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George A. Crawford Letter

Call Number: RH VLT MS P17


Letter from George A. Crawford, Fort Scott, Kansas, to James W. Denver, Governor of Kansas Territory, April 22, 1858 concerning a raid by Jim Denton's gang of Jayhawkers on pro-slave and national free-state Democrats in Fort Scott, Kansas.


  • Creation: April 22, 1858


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of George A. Crawford

George Addison Crawford was an American politician, lawyer and journalist. He was born in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, on July 27, 1827 and educated at Clinton Academy, where his father was president, and the Lock Haven Academy. Crawford graduated from Jefferson College (now Washington and Jefferson College) in 1847. After graduation, he taught school in Kentucky and was partner in a private school at Clinton, Mississippi.

In 1848, Crawford returned to Pennsylvania to study law. In 1850, he became editor and proprietor of the Clinton Democrat. In the early 1850s, Crawford became active in politics against the Know-Nothings political party, known particularly for their nativist and anti-immigrant stance. He served as a delegate to the Pennsylvania democratic state convention in 1855.

In the spring of 1857, Crawford came to Kansas. Accompanied by Dr. Norman Eddy, United States Commissioner for the Sale of Indian Lands, and a group of men, he went to Lawrence, Kansas. They purchased 520 acres of land and organized the Fort Scott Town company. Crawford served as this company's president for 20 years. During the period of Bleeding Kansas, Crawford opposed the violence and agitation created by both border factions. However, he maintained his free-state views. These views resulted in several assassination attempts against his life.

During the Civil War, Crawford assisted in organizing the 2nd Kansas regiment and equipped many of its members. When the border was threatened, he organized a committee of safety and was active in recruiting several militia companies. In 1861, Crawford was elected governor of Kansas on the Democratic ticket. However, this election was declared illegal. He was again nominated for governor by the Democratic party in 1864, but lost to the Republican candidate, Samuel J. Crawford. Under Governor S. Crawford, George Crawford served for two years as commissioner of immigration. He inaugurated a program of exhibiting Kansas products in other states. Crawford was also an organizer of the Kansas Historical Society and served as its secretary for two years.

In 1868, Crawford lost another bid for governor. In Fort Scott, he established the Daily Monitor newspaper, a free reading room, and museum. In 1871, Crawford was appointed a regent of the state university and elected to the state agricultural society's executive committee. Later that year, he was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as commissioner to the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia.

When the Ute reservation was opened to settlement, Crawford purchased land for the future site of Grand Junction, Colorado. George Addison Crawford died in Grand Junction, on January 26, 1891.


1 folder ; 25 x 38 cm.

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection contains a letter from George A. Crawford, Fort Scott, Kansas, to James W. Denver, Governor of Kansas Territory, April 22, 1858. The letter describes a raid by Jim Denton's gang of 20 men from Osage, Kansas, affiliated with Montgomery's Jayhawkers. This group robbed pro-slavery and national free-state Democrats near the Marmiton River in Fort Scott. Captain Anderson, the marshall, and 20 men chased the Jayhawkers into a forested area near a bluff. From this area, the Jayhawkers fired on the group, killing one man, wounding Captain Anderson, and killing several horses. After reinforcements arrived, they attacked the Jayhawkers position, only to find that the Jayhawkers had already escaped. Crawford concludes the letter by asking Governor Denver, "What are we to do?" He describes the area's settlers as generally well disposed, but afraid of this organized band of Jayhawkers.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, William Reese Company, 2012.

Guide to the George A. Crawford Collection
George A. Crawford Letter
Finding aid prepared by brch, 2013. Finding aid encoded by brch, 2013. Finding aid revised by mhr, 2015.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
George A. Crawford letter, RH Vlt MS P17, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States