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Congressmen Order Copies of Senator Jacob Collamer’s Speech on Bleeding Kansas
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Fifteen members of Congress order a total of 3,050 copies of a speech by Senator Collamer. The 29-page pamphlet was entitled Speech of Hon. Jacob Collamer, of Vermont, on Affairs in Kansas, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, April 3 and 4, 1856.

[KANSAS]. Autograph Document Signed, Order for Copies of Speech, ca. April 1856. 1 p., 7½ x 9½ in.

Inventory #26449       Price: $1,250

Complete Transcript

            The undersigned agree to take the No. of Copies set to our names of the Speech of Judge Collamer in the Senate on Kansas affairs – to be published at the Globe office at 2 cents per copy.

M. W. Tappan             200

A. H. Cragin               200

C. L. Knapp                200

T. T. Flagler                200

A Sabin                       600

Schuyler Colfax          100

Will Cumback               50

A. Burlingame             100

J. U. Pettit                   100

C C Chaffee                200

Abram Wakeman        200

Ezra Clark Jr              200

Jno A Bingham           100

C K Watson                 100                  Pay, 1.83.        Bailey

J. Meacham                500


Historical Background
In May 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, opening the new territories for settlement by U.S. citizens. The Act employed the concept of “popular sovereignty” to allow the settlers to vote on the legality of slavery in the territory where they settled. Groups from both North and South sponsored settlers to the new territory of Kansas.

In November 1854, thousands of armed proslavery men from Missouri poured into Kansas, swaying the election of a non-voting delegate to Congress. A Congressional investigation the following year found several voting irregularities. Northern antislavery settlers poured into the territory, and on March 30, 1855, Missouri residents again poured into the state to influence the election of delegates to a territorial legislature. Proslavery delegates won 37 of the 39 seats, and Territorial Governor Andrew Reeder invalidated the results in 11 of the races. In a special election on May 22, antislavery candidates won 8 of the 11 seats. When the largely proslavery legislature convened in July 1855, it refused to recognize the special election in May and seated the delegates elected in March. It moved the territorial capital to Shawnee Mission on the Missouri border, adopted a slave code, and passed laws favorable to slaveholders.

Antislavery settlers elected delegates to a separate legislature that met in Topeka, which proclaimed itself the legitimate territorial legislature, created the antislavery Topeka Constitution, and elected a different territorial governor. President Franklin Pierce refused to recognize the Topeka legislature and replaced Reeder with a more pro-southern governor.

On March 12, 1856, Senator Stephen A Douglas of Illinois from the Committee on Territories presented a very long report on Kansas. Then Jacob Collamer presented a Minority Report.

In his speech before the Senate on April 3 and 4, 1856, Collamer insisted that the March 1855 election was invalid because it was heavily influenced by non-settlers, residents of Missouri who traveled to Kansas simply to vote. A three-person special Congressional committee reported in July 1856 that if the election of March 30, 1855, had been limited to “actual settlers,” it would have elected an antislavery majority to the territorial legislature, and deemed the legislature that was seated “an illegally constituted body” with “no power to pass valid laws.”

Excerpts from Collamer’s Speech
“There are only three places in the Constitution in which, as we now understand the subject, slavery is alluded to at all.” (p3)

“How will those gentlemen who claim the right to hold slaves in the States under the Constitution get at that right, guaranteed to them, as they say, by the Constitution? Where is it in the Constitution? It certainly is not there.” (p4)

“I propose to show and insist...that, by the practical, contemporaneous construction of the Constitution, Congress has power over slavery in the Territories, without State limits. Congress has never submitted the question of freedom or slavery to the people of the Territories in any form, to be there operated upon, while they were Territories.” (p5)

“I view the Territory of Kansas in the same light as all other Territories, and I say that the power of this Government over it is as unlimited as it was before the organic act was passed.” (p9)

“There is a large part, a very respectable part, claiming to be an equal part—practically in this Government they are a great deal more than equal—where the laborers are not placed in this position—slaves. The question is, how can you shape the policy of the Government to elevate the condition of these laborers and enlighten them, without injuring the safety of the people among whom they live. It is a troublesome problem.” (p10)

