On the evening of the day the Legislature met (January 12, 1857), the pro-slavery party held a large political convention, in which it was confessed that they were in a hopeless minority in the Territory, and the general conclusion was reached that it was no longer worth while to attempt to form a slave-State in Kansas. Many of its hitherto active leaders immediately and definitely abandoned the struggle. But the Missouri cabal, intrenched in the various territorial and county offices, held to their design, though their labors now assumed a somewhat different character. They denounced Governor Geary in their resolutions, and devised legislation to further their intrigues. By the middle of February, under their inspiration, a bill providing for a convention to frame a State constitution was perfected and enacted. The Governor immediately sent the Legislature his message, reminding them that the leading idea of the organic act was to leave the actual bona fide inhabitants of the Territory “perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way,” and vetoing the bill because “the Legislature has failed to make any provision to submit the constitution when framed to the consideration of the people for their ratification or rejection.” The Governor’s argument was wasted on the predetermined legislators. They promptly passed the act over his veto.
The cabal was in no mood to be thwarted, and under a show of outward toleration, if not respect, their deep hostility found such means of making itself felt that the Governor began to receive insult from street ruffians, and to become apprehensive for his personal safety. In such a contest he was single-handed against the whole pro-slavery town of Lecompton. The foundation of his authority was gradually sapped; and finding himself no longer sustained at Washington, where the private appeals and denunciations of the cabal were more influential than his official reports, he wrote his resignation on the day of Buchanan’s inauguration, and a week later left the Territory in secrecy as a fugitive. Thus, in less than three years, three successive Democratic executives had been resisted, disgraced, and overthrown by the political conspiracy which ruled the Territory; and Kansas had indeed become, in the phraseology of the day, “the graveyard of governors.”
The Kansas imbroglio was a political scandal of such large proportions, and so clearly threatened a dangerous schism in the Democratic party, that the new President, Buchanan, and his new Cabinet, proceeded to its treatment with the utmost caution. The subject was fraught with difficulties not of easy solution. The South, to retain her political supremacy, or even her equality, needed more slave-States to furnish additional votes in the United States Senate. To make a slave-State of Kansas, the Missouri Compromise had been repealed, and a bogus legislature elected and supported by the successive Missouri invasions and the guerrilla war