Russell, Majors, and Waddell’s Support of Slavery

From the very beginning of the vicious, bloody struggle to determine the status of Kansas as a free or slave state, Russell, Majors & Waddell, being slave owners in Missouri, threw their weight as the most influential capitalists in the territory on the side of slavery. Majors and Waddell do not seem to have actively participated in the battle, but Russell did. When David R. Atchison of Platte City, Mo., former United States senator, standard bearer, and chief rabble rouser of the Proslavery element on both sides of the border, formed an association to make Kansas a slave state Russell became treasurer of it.”

He also became a member of the “Law and Order Party” when it was organized in 1856. He and five other members of the organization were appointed to prepare a fervent appeal to the South for Proslavery immigrants and money. On July 2 of that year it was announced the “Majors, Russell & Company will receive money for proslavery immigrants to Kansas.” In Columbia, Mo., on July 28, in a meeting called to raise money to promote the interests of slavery in Kansas, Russell made a speech. A correspondent for the New York Tribune wrote that the Russell, Majors & Waddell warehouse in Leavenworth was used as a depot for selling rifles, stores, and agricultural implements which had been seized from Free-State immigrants.

The fact that Russell was appointed postmaster at Lexington in 1841 would appear to indicate he was a Whig in politics. Waddell probably was also. When that party lost power and disintegrated, Russell, like many other men in western Missouri and the nation, formed ties with the Democrats. The town of Leavenworth, laid out by a town company organized in Democratic, violently pro- Southern Platte county, was headquarters for the proslavery faction which was dedicated to making Kansas a slave state. When Russell, Majors & Waddell established its business there in 1855 Russell not only identified himself with that faction, but as previously shown, became something of a leader in it. When he went to Washington about that time to attend to the business of the freight-ing firm he cultivated the Southern Democratic members of the administration from the president on down.