Organizations & Associations in Kansas History
Anti Horse Thief Association
Emigrant Aid Societies
Blue Lodges - Soon after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, a secret organization was formed in the South to assist in
promoting the interests of the slave power. The society was known by different
names, such as the "Friends Society," the "Social Band,"
"Dark Lantern Society," and the "Sons of the
South," but, by whatever name it might be known the object was always the
same. Each member took a solemn oath, after which he was given the signs,
handshakes, and passwords of the order. Severe penalties were provided for any
violation of the oath, or for divulging the secrets of the organization, and in
a few instances these penalties were executed upon offending members. The order
was a branch of or auxiliary to the famous Knights of the Golden Circle, the
common object being the same -- the extension of slavery. The order of the
Golden Circle was composed of slave owners, and was designed to effect the
acquisition of Cuba, Northern Mexico and Central America, and the establishment
of slavery in the territories. The 'Social Band' was made up of
pro-slavery men, with and without
slaves, and was meant to be a valuable active force in the extension of slavery
Phillips' Conquest of Kansas said: "The Blue Lodge embraced
great numbers of the citizens of
Missouri, and was extended into other slave
states and into the Kansas Territory. Its plan of operating was to organize and
send men to vote at the elections in the territory, to collect money to pay
their expenses, and, if necessary, to protect them in voting. It also proposed
proslavery men to emigrate into the territory, to aid and sustain
them while there, and to elect none to office but those friendly to their
George Park, editor of the Parkville, Missouri Luminary,
whose newspaper office was destroyed by a mob, presumably composed of members of
the Blue Lodge, in a letter to the St. Louis Democrat in May, 1855, said:
" Stringfellow and Atchison have organized a secret association, the members of
which are sworn to turn out and fight when called upon to do so, and which is to
be governed by the following rules: All belonging to it are to share in the
damages accruing to any member when prescribed, even at the price of disunion.
All are to act secretly to destroy the business and character of Northern men;
and all dissenting from their doctrines are to be expelled from the territory."
From these extracts the aims and objects of the society may be
learned, as well as the methods to be employed in attaining them. Among the
leaders were brothers,
and John Stringfellow,
David R. Atchison, and
Alexander McDonald, afterward a Republican United States senator from
during the reconstruction period. All the leaders of the organization were
desperate men, willing to accept any hazard, and it was under the auspices of
this society that a number of the forays into Kansas were planned and executed.
Free-State sentiment was too strong for even an oath-bound society to
combat, and the Blue Lodge succumbed to the inevitable.
Freedmen's Relief Association --
This association resulted from the large negro immigration to
in the year
1879. It was incorporated on May 8, 1879, with the following
directors: John P. St. John, Albert H. Horton, P. I. Bonebrake, John Francis,
Bradford Miller, N. C. McFarland, A. B. Jetmore, J. C. Hebbard, Lyman U.
Humphrey, Willard Davis, A. B. Lemmon, James Smith, T. W. Henderson, C. G.
Foster and John M. Brown. On June 26, 1879, the association issued an appeal "to
friends of the colored people," in which it was stated that the organization was
controlled by two motives, the first of which was humanity, and the second was
"to maintain the honored traditions of our state, which had its conception and
birth in a struggle for freedom and equal rights for the colored man." The
appeal also announced that efforts were being made to establish a colony in
Wabaunsee county, about 50 miles west of
Topeka, where a tract of land belonging
to the state university could be bought for $2.65 an acre.
Law and Order League, aka: Army of Law and Order
(1855-1856) - From the name of this organization, one would naturally
suppose that it was formed for the purpose of promoting peace, prosperity and
good government among the people of
Kansas. But such was not the case. It was an
armed force, the strength of which has been variously estimated at from 500 to
1,100 men, organized by David R. Atchison and John H. Stringfellow, whose
policy was banishment or extermination of all Free-State men in the territory.
The "army" was divided into two regiments, with Atchison as Commander-in-Chief.
The headquarters of the organization were at Little Santa Fe on the Missouri
border, some 15 miles south of Westport. Among the outrages committed by this
force was that of robbing the Quaker Mission, because the Quakers were known to
assist fugitive slaves. The cattle and horses belonging to the mission were
driven off, articles of value were appropriated, and for a time, the mission was
broken up. In the latter part of August, 1856, the "army" was preparing for an
attack upon the city of
Lawrence, when the timely arrival of Governor Geary put
a stop to the proceedings. The Army of Law and Order was a part of the militia
disbanded by Governor Geary, and it was never reorganized.
Self Defensive Association (1854.-??)
The great number of Free-State settlers that came into
Territory in 1854
began to alarm the friends of slavery, who saw that it would be practically
impossible to legally compete with the heavy tide of emigration from the east.
The people of northwest Missouri had been led to believe that the prospects of
Kansas were good, but this idea was overthrown by the coming of such
great numbers of what the Missourians called "northern cattle." The advocates of
slavery were disappointed but not discouraged, and attempted to terrify the new
settlers by threats and persecutions. The
pro-slavery publications represented
the Emigrant Aid Societies as gathering the paupers of the great cities in the
east and hiring them to come to
to disturb the institutions of Missouri.
As a result of the sentiment thus aroused, meetings were held in some of the
towns in western Missouri. This agitation led to the formation on June 15, 1854
of the Platte County Self-Defensive Association. The constitution of this
organization contained a preamble and nine articles, the substance of which was
that all freed slaves must be expelled from the country; no traffic was to be
allowed between whites and slaves; no slaves were to be allowed to hire
themselves out; the association was to try to punish all abolitionists; and the
members pledged themselves to bring any guilty to immediate punishment. Nearly
1,000 persons signed this constitution. In reality the association was an
immense lynch court, consisting of six judges and 1,000 detectives, as each
member acted in that capacity. There was absolutely no appeal from the decision
of a judge and any two members.
At the first meeting of the association the following
resolutions were passed: "That we, the members of the Platte County Self
Defensive Association, do solemnly pledge ourselves to go at the call of our
brethren, who are across the river in
Kansas, and drive out from their midst the
abolition traitors." Thomas A. Minard, formerly a sheriff in Iowa, a man of good
character and wealth, had come to
Kansas and was building a home. He was known
to have declared his intention to vote for
Kansas to become a Free-State.
Members of the association arrested him, he was tried before the lynch court,
condemned as an abolitionist, ordered to leave the country within 24 hours or
receive 50 lashes on his bare back, and was driven from his home with a sick
family, into the unsettled wilderness. An old white haired man was seized upon
the testimony of a black man, condemned as an abolitionist and given 48 hours in
which to leave the country or receive 50 lashes on his bare back. The
association did not stop with trying abolitionists, but tried to force the
inhabitants to trade only with those who favored slavery and to force the
merchants to purchase only in slave holding communities. It is believed that
members of this association were among the pro-slavery men who attempted to
intimidate and drive the Free-State settlers from
Lawrence, which proved
unsuccessful. The work of the association became so intolerant that these
actions proved its undoing, for the citizens of Weston, Missouri called a public
meeting at which resolutions were adopted in which they declared that the
residents were competent to decide who should be expelled from the community and
that mob law could be tolerated no longer. In the resolutions the citizens
disclaimed the action of the association. Thus ended the power and history of
the Self-Defensive Association.
of Kansas, updated March, 2017.
the Article: The majority of this historic text was published in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History,
Volume I; edited by Frank W. Blackmar, A.M. Ph. D.; Standard
Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912. However, the text that appears on
these pages is not verbatim, as additions, updates, and editing have
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