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Robinson, Charles

Charles Robinson, 1818–94, American politician, first governor of the state of Kansas (1861–63), b. Hardwick, Mass. He studied medicine and in 1849 he joined the gold rush to California, where the next year he was elected to the California legislature; he opposed the establishment of slavery in California. He returned (1851) to Massachusetts, again practiced medicine, and for two years edited the Fitchburg News. In 1854, Robinson went to Kansas as agent of the Emigrant Aid Company, began the settlement of Lawrence, and commanded free-state forces in the Wakarusa War. Under the free-state constitution adopted by the Topeka convention he was elected (Jan., 1856) governor. He attempted to avoid conflict with federal authorities, but he ignored the laws passed by the proslavery territorial legislature of 1855. After taking office he was arrested for treason and usurpation of office by the proslavery party. A federal grand jury acquitted him. Robinson was reelected in 1858 and again in 1859, under the Wyandotte Constitution, but he waited until Kansas was admitted (1861) to the Union before assuming the governorship. He was elected state senator in 1874 and 1876, was a regent of the state university (1864–74, 1893–94), and was superintendent of the Haskell Institute at Lawrence (1887–89). He wrote The Kansas Conflict (1892).

See biography by F. W. Blackmar (1901, repr. 1971).

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