The Kansas Election

    Source citation
    “The Kansas Election,” New York Times, 13 October 1857, p. 4.
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    New York Times
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    The Kansas Election
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    Don Sailer
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    The Kansas Election.

    Though we are yet without full returns, it seems to be reasonably certain that the Kansas election has resulted in the complete triumph of the Free-State Party. Our latest advices assert positively that they have not only elected their delegate to Congress, but have a majority also in both branches of the Legislature. If this is so, the whole country has substantial reason for satisfaction. No one at all familiar with the facts has doubted for some months past that at least four-fifths of the people of Kansas were in favor of making it a Free State. Those who desired a different result could only hope to secure it, therefore, by defrauding the people of the Territory of their right to regulate their domestic institutions for themselves. They could not possibly prevent a majority of the inhabitants from excluding Slavery, if such was their desire, except by disfranchising them, by cheating them in counting the votes, or by introducing alien voters to overbear their suffrages. A victory secured by either of these devices could only be short-lived, and would carry with it more of dishonor than of substantial advantage. Kansas, sooner or later, must have become a Free State: –and those who desired it to be otherwise would have gained but little by a victory at the present election. The great mass of the people in the Northern States, of all parties, have abundant reason for rejoicing at the result. The Republicans see in it the prominent benefit which they hoped to derive from the election of FREMONT; the Northern Democrats can point to it as a fulfillment of their prediction that Kansas would not be a Slave State, even if FREMONT should be defeated; –and candid men of all parties, as well as that very large portion of the people who never allow themselves to be lashed into a fever of passion for the benefit of any party, will rejoice at the prospect which this results holds out, that Kansas will speedily cease to be a field of national contention, and that its affairs will be regulated by its own people and cease to enter into the party politics of the country at large.
    The result is due mainly to the moral effect of the immense Republican vote of the last Presidential contest, upon the Administration which achieved power in spite of it. That vote admonished the President that the experience of President PIERCE’S administration in Kansas could not safely be repeated, –that the people of Kansas must be allowed fair play and a free vote, –that they must be protected from invasion and from fraud as well as force at the ballot-box, and that the guarantees of the Nebraska bill must be fulfilled. And it is only just to Mr. BUCHANAN to say that the course he has pursed in this matter has been such as must command the approval of all just and candid men. He sent to Kansas as Governor a man of ability, of sagacity, and of more political reputation as well as ambition than he could afford to sacrifice in a hopeless crusade for Slavery; –and he sustained him in a policy just to all parties and calculated, as well as designed, to secure for the majority of the people sovereignty over their own affairs. The result vindicates the Administration and Governor WALKER from the reproaches which were so freely cast upon them from opposite quarters, for alleged designs of the most opposite character. By the ultra Pro-Slavery men of the South they were charged with favoring the designs of the Abolitionists: –while the Anti-Slavery Press of the Northern States asserted with equal emphasis that they were in league with the Slavery propaganda and pledged to carry out its purposes and plans. They seem now to have been anxious only to secure for the people of Kansas the right to decide for themselves what should be the character of their domestic institutions.
    And this result, moreover, if it be such as reported, must be especially gratifying to those who have insisted from the outset that the Free-State men ought to go to the polls and do everything in their power, in face of all obstacles, to wrest the political sway of the Territory from the hands of those by whom it had been usurped. We need not remind our readers that the TIMES has from the beginning been of this number, and that for a long time it stood alone in that position among journals with whose general political tenor it substantially concurred. It was urged by the leaders of the Free-State party in Kansas, and by all the leading Republican journals outside, that it would be folly for them to vote, –that their votes would be rejected by corrupt judges or beaten back by invading Missourians, –that Governor WALKER and the Administration at Washington were certain to connive at, if not openly aid, these endeavors to deprive them of their rights, and that, by attempting to vote, they would only hand themselves over, bound hand and foot, to the spurious authority of the Territorial Government. In common with those who took a different view of the case, we urged that it was the duty of the Free-State men to attempt to give effect to their principles at the ballot box, –that, if defeated, it was important that they should have the means of proving fraud and violence, if these should be the means by which their defeat should be effected, and that everything would be hopelessly lost by their supine refusal to take any part in the only kind of warfare by which, under our Constitution, political rights are ever secured or political wrongs redressed. The Free-State party finally yielded to the force of these remonstrances and at the Grasshopper Falls Convention, at a late day in the canvass, resolved to vote; but they accompanied their resolution with lachrymose predictions of their own defeat, and from that day to this some of our Eastern journals have teemed with prophecies of disaster and ruin to the Free-State cause. We have upon our table scores of letters from zealous Free-State correspondents in Lawrence, deploring the decision of their party to go to the polls, chronicling rumored invasions of thousands of voters from Missouri, denouncing Gov. WALKER for refusing to send the troops where they would be wanted and predicting, with the utmost confidence, the utter overthrow of the Free-State Party. We have not placed these epistles before our readers, because we saw clearly that they were dictated by party passion and prejudice, and not by the cool judgment of candid spectators, and that they could, therefore, only mislead the public which should depend upon them for information. The result affords, we think, the best comment upon the wisdom and expediency of the course which was finally resolved upon by the mass of the Free-State Party; and the whole country has reason to rejoice in the belief that hereafter Kansas politics will be matters mainly of local interest and concern.

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