Benjamin F. Stringfellow
(September 3, 1816-April 26, 1891)
Benjamin F. Stringfellow was a Missouri politician who became a leader of pro-slavery supporters during Bleeding Kansas. Born in Virginia, Stringfellow would emigrate west to Kentucky before continuing further west into Missouri. In 1853, he would settle with his brother, John, in Weston, Missouri. On June 15, 1854, Stringfellow would help organize the anti-abolitionist, Platte County Self-Defensive Association. One of its resolutions read:
“That we, the members of the Platte County Self Defensive Association, do solemnly pledge ourselves to go at the call of our brethren, who are across the river in Kansas, and drive out from their midst the abolition traitors.”
Prior to the Territorial Elections in 1855, Stringfellow would publish “Stringfellow's Exposition,” in which he argued for the legality of Missourians crossing the border to vote in the elections.
On March 26. 1855, Stringfellow made the following speech in St. Joseph, Missouri (as quoted in The New York Tribune):
“I tell you to mark every scoundrel that is in the least tainted with free-soilism or abolitionism and exterminate him. Neither give nor take quarter from the damned rascals. I propose to mark them in this house, and on the present occasion, so you may crush them out. To those who have qualms of conscience as to violating laws, state or national, the crisis has arrived when such impositions must be disregarded, as your rights and property are in danger, and I advise one and all to enter every election district in Kansas, in defiance of Reeder and his vial myrmidons, and vote at the point of the bowie-knife and the revolver. Neither give or take quarter, as our cause demands it. It is enough that the slaveholding interest wills it, from which there is no appeal. What right has Governor Reeder to rule Missourians in Kansas? His proclamation and prescribed oath must be prohibited. It is to your interest to do so. Mind that slavery is established where it is not prohibited.”
On July 2, 1855, Benjamin Stringfellow was reported to have attacked then Territorial Governor Andrew Reeder. According to the free-state newspaper, Lawrence Herald of Freedom, Stringfellow confronted Reeder about statements Reeder had made about Stringfellow and then...
“Stringfellow sprang to his feet, seized his chair, and felled the Governnor to the floor, kicking him when down. He also attempted to draw a revolver, but was prevented from using it by District Attorney Isaaks, and Mr. Halderman, the Governor's private secretary.”
The pro-slavery newspaper, St. Louis Missouri Republican reported that Stringfellow said the following to Governor Reeder:
“I understand, sir, that you have publicly spoken and written of me in the East as a frontier ruffian, and I have called to ascertain whether you have done so...Then, sir, you uttered a falsehood, and I demand of you the satisfaction of a gentleman. I very much question your right to that privilege, for I do not believe you to be a gentleman; but nevertheless give you the opportunity to vindicate your title to that character, by allowing you to select such friends as you may please, and I will do the same, and we will step out here and settle the matter as gentlemen do...Then I will have to treat you as I would any other offensive animal.”