NEW-ENGLAND EMIGRANT AID COMPANY.
As soon as it became probable that the Nebraska Act, so called, would pass, in the year 1854, with Mr. Douglas's celebrated amendment repealing the Missouri Compromise, and as early as March, 1854, Mr. Eli Thayer, then a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, circulated a petition for the incorporation, by that State, of the Emigrant Aid Company. The petition was at once granted by the Legislature. A charter for the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company, having passed both branches, was signed by the Governor on the 26th of April. The persons interested met at the State House on the 4th of May, and appointed a Committee to report a plan of organization, and system of operations. This Committee submitted on the 12th of May a Report, setting forth the plans of the corporators in some detail.
These plans, as far as emigration is concerned, are condensed in the following passages, which are interesting now, as showing how bold were the anticipations of the infant Company: -- Page 4
1. The emigrant suffers whenever he goes alone into his new home. He suffers from the frauds of others, from his own ignorance of the system of travel, and of the country where he settles; and, again, from his want of support from neighbors, which results in the impossibility of any combined assistance, or of any division of labor.
The Emigrant Aid Company will relieve him from all these embarrassments, by sending out emigrants in companies, and establishing them in considerable numbers. The Company propose to carry them to their homes more cheaply than they could otherwise go, to enable them to establish themselves with the least inconvenience, and to provide the most important prime necessities of a new colony. It will provide shelter and food at the lowest prices after the arrival of emigrants, while they make the arrangements necessary for their new homes; it will render all the assistance which the information of its agents can give; and, by establishing emigrants in large numbers in the Territories, it will give them the power of using at once those social influences which radiate from the church, the school, and the press, in the organization and development of a community.
For these purposes, it is recommended, first, that the Directors contract immediately with some one of the competing lines of travel, for the conveyance of twenty thousand persons from Massachusetts to that place in the West which the Directors shall select for their first settlement.
It is believed that passage may be obtained, in so large a contract, at half the price paid by individuals. We recommend that emigrants receive the full advantage of this diminution of price, and that they be forwarded in companies of two hundred, as they apply, at these reduced rates of travel.
- 2. It is recommended, that, at such points as the Directors select for places of settlement, they shall at once construct a boarding-house or receiving-house, in which three hundred persons may receive temporary accommodation on their arrival; and that the number of such houses be enlarged as necessity may dictate. The new-comers or their families may thus be provided for in the necessary interval which elapses while they are making their selection of a location.
- 3. It is recommended that the Directors procure and send forward steam sawmills, gristmills, and such other machines as shall be of constant service in a new settlement, which cannot, however, be purchased or carried out conveniently by individual settlers. These machines may be leased or run by the Company's agents. At, the Page 5same time, it is desirable that a printing-press be sent out, and a weekly newspaper established. This would be the organ of the Cornpany's agents; would extend information regarding its settlement; and be, from the very first, an index of that love of freedom and of good morals, which it is to be hoped may characterize the State now to be tormed.
- 4. It is recommended that the Company's agents locate, and take up for the Company's benefit, the sections of land in which the boarding-houses and mills are located, and no others: and further, that, whenever the Territory shall be organized as a Free State, the Directors shall dispose of all its interests there; replace by the sales the money laid out; declare a dividend to the stockholders; and, --
- 5. That they then select a new field, and make similar arrangements for the settlement and organization of another Free State of this Union.
The Committee charged with the collection of subscriptions to the stock of the Company under this charter found that it was impossible to obtain subscriptions; for fears were suggested that each stockholder under its provisions would be bound by a personal liability for all the debts of the Company. Mr. Thayer promptly attempted to meet this difficulty by obtaining a second charter from the Connecticut Legislature, which was then in session. So unanimous were the wishes of New England to check the proposal of the authors of the Nebraska-Kanzas Act to introduce slavery into the new Territories, that this charter, like the other, was granted most willingly, and, so far as is known, without any opposition. But it must be confessed, that there was not equal hopefulness as to the measures thus proposed to meet the great evil. Gentlemen who have long since assisted our efforts, and welcomed our victory, believed then that we were engaged in a hopeless struggle. They said that we opposed a small corporation against a single interest, virtualiy embodied in one gigantic corporation; that, namely, of all the slave-owners of the South. They said that the question was simply one of capital against capital; and that our little capitals, even if we had Page 6a million of dollars subscribed to our purposes, would be as nothing against the associated wealth of all the Southern States, combined, as it virtually would be, to assist us. These prognostications of defeat have not proved true.
Under the Connecticut Charter, the Emigrant Aid Company of New York and Connecticut organized on the 18th of July. Its operations have never been extensive. For our purpose, this charter proved no more serviceable than that granted by the State of Massachusetts.
As time pressed, the persons most interested in the enterprise associated themselves together as a private body; placing their subscriptions in the hands of three trustees, -- Messrs. Amos A. Lawrence, Eli Thayer, and J. M. S. Williams, -- who cheerfully assumed the trust, and took the immediate measures necessary for action in the great enterprise of the Company. They organized under the trust on the 24th of July, 1854; and appointed Dr. Thomas H. Webb their Secretary. They voted that his salary should commence from the 10th of May, -- a fact on the record, which shows how long the trustees had been at work without formal organization. This first meeting of the officers of the Company took place auspiciously in the Rooms of the Massachusetts Historical Society, beneath the smiles of the ancient portraits of the first founders of Massachusetts.
Dr. Charles Robinson, now Governor Robinson, of Kanzas, had already visited Kanzas on the Company's account. At the second meeting of the Trustees, on the 7th of August, 1854, he was present; and, after receiving his Report, the Trustees directed him to return as quickly as possible to the West; and made arrangements at the same time for the purchase, on the frontier of Missouri, in Kanzas City, of the hotel so long owned there afterwards by the Company. It was thought desirable thus to obtain a foothold for the gathering and equipment of parties before they entered the Territory. The Indians still held titles to all the lands Page 7in the eastern part of the Territory; and we could not legally obtain such foothold from them.
