We did not formally accept the challenge you gave to meet your speakers on Saturday evening last, because the first intimation we had of such an invitation was on Saturday morning, giving us no time to secure the attendance of speakers. You are mistaken, however, in asserting that at the meeting “a free invitation was given to Republicans to come forward and speak.” An insulting defiance was thrown out by one of the speakers, “to any Black Republican in the audience to come forward and answer the arguments adduced,” but as the Republicans present did not consider themselves as belonging to the class alluded to, and as moreover they could not see that any arguments had been advanced which demanded an answer, they did not feel the necessity of responding.
The Republican party are responsible for this Constitution, and they are proud of it. Although they believe that it needs no recommendation from them; that the wisdom and equity of
its provisions, will commend themselves to any one who reads it for himself; still they are willing to go before the people with the members of the Democratic party, and discuss with them its regulations and provisions, on any fair terms. It is the province of the challenged party, however, to stipulate the terms of meeting, but this right you, in your invitation, have arrogated to the Democratic party as the challenger. You claim concessions from the Republicans, too, that are unheard of. You ask of us that at the meetings you propose we shall give you both the opening and closing speeches; As we know from the Democratic meetings lately held in this county, the facility with which your speakers misrepresent every feature of the Constitution, we will not agree to meet you with such uneven odds in your favor.
The magnanimity which prompted the offer of a discussion in which you claimed for your speakers the odds of two to one, and the faith they thus manifest in their ability to meet the Republicans and overthrow them, I can fully appreciate. The logic of the conclusion that in case we do not accept this generous offer “in all its parts” the Democratic party will claim “that the Wyandot Constitution is an unfit fundamental law for a free white people,” we also acknowledge.
I do not propose to discuss the startling proposition that “a negro, male or female, of age or under; or convicts, black or white, are eligible to the office of Governor, Chief Judge, and other high offices of honor, trust or emolument,” nor would any Republican speaker, were we to meet with you on the stump. We assume as an unanswerable argument against such a contingency, that the majority of the voters of Kansas are Republi-
cans – were it otherwise, or did Maj. Clarke, and other Democratic officials yet reside in the Territory, we confess your argument might have some force.
If you will agree to a series of joint discussions, in which all speakers will have the same time allotted them, and shall open and close alternately, the Republicans of Atchison County stand ready to meet you. But if you wish to arrogate terms, for discussions in which Republicans are expected to take part, without consulting them, we will not agree to your proposition.
John A. Martin,
Chairman Rep. Central Com.