It was then customary, when war intelligence arrived in the course of any political gathering, and sometimes of religious gatherings, to suspend all other proceedings until it had been announced and the audience had time enough to manifest its feeling on the subject.
Lane was in the midst of an eloquent passage when he was interrupted by the arrival of the news referred to. He stepped back, and the news-bearer, taking his place, proceeded to give a graphic description of Ewing’s performance, concluding with a glowing eulogy on that personage, and which was received with tremendous cheering. Understanding Lane’s feelings towards Ewing, I watched his face while these events were passing. It plainly showed his vexation. It was almost livid with suppressed emotion. But the time for him to resume his address had come. What would he do was the question I asked myself. He answered it very promptly. Jauntily stepping forward with his countenance fairly wreathed in smiles, he exclaimed, “Ladies and gentlemen, that is glo-o-orious news for us, but it ’s ter-r-r-ible for the other fellows.”
Lane’s enemies were confident they had him beaten as a candidate for the Senate. He had done certain things that rendered him unpopular with his constituents. So certain were they that they did not think it necessary to make an effort, and, in consequence, remained inactive. Not so with Lane. He quietly waited until a few days before the choosing of the Legislature that was to decide on his case, and then he entered on a lightning canvass. Arranging for relays of fast horses—it was before the days of railroads in Kansas—he began a tour that would bring him practically face to face with every voter in the State. He traveled and spoke both by day and by night. Sometimes he addressed as many as a dozen audiences in twenty-four hours. The excitement attending his progress was great. Men came many miles to hear him, sometimes bringing their families with them. He succeeded in completely revolutionizing public opinion. It was too late for his adversaries to attempt a counter-movement, and the result was that Lane was re-elected by an almost unanimous vote.
There was no doubt about Lane’s attitude on the slavery question. He was not only a radical Abolitionist, but the acknowledged leader of the Free-State men of Kansas. He recognized no right of property in man, as many Missouri slaveholders learned to their sorrow. I was present when he congratulated a Kansas regiment that had just returned from a raid into Missouri, bringing many black people with it. “Fellow soldiers,” he shouted, “you entered Missouri a white body, but you have returned surrounded by a great black cloud. It is the work of the Lord.”