Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era
Few people would have expected bloodshed in Kansas Territory. After all, it had few slaves and showed few signs that slavery would even flourish. But civil war tore this territory apart in the 1850s and 60s, and "Bleeding Kansas" became a forbidding symbol for the nationwide clash over slavery that followed. Many free-state Kansans seemed to care little about slaves, and many proslavery Kansans owned not a single slave. But the failed promise of the Kansas-Nebraska Act-when fraud in local elections subverted the settlers' right to choose whether Kansas would be a slave or free state-fanned the flames of war. While other writers have cited slavery or economics as the cause of unrest, Nicole Etcheson seeks to revise our understanding of this era by focusing on whites' concerns over their political liberties. The first comprehensive account of "Bleeding Kansas" in more than thirty years, her study re-examines the debate over slavery expansion to emphasize issues of popular sovereignty rather than slavery's moral or economic dimensions. The free-state movement was a coalition of settlers who favored black rights and others who wanted the territory only for whites, but all were united by the conviction that their political rights were violated by nonresident voting and by Democratic presidents' heavy-handed administration of the territories. Etcheson argues that participants on both sides of the Kansas conflict believed they fought to preserve the liberties secured by the American Revolution and that violence erupted because each side feared the loss of meaningful self-governance. Bleeding Kansas is a gripping account of events and people-rabble-rousing Jim Lane, zealot John Brown, Sheriff Sam Jones, and others-that examines the social milieu of the settlers along with the political ideas they developed. Covering the period from the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act to the 1879 Exoduster Migration, it traces the complex interactions among groups inside and outside the territory, creating a comprehensive political, social, and intellectual history of this tumultuous period in the state's history. As Etcheson demonstrates, the struggle over the political liberties of whites may have heightened the turmoil but led eventually to a broadening of the definition of freedom to include blacks. Her insightful re-examination sheds new light on this era and is essential reading for anyone interested in the ideological origins of the Civil War.
Other editions - View all
abolitionism abolitionist administration America in 1857 antislavery April Atchison bill Bleeding Kansas Border Ruffian Charles Robinson Civil Congressional Globe constitutional convention Denver Douglas election Emigrant Ewing Family Papers Executive Minutes free staters free-soil free-state free-state movement Geary Goodnow Governor guerrilla Herald of Freedom Historical Manuscript Collection House Howard Report ibid James Buchanan John Brown July June Kans Kansas Conflict Kansas Historical Quarterly Kansas State Historical Kansas Territory Kansas-Nebraska Act Lane Lawrence Leavenworth Lecompton Constitution Letters liberty Library of Congress Lincoln Louis March migration Missouri Historical Society Missourians Montgomery Moore Journals NEEAC Nichols popular sovereignty president proslavery party Quantrill Race and Politics raid Rawley Reeder Republican Senate Sept settlers slave slavery South southern Stampp Stephen Sumner territorial legislature Thomas Ewing tion Topeka Constitution Transactions troops Union violence vote voters Western Historical Manuscript William Wilson Shannon York