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Collection Reference Number GLC00375
From Archive Folder Documents Relating to 1856 
Title Franklin Pierce to John W. Geary about how to deal with the pro-slavery faction in Kansas
Date 12 December 1856
Author Pierce, Franklin (1804-1869)  
Recipient Geary, John White  
Document Type Correspondence
Content Description President Pierce writes to Geary, the newly appointed Governor of the Kansas Territory, emphasizing the delicacy and impartiality with which matters in the heavily pro-slavery territory should be handled. Covers the removal from office of various pro-slavery officials in the Kansas Territory that Geary and Pierce considered disruptive to their efforts to maintain peace in the territory. Praises Isaac Winston of Virginia, the carrier of this letter, who replaced George W. Clarke as Indian Agent. Reprimands Geary for overstepping his authority by re-arresting Charles Hayes (for the murder of a Free-State settler, David Buffum). Mentions "Judge LeCompte and his action in the case of Hayes," indicating that he will remove LeCompte "on grounds of public policy." Notes that he will probably appoint James O. Harrison to replace LeCompte. Warns Geary to "Remember that whatever others may do, absolute impartiality is required at your hands- You are to know no North or South among the citizens of the Territory." Reports that he will wait to hear from Geary before he appoints Mr. Spencer to the senate, and mentions an interview he had with Judge [Thomas W.] Cunningham to garner support for Geary. Notes Cunningham "is a pure minded man I am sure without any taint of abolitionism." Praises the impartiality of Judge [Sterling G.] Cato, writing "With a good Court and good Marshall I cannot doubt that there will be harmonious and useful action in the administration of territorial affair- Perfect impartiality on the part of the officers of the Territory toward the Southern and Northern settlers there and the free exercise of their judgment and will in the conduct of the political affairs of the Territory is what I have sought from the first and what I mean in the end to secure." Marked "private."
Subjects African American History  Slavery  American Indian History  President  Politics  Westward Expansion  Government and Civics  Bleeding Kansas  Criminals and Outlaws  Law  Judiciary  Abolition  
People Pierce, Franklin (1804-1869)  Geary, John White (1819-1873)  Cato, Sterling G. (fl. 1856)  Cunningham, Thomas W. (fl. 1856)  Lecompte, Samuel D. (Samuel Dexter) (1814-1888)  
Place written Washington, D.C.
Theme Government & Politics; Law; Slavery & Abolition; African Americans; The Presidency; Westward Expansion; Native Americans
Sub-collection The Gilder Lehrman Collection, 1493-1859
Additional Information Pierce appointed Samuel Dexter Lecompte as chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Kansas Territory in 1854. Charles Hayes was arrested following his murder of Buffum, but Lecompte released him on bail. When Pierce attempted to replace Lecompte in December 1856, Congress refused to confirm the replacement. Refer to GLC00071 for Geary's appointment as Territorial Governor.
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Settlement, Commerce, Revolution and Reform: 1493-1859
Related documents Appointment of John Geary as governor of the territory of Kansas  
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