This blog has thus far been devoted to Daniel Anthony’s experience as a military man and as a journalist. The next few posts will be devoted to covering another of his accomplishments – his first term as Mayor of Leavenworth. When Anthony was elected in April, 1863, less than a year had passed since the events of the summer of ’62 that resulted in Brigade Order 26 and his resignation from the Army. Anthony has gained fame and notoriety for his wartime service and his unwavering (some would say radical) support for the Union cause, a cause now more closely identified with the eradication of slavery since the delivery of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1st, 1863). One could imagine Anthony feeling a mixture of vindication, and disappointment. Vindication that he had been on the right side of history with Brigade Order 26, and disappointment that he had not had the full force of Government policy to wield against slaveholding southerners. Bear in mind that the Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery only in those States that were in rebellion. Slaveholding states, such as Kentucky, that remained nominally loyal to the Union were not included.
In April of 1863 Daniel Anthony became a wartime mayor of a frontier town in one of the most ideologically and militarily divided regions of the country. On April 11, The Smokey Hill and Republican Union, of Junction City, Kansas, declared the margin of 744 votes to be “the largest ever given” and Anthony’s election to be “in accordance with our hopes and expectations.” The Smokey Hill joined other papers in declaring that under Anthony’s leadership, Leavenworth would keep a stiff upper lip in the fight against the south, and that he would sort out the chaotic frontier town. The Leavenworth Conservative, a paper Anthony had once been publisher of, claimed he would make it “the most orderly city in the west”, and the Big Blue Union hoped “Leavenworth will be a hot [in the negative sense] place for copperheads and blacklegs while under his rule.” The term “Copperhead” was slang for a Northern Democrat who favored peace with the South and an end to the war, thus allowing the dissolution of the Union.
To those familiar with his past, Anthony’s election must have been worrying. He favored a very militant flavor of abolitionism and Unionism. The Oskaloosa Independent, a weekly newspaper published in Oskaloosa, Kansas, would follow Anthony very closely throughout his Mayoral career. Following the election, it ran a long article that reads, in part, “Colonel Anthony has a large number of personal friends and many bitter enemies. His enemies generally accuse him of being rash and headstrong; and some of his friends are fearful that he is not the man for the place…he is charged with favoring a certain class of lawlessness and of shielding a particular set of thieves.” (Oskaloosa Independent, April 11, 1863) The article ends on a hopeful note, declaring that Anthony can set an example for the entire state to follow by being impartial and cleaning up the down. In doing so, he could also silence his critics. The Independent probably should have known that silencing his critics was not high on Anthony’s to-do list.
(Newspaper articles courtesy of Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/)