The Civil War in Documents
Publication Year: 2011
When the Civil War broke out in April 1861, Kansas was in a unique position. It had been a state for mere weeks, and already its residents were intimately acquainted with civil strife. Since its organization as a territory in 1854, Kansas had been the focus of a national debate over the place of slavery in the Republic. By 1856, the ideological conflict developed into actual violence, earning the territory the sobriquet “Bleeding Kansas.” Because of this steady escalation in violence, the state’s transition from peace to war was not as abrupt as that of other states.
Kansas’s War illuminates the new state’s main preoccupations: the internal struggle for control of policy and patronage; border security; and issues of race—especially efforts to come to terms with the burgeoning African American population and Native Americans’ coninuing claims to nearly one-fifth of the state’s land. These documents demonstrate how politicians, soldiers, and ordinary Kansans were transformed by the war.
Published by: Ohio University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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Series Editors’ Preface
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The Civil War in the Great Interior series focuses on the Middle West, as the complex region has come to be known, during the most critical era of American history. In his Annual Message to Congress in December of 1862, Abraham Lincoln identified “the great interior region” as the area between the Alleghenies and the Rocky Mountains, south of Canada and north of the “culture of cotton.” Lincoln ...
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At the end of January 1864, M. Marshall Murdock, editor and proprietor of the Osage Chronicle, wrote that “Kansas politicians may well be likened to a lot of curs, consisting of mongrel whelps, bench-legged fices, and cunning foxhounds.” Unfortunately, he continued, “it is a notorious fact that about every other man in Kansas is a politician.”1 Coming on the third anniversary of Kansas’s admission to ...
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I would like to recognize Gillian Berchowitz for her support of this series, Civil War in the Great Interior, as well as its coeditors, Christine Dee and Martin Hershock. In particular, I would like to thank Christine for inviting me to contribute to this volume on Kansas. I have enjoyed our many conversations and this book is better for her insights. In addition, I appreciate the work of the production team, ...
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... Kansans were less concerned with the secession crisis than with finally having attained their long cherished goal of statehood. Indeed, while Republican Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency was “glorious,” it was not, the Leavenworth Conservative asserted, as “important and decisive” as Kansas’s admission. As for the departure of so many states from the Union, it was ...
One. Settlement and Strife
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... that flared into war in 1861 shaped Kansas more than any other state in the Union. The last state admitted to the United States before the war, it was the first to experience the sectional conflict as more than a philosophical or constitutional disagreement. It was in Kansas that the country first realized that the political conflict between the sections could have a martial aspect, that it could lead to terror, violence, warfare, and even death. ...
Two. Joining the Union
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... Kansas spent as a territory were marked by a sense of urgency. Aside from the violence, there is perhaps no better evidence of this than the constitutions Kansas residents wrote: the territory prepared one for nearly every eighteen months it spent as a territory. For both sides in the Kansas struggle, admission to the Union offered the answer to their prayers and problems. The ambiguities of popular sovereignty—a policy that seemed more democratic precisely ...
Three. Patronage and Policy
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... the Union in 1861, it was a small, deeply indebted state with barely one hundred thousand residents. Kansas had acquired its debts largely because the cost of funding multiple constitutional conventions and the need to routinely investigate electoral fraud vastly overtaxed its slim coffers. In addition, Kansas had just suffered through a severe drought and it was widely expected that the new state would struggle to meet its fiscal responsibilities. 1 Indeed, there is little doubt that Kansas would have struggled to find ...
Four. Kansas’s Men in Blue
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... on April 22, 1862, George Packard complained that Kansas troops had few opportunities to fight. Instead, he wrote, “We have to march around from one place to another to quell riots, enforce law, and catch jayhawkers, while at heart we are all jayhawkers.”1 Packard’s complaint captures the frustration many soldiers felt—having joined the military to suppress the rebellion, Kansans were far from the front and often engaged in law enforcement ...
Five. Warfare along the Kansas-Missouri Border
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... during a tour of Kansas Territory, Abraham Lincoln spoke at Leavenworth and offered the following advice to his fellow Republicans: “Leave your Missouri neighbors alone. Have nothing whatever to do with their slaves. Have nothing whatever to do with the white people, save in a friendly way. Drop past differences, and so conduct yourselves that if you cannot be at peace with ...
Six. Kansans and Antislavery
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... with its antislavery reputation firmly established by the Bleeding Kansas ideological struggle of the 1850s. For many of the state’s activists, war had long been expected and indeed was welcomed. In 1862, for instance, E. B. Whitman wrote that had it not been for “our successful struggle in Kansas the nation would never have been in the throes of deliverance from the monster slavery, as she is to day.”1 As a result, it should come as no surprise ...
Seven. Politics and Prosperity
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... letters demonstrate, Kansas’s soldiers had little patience for, as Samuel Ayers put it, the “traitors in our midst.” Ayers was able to find some honor in Southerners who had the courage to openly advocate and fight for their beliefs, but little admiration for those “northern sympathizers” who hid behind professions of loyalty. As he wrote in mid-1863, “of all the low mean and contemptable beings in the world such men are the most base and vile for they ...
Eight. The Continuing Mission
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... Kansas to white settlement, in 1854, put pressure on Indian commissioner George W. Manypenny to settle Indian claims in the territory. From 1854 to 1855, Manypenny signed a number of treaties with tribes in eastern Kansas, including the Delawares, Shawnees, Kickapoos, Miamis, Wyandots, and Sauks and Foxes. With the lands given up by the Otoe-Missouris, Omahas, and Iowas in northern Kansas, over the course of two years the United States ...
Nine. The Promise of Kansas
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... Kansas was still young: after nearly seven years as a territory, it had become a state only weeks prior to Fort Sumter. The war hastened its development and with the return of peace, the state boomed. Many of the changes Kansas saw during Reconstruction were demographic. As Americans were drawn to the state by opportunity and cheap land, Kansas’s population grew by a factor of fourteen in the first two decades of statehood. Part of that ...
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Publication Year: 2011