Arrangements had been made for the first pioneer emigrant party. It consisted wholly of men; and left Boston, July 17, 1854. Under the lead of Mr. Charles H. Branscomb, they passed up the Kanzas River, through the Indian reservations, and established themselves at a point described in our records as
To organize this emigration under the favorable influences of the political excitement of the time, and the tidings which Page 8every mail brought back from Kanzas, the Company established an office in Boston, which the Secretary made the headquarters of information relating to the Territory. From time to time, public notice was given of the day fixed for departure of the next party of emigrants. The Secretary arranged with transportation companies of the different lines for passage to Kanzas City, at as low rates of travel as first-class tickets could be secured for, -- these rates being lower than the rates to individuals. These tickets were resold by him to passengers in our parties, without any profit. An agent was then appointed to take charge of the party which collected in answer to such a call. He was directed to attend to women and children who had no other protection and he assigned the times for the movement and rest of the expedition. In favor of our parties, some of the steamboat proprietors made special arrangements for women and children: and in general, as may easily be supposed, directors of transportation lines interested themselves in securing the favor of a customer who did business on as large a scale as this Company. We thus collected five parties of emigrants in the summer and autumn of 1854, numbering about seven hundred and fifty persons. We may safely say, that we solicited no one of these persons to go. They went of their own motion, and at their own charge. In general, they went under the escort of one of the regular agents of the Company; and such agents travelled at our expense. But we never paid the passage of any emigrant, nor paid any thing towards his passage: we simply organized the emigration of individuals, and relieved it, as far as we could, of its solitude and other inconveniences.
In the Territory itself, our operations were limited by our want of funds. As early as the 24th of August, 1854, the Trustees appointed Mr. S. C. Pomeroy their second agent in the Territory, to co-operate with Dr. Robinson in the charge of our affairs. The directions given to Mr. Pomeroy were to Page 9purchase six sawmills, and, if necessary, a gristmill, to be established at such places as he might think proper; to purchase and hold for the Company such real estate as he and the other agents might find necessary; to acquaint himself with the Territory, and give advice as to location to settlers as they should arrive. More than advice, neither our agents nor we could give. We had no power of any kind over the settlers who went out in our parties. They were in no way bound to us. But it proved, as we had foreseen, that at points well selected by our agents, who proved themselves singularly competent to this office, where mills were established by our funds, settlers, whether of our own parties or of separate emigrations, were glad to establish themselves. Our agents were directed in these original instructions to see that a schoolhouse was built in each town, and to encourage in every way possible the establishment of places of worship; duties to which, in every instance, they carefully devoted themselves.
For operations so extensive as these, the Company had but very limited means. On the 11th of November, 1854, only twelve thousand seven hundred and thirty-one dollars had been received into the treasury; about twice that amount having been subscribed, on which one-half had been assessed. The petitioners for a charter, however, in the preceding winter, had proposed a capital for the Company, more commensurate with the work they had in hand; and the original charter fixed five million dollars as the amount of its possible stock. The speculators of Western Missouri, who had asked for the passage of the Nebraska Act, with the supposition that they were to obtain all its benefits, and had organized themselves with the intention of seizing the best lands, took alarm at provision so extensive. By way of stimulating opposition in Missouri to New-England emigration, they everywhere published the statement, that five million dollars were already in our hands, for purposes of stimulating movement to the West. Page 10 Unfortunately for us, this statement was not true. Failing its truth, however, the impression of our wealth, largely given by our Missouri enemies, was a valuable contribution made by them to our operations; the only contribution it was in their power to make to us. The impression they gave, that many million of dollars were to be spent in Kanzas by an Eastern Company, undoubtedly drew many thousands of emigrants into that Territory from the Middle States and the North-west, who went without direct communication with our agents or offices.
The name of "Lawrence" was given to our first colony, at first called the "Wakarusa Settlement." The settlers arrived there, and took up their claims, on the 1st of August, 1854. They passed the first winter in preparing their new homes. They organized a lyceum, established a school, and regular religious services.
It is not the place of this Report to enter into the history of Kanzas during the last eight years. It is merely to connect that history with the history of our own organization that we say, that the first election for delegate held in the Territory, when the fraudulent votes from Missouri decided the result, was held on the 29th November, 1854. In January, 1855, Gov. Reeder took a census of the Territory; and the number of inhabitants proved to be eight thousand five hundred and one. Gov. Reeder issued his proclamation at once for an election, to be held on the 31st March, for the Territorial Legislature.
Our first party of 1855 left Boston on the 13th March. It numbered about two hundred persons, -- men, women, and children; and arrived in Kanzas City, 24th March. On the 24th March, a party of a hundred and fifty-seven set out; on the 27th March, a party of eighty-four; on the 10th April, one of eighty; and on the l7th April, one of sixty-four. And from April to July there were sent by us, in different parties, some fifty persons. Meanwhile, a new charter had been Page 11 granted by the Massachusetts Legislature, by which the New-England Emigrant Aid Company was incorporated on the 21st February, 1855. On the 5th March, this Company organized by the choice of --
- PRESIDENT. -- John Carter Brown, of Providence, R.I.
- VICE-PRESIDENTS. -- Eli Thayer, of Worcester; and J. M. S. Williams, of Cambridge.
- TREASURER. -- A. A. Lawrence, Boston.
- SECRETARY. -- Thomas H. Webb, Boston.
