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The late Senator Ingalls wrote many things which mankind will forever cherish and preserve. He enriched literature, and in so doing gave renown to his State. The history of Kansas is an inspiration, and her high ideals have made her immortal. The exalted purpose and glorious destiny which her pioneers fixed for her created in themselves lofty aspirations, and under their leadership she became a brilliant star in the national tiara and a power in the Republic. And for this proud position she owes as much to Senator Ingalls as to any of her devoted sons.
This volume is a monument of affection. While it is mainly of his own building, the wife of his manhood, the mother of his children, the trusted friend and adviser of his course and work, and the companion who walked with him in the journey of this life, binds with her love and her wifely devotion these polished blocks wrought by his genius. No one ever had a more enduring memorial.
In preparing this work for the press, I have had the kindly assistance of many of the friends of Senator Ingalls. The selections from his writings were chiefly made by Mrs. Ingalls. Many of his productions are known so well and loved so much that it was imperative they should go in. All his work was of such high order that it was a difficult matter to choose one production and pass over another.
WILLIAM ELSEY CONNELLEY. Washington, September 15, 1902.
The readers of this volume will find on every page excellent reasons for its publication. John James Ingalls was such a man as does not grow in every soil. He was Kansas incarnate. Whatever he said, whatever he wrote, whatever he did, Kansas was his theme, his motive, and his inspiration. He was of the Puritan breed, and the traditions of his New England ancestry were with him from his youth up; but when he first set foot on the western bank of the Missouri and beheld the land of his dreams, he became a devotee, a lover, a worshiper of Kansas. His highly-wrought imagination idealized the wooded slopes, the deep ravines, the tangled vines, and stretching to the illumitable west, the prairies solemn in their vastness and mysterious as the sea. As one reads the history of those early days, how clearly the truth comes to him that the actual is not half the picture. In the deadly conflict between freedom and slavery, men forgot the corn and wheat, and saw only the beauty that should come after the Right had won. The making of a State is a grim work, and those brave State-makers could not stop to listen to the carols of birds; but some of them kept the music in their hearts. John J. Ingalls was a born poet. Brilliant as was his career in the Senate, it yet is certain that literature was his true field.
When Kansas finished her fight with the aliens, her war against those who insulted her with shackles, she moved forward, joyous in her freedom. After the war, people came to settle there by thousands. And such a people have never before or since built up an American commonwealth. It has been fashionable among giddy and unthinking people to make jokes about Kansas,-jokes ranging in merit from zero to the bottomless depths below zero—but meanwhile Kansas has not paused in its march to the front. It cannot be denied that she has had her freaks and lier follies, but let us remember it is the stupid, and not the wise, who never err. The heart of Kansas has always been right. An educated, enlightened people, worshiping the lights of duty, conscience, and truth, may briefly go astray, but in the long run they will always be found “true to the kindred points of heaven and home."
I speak of these things only to vindicate her from the shallow and inconsiderate criticisms of those who do not know her history or appreciate her true position in the Union. She needs no defense. The twelfth census is just out, and it tells the story of Kansas in the eloquent figures which place her in the vanguard of the States.
The western bank of the Missouri at Atchison is lined with bluffs whose rugged sides stand out boldly toward the river and the opposite shore. On summer nights it needs no poet's eye to see that it is beautiful. The yellow, sluggish river changes to molten silver when the rising moon plays upon it with the witchery that makes pictures for poets. Once I sat upon the bluff that overlooks the river, when Senator Ingalls said: “This is my Euphrates and my Ganges, and I love to think that these turbid waters have rolled, as long as they, down to the all-embracing sea."
He was a lover of home; and no one who was permitted to share its sanctities can forget how sweet a place it was. His wife and his children were the lights of his life, and he was theirs. He did not give his heart to every new-fledged stranger, but to those who were his friends, and their adoption tried," he was open and unreserved. Looking back upon a friendship of thirty years, I can say but this: “I knew him well; I loved him well.”
What brought him fame? The answer undoubtedly is: his own genius. But there were certain collateral influences, and mayhap the dominant voice of “Opportunity" had something to do with it. The Kansas Magazine, that brilliant venture—the child of promise, and of early death—first gave him to me, but he had long been known to Kansas people as their most brilliant citizen.
I was new. Arriving in December, 1871, I first found a boarding-house, and then, studied Kansas. The Kansas Magazine began its brief career in January, 1872. Henry King was its editor. I have never known a finer literary judgment than his. He had in him the making of a Lowell, or a Matthew Arnold, but the St. Louis Globe-Democrat swallowed him up, and now he is editor-in-chief, with many honors and great emoluments.
I lived in a town untrammeled by railroads, but it was a Kansas town, and therefore bright, cultivated, and filled with educated people. The Kansas Magazine was a forlorn wager by certain enthusiasts, that Kansas could maintain a high-class literary monthly. They lost; but losing, they won. John J. Ingalls, the most brilliant of its contributors, became United States senator because he wrote "Catfish Aristocracy" and “Blue Grass."
His career was a stormy one; but above the stress of events there was always a consoling influence in wife, children, friends,