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[429] copied from the statutes of slave States, declared it to be a criminal offence to deny orally or in writing the legal existence of slavery in the territory, and exacted from citizens extraordinary oaths of support of the Fugitive Slave law. A. H. Reeder, a Pennsylvania Democrat, the first territorial governor, had weakly given certificates of election to a majority of the members of the body; but later, realizing what a monstrous usurpation it was, he refused to sanction it upon the technical ground that it had removed the seat of government without authority. President Pierce, who was in full sympathy with the pro-slavery party, removed him in August, and put in his place a pliant instrument, Wilson Shannon. The Free State settlers treated the legislature as a spurious body from the beginning. They skilfully avoided all recognition of its enactments, while abstaining from any forcible resistance to federal authority. After anxious conferences as to what was best to be done in their anomalous position of contending with a usurpation which had a certain legal sanction, they initiated proceedings for the formation of a State government, following substantially the methods which had been pursued in Michigan and California. In October they chose Reeder a delegate to Congress, and elected delegates to a constitutional convention; and the constitution framed by that body the same month, at Topeka, was approved by a popular vote in December. The next month (January, 1856) the first election was held for State officers and members of the legislature. The legislature met in March, elected senators, and applied to Congress for admission as a State. Only Free State men, though all legal voters were invited, took part in these proceedings, which were altogether provisional, and awaited the confirming action of Congress to give them vitality and force. As no executive act was attempted, they involved no resistance to legitimate authority.

Meantime, while these proceedings were in progress, the rage of the pro-slavery party growing more violent was specially directed against Lawrence, the centre of Free State activity. Late in November, 1855, armed Missourians, twelve hundred or more in number, gathered before the town, nominally in response to the summons of a pro-slavery sheriff calling for a posse to assist in executing a process,—really, however, for the purpose of destroying the town and wreaking vengeance on its people; but finding the place protected by forts and the inhabitants

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