- DIRECTORS. -- Samuel Cabot, jun., John Lowell, and William B. Spooner, of Boston; William J. Rotch, of New Bedford; J. P. Williston, of Northampton; William D. Pickman, of Salem; R. P. Waters, of Beverly; R. A. Chapman, of Springfield; John Nesmith, of Lowell; Alvah Crocker, of Fitchburg; Charles H. Bigelow, of Lawrence; Nathan Durfee, of Fall River; Franklin Mussey, of Bangor, Me.; William Willis, of Portland, Me.; John D. Lang, of Vassalborough, Me.; E. P. Walton, of Montpelier, Vt.; Joseph Gilmore, of Concord, N.H.; Ichabod Goodwin, of Portsmouth, N.H.; Thomas M. Edwards, of Keene, N.H.; and Albert Day, of Hartford, Conn.
- EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. -- At a meeting of the Directors, held directly after that of the Stockholders, the following gentlemen were elected as the Executive Committee of the Board: to wit, J. M. S. Williams, Eli Thayer, Samuel Cabot, jun., John Lowell, and R. P. Waters; the Treasurer and Secretary being ex-officio members of this Committee.
At that time, twenty-seven thousand two hundred and twenty dollars had been subscribed to the capital of the old corporation, and the subscribers were made associates in the new Company. The summer proved a laborious and exciting one, as well to the settlers in Kanzas as to the Directors of the Company at home. On the 2d July, the Legislature, since popularly called the "Shawnee" or "Bogus Legislature," met at Pawnee, in the Territory, and, on the 4th, adjourned to the Shawnee Mission. This was the Legislature elected by an inroad from Missouri. Our pacific investments of capital went on steadily through the summer and autumn. Page 12We built in Lawrence the "Free-State Hotel," and established the towns of Topeka, Ossawatomie, Manhattan, Hampden, and Wabonsé. So fast as subscriptions to the stock were obtained, they were invested in engines and mills; until in May, 1856, the amount of money expended by the Company in Kanzas amounted to $96,956.01. Of this, very much the largest proportion had been spent for our two hotels and for steam-engines and mills. A part had been expended in the erection of schoolhouses and dwelling-houses. The charges of administration had not been larger than was to be expected in the management of such varied interests.
The year 1855 had proved, however, to be a very eventful year for Kanzas, and a very exhausting one to honest emigrants there. The emigration from New England and from the North-west steadily poured in, and this in much larger numbers than any emigration from Missouri, Kentucky, or the other Southern States. Two armed bodies of young men were sent, one from South Carolina and one from Georgia, in the foolish hope, that they might sweep back the steady flood of Northern emigration, after it had once turned in the direction of Kanzas. As the year 1855 passed, it became certain that the great principle of the Kanzas-Nebraska Act was not to be sustained by the United-States Government. The pretence under which that act was passed was that of the theory named "squatter sovereignty" by Gen. Cass; namely, that the inhabitants of the Territory themselves should dictate its institutions. Relying on that theory, our emigrants had removed there, and other emigrants from the Northern States; and so much more prompt is the emigration of freemen than that of masters and slaves together, that there was probably never a moment in the history of Kanzas when the bona-fidesettlers would not have voted to maintain freedom rather than slavery. The elections of November, 1854, and of March, 1855, were conducted by persons who crossed, for the election-days, from Missouri, and elected non-residents to the Page 13posts designated. As the year 1855 passed by, however, it appeared that the Administration of the United States was satisfied with this fraudulent control of the Kanzas elections, and that the Territory was not to be left fairly to the wishes of its inhabitants. To maintain the fraudulent votes, the President was obliged to remove successively Governor after Governor of his own appointment; for every demonstration of the popular will of Kanzas showed that the Administration at Washington had raised a spirit it had not meant to raise in calling "squatter sovereignty" into being. The indignation of the Government fell, in proportion, upon this Company, which, in the organization of emigration, had taken hold of the very principle of the Kanzas-Nebraska Act, and had followed it out legitimately and honestly; and at last, on the 20th of May, 1855, the United-States Marshal of Kanzas, acting under orders from Washington, entered the city of Lawrence, in command of the companies of South Carolinians and Georgians, whom he had sworn into service as an armed posse of the United-States Government, and burned to the ground the Free-State Hotel, then just finished, as being in itself an offence against the Government and laws of the United States. In destroying this building, and the offices of the "Free-State" and "Herald-of-Freedom" newspapers, he acted, he said, under the authority of writs issued by the first District Court of the United States. The grand jury at Lecompton had indicted them as nuisances, and the Court had ordered them to be destroyed. No such destruction of property has yet been wrought as punishment of the rebels now in arms against the Government, as the Administration of 1856 ordered as our punishment for opposing its plans. The hotel had just been completed at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars. It was the finest building for such a purpose west of St. Louis. It was intended as a fit rendezvous for families of emigrants, at the most convenient point in the State, while they "prospected," or made other arrangements Page 14for taking up their lands. The first public dinner ever served in it was the dinner given to the United-States Marshal and his staff of office, who then proceeded to destroy it in the name of the President of the United States.
It is to be remarked here, that, up till the spring of 1856, the emigrants from New England to Kanzas had gone with that confidence in law which is a characteristic of New England. Many of them had opposed the Kanzas-Nebraska Act; but, now that it was law, they supposed it would be carried into effect, and went, relying on that protection of the Government which they never received. It is believed that not one military weapon of any sort was carried into the Territory by our emigrants of the years 1854 and 1855. Even the supply of powder and shot-guns for killing game, and of revolvers for personal defence, was what, in any other community, would be called singularly small; and when, in the sad winter of 1855 and the spring of 1856, the settlers were obliged to defend themselves against marauders of every grade, they were almost without weapons with which to do so.