“The Senator from Illinois [Stephen A. Douglas] admits that there was an invasion in seven districts. It seems to me that that concession is an end to the question. The Legislative Assembly was only entitled to twenty-six members in all. Is it possible that nay gentleman is prepared to say that a Legislature may admit men without any title, who have been elected by force and violence, to the extent of more than one third of the whole number, provided a majority were legally elected?” (p12)

“at the time of adjournment yesterday I was proceeding to show the reasons which induced me to believe that the invasion from the people of Missouri on the Territory of Kansas, on the occasion of the election of March, 1855, for members of the Legislature, extended to other parts of the Territory, besides the seven districts where the returns were set aside.” (p15)

“Then in these cases there were fifteen members of the Legislative Assembly, more than one half of the whole number, illegally elected by the people not belonging to the Territory. I think I have shown by the records and testimony which I have presented, that the majority of that Legislature was elected by an incursion of people from Missouri.” (p17)

“In February, when the census was taken, there were two thousand nine hundred and five voters in the whole Territory—less than three thousand, and yet in March, over six thousand votes were cast.” (p18)

“if there be any truth in the view which I have taken, this transaction deserves to be regarded as the most unjustifiable atrocity ever committed in abuse of the forms of law.” (p19)

“May we not admit them under their constitution as they have formed it? The admission of a State must always rest in the discretion of Congress. This is the quietest way to settle the difficulty.” (p29)

The subscribers for copies of Collamer’s speech were:

1. Mason Weare Tappan (1817-1886) U.S. Congressman from New Hampshire (1855-1861), a colonel during the American Civil War, and New Hampshire Attorney General.

2. Aaron Harrison Cragin (1821-1898) U.S. Congressman (1855-1859) and Senator (1865-1877) from New Hampshire.

3. Chauncey Langdon Knapp (1809-1888) U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts (1855-1859); Secretary of State of Vermont (1836-1841).

4. Thomas Thorn Flagler (1811-1897) U.S. Congressman from New York (1853-1857).

5. Alvah Sabin (1793-1885) U.S. Congressman from Vermont (1853-1857).

6. Schuyler Colfax (1823-1885) U.S. Congressman from Indiana (1855-1869), Speaker of the House (1863-1869), and Vice President of the United States (1869-1873).

7. William Cumback (1829-1905) U.S. Congressman from Indiana (1855-1857); Lieutenant Governor of Indiana (1869-1873)

8. Anson Burlingame (1820-1870), U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts (1855-1861); U.S. Minister to China (1862-1867).

9. John Upfold Pettit (1820-1881) U.S. Congressman from Indiana (1855-1861).

10. Calvin Clifford Chaffee (1811-1896) U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts (1855-1859).

11. Abram Wakeman (1824-1889) U.S. Congressman from New York (1855-1857).

12. Ezra Clark Jr. (1813-1896) U.S. Congressman from Connecticut (1855-1859).

13. John Armor Bingham (1815-1900) U.S. Congressman from Ohio (1855-1863, 1865-1873); U.S. Ambassador to Japan (1873-1885).

14. Cooper Kinderdine Watson (1810-1880) U.S. Congressman from Ohio (1855-1857).

15. James Meacham (1810-1856) U.S. Congressman from Vermont (1849-1856).

Jacob Collamer (1791-1865) was born in Troy, New York, but his family moved to Burlington, Vermont, in 1795. He graduated from the University of Vermont, and studied law before being admitted to the bar. He served as an officer in the militia during the War of 1812. From 1833 to 1842, Collamer served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont. Voters elected Collamer to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Whig, and he served from 1843 to 1849. He served as Postmaster General in 1849 to 1850, under President Zachary Taylor. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1855 as a Republican, Collamer served until his death in November 1865. He was a prominent supporter of the Lincoln administration and favored stringent Reconstruction policies.

Condition: Very good, folded, light soiling and ink smudging, a few penciled and inked in notations.

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