Miller, Josiah

Born: 1828-11-12 Chester County, South Carolina

Died: 1870-07-07 Lawrence, Kansas

Flourished: 1854 to 1870 Lawrence, Kansas

Josiah Miller, attorney, newspaper editor, and politician, was born into a Presbyterian anti-slavery family. After incidents of violence against his father and others affiliated with their church, Miller left South Carolina to study at Indiana University. He graduated in 1852 then studied law in Poughkeepsie, New York, completing his legal studies in 1853. By the end of that year, Miller was in Bloomington, Illinois, where he briefly co-edited the Central Illinois Times. Spurred by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Miller moved to the Kansas Territory, settling in Lawrence in the autumn of 1854. There he joined with a college classmate to publish the Kansas Free State beginning early in 1855, and advocated for Kansas’ admission as a free state, but not for general abolition. Miller also continued to practice law. He ceased his involvement with the newspaper in 1856 and was elected a probate judge for Douglas County the following year and served until Kansas achieved statehood in 1861. Miller was elected in 1859 to the first state senate of Kansas, which did not convene until after statehood in 1861. Abraham Lincoln appointed him deputy postmaster of Lawrence in the latter year, and Miller resigned from the state senate to accept the postmastership. He held that position for two years until he was appointed an additional paymaster in the Union Army. Miller served for a year, resigning in 1864. Politically, Miller described himself as a Democrat in the Kansas Free State, then helped to establish a Free State Party to counter pro-slavery forces in Kansas. During the election of 1856, Miller canvassed for Republican presidential candidate John C. Fremont. He married Agnes B. Carlisle in 1854 and the pair had children.

Dennis M. Dailey, “Josiah Miller, an Antislavery Southerner: Letters to Father and Mother,” Kansas History 36 (Summer 2013), 66-89; Bill Cecil-Fronsman, “‘Advocate the Freedom of White Men, As Well As That of Negroes’: The Kansas Free State and Antislavery Westerners in Territorial Kansas,” Kansas History 20 (Summer 1997), 102-115; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Bloomington, Monroe County, IN, 221; Register of the Graduates of Indiana University (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University, 1899), 10; Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1887), 11:418, 466-68; 13:375, 413-16; Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1903), 1:711; Kansas Daily Tribune (Lawrence), 8 July 1870, 2:1; Gravestone, Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence, KS.