The destruction of our hotel, and of the house of our agent in Lawrence, showed to the country that the Emigrant Aid Company was the especial object of the indignation of the Government. The interest which we could not ourselves excite in our own plans was aroused by the quick jealousy of the Administration and its crusade against us. The immediate accessions of subscription to our stock, indeed, were not more than thirty thousand dollars; but the new impulses given to emigration all favored our enterprise. Our agents became, as they deserved to be, the leaders of the people of Kanzas. Our office in Boston actively disseminated the information necessary to all who wished to emigrate. In this crisis, we did not lose sight of the objects of our organization. Though arms and ammunition became a necessity to the people of Kanzas, all the more pressing because of their Page 15early misplaced confidence, we knew that it was not within our province to furnish them; and as we had never given a cent to an emigrant, nor a plough nor a harrow to a colony, we did not now vary from our rule so far even as to give a pound of powder or a rifle to a community in need. We had confidence that organized emigration could take care of itself; and organized emigration has done so.
The news of the "sack of Lawrence" was received by telegraph in Boston just on the eve of our annual meeting of May 27, 1856. The results of the active year which followed are stated in the Annual Report, dated May 26, 1857 from which the following extracts are taken: --
"We met last year under most discouraging circumstances. It was a gloomy period in the history of Kanzas. The war of the Missouri invaders was at its height. Every day brought us new accounts of atrocities unparalleled in the annals of civilized communities. Bands of armed men had invaded the Territory for the avowed purpose of 'wiping out' every Free-State settlement. They had obtained entry into Lawrence by treachery and deceit, sacked the town, seized the printing-press, and destroyed our new Free-State Hotel by cannon and fire. Those who dared to express a sentiment in favor of freedom were grossly insulted, and driven from their homes, or murdered in cold blood. An especial hatred was shown towards every thing connected with this Company. Our property was stolen or wantonly destroyed. The house of our agent at Lawrence was burned; and our agents themselves were seized and imprisoned on absurd and ridiculous charges, or forcibly expelled from the Territory. What rendered these outrages the more aggravating, was the belief that they were not only permitted, but were encouraged, by the Executive of the United States, to whom we had a right to look for protection. Some of the worst crimes were committed by persons holding high positions under the General Government, who, instead of being punished, were, in many instances, rewarded with offices of trust and emolument.
"The Missouri River was closed to emigration by bands of ruffians, who seized upon persons and property without law; harassed and maltreated peaceable emigrants, and compelled them to turn back, or seek a new and tedious route through Iowa to Kanzas.Page 16
"Our Company had been assailed on all sides. High officials of the National Government had denounced our organization. The President himself had lent his voice to the abuse of the Company, and to a repetition of the stale and oft-refuted slanders against it. A Committee of the Senate of the United States, either from intentional misrepresentation, or at least with unpardonable ignorance of its plan and purposes, had devoted the larger part of an elaborate report to a violent philippic against this Company, accusing us of being 'the cause of all the troubles in Kanzas.' There were not wanting those even in our own community who looked coldly upon us, as guilty of`unwarrantable interference' in the affairs of Kanzas.
"In the face of all these discouragements, the Company has steadily persevered in its course, without being turned from its purpose, either by the fear of Executive censure, or a desire to conciliate its avowed enemies or its lukewarm friends.
"Meanwhile, great changes have taken place in the aspect of affairs. The prospects for freedom in Kanzas have brightened, the invading army has been dispersed, new dwellings are built on the ruins of those which were destroyed, new towns are rising on all sides, confidence has revived, and business of all kinds is actively pursued. The value of property in the Territory is increasing; and land, in the more thickly settled portions, is sold at a price oflen double, and in many instances more than quadruple, that of a year ago. The Missouri River is again open to emigration. The ruffians on that river, who once assaulted our friends and pillaged our property, are now desirous of peace. If not ashamed, they are afraid, and stand in wholesome awe of a future day of reckoning. Even in Missouri, there are laws against robbery, piracy, and murder; and, though judgment may sleep for a time, these crimes must eventually meet with their just reward.
"That these changes are not owing to any change in the policy of the Government towards Kanzas, is evident to all who have watched the progress of events. That policy has been constantly directed towards the 'crushing-out' of the spirit of liberty: and, even to the present moment, those officials, who have been most notorious for their crimes against Kanzas, have been retained in office, or appointed to new and important posts; while those who have shown the slightest sympathy with the Free-State settlers have been forced to resign, or summarily removed from their places. The improvement in the condition of the Territory is to be attributed solely to the wise and prudent counsels, and the brave and determined resistance to oppression, which Page 17have, throughout the contest, distinguished the course of the Free-State inhabitants.
"The present population of Kanzas is estimated at from seventy to eighty thousand; but the tide of emigration now pouring into the Territory will soon swell the number beyond all calculations of ours. We have it on the authority of the President of the Pacific Railroad, that the number of emigrants passing over the road towards Kanzas, since the opening of navigation, has averaged one thousand per day. The overland emigration through Iowa and Nebraska is also Very considerable. If the settlement of Kanzas continues at this rate, it will not much longer need any assistance from Emigrant Aid Companies.
"The fact cannot now be questioned, that a very large proportion of actual inhabitants of Kanzas, as well as of the later emigrants, are in favor of the establishment of free institutions there. Estimates vary as to the relative preponderance of Free-State inhabitants; but no well-informed person will now put the proportion at less than three-fourths, while many place it as high as nine-tenths, or even nineteen-twentieths, of the entire population. Indeed, the party in Kanzas who are in favor of making it a Slave State is reduced to a handfull, composed chiefly of Government officials, or those desiring to become such. There is, no doubt, a much larger party beyond her borders, who have determined to introduce slavery there at all hazards; but, while the vast majority of her population have decided otherwise, we may well await the result with confidence. We may be comparatively indifferent as to what institutions politicians in Missouri or at Washington may decide to be best suited to her condition. Even if, by political manoeuvring and fraudulent voting, it shall be made to appear that a slave constitution is desired by the inhabitants of Kanzas, and she should be unhappily admitted to the Union under a false flag, she will at once and for ever repudiate that constitution, as soon as her people have liberty to act for themselves, without the interference of the General Government. The existence or non-existence of slavery in a State depends, not on the laws which are upon the statute-book, but upon the laws written on the hearts of the people.
