Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry


William Addison Phillips

Illinois & Kansas

"William Addison Phillips was born in Scotland on January 14, 1824. He was well educated before the age of 15. He came to a farm in Randolph County, Illinois with his parents. At the age of majority he became associated with B.J.F. Hannah, editor of the Chester Herald. From 1852 to 1855 William was a newspaperman who also studied law and was admitted to the bar. He came to Kansas in 1855. He was appointed by Horace Greeley to be a member of the editorial staff of the New York Tribune. As such, he traveled to the Kansas Territory and published the results of his investigations in 1856 under the title, 'Conquest of Kansas.' He also aided a Congressional committee with this same topic. His writings made him very unpopular with the Pro-Slavery people. After the Civil War started, William was commissioned a Major of the First Indian Regiment. He was promoted to Colonel of the Cherokee Regiment and commanded a division in the field under General Schofield. This division included Indians, cavalry, battery and regiments from different states. Phillips fought in the battles in the Southwest. He was wounded three times and had four horses shot out from under him. Phillips returned to Kansas at war's end and was an attorney for the Cherokee Indians. He tried to advance their interests with the Interior Department. In 1872 Phillips was elected to Congress representing the Salina area. He became a prominent member of the Public Lands Committee. He studied land system and land tenure, and became an authority on the subject. His book was entitled, 'Labor, Land, and Law.' He married Margaret Caraway Spilman. William died on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1893 at Fort Gibson in the home of W.P. Ross."

[William Addison Phillips Papers, 1857-1937, Ms. Coll. 470 Phillips, Kansas State Historical Society] [The Kansas State Historical Society collection of papers contains three poems by Phillips.]


William A. Phillips, The Conquest of Kansas by Missouri and Her Allies:
A History of the Troubles in Kansas: From the Passage of the Organic Act until the Close of July, 1856
(Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Company, 1856)(Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1971)

______________, The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation vs. the United States and the Cherokee Nation ([Washington, D.C.?]: s.n., 1885)

______________, Labor, Land and Law: A Search for the Missing Wealth of the Working Poor (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1886) [online text] (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1886)

Research Resources

William Addison Phillips Papers
Kansas State Historical Society