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Andrew Horatio Reeder

REEDER, Andrew Horatio, governor of Kansas, born in Easton, Pennsylvania, 6 August, 1807; died there, 5 July, 1864. He spent the greater part of his life in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he practised law, and was a Democratic politician, but declined office till 1854, when he was appointed the first governor of Kansas. Governor Reeder had come to the territory a firm Democrat, but the conduct of the "border ruffians" shook his partisanship. He prescribed distinct and rigid rules for the conduct of the next legislature, which, it was then believed, would determine whether Kansas would become a free or a slave state. But all his precautions came to naught. On 30 March, 1855, 5,000 Missourians took possession of nearly every election district in the territory. Of the total number of votes cast 1,410 were found to be legal and 4,908 illegal, 5,427 were given to the pro-slavery and 791 to the free-state candidates. But on 6 April, 1855, Governor Reeder issued certificates of election to all but one third of the claimants, and the returns in these cases he rejected on account of palpable defects in the papers. As a lawyer he recognized that he had the power to question the legality of the election of the several claimants only in those cases where there were protests lodged, or where there were palpable defects in the returns. Notices were sent throughout the territory that protests would be received and considered, and the time for filing protests was extended so that facilities might be given for a full hearing of both sides. In nearly two thirds of the returns there were no protests or official notice of frauds, and the papers were on their face regular. In the opinion of Governor Reeder, this precluded him from withholding certificates, and he accordingly issued them, notwithstanding his personal belief that the claimants had nearly all been fraudulently elected. His contention always was that any other course would have been revolutionary. This action endowed the notoriously illegal legislature with technical authority, and a few weeks later, when Governor Reeder went to Washington, D. C., to invoke the help of the administration, the attorney-general refused to prosecute, as Reeder's own certificate pronounced the elections true. One of the first official acts of this legislature was to draw up a memorial to the president requesting Governor Reeder's removal, but before its bearer reached Washington the governor was dismissed by President Pierce. He then became a resident of Lawrence, Kansas, where the free-state movement began. Its citizens held a convention at Big Springs, a few miles west of that town, on 5 September, 1855. Governor Reeder wrote the resolutions, addressed the convention, and received their nomination, by acclamation, for the post of territorial delegate to congress. These resolutions declared that " we will endure no longer the tyrannical enactments of the bogus legislature, will resist them to a bloody issue," and recommended the "formation of volunteer companies and the procurement of arms." On 9 October, at a separate election, Mr. Reeder was again chosen delegate to congress. Under the newly framed territorial constitution, which was known as the Topeka constitution, a legislature formed of the free-state party, 15 July, 1856, elected him, with James H. Lane, to the United States senate, which choice congress refused to recognize, and neither senator took his seat. At the beginning of the civil war he and General Nathaniel Lyon were the first brigadier-generals that were appointed by President Lincoln. But Mr. Reeder declined, on the plea that he was too far advanced in life to accept high office in a. new profession. He returned to Easton, Pennsylvania, where he resided until his death. See " Life of Abraham Lincoln," by John G. Nicolas and John Hay.

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