"There are at the present moment, probably, not over one hundred slaves in the whole Territory of Kanzas. This species of property is held by too uncertain a tenure to make it a desirable investment for the settler. The institution of slavery is not well adapted to the climate of Kanzas; it does not suit the views of her people; it can never take root on her soil. The attempt to force it upon her is an Page 18inexpressible outrage, and can never suceeed so long as her people remain true to themselves and to their principles.
"In view of the present condition of Kanzas, but three years ago a wilderness, now teeming with a busy and intelligent population, your Committee may be pardoned for dwelling with pride and satisfaction upon the reflection, that this grand result has been chiefly owing to the operations of the New-England Emigrant Aid Company. Other associations, of later date, have materially aided the cause. There have been many noble, zealous, and successful co-workers in the field. The State and National Kanzas Committees and the Clothing Committees, first organized by the suggestions and personal efforts of members of this Board, have rendered invaluable aid to the settlers: but this Company took the initiative at a time when its course was looked upon with distrust and suspicion; and it encountered only odium and hostility from many who should have been its friends. It has never relaxed its efforts, nor abandoned its confidence in the final result.
"The truth of the great principle of the immense benefits to colonization from the aid of associated capital planted in advance of emigration, to prepare the way for a civilized community, has never been so fairly tried and so fully proved as by this Company. Its succcss has been achieved in the face of the most vexatious opposition from the General Government and from the whole slave-power of the country.
"Your Directors would not be understood to claim that the present population of Kanzas, or even any considerable portion of it, has been sent to the Territory directly through the agency of the Company; but they do believe, that but for the encouragement given to emigration in the early days of its settlement, by the operations of the Company in planting capital there, in diffusing information for emigrants, in combining them into parties, and aiding them to establish the first towns on its soil, that Territory would be in a condition nearly as wild and uncultivated as when, in the summer of 1854, our first party of brave New-England men pitched their tents at Lawrence, and made that town the cradle of a new Free State. They believe, moreover, that, if any progress had been made, it would have been in the wrong direction; that slavery would, ere this, have established its foothold on the land; and that nothing short of a revolution could have then changed its fate. It is only the organized emigration, first set on foot by this Company, which has saved it to freedom for ever.
"We conclude this Report with a short summary of the principal transactions of the Company since the last annual meeting.Page 19
"It will be recollected that we had then three mills lying idle in Kanzas City on account of the disturbances in the Territory. These were at one time thrown into the Missouri River by a party of the so-called friends of 'law and order,' who had conceived a prejudice against our Company. It was, however, afterwards found to be for the interest of those merchants, who had had the mills in charge, to draw them out again, and to hold them subject to our order. The largest of these mills has been disposed of, on favorable terms, to the Quindaro Association, and the price paid in city shares, which are now selling at a large advance on the cost. We have, by this arrangement, a valuable interest in the new and flourishing town of Quindaro. Another mill is to be set up, at Wabonsé, -- the location of a colony from New Haven; and another at the new Free-State town of Atchison, on the Missouri River. The Executive Committee have also lately purchased two new mills, which were shipped in April, and are now on their way to the Territory.
"We have sent to Kanzas, in all, ten valuable sawmills, besides a number of gristmills and other machinery. The good effect of these has been incalculable. Wherever a sawmill has been established, a town has arisen and the result has shown the truth of the claim so often made by this Company, that these mills would be among the most efficient means in promoting the settlement of Kanzas.
"Immediately on learning of the destruction of the Free-State Hotel at Lawrence, your Directors determined to rebuild it at once on the old site. For this purpose, a new subscription-list was immediately opened, and a considerable sum obtained. The foundations of the new hotel were laid amid great rejoicings of the people of Lawrence. The amount suhscribed was faithfully applied, and an additional amount appropriated from the general fund for the same object. The advantage of this step, both in affording work and pay to those who were in actual need, and by its moral effect in encouraging the settlers, can hardly be overestimated. The Executive Committee have since thought it expedient to accept the offer of Col. S. W. Eldredge, the lessee of the former hotel, and a sound Free-State man, to purchase the hotel-lot, with the foundations already laid; the engaging to erect thereon a first-class hotel, of stone or brick, at least equal in dimensions and cost to that which the Company had proposed to build. This arrangement is considered a favorable one, as it insures the completion of a structure which is deemed of much importance; while it leaves the funds, which would have been required for this purpose, free for other useful investments.Page 20
"As soon as possible after the sack of Lawrence, and the destruction of our hotel and other property, your Directors forwarded to Congress a petition for remuneration for our losses, and redress of grievances. This petition was referred to committees in both branches; and, in the House of Representatives, a bill was reported favorable to our claim: but no further action was taken. The claim will be again pressed before Congress; and the justice of our demand is so evident, that we may reasonably expect from that body, in due time, a full and sufficient compensation for our losses.
"One of the most important transactions lately effected by the agents of the Company is the purchase by Mr. Pomeroy, in connection with the agent of a Cincinnati association, of a controlling interest in the town of Atchison, on the Missouri River, with the whole property and good-will of the 'Squatter Sovereign,' heretofore the most violent and unscrupulous advocate of slavery in Kanzas, and the aider and abetter of the worst outrages on its inhabitants. This paper has now become a Free-State paper, under the editorship of Messrs. Pomeroy and M'Bratney. The name of Atchison will be changed to one more expressive of its new character as a settlement of Free-State men.*As Gen. Pomeroy is himself present at this meeting, and will address the stockholders, it is unnecessary for your Directors to enter into farther particulars on the important bearings which this transaction must have on the future operations of the Company.
