Monday, August 15, 2016

Amos A. Lawrence to David R. Atchison, March 31, 1855

(Cottage Farm Near) Boston, March 31, 1855.

My Dear Sir, — I take the liberty to address you upon a subject in which I have a common interest with yourself, viz.: the settlement of Kansas. Since the repeal of the “Missouri Compromise” by the last Congress, this Territory has attracted the attention of distant not less than of the neighboring States; for it is evident that there must be decided the question whether there shall be slave or free labor over a vast region of the United States now unsettled. You and your friends would make slave States, and we wish to prevent your doing so. The stake is a large one, and the ground chosen. Let the fight be a fair one. | It is to secure this that I address you. Your influence is requisite to restrain your people from doing great injustice to actual settlers, and provoking them to retaliatory measures, the consequences of which would be most deplorable. I beg you, my dear sir, to use your efforts to avert so great an evil.

Let the contest be waged honorably, for unless it be so, no settlement of the question can ever be final. It is already reported here that large bodies of Missourians will cross over merely to vote, and that they may gain this election as they did the last. But how delusive to suppose that settlers who have come from one to two thousand miles with their families will acquiesce in any election gained by such means, or that any future election can be satisfactory which is not conducted according to law. The advantage of proximity is yours; your people can afford to be not only just, but generous, in this matter. The repeal of the law which secured this Territory against the introduction of slavery is considered by most men in the “free States” to be a breach of the national faith; and it is not unreasonable for those who have gone there to find a home to expect a compliance with the laws as they are. Those from New England have gone in good faith and at their own expense. They are chiefly farmers; but among them are good representatives from all professions. Some have considerable property, but all have rights and principles which they value more than money, and, I may say, more than life itself. Neither is there any truth in the assertion that they are abolitionists. No person of that stripe is known to have gone from here; nor is it known here that any such have gone from other States. But oppression may make them abolitionists of the most dangerous kind.

There has been much said in regard to an extensive organization here, which is wholly untrue. I assure you, sir, that what has been undertaken here will be carried on fairly and equitably. The management is in the hands of men of prudence, of wealth and determination; they are not politicians, nor are they aspirants for office: they are determined, if it be possible, to see that justice is done to those who have ventured their all in that Territory. May I not hope, sir, that you will second this effort to see that the contest shall be carried on fairly? If fairly beaten you may be sure that our people will acquiesce, however reluctant; but they never will yield to injustice.

Respectfully yours,
A. A. L.

SOURCE: William Lawrence, Life of Amos A. Lawrence: With Extracts from His Diary and Correspondence, p. 89-92

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