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The Wyandotte Convention

Excerpt from The Wyandotte Convention: An Address, Delivered by John A. Martin, at the Re-Union of the Members and Officers of the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention The Leavenworth Convention met at Minneoln, March 23d, 1858, and at once adjourned to Leavenworth, where it re-assembled March 25th. It was composed of ninety-five members, was in session only eleven days, and the Constitution it framed was signed by eighty-three persons. This instrument was adopted at an election held Slay 11th, by a very small vote, the pro-Slavery men taking no part in the Contest, It was never a popular organic law, and many Free State men who supported it did so under protest. An earnest effort was made, by the Republicans, to secure the admission of Kansas under the Topeka Constitution, and by the Democrats, with a few exceptions to bring the Territory in under the Lecompton Constitution. But no serious or determined contest was waged, in Congress, for admission under the Leavenworth Constitution, and in less than eight months the movement in its behalf was formally abandoned. The Wyandotte Convention. Early in February. 1859, the Territorial Legislature passed an act submitting to the people the question of calling a Constitutional Convention. This vote was taken March 28th, and resulted: For, 5.306; against. 1,425. On the 10th of May, 1859, the Republican party of Kansas was organized, at Osawatomie, and at the election held on the 7th of June, for delegates to the Wyandotte Convention, the Republican and Democratic parties confronted each other in Kansas for the first time. The Democrats carried the counties of Leavenworth Doniphan. Jefferson and Jackson, and elected one of the two delegates from Johnson. The Republicans were successful in all the other Counties voting. The total vote polled was 14,000. The Republican membership was thirty live; Democratic, seventeen. The Convention then chosen assembled on the 5th day of July. 1859. In its composition it was an unusual, not to say remarkable, Kansas assemblage. Apparently the chiefs of the contending parties had grown weary of Constitution making, or regarded this fourth endeavor in that line as a predestined failure, for they were conspicuous by their absence. In the Topeka Convention nearly every prominent man of the Free State party had a seat. Gen. Lane was its President, and Charles Robinson, Martin F. Conway, Marcus J. Parrott, Win Y. Roberts, Geo. W. Smith, Philip C. Schuyler, C. K. Holliday, Mark W. Delahay, and many other recognized Free State leaders, were members. In the Leavenworth Convention there was a similar gathering of widely-known Free State men. Conway was its President, and Lane. Roberts, Thos. Ewing, jr., Henry J. Adams, H. P. Johnson, S. N. Wood, T. Dwight Thacher, P. B. Plumb, Joel K. Goodin, A. Larzalere, W. F. M. Arny, Chas. H. Branseamb, John Ritchey, and many other influential Free State chiefs or partizans, were among its members. The Membership. In the Wyandotte Convention all the noted Free State lenders were conspicuously absent. Its roll-call was made up of names generally new in Kansas affairs, and largely unknown in either the Free State or pro-Slavery councils Its President. James M. Winchell, his colleague, Wm. McCullough, and John Ritchev, of Shawnee, had been members of the Leavenworth Convention; Col. Cdeb May, of Atchison, and W. R. Griffith, of Bourbon, hail been members of both the Topeka and the Leavenworth Conventions; and Jus. M. Arthur, of Linn, had been a member of the Topeka Convention. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at
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