"Since the last annual meeting, the stock of the Association has been increased by the sum of thirty-seven thousand dollars. Of this, about twenty thousand dollars have been subscribed by gentlemen connected with the shoe-and-leather trade of this city. These gentlemen have shown a warm interest in the cause in which we are engaged, and their liberal subscriptions have afforded the most timely and encouraging assistance to those who have had the management of the affairs of the Company. It is intended that the two first towns established by the aid of these funds shall be distinguished by the names of families prominent in their connection with this profession.
"Your Directors cannot close this Report without expressing their sense of the great obligations of this Company to its faithful and efficient agents (Messrs. Pomeroy, Robinson, and Branscomb), who have had the conduct of its affairs in the Territory. By their determined Page 21and resolute course under circumstances of the greatest difficulty and danger, by their energy and discretion and good judgment, they have rendered inestimable benefits to Kanzas and to this Company. Since the late annual meeting, Dr. Charles Robinson has been compelled, by the pressure of his public and private engagements, to resign his post as agent. Those who have been familiar with his course from the beginning of our undertaking will not soon forget the important services which he has rendered to the cause of freedom in Kanzas."
For the Committee.
L. B. RUSSELL.
With the transfer of Atchison, the only town in Kanzas which had ever been in the interest of the slave-party, to the agents of this Company, and the conversion of the "Squatter-Sovereign" newspaper to a policy more true to its name than that which it had hitherto advocated, all real opposition to the establishment of freedom in Kanzas was at an end. The policy of this Company had been proved successful. One more instance had been added to those of which history is full, that towns are the seminaries of freedom and of liberal institutions. By planting six towns in Kanzas, worthy of that name; by encouraging the popular sentiment, which, in such times, must grow, -- the Emigrant Aid Company had been the prime agent in that magnificent movement of a free people, by which the people of Kanzas, in face of all opposition, made her a Free State. The patience with which that people bore wrongs till the moment came to right them; the dignity with which they asserted their claims as Americans; the peace in which they lived among each other, when no law was administered; the loyalty with which they supported the officers whom they had chosen; and the bravery by which, when the moment came, they asserted their rights on the field of battle, -- can never be too highly extolled. The skill, discretion, and spirit of their leaders is matter of history. That leaders and people regarded this Company as indeed their friend in their great trial, appears in the fact, that our Page 22first Agent, Dr. Robinson, was and is their first Governor; our second Agent, Mr. Pomeroy, was and is one of their first Senators in Congress; and the last Agent whom we appointed, Mr. Conway, left our service to become their first Representative.
The Treasurer, Mr. Lawrence, in presenting his Annual Report on the 26th of May, in the year 1857, resigned the office in which he had so efficiently served the Company and the country. He indicated, at that time, the policy of closing, as soon as possible, the affairs of the Company in Kanzas.
His words were, --
"You will find the Company free from debt, and its prosperity entire. Whatever may be the result to the stockholders, the shares have never had more value than at the present time. The main object for which the Association was formed -- viz., the incitement of free emigration into Kanzas -- has been successfully accomplished. The Corporation must hereafter be considered a land-company, and be managed as such. A speedy closing-up of its business seems to me to be the surest method of yielding a return of the money expended: and, in disposing of the property, much consideration appears to be due to our faithful agents; and to them a preference should be given, if they are willing to become purchasers of the whole or any part of it.
"In this connection, it will not be presuming too much for me to bear testimony to the assiduity and disinterestedness with which your Executive Committee have performed their labors in your behalf, and in behalf of the cause which we all have at heart.
"The result has proved their value. The Committee have devoted themselves to the interests of the Company, without regard to their own. Notwithstanding the contrary has been stated, they have undertaken no private business or speculation in connection with the property of the Territory. No one of them, so far as I am informed, has had any interest, directly or indirectly, in any property in Kanzas, except what belongs to this Company; and there is no one of them who would not at any time, and who would not now, sacrifice his own share in this, and much more, to open the Territory to the labor and enterprise of our citizens, and to perpetuate there our free American institutions."
With regard to the general policy thus indicated by the Treasurer, there was no doubt in the minds of the Directors or of the Company. It had not been organized for the purposes of a land-company. It had never purchased land with money; and the lands it held were such as it had received in payment for mills and engines and other improvements, which, with the advantages of its capital, it had introduced where they were needed, and for which the settlers had nothing but land to pay. At the same time, the Directors needed to employ all their capital in another direction. The sequel has proved, what they then feared, that it was a great misfortune that they were not able to do so. They had been in treaty with responsible persons in Western Texas, who had been eager to avail themselves of the advantages which this Company could control, for the organization of the emigrants who were interested in that country. For a long period, the Directors had been in correspondence with the German settlers already established there, and had widely circulated information through New England on the advantages offered to settlers in that region. On the 19th of June, 1857, the Special Committee on Western Texas reported in detail to the Executive Board, and urged that "now is the time for undertaking operations there." Nothing but the want of funds prevented our further action in that direction.
But although the agents of the Company in Kanzas were pressed to sell our lands and other property whenever they could make sales for cash, this proved very difficult. Sales were made, however, to the extent of $8,225; while our rents received during the year amounted to $2,516.06. These figures show that the policy of closing the Kanzas property might have been successfully carried on, if but a temporary respite of prosperity should intervene between the distresses of that Territory. It was clearly not for our interest to sell on credit, though this is so largely the custom of the West. We wished to close our offices in Kanzas, and to save the Page 24necessity of maintaining any agencies. We could not, therefore, sell for notes secured upon the land. Our orders to our agents were necessarily to sell for cash or its equivalent. Of these sales, we had made such a beginning, when the financial crisis of October, 1857, struck upon the country, first and most largely embarrassing the West. It checked at once and fatally our hopes of rapidly converting our property into money.
