[Sidenote] Cass to Stanton, December 2,
1857. Senate Ex. Doc.
No. 8, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., pp. 112-13.
[Sidenote] Cass to Stanton, December 8, 1857. Ibid., p. 113.
[Sidenote] Cass to Denver, December 11th,
1857. Senate Ex. Doc. No.
8, 1st Sess. 35th Cong. Vol. I., p. 120.
The first weather-sign came from Washington. On the day after Acting Governor Stanton convened the October Legislature in special session, and before news of the event reached him, Secretary Cass transmitted to him advance copies of the President’s annual message, in which the Lecompton Constitution was indorsed in unqualified terms. A week later he was admonished to conform to the views of the President in his official conduct. At this point the State Department became informed of what had taken place, and the acting Governor had short shrift. On December 11 Cass wrote to J.W. Denver, Esq.: “You have already been informed that Mr. Stanton has been removed from the office of Secretary of the Territory of Kansas and that you have been appointed in his place.” Cass further explained that the President “was surprised to learn that the secretary and acting Governor had, on the 1st of December, issued his proclamation for a special session of the Territorial Legislature on the 7th instant, only a few weeks in advance of its regular time of meeting, and only fourteen days before the decision was to be made on the question submitted by the convention. This course of Mr. Stanton, the President seriously believes, has thrown a new element of discord among the excited people of Kansas, and is directly at war, therefore, with the peaceful policy of the Administration. For this reason he has felt it his duty to remove him.”
Walker, already in Washington on leave of absence, could no longer remain silent. He was as pointedly abandoned and disgraced by the Administration as was his subordinate. In a dignified letter justifying his own course, which, he reminded them, had never been criticized or disavowed, he resigned the governorship. “From the events occurring in Kansas as well as here,” he wrote, “it is evident that the question is passing from theories into practice; and that as governor of Kansas I should be compelled to carry out new instructions, differing on a vital question from those received at the date of my appointment. Such instructions I could not execute consistently with my views of the Federal Constitution, of the Kansas and Nebraska bill, or with my pledges to the people of Kansas.” “The idea entertained by some that I should see the Federal Constitution and the Kansas-Nebraska bill overthrown and disregarded, and that, playing the part of a mute in a pantomime of ruin, I should acquiesce by my silence in such a result, especially where such acquiescence involved, as an immediate consequence, a disastrous and sanguinary civil war, seems to me most preposterous."