Cincinnati was an Ohio city of note in the 1850s and it thus produced a fine city directory. In it, following the attractive drawings of splendid-looking Cincinnati buildings, were pages and pages of Cincinnati residents’ names. A lot of them. So, so many more residents than lived in Oxford, Johnson County, Kansas Territory, 1857.
It only made sense, then, for proslavery politicos to use that directory to produce names for 1857 Kansas Territory election voters who did not exist in Oxford.
On October 4 and 5, 1857, a little more than half way through the Lecompton Constitution slog that aimed to make Kansas a slave state, Kansas Territory conducted a most important election. Voters were to elect a new territorial legislature, various officers and, a non-voting delegate to Congress.
For this election, freestaters decided they would vote and for the first time in Kansas Territory’s history, free-state slavery opponents swept into office. It was a nation-changing moment.
Of course, some obviously fraudulent proslavery returns had to be checked out, and they were. Proslavers by this time had moved on from their infamous and violent voter scams in Kansas Territory, those from 1855. No need to repeat the error of importing those armed, swaggering Missourians to pile in at polling places and turn elections.
No, this time a milder, bookish fraud was called for.
Little Oxford, Johnson County, Kansas Territory, was just across the state line from Missouri. Oxford had about 40 eligible voters (Remember, only white men could vote at the time.), most of them in favor of human bondage.
Yet, remarkably, the election returns for that election in October 1857 at Oxford was more than 1,600 votes. What a gigantic proslavery win margin! Few were as surprised at the massive voter turnout as the residents of Oxford, it has been said.
So, these Oxford returns included handwritten voter names and everything. Where could all these hundreds of voters come from?
The city directory of Cincinnati, that’s where. Some proslavery precinct captain or other had copied names – in alphabetic order — from the Williams’ Cincinnati Directory, City Guide and Business Mirror; Or Cincinnati in 1855 Illustrated and written them on the Kansas election returns.
An investigation followed, and the returns were tossed out, along with a few others around Kansas Territory. The fraudulent vote removals were enough to give freestaters their big victory.
 I will explain all this in an upcoming post and include sources and documentation and quotes from scholarly authors. It’s just that I rarely coordinate a post to an actual current event, so here we are.