The Territory experienced another blight, even more serious, when it appeared that the Federal Government was not yet satisfied with interference in its concerns. Every Governor appointed by the President had proved, in turn, too scrupulous for the President's wishes; and even now, when it was certain as any thing could be that the people of Kanzas had no slaves, and did not mean to have any, the interference of the Government with its affairs continued. The constitution known as the Lecompton Constitution was prepared; the point known by that name was selected as the capital; and the fretting and persevering intrigues of the National Administration continued. Nothing could have contributed more to check emigration than such conduct, after it was certain that the great battle was won; so that the great tide of national enthusiasm could no longer be expected to pour in that direction.
Notwithstanding these obstacles, the Directors succeeded in establishing their five mills, spoken of in the last Report, at the several sites of Atchison, Claflin, and Batchelder. The last two were named, as suggested in that Report, for the two gentlemen of this city who were the largest contributors to the Shoe-and-Leather Dealers' Kanzas subscription.
Meanwhile the taxes upon our property in Kanzas were large, and the expenses of our administration there were considerable. Our property was still estimated, notwithstanding our occasional sales, as worth more than $130,000; which was our whole stock-account in May, 1858. But the higher the estimate placed on it, the higher the taxation; and we, of all Page 25parties, were necessarily the last who should flinch in our payments for the necessary expenses of infant communities.
The consequence of these necessary payments was, that in the next year, while our receipts from our Kanzas property were $3,474 (of which about $1,000 were for sales), our expenses were $14,724.95. To meet these expenses, a loan of $10,000 had been contracted, -- the first debt which we had been obliged to contract. The charges of the Company had been reduced, -- only one agent in the Territory being employed; and we looked forward to better times, with the hope that our sales in the Territory might repay our debt and re-imburse our capital.
At the annual meeting in May, 1859, our Agent, Judge Conway, reported, that, whilst some of the property had depreciated, other portions had appreciated, in value; so that, in the aggregate, he considered the whole worth somewhat more than the previous estimates.
Our anticipations, however, were again destined to be disappointed. Emigration into the Territory was materially checked by the enthusiasm which turned to Pike's Peak. Many of the people of Kanzas themselves emigrated thither. In the next year, our rents were $1,832.99; our sales were $5,157.25. Our taxes, however, were $1,446.17, -- nearly as much as our rents; and our expenses, though reduced as far as possible, were $5,797.48. This statement showed that we were not materially increasing our debts; but we were not closing our operations.
At the meeting of the Company on the 29th of May, 1860, these facts appeared from the Treasurer's Report. The Secretary reported at the same time, that --
"The depressed state of business had interfered with effecting sales; and that, consequently, little had been done in the way of disposing of property. The Directors, as heretofore, still entertain the opinion, that the property should not be sacrificed by forced sales at such an unpropitious period as the present."
To the calamities which had checked the growth of Kanzas, and disappointed the expectations which, in 1857 and 1858, we had a right to entertain, was added, in the summer of 1859, that of famine. The Territory which, in the spring of 1854, was a wilderness; in the spring of 1855, a debatable ground, ravaged by banditti from Missouri; and, in 1856, the scene of active war, waged by the Government of the United States against its settlers, -- had been, in 1857, prostrated by the great financial crisis; in 1858, discouraged by the imposition of a constitution foreign to its wishes; in 1859, stripped of thousands of its most active pioneers by the gold temptations of the Western mountains; and now, in 1860, was to undergo new horrors in hunger, amounting at times to actual starvation. For four months, no rain fell in large parts of the Territory. The whole energies of the river-towns, where some moisture had saved a part of the crop, were necessarily devoted to transporting food to the interior. Large numbers of settlers left the Territory. The generous contributions of the benevolent did not fail the people of Kanzas. Relief societies and the churches of the East generously sent forward money and provisions; but, as may well be supposed, this condition of things was not favorable to a disposal for cash of the land and mills and other property of this Company.
At the meeting of the Company on the 28th of May, 1861, it appeared, therefore, that the rents in Kanzas had fallen to $915.09; that the sales had fallen to $520.75. The expenses had also been reduced to less than $4,000; but the account still showed, that, under the circumstances of Kanzas, it was almost impossible for non-resident landholders to make sales for cash. In that position we stood. Meanwhile our engines and mills were, of course, deteriorating. That at Ossawatomie had been burned to the ground by the invaders of Kanzas, in the attack on that place, which has become historical. At the time the Company met, in May, 1861, the whole nation was preparing itself for the great war, in which we still are, for Page 27which our struggle in Kanzas had been the successful apprenticeship. The people of Kanzas were making already those sacrifices in the great cause which have placed their new-born State among the foremost. They have had the honor of contributing to the volunteer army the only companies of soldiers which had already studied war in practice, and learned victory under fire. Under these circumstances, therefore, in May, 1861, the Directors were obliged to propose a sale of all the Kanzas property together, at a price much below what it had cost us.
They made this proposal in the following Report: --
BOSTON, May 28, 1861.To the Directors of the New-England Emigrant Aid Company.
The Executive Committee report, that, since the last annual meeting, but little change has taken place in the Company's property or condition. . . .
The expectations of last spring, in respect to sales of land, have been almost entirely unrealized, owing mainly to the short crop which prevailed throughout that part of the country, with the consequent stagnation of business, and poverty of the people. We have sold only one lot, in Atchison, for a hundred and fifty dollars, and exchanged the mill and site in Wabonsé for a farm.
