Appeal to Southerners in favor of establishing slaver in Kansas

Periodical Article

Background Notes

This article, published in De Bow’s Review in May of 1854 and written by the Lafayette Emigration Society, was a call to southerners to emigrate to the Kansas territory, particularly those who owned slaves or could vote. Just as northern groups, such as the New England Emigrant Aid Company, sought to send free-soil immigrants to the Kansas territory in order to establish numerical and moral superiority in the territories by importing, as it were, numerous people from Massachusetts and New England, their southern counterparts sought to bring in enough southerners, slaveholders, and slaves to firmly establish slavery in the territory.

De Bow’s Review was a periodical of “agricultural, commercial, and industrial progress and resources” established in New Orleans in 1846 by James D. B. De Bow (1820-1867). Its articles, largely written by De Bow himself, covered a range of topics including planting and agricultural reform, economics, and politics, all with a heavy emphasis on the South.  From 1853 to 1857 he moved the headquarters of the periodical to Washington, D.C., where he was serving as superintendent of the U.S. Census. During this period, his sectionalist arguments in the Review became more fervent and frequent. By the outbreak of the Civil War, De Bow’s Review was the most widely circulated Southern periodical.  

This particular article was published while the Kansas-Nebraska Act was still being debated in Congress, but was already anticipating the increasing tension that would result from the adoption of popular sovereignty. By bringing into Kansas as many southerners and slaveholders who could vote as possible, they hoped to have a solid southern population by the time of the fall elections.

Transcription of Primary Source


            To the People of the South: On the undersigned, managers of the “Lafayette Emigration Society,” has devolved the important duty of calling the attention of the people of the slaveholding States, to the absolute necessity of immediate action on their part, in relation to the settlement of Kansas Territory. The crisis is at hand. Prompt and decisive measures must be adopted, or farewell to southern rights and independence.

            The western counties of Missouri have, for the last two years, been heavily taxed, both in money and time, in fighting the battles of the South. Lafayette county alone has expended more than $100,000 in money, and as much, or more, in time. Up to this time, the border counties of Missouri have upheld and maintained the rights and interests of the South in this struggle, unassisted, and unsuccessfully. But the abolitionists, staking their all upon the Kansas issue, and hesitating at no means, fair or foul, are moving heaven and earth to render that beautiful Territory not only a “free State,” so called, but a den of negro thieves and “higher law” incendiaries.

            Missouri, we feel confident, has done her duty, and will still be found ready and willing to do all she can, fairly and honorably, for the maintainance [sic] of the integrity of the South. But the time has come when she can no longer stand up, single handed, the lone champion of the South, against the myrmidoms of the entire North. It requires no great foresight to perceive that if the “higher law” men succeed in this crusade, it will be but the commencement of a war upon the institutions of the South, which will continue until slavery shall cease to exist in any of the States, or the Union is dissolved.

            How, then, shall these impending evils be avoided? The answer is obvious. Settle the Territory with emigrants from the south. The population of the Territory at this time is about equal – as many pro-slavery settlers as abolitionists; but the fanatics have emissaries in all the free States – in almost every village – and by misrepresentation and falsehood are engaged in collecting money and enlisting men to tyranize [sic] over the south. Is it in the nature of southern men to submit without resistance, to look to the north for their laws and institutions? We do not believe it! If, then, the south is influenced by a spirit of self-respect and independence, let societies be formed to assist emigrants. Those who cannot emigrate can contribute money to assist those who can. We have such societies in Missouri, and we can induce more people to emigrate than we are able to support. If the whole south would adopt this system, we would succeed; Kansas would be a slave State, and the slavery agitation would cease. If we permit the north to make an abolition State of Kansas, the whole south must submit to be governed by the north. Will the south help us?

            The great struggle will come off at the next election, in October, 1856, and unless the south can at that time maintain her ground, all will be lost. We repeat it, the crisis has arrived. The time has come for action – bold, determined action; words will no longer do any good; we must have men in Kansas; and that too by tens of thousands. A few will not answer. If we should need ten thousand, and lack one of that number, all will count nothing. Let all then, who can come, do so at once. Those who cannot come, must give their money to help others to come. There are hundreds of thousands of broad acres of rich land, worth from $5 to $20 per acre, open to settlement and pre-emption, at $1 25 per acre. Let, then, the farmer come and bring his slaves with him. There are no one thousand slaves in Kansas, whose presence her strengthens our cause. Shall we allow these rich lands and this beautiful country to be overrun by our abolition enemies? We know of a surety that they have emissaries and spies in almost every town, village and city in the south, watching our movements, and tampering with our slaves. Let us, then, be vigilant and active in the cause; we must maintain our ground. The loss of Kansas to the south will be the death knell of our dear Union.

            Missouri has done nobly, thus far, in overcoming the thousands who have been sent out by Abolition Aid Societies; we cannot hold out much longer unless the whole South will come to the rescue. We need men; we need money; send us both, and that quickly. Do not delay; come as individuals, come in companies, come by thousands.

