Kansas folks got het up about "Wild Jim" Lane, a Free State leader.
His hair stood every which way; his mouth slashed across his face. When he spoke, he swore and worse. Laughter rippled his belly. His energy was amazing.
When the Topeka legislature elected "Wild Jim" to the U.S. Senate, he carried a Topeka Constitution to Washington, D.C. Before he could serve, Congress must accept that constitution. But it did not.
If he returned to Kansas, federal troops would imprison him for treason. So he toured. How he swayed an audience! Sometimes his voice wooed like a lullaby, sometimes stirred like a bugle.
In Chicago, his speech created pandemonium. Gamblers threw pistols on the stage. Staid businessmen tossed in their wallets. Even newsboys cast up pennies. "Wild Jim" collected thousands of dollars, and a thousand men joined his army.
"Wild Jim" and his army ferried over the Missouri River, then cut across Nebraska Territory. Near Kansas, they dared not be seen on regular roads, so Free Staters marked a trail through the Kansas sea of grass with tall poles and piles of stone. "The Jim Lane Trail," they called it.
On January 29, 1861, President Buchanan signed a free Kansas into the Union. At once, Kansas voters elected "Wild Jim" Lane, no longer wanted for treason, to the U.S. Senate.