Friday, May 21, 2010

A Pro-Slavery Sheriff

The Sacking of Lawrence, Kansas on May 21st 1856 was led by Sheriff Samuel J Jones.

Samuel J Jones was born about 1820 in Virginia, he moved his family west in the fall of 1854. First going to Westport, Missouri [now Kansas City Missouri] which was on the border of the newly open Kansas Territory. Shortly after he settled in the area he was appointed Postmaster. Jones led a group of pro-slavery men during the first election of the Kansas’ Territorial Legislature, breaking up a ballot box at Bloomington, Kansas. He was appointed the first Sheriff of Douglas County August 27th 1855 by then acting Governor Daniel Woodson. Jones used his new job to quash the rights of Free-Stater’s in his jurisdiction.

The “Herald of Freedom” a Free-State newspaper published by George W Brown in Lawrence Kansas was a source of hatred for pro-slavery supporters. On May 21st 1856 Jones lead a party of pro-slavery men; acting as his posse, to Lawrence Kansas to destroy the office of the “Herald of Freedom” and another Free-State newspaper the “Kansas Free State”. The raid that followed known as the “Sacking of Lawrence”, destroyed the newspaper offices, burned down the Free State Hotel, and looted other Lawrence businesses.

In 1857 Jones resigned as sheriff over issues of how to incarcerate a Free-State prisoner. He moved to New Mexico where he accepted the job of Collector of Customs at Paso del Norte. He would later buy a ranch near Mesilla, where he died in 1879-80.

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