What he was doing in the area is not entirely clear. Some reports indicate that he was attempting to negotiate a truce with proslavery elements; others suggest that he was “testing” the intentions of Southerners in Lawrence by entering a proslavery gathering unarmed.
The Cowan’s Auctions copywriter continues,
Included with the lot is a 3pp letter, 5 x 8″, Leominster, 11 Sept. 1856. The letter is from James F. Legate to the parents of David Hoyt expressing his condolences and trying offer some solace in the idea that their son gave his life …that Freedom might live….Take comfort for he died that Liberty might come to the oppressed people of Kansas…. Incredibly, he also asks Hoyt’s parents if they know anyone else who will come carry on the fight: I have been laboring ever since in the State to get a party to go back with me. Has he no friends to go & do battle for which he fell a [martyr]? If so I’ll take them to the spot where he yielded his young, useful life….
Both map and letter sold last month for a mere $705.
Possible moral of the story: Do not “test” the intentions of Southerners while unarmed.