            Our hearts have been made glad by the late arrive of large companies from South Carolina and Alabama. They have responded promptly to our call for help. The noble Buford is already endeared to our hearts; we love him; we will fight for him, and die for him and his companions. Who will follow his noble example! We tell you now, and tell you frankly, that unless you come quickly, and come by thousands, we are gone. The elections once lost, we are lost forever. Then farewell to our southern cause, and farewell to our glorious Union. We repeat the cry, “come over and help us.”

                                                                                    W. H. Russell,            Martin Slaughter,

                                                                                    O. Anderson,             G. W. Baker,

                                                                                    Edward Winsor,          Nathan Corder,

                                                                                    William Shields.

Daniel A. Veitch, Secretary.

Extract from a Letter to the Kansas Association of South Carolina from Joseph P. Carr, dated at Platte city, Mo.

  1. Can you give us accurate information as to the relative strength among the bona fide settlers in Kansas of the two parties?

I cannot tell, with any precision, the strength of the two parties at this time. There has been no reliable test of the vote of either party since last spring. The returns of the elections of Whitfield and Reeder cannot be taken as any criterion of the true vote of the respective parties. There being no opposition to Whitfield, the vote cast at his election by our friends was very light; while at Reeder’s, there being no legal restraints, the vote was such as the abolitionists chose to make it.

From the most reliable information I can get, I certainly think there is a majority of pro-slavery men in the Territory; and, as they are not like the abolitionists, concentrated upon one or two points in an election for members of the legislature, they would, without aid from the “border ruffians,” be able to carry a decided majority of representatives. We have the assurance, however, that the abolitionists will again make the most strenuous efforts to send out emigrants; and as Missouri has already contributed so many settlers, it is all-important that the other southern States no come to our assistance.

  1. As to the possibility of a hostile collision immediately?

I think there is none – nor, indeed, do I believe it very likely there will be one at all. The knowledge that government troops will be used against them, will keep the abolitionists in check, and prevent them again breaking out in insurrection; and, unless Whitfield’s election be set aside, and a new election ordered, there cannot well arise any occasion for a collision – at least until next fall when the election for members of the legislature will be held.

 3.  The possibility of strengthening effectually the hands of the pro-slavery party by the next fall elections; and,

 4. What number of emigrants from the south will be necessary to secure in a political contest at the ballot-box, the majority to the pro-slavery party?

The election for members of the legislature will be held on the first Monday in October next, If the slaveholding States will send us two thousand emigrants, that is, two thousand voters, during the present year, our friends believe the condition of Kansas will be definitely settled. This is, however, a mere matter of conjecture, for, of course, we cannot tell how large the emigration from the north will be.

From the most reliable information, we are led to believe that we shall receive the number suggested and more. There will also be from Missouri and large emigration in addition to those already in the Territory.

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            5.  The parties who arrive by the 1st of June ought to make by their labor enough to pay for their subsistence. Employment for all kind of laborers can be obtained at high rates. Mere far hands will bring from fifteen to twenty dollars per month, with board furnished them, and mechanics of all kinds are in great demand. All can certainly procure employment until the 1st of December, and I am assured, in ordinary winters, can labor conveniently out doors almost the entire season.

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            In addition to the matters suggested by your inquiries, I would state that the territory lying between the Kansas and Missouri rivers is now occupied by a decidedly pro-slavery population. On the south side of the Kansas river, and especially along that river, the abolitionists have made their chief settlements. It has occurred to our friends that it would be better, as a matter of policy, and as being more southern – more agreeable to the southern emigrants – that a good portion of them would settle south of Kansas river. B this means we will secure the southern half of the Territory before it is filled by abolitionists; the northern half will be saved by Missourians. The representatives have already been apportioned to the different counties; and adding to our numbers north of the Kansas river will not increase our strength, for we have a majority there now; but if the southern men are distributed among the counties south of the river, their votes will tell.

            The emigrants would still come up the Missouri river, and land at Kansas City or Atchison, as they might determine on going to the eastern or western portion of the Territory. Atchison is nearer to Lecompton, the capital; and I think the better portion of the southern part of the Territory now open for settlement can be reached from that point most conveniently. These are, however, matters for future consideration.

            I would suggest that you should seek, as far as possible, to induce all who have a small number of slaves to come out. To such this is a peculiarly desirable country, and they need have no fear of slaves escaping. The actual presence of a good number of slaves would at once settle the question.

            If I can be useful to you in any way in carrying out the objects of your society, my services are at your command.

Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
Kansas Matters - Appeal to the South.
De Bow's Review
Vol 20, Issue 5
Probable Date: 
May 1
Lafayette Emigration Society
James D. B. De Bow
Place of Publication: 
Washington, D.C.
American Antiquarian Society