“Mayor Anthony has at last done a stupid thing”
So read the headline and opening sentence of a brief, but sensational story in the Oskaloosa Independent on May 23, 1863. (left) The source of their anger on this spring Saturday was the May 12th arrest of Leavenworth Dailey Times editor D.H. Bailey by Mayor Anthony. On that day, Anthony sent a police officer to Bailey’s home. The editor was requested to appear at the Mayor’s office, where he first learned of the case Anthony had sprung against him. The charge was that Bailey, as editor, was responsible for “disturbing the peace” when his newspaper published a story criticizing General Joseph Hooker, commander of the Army of the Potomac, for his performance during the Battle of Chancellorsville. (Leavenworth Daily Times, September 26, 1863) It was later reported in the Daily Times that Anthony wished to make an example of Bailey, and that he desired to eliminate all criticism of Union army officers. For those who were apprehensive about his election as Mayor, this must have been their worst fears realized. For one, Hooker was being lambasted across the country for his performance as commander of the Union’s main army. Chancellorsville, fought from April
30 – May 6, was an unmitigated disaster for the Union. Hooker, an otherwise capable general, was out-fought, out-thought and out-maneuvered by Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and he would be replaced as commander by George Meade just 2 months later.
According to the Independent, Bailey was also a Quaker, and thus, probably, a pacifist. Quakers were put in an awkward position both before and during the Civil War; “The proper means and ends of emancipation nagged at the conscience” of American Quakers “before – as well as during – the Civil War.” (Ryan, “Dilemma of Quaker Pacifism”, 5) Anthony’s father was a Quaker, a system of belief he did not enforce upon his son. However, in this instance, one might have expected a little more tolerance from the younger Anthony, who likely met William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass as a young man.
Whatever the role of religion and pacifism, Anthony’s actions were universally denounced as infringing on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The Emporia News declared “the conduct of the Mayor has been very tyrannical.” Anthony assessed Bailey a fine of $20. When he refused to pay Bailey was jailed for a brief time – just a few hours – before being released on a writ of habeas corpus.
Anthony was not the first individual in a position of Governance during the Civil War to infringe upon free speech or freedom of the press, nor would he be the last. Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus on more than one occasion, and New York Herald war correspondent Thomas W. Knox was charged with espionage for publishing information from the Vicksburg campaign, and for being acutely critical of General William Tecumseh Sherman. The Civil War placed new and unique burdens on all levels of government. Faced with these challenges in the bitterly divided Kansas-Missouri area, Anthony chose to govern the same way he did everything else in his life – act first and ask questions later. This was also his first serious transgression as mayor, something his critics clearly felt was inevitable. D.H. Bailey would ultimately countersue Anthony for unlawfully imprisoning him, and this issue would continue to dog him into the summer and fall, even has he faced other challenges as a wartime Mayor.
Jordan, Ryan. “The Dilemma of Quaker Pacifism in a Slaveholding Republic, 1833-1865.” Civil War History 53, no. 1 (2007).
Image of General Joseph Hooker courtesy of House Divided Project
Newspaper articles courtesy Chronicling America (www.chroniclingamerica.loc.gov) and Kansas Newspapers (www.kansasnewspapers.org)