Biography of James H. Lane, Gen.

Gen. James H. Lane was probably the most romantic figure in Kansas during the entire period of his tornado-like career as a politician and a soldier. Whether on the battlefield or as a member of the diguified Senate of the United States, he was vigorous, open and somewhat dramatic, and a national subject for hero-worship. He was born June 22, 1814, at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, his father having represented that state both as speaker of its House of Representatives and in the halls of Congress. When the Mexican war broke out, James H. Lane was engaged in business in his native town, but abandoned it to organize a military company, of which he was elected captain. Later he was commissioned colonel of the Third Indiana Regiment. At the close of the war he began to take an active interest in politics, and in 1848 was elected lientenant governor. Before the close of the term he was elected (in 1852) to represent the Fourth Indiana District in Congress, and the same year was a presldential clector at large on the democratie ticket. While in Congress he voted for the Kansas-Nebraska bill and the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. In April, 1855, he came to Kansas and located on a claim near lawrence. He came to the territory a strong democrat, but, like many others, he became a free soil man when he saw that his party had taken an uncompromising attitude on slavery as it affected Kansas. In June, 1855, Lane assisted in organizing the “National Democraty,” one of the cardinal principles of which was that the citizens of other states should “let Kansas alone.” He was a member of the first free state convention at Lawrence on August 14-15, 1855, and was chosen president of the Free State Territorial Committee. After the Topeka convention was held and the constitution was ratified by the free state men, Lane was elected United States Senator under the new government, but of course, was not admitted to a seat in the Senate. In the years that followed he was recognized as the leader of the radical, “fighting,” free state advocates. When Kansas was admitted, in 1861, Lane was again chosen to the United States Senate, and this time was successful in obtaining his seat. At the commencement of the Civil war he was instrumental in raising a company known as the “Froutier Guard,” which was the first military organization to reach Washington. He also organized a brigade and conunanded it for some time before receiving a commission as brigadier general. While in command of this brigade he recruited the Third and Fourth Kansas regiments. When he was commissioned brigadier general Governor Robinson appointed Frederick P. Stanton to the Senate, but Lane declined the commission in order to retain his seat.

In 1862 General Lane received a commission as a recruiting officer and aided materially in organizing the Eleventh. Twelfth and Thirteenth Kansas regiments. In 1865 he was re-elected to the United States Senate for a full term of six years. While serving this term he indorsed President Johnson’s opposition to the Freedman’s Bureau and the Civil Rights Bill, which rendered him unpopular in certain circles, and it was hinted that he was involved in serious Indian frauds. These accusations preyed upon his mind until it is thought he became deranged. A well-authenticated account of his suicide is thus given: “On Sunday, July 1, 1866, he rode out in a carriage with his brother-in-law, Captain McCall, from the government reservation at Fort Leavenworth. When McCall got out of the carriage to open the gate, Lane also sprang from the vehiele, ealied out ‘Good-bye, Mae!’ placed the muzzle of a pistol in his mouth and sent a bullet through his brain. He lingcred until the 11th, when he died. He was buried at Lawrence. His wife, a granddaughter of Gen. Arthur St. Clair, who passed away in 1883. was laid beside him. Their son. also James H. Lane, became an officer in the United States army.”


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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