of the Territorial Legislature. Several gentlemen, of this place, interrogated Gov. WALKER on this point, and he says he has been misrepresented, and makes the subjoined reply:
LECOMPTON, K.T., Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1857.
GENTLEMEN: On my return from Camp Cooke last night, to Lecompton, I received your communication dated in August last, in which you say : “Has your Excellency promised to disregard the Territorial laws and afford your protection to all resident citizens of Kansas in casting their votes for a delegate to Congress and members of the Territorial Legislature in October, under the provisions of the Organic Act?”
I conclude, gentlemen, as well from the signatures attached to this communication, as from its whole tenor, that none of you have ever believed a statement so absurd and preposterous. In my inaugural address, as upon all other occasions, I have uniformly declared that the Territorial laws were recognized by the Congress of the United States, and by the President of the United States, as well as by myself, and that they must and would be fully executed by me to the utmost extent of my power. I have also uniformly declared, that if these laws were resisted by force, I would, upon evidence of the fact, cause them to be carried into effect, even should it be necessary to avail myself to the aid of the regular troops of the United States, which might be at my disposal for such a purpose; and I have always acted upon that principle.
These facts are well known to the whole people of Kansas, and, therefore, upon this subject there could have been no misapprehension.
Referring to the election in October next, I have said that, at that date, the people of Kansas were authorized to vote, not only under the Territorial law, but under the Organic Act of Congress. This statement was misprinted and misquoted by omitting the important word “only,” which error (not of mine) has long since been corrected. No one, however, could have misunderstood this statement, for in the same address, as on all other occasions, I distinctly declared that the Territorial laws were valid and must be obeyed. What I intended to say on that, as well as on all other occasions, and what, in fact, I did say, as contradistinguishing the election in October from the revolutionary proceeding under the so-called Topeka Constitution, was this: that the election in October was based, not only upon the authority of the Territorial Legislature, but upon that of Congress also. And this is a true statement both of the fact and the law.
The organic act of Congress authorizes the Territorial Legislature, in express terms, to prescribe the qualifications of voters at all elections in Kansas, except the first, which has long since passed. And by virtue of that authority, the Territorial Legislature, on the 20th of February last, did prescribe these qualifications in the 5th section of their act of that date. To that act, then, we must look for the qualifications of voters. Among other requisite it prescribes a six months’ residence preceding the election. No one, then, can vote at the October election without such residence, and the authority on which this qualification rests, has, in the manner I have stated, the joint sanction of the Territorial Legislature and of the United States. I have never said or supposed that any one could vote at the election, without possessing the qualifications prescribed by that act of the 20th of February, 1857, but I have said that the right of voting in October was not confined to those who were registered under the Territorial Convention law of the 19th of February, 1857.
In your communication you further say: “We also remind you of the insecurities of the judges of the elections, and the inability to secure a fair and honest expression from legal voters, should the polls be taken, (as has been threatened,) by armed men for the purpose above-mentioned.”
While, I am most anxious “to secure a fair and honest expression from the legal voters,” it is also my sincere desire to avoid the display of a military force at the polls, unless the danger is imminent, and the use of such force necessary. In all such occasions I must judge the facts when they are presented to me, and especially the statements of the proper authorities of your county, including the Sheriff and judges of election, whom it is my anxious desire to aid and protect in the discharge of their duties.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. J. WALKER
To Messrs. J. W. DAVIS, THOS. J. KEY, B. C. DRISCOLL and others.
DONIPHAN CITY, K. T.