Now That's Interesting by Neal Danielson

Samuel Clarke Pomeroy and "Free Frank"

Who was Samuel C. Pomeroy, you ask?? Well he was a Kansas Senator and he arrived in Kansas in 1854, just after Kansas was designated a Territory, 150 years ago. Pomeroy was born in Southampton, Massachusetts January 3, 1816. He attended Amherst College 1836-38 and following a short period of time in New York City he returned to Southampton and held various local offices and was a member of the State house of representatives in 1852-53. When the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed Pomeroy became one of the organizers and financial agent of the New England Emigrant Aid Company (NEEAC). In July 1854 Charles H. Branscomb and Dr. Charles Robinson, of Massachusetts visited the Territory as agents of the NEEAC. After making a survey of the country they chose the site of Lawrence as the point where the Aid Company would make its first settlement.

The first colony of the NEEAC left Boston July 17, 1854 and arrived at Kansas City, July 28th, consisting of 29 men and arrived at their site August 1st which was on a hill where the University of Kansas now stands and was named Mount Oread. Fifteen of this party remained on the selected site, while the others secured claims some distance away. The second party sent out by the NEEAC left Worchester August 19, 1854 and consisted of 67 persons. In this party there were ten women and a dozen children. This party was led by Dr. Charles Robinson and Samuel C. Pomeroy (shown at left).

Pomeroy was very active in the Anti-Slavery movement and was a member of the Free-State Party. At one point Pomeroy was on his way to Boston to secure more aid when he was captured and held at Camp Wakarusa until the negotiations between the governor and pro-slavery were concluded. Eventually Pomeroy moved to Atchison, Kansas where he was elected mayor of Atchison from March of 1858 to May of 1859. He was a member of the Free-State Convention held in Lawrence in 1859. For more on Kansas Territorial History see the February 2004 and March 2004 issue of the Newsletter.

In 1860-61 the Kansas Territory was hit by an extreme drought and famine spread across the territory. Pomeroy served as president of the relief committee during this time frame. Pomeroy was a delegate to the Republican National Convention at Philadelphia in 1856 and at Chicago in 1860.

When Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861 Pomeroy was elected as a Republican to the United States senate and re-elected in 1867. He was candidate for a third term in 1873, but charges of bribery were suddenly presented before the Kansas legislature, and in consequence he failed to be re-elected. A committee chosen by the legislature reported the matter to the United States senate, which investigated the case, and a majority report found the charges not sustained. The matter then came before the courts of Kansas, and after some months' delay the district attorney entered a nolle prosequi, stating to the court that he had no evidence upon which he could secure conviction. Mr. Pomeroy then made Washington his place of residence. He was the author of numerous speeches and political pamphlets.

Shown below is a "Free-Frank" letter of S. C. Pomeroy, U. S. Senate postmarked Boston Nov 18th (year unknown). The letter was to a Mr. Nichols of New York, in reference to "Sale of Bonds", Now That's Interesting!! Politicians stating the expense associated with the bonds.

S. C. Pomeroy USS Cover-Free Frank

[Cover Courtesy Ralph Lott]

The term "frank", as used in a postal-historical sense, is a signature placed on a piece of mail indicating the right to send it free of charge. Those permitted by law to send their mail without payment of postage, because of their governmental status, placed their signature (in manuscript or in the form of a handstamp or printed facsimile) together with their title of office and the word "free" on their mail. These are known to collectors as "free franks" or just "franks", and the privilege is known (both to collectors and as presented in the Postal Laws & Regulations) as the "franking privilege".

References: American Stampless Cover Catalog, Vol. II D.G. Phillips Publishing Co., Miami, FL

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Posted July 18, 2004 RR