I have just read in the N Y Herald of yesterday your letter expecting the colonization of Kansas by free men of the North. The scheme is feasible praiseworthy & grand. My purpose, however, in writing to you has reference to another field of operations – in Kansas. I shall settle in that Territory this spring, & would be glad of a general co-operation of all, throughout the United States, having the same object in view could be effected. The object to which I refer is, the free State of Kansas. But in proposing to open a correspondence on the subject it is proper that I should in the outset say - That I am a Southerner by birth & education & entertain Southern opinions on the subject of slavery, both as regards the rights of the Southern States to the undisturbed enjoyment of their Slave property & the want of constitutional power on the part of the General Government to prohibit slavery in the Territories. I was born in North Carolina, attained the age of manhood there, spent 13 years in Louisiana & the last 7 in Minnesota Territory. I may say, therefore, without arrogance that I have witnessed slavery in its mildest & most rigid forms, & freedom in its primal purity; and I claim to be without prejudice for or against either side. And I wish to suggest very briefly to you the course which seems to me most proper for the free State men of Kansas to pursue; and would be very thank-
ful for your opinion on the subject.
The Kansas law providing for a state government is, upon its face, a fair law, & the free State men have no right to assume that there will be foul play. “Sufficient for the evil is the day thereof”. I think the free state men can carry the day in electing delegates to the convention, & framing the constitution. They certainly will in organizing the Government, as they are continually increasing in relative strength. They will have a chance, too, when the constitution is submited to the people, if submited, & if not, it will be good cause to oppose the States admission by Congress;
But it will occur to you that every thing will be lost if a proslavery constitution is formed & the State admitted under it. I think not, & view the matter thus: Whether the free state men take part or not in the formation of the constitution, the law under which the convention will assemble being a fair one, a democratic congress & President will admit the State (unless, possibly, it may be rejected because the constitution is not submited to the people for ratification) and the free state men will gain nothing by not taking part in the proceedings, when they may gain all they want by taking part. But the adoption of a slavery constitution & the admission of the State under it, will be but a temporary loss of the question involved, while it will put it in a situation to be fairly tried, & settled permanently – by the State. The outside pressure will cease, the country will be quieted & then the bonafide citizens can go quietly to work & abolish slavery in the State.
I think therefore the free State men should go into the approaching election, yield to the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, concede (for the occasion at least) the exposition of the constitution which it contains, & then take the strong point, that the people have the power to prohibit slavery in their state, and press the great argument why they should do so, that it will make the State richer & more prosperous, than it would be with slaves. The difference in the price of property will be as 3 or 4 to one, at least. This argument cannot fail to impress itself upon a people that have left their hearth stones & the graves of their fathers to better their condition in a new country.
I am sick & will say no more now. I shall be here two weeks longer & if you get this in time I would be very thankful to receive a line from you here before I leave, and after I get to Kansas, I would be gratified to have the honor of exchanging a letter with you occasionally as long as it may be agreeable to you.
Very respectfully I have the honor to be your obt servant.
Hon Eli Thayer
March 31. late in the day –
Not having sent the accompanying letter off this morning I add this.
P S –
You may think it strange why I leave Minn’ a free state certain to go to one in doubt. The reason is this – I can do no good there because it is certain to be a free state and I am proud to say that she will be not only a free state but a good Republican State – the first that has come into the Union during my day without the democratic halter around its neck. It is my experience in Minnesota that I think will serve me in Kansas. I have seen property rise a hundred fold in seven years, when in a slave state, I also know from experience, it would not have risen one tenth as much. I shall purchase some property in Kansas, and my brothers & sisters & nephews & nieces numbering some 30 or 40 will also settle there & buy property & you may well imagine the deep interest we shall feel in making it a free state. The true & substantial interest of a state is its legitimate aim & end, & that true & substantial interest is to be obtained (in Kansas at least) by making it a free state. This argument is so plain, so obviously just & proper, & so deeply affects the interests of all, that I cannot escape the conviction that hundreds from the slave states will vote for a free State.