The removal of Governor Shannon a few weeks after Colonel Sumner once more made Secretary Woodson, always a willing instrument of the conspiracy, acting Governor. It was under this individual’s promptings and proclamation, Shannon being absent from the Territory, that Colonel Sumner, before the arrival of the orders superseding him, forcibly dispersed the free-State Legislature on the 4th of July, as narrated. For this act the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, was not slow to send the colonel an implied censure, perhaps to justify his removal from command; but not a word of reproof went from President or Secretary of State to the acting Governor.
It has already been stated that for a considerable length of time after the organization of Kansas Territory the Missouri River was its principal highway of approach from the States. To anti-slavery men who were unwilling to conceal their sentiments, this had from the very first been a route of difficulty and danger. Now that political strife culminated in civil war, the Missourians established a complete practical blockade of the river against the Northern men and Northern goods. Recently, however, the Northern emigration to Kansas had gradually found a new route through Iowa and Nebraska.
It was about this time that great consternation was created in pro-slavery circles by the report that Lane had arrived at the Iowa border with a “Northern army,” exaggerated into fabulous numbers, intent upon fighting his way to Kansas. Parties headed by Lane and others and aggregating some hundreds had in fact so arrived, and were more or less provided with arms, though they had no open military organization. While spies and patrols were on the lookout for marching companies and regiments, they, concealing their arms, quietly slipped down in detached parties to Lawrence. Thus reenforced and inspirited, the free-State men took the aggressive, and by several bold movements broke up a number of pro-slavery camps and gatherings. Greatly exaggerated reports of these affairs were promptly sent to the neighboring Missouri counties, and the Border Ruffians rose for a third invasion of Kansas.