The Bogus Legislature

The following summary of The Bogius Legislature is from Frank W. Blackmar's Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. published in 1912.


The so-called "Bogus" legislature of Kansas was the first session, which convened in Pawnee in 1855. Andrew H. Reeder the first territorial governor of Kansas, was commissioned in June, 1854, but did not arrive in the territory until Oct. 7. On April 16, 1855, he issued a proclamation convening the legislature at Pawnee on July 2, 1855, and the legislature assembled there according to call. The pro-slavery members ousted all of the free-state men, and then proceeded to the next business which was that of adjourning to Shawnee Mission. Pawnee was about 100 miles from the Missouri line, and as the legislators intended to enact a code of laws for the territory that would meet with great disfavor among Kansans, they thought they would be safer nearer home.

It is said that "a due supply of spirits were brought in bottles and jugs each morning from Westport which was 4 miles distant, in order to keep the legislature in spirits during the long summer days." This legislature did an amazing amount of work. The laws passed by it fill a large volume and were chiefly of local character. Most of the laws were transcripts of the Missouri code. One enactment provided that every officer in the territory, executive and judicial, was to be appointed by the legislature, or by some officer appointed by it. It also enacted the notorious "Black Laws" (q. v.). One member of the legislature is quoted as saying, "Kansas is sacred to slavery." This legislature created a joint-stock company, chartered prospective railroads giving them unheard-of privileges, and the charters and corporate trusts they bestowed upon themselves. They located the capital at Lecompton, and after legislating themselves into every office and financial prospect possible adjourned.

For more complete information see Kansas Bogus Legislature.

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