There have been no additions to the Company's property during the year.
In January, the Territory was admitted into the United States as the State of Kanzas; when a Free-State representative to Congress, Governor and Legislature, immediately took their seats. Of the four agents that the Company have had in Kanzas during the six years of our work there, one occupied the Congressional chair, one the Governor's, and a third has since been elected to the United-States Senate. These facts occurring entirely without management on the part of the Company, among a population of fully a hundred thousand, indicate unmistakably, that the effect of the Company's operations, in helping to place the State of Kanzas in the position now occupied, has nowhere and at no time been exaggerated, although the nature of the operations themselves had been much misrepresented.
With the settlement of the Territory by a large and efficient majority Page 28of Free-State men, and its admission as a Free State, the especial purpose of the Company, at least as respects that Territory, may be said to be entirely successful and complete. Still, the Executive Cornmittee have always borne in mind, that our enterprise, to be perfect in result, must be a success financially as well as in every other way. It must be shown that the Free-State system of settling new country pays well in money. This we do not absolutely despair of doing, even in the case of Kanzas; but the burnings and robberies of 1855 and 1856, the financial crash of 1857, the political oppressions of 1858 and 1859, and the drought of 1860, have formed a series of events adverse to such a result, most difficult to struggle against.
In the course of the year, it was at one time thought advisable by some members of the Executive Committee to sell the whole property for twenty-five thousand dollars cash; and a plan was proposed, and some steps taken toward carrying it out; but, being discouraged by the President and by some members of the Executive Committee, it was afterwards abandoned.
It is desirable that some plan should be adopted by the Directors for relieving the Company from debt, and releasing from their responsibility those gentlemen who have lent the credit of their names to the Company.
Besides the property in Kanzas and Missouri, the Company has a claim upon Government for twenty-five thousand dollars. For the urging of this claim, all proper steps were taken; and, during the last session of Congress, the Chairman of the Committee on Claims was constantly ready to give the claim prominence when occasion should allow; hut no opportunity arose to advance it.
At the same time, the Treasurer's Report showed that the stock account was $130,340; that there had been received in donations $8,435.16; that the debts of the Company were about $14,000; and that there were no immediate resources with which to pay these debts as they came due. They were generally in the form of notes of the Company, indorsed by different members of the Board of Directors who had generally lent their credit to sustain ours.
(Signed) C. J. HIGGINSON,
In behalf of the Executive Committee.
At this meeting, after a long discussion of the position of the Company's affairs, it was, -- Page 29
- 1. Voted, That we authorize and recommend to the Directors to sell all the property of the Company in Kanzas and Missouri, provided that all debts and liabilities of the Company shall be liquidated by such sale; and provided also that the sale shall be by public auction, of which previous notice shall be sent to every stockholder.
- 2. Voted, That, when the Directors of the Company issue notice to the stockholders of the sale proposed under the above votes, they shall also give notice, that if any stockholders desire to form a new Company, with a capital of twenty thousand dollars, for the purchase of the property, they be requested to send their names to the Secretary, with the amount they wish to subscribe in such new Company, within four weeks from the date of this notice.
The following Reports from the Treasurer and the Directors, made to the stockholders at their annual meeting on the 27th of May, 1862, will show how the operations of the Company in Kanzas were closed under the directions thus given: --
TREASURER'S REPORT.Since the last annual meeting, when the undersigned was chosen Treasurer for the purpose of paying off the debts of the Company by a sale of its property, he has diligently applied himself to that business, in co-operation with the Executive Committee.
In July last, an offer of twenty thousand dollars was obtained for the property in Kanzas and Missouri, provided one-half of the amount should be received in a note secured by mortgage. Time was to be allowed for an examination of the lands by the purchasers; and an arrangement was made for converting the mortgage-note into cash, so as to be available for the payment of debts.
This last was to be accomplished by the offer of members of the Committee; but the purchasers failed to complete the bargain, on account of the disturbed state of affairs in that region.
An attempt was then made to secure a sale to such of the stockholders as should choose to subscribe, in sums not less than five hundred dollars, for that purpose; the price to be paid being not less than sixteen thousand dollars, or the amount of the debts. A circular was issued to every one of the eight hundred stockholders, and the subscriptions received were twenty-eight thousand dollars: of these, the largest Page 30portion was made by a few persons who were desirous to save the Company from public failure and bankruptcy, and who did not wish to become interested in a new organization. As it was directed by the vote of the stockholders that the sale should be public to themselves, it was found necessary to make public advertisement, and hold an auction in due form, though every stockholder had already been invited to subscribe. This sale was accordingly held, and the real estate in Kanzas and Missouri was sold for sixteen thousand one hundred and fifty dollars to a company of six persons who were unknown to the Executive Committee; the agent of the subscribers bidding up to the sum of sixteen thousand dollars.
Neither the Directors, nor the Executive Committee, nor the undersigned, have any interest, either directly or indirectly, in the purchase. No sale was made of the claim for twenty-five thousand dollars upon the Government of the United States for the destruction of the hotel in Lawrence. That remains, and is the only property belonging to the Company, except the cash on hand ($3,368.08).
Satisfactory conveyances were made; and, with the money received, the debts of the Company have been paid, so far as could be done from information received up to the present time. The principal portion of the debt remaining is due to the Secretary, whose absence has prevented its adjustment.
In order that the stockholders may be assured that this sale was not made without an effort to obtain a delay until more auspicious times, it may be stated that an application was made to every one of the Directors to guarantee some portion of the debt, provided it could be extended for one year; but only three made any response to this request.
Having performed the duty assigned him, the undersigned begs to resign the office of Treasurer, and respectfully declines to be a candidate for re-election.
AMOS A. LAWRENCE, Treasurer.
BOSTON, May 27, 1862.