Archive for Sunday, February 24, 2013

John Brown’s role in early local history topic of final ‘Bleeding Kansas’ lecture

February 24, 2013


Author and historian Robert C. Jones was the final speaker Sunday at the Bleeding Kansas Lecture Series. Jones spoke about Kansas' role in the years leading up to the Civil War.

Author and historian Robert C. Jones was the final speaker Sunday at the Bleeding Kansas Lecture Series. Jones spoke about Kansas' role in the years leading up to the Civil War.

For the last of five talks as part of the 17th annual Bleeding Kansas Lectures Series, author and historian Robert C. Jones discussed a whole host of well-known characters pivotal to the Kansas role in the Civil War and the nation's slavery fight.

There were the villainous William Quantrill and the murderous William T. "Bloody Bill" Anderson.

But none of the cast — around these parts anyway — holds historical court like John Brown with his involvement in Lawrence and the surrounding areas in the late 1850s.

Bleeding Kansas Lecture Series

Other stories from the series

  • Kobach discusses early voter fraud in state
  • Cracking the code on 150-year-old love letters
  • Jones, in his talk and in his book, "Bleeding Kansas and the Real Start of the Civil War," highlighted Brown's abolitionist efforts in Kansas and the country.

    While not an apologist for Brown's actions during Pottawatomie Massacre, in which five pro-slavery settlers were murdered by Brown and several others, Jones was quick to point out that it wasn't a senseless deed.

    After "border ruffians" sacked Lawrence on May 21, 1856, Brown's raid in Pottawatomie several days later was retaliation against the Lawrence action in which he specifically targeted pro-slavery settlers who had been intimidating abolitionists.

    His methods, abhorred by many, in the end played a pivotal role in shaping Kansas history and ending slavery.

    "Whether you liked him or not, his vision came to pass," Jones said.


    Scott Morgan 5 years, 1 month ago

    September 23, 1861 Osceola Missouri 9 men rounded up and shot. 99 percent of the town burned, essentially the city was put out of business. The Kansans took everything not nailed down or burned.

    mom_of_three 5 years, 1 month ago

    Quantrill's raid in 1863 killed over 150 innocent men and boys. Your point??

    I believe the book was talking about the violence leading up to the Civil War, which, frankly, has already been written about. Missourians looting the ballot boxes and/or stuffing them, with voting 5x the legal population of the territory. The shooting of Dow, the Wakarusa war, and the summer and fall of 1856 was a violent period. Pretty sure the author didn't use all of the sources available to him.

    fiddleback 5 years, 1 month ago

    John Brown wasn't involved at Osceola, so I'm not sure why you mention it...

    Jim Lane led the raid of Osceola, a main reason why Quantrill's Raid was aimed at Lawrence, resulting in a massacre of innocents 20 times larger than Osceola's body count of 9...

    Bloodshed begets bloodshed. Nobody is naively lionizing Brown, Lane, or Quantrill, nor arguing that the murders and total destruction at Osceola or Lawrence were in any way justified, though it should be noted that over 100 slaves were freed at Osceola. So at least some of the people they "put out of business" had that coming...

    Kat Christian 5 years, 1 month ago

    Where I grew up on the East Coast I was taught in school that John Brown was a villian, a horrible man who deserved the hanging he got in Harper's Ferry which I've visited several times (not because of his legend), however on those visits they held mock town halls, political rallys and such and John Brown trial and talk of his hanging. You can imagine my surprise when I moved to Lawrence to discover how revered he is here in Kansas. Really opened my eyes to a wider array of history and how it flutuates throughout this country into various perspectives. I think its important our kids be taught all the perspectives of historical figures and event instead of one narrow view. Now when I read about an historical person or event I read several books to get a wider perspective. Never take anything with just a grain of thought, look throughout the pile and you'd be amazed at what might you find.

    mom_of_three 5 years, 1 month ago

    I don't like the methods that John Brown used, and believe that he is somewhat overrated in KS history (and yes, my view is in the minority), but I do admire what he was trying to accomplish. But he never owned property and I don't believe he voted...he came here for one issue and one issue only. Robert McGlone has one of the best books about John Brown I have read.

    just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

    But he was a rank amateur compared to the institutionalized terror regime that was chattel slavery. His acts were committed in service of abolishing it.

    Many terrorists have gone on to become "statesmen," and even Presidents of these here United States.

    hipper_than_hip 5 years, 1 month ago

    Hacking up innocents because he was against slavery doesn't absolve him of his crimes or change the facts. "Osawatamie Brown" was a crazed murdering zealot and his deeds should be condemned not celebrated.

    just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

    I don't praise or endorse his methods or his acts. I merely pointed out that some terrorists are often lionized simply because they didn't end up on the wrong end of a rope. If he'd survived to see his life's work reach fruition, who knows how history would see him today. He was certainly much less of a terrorist than Andrew Jackson was, and he became president.

    just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

    I didn't defend him. And there is no comparison between a medical procedure deemed necessary by a woman and her doctor and chattel slavery.

    I'd say "nice try," but that would be a lie.

    mom_of_three 5 years, 1 month ago

    No, he doesn't absolve him of his crimes, but he wasn't crazy. He believed in his cause with a passion. And you won't find too many in history to condemn him. while no one condones his actions, he was trying to end an intolerable and cruel institution. He saw it as an "eye for an eye." and I don't think I would call the victims "innocents." They were threatening to the freestaters in the neighborhood and had threatened women. There were many murders and killings in 1856.

    hipper_than_hip 5 years, 1 month ago

    Yes, the five non-slave holding immigrants from Missouri that were murdered by John Brown and his sons (the Pottawatomie massacre) were innocents.

    Jesse James and Quantrill are no heros of mine; can you say the same for James Lane and Charles Jennision?

    fiddleback 5 years, 1 month ago

    Yes, I can say that I count none of them as heroes, though again, the carnage is rather lop-sided:

    John Brown:

    Jim Lane:

    Jesse James:

    Will Quantrill:

    So you can see why a person who considers none of them as admirable still objects to frequent remarks suggesting false equivalence...

    mom_of_three 5 years, 1 month ago

    The non slave holding immigrants were NOT from Missouri.
    And while they were non slave holding, they were pro slavery and were threatening people in the neighborhood. So, no they weren't quite innocent.

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