October 19, 2021

“Bleeding Kansas”

– Nicole Etcheson

 

October 19, 2021

Americans began killing each other in Kansas Territory five years before the Civil War began. “Bleeding Kansas” explores the origins of the violence in the sectional dispute over slavery and the hardening of political differences between free-staters and proslavery advocates. Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed settlers to choose whether to have slavery. Missourians led by Senator David Atchison crossed the Missouri River to plant slavery in neighboring Kansas. New Englanders led by Dr. Charles Robinson migrated to the territory to save it for freedom. Midwesterners led by former Congressman James H. Lane overcame their distaste for eastern abolitionists to unite with the New Englanders to make Kansas a home for white men. Violence and political turbulence arose from this volatile mix, creating both a prelude and a further cause for the Civil War.

Nicole Etcheson is Alexander M. Bracken Professor of History at Ball State University. She is the author of A Generation at War: The Civil War Era in a Northern Community (which won the 2012 Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians for the most original book on the coming of the Civil War, the Civil War era, or Reconstruction, excepting works of purely military history); Bleeding Kansas (2004); and The Emerging Midwest (1996). She is currently working on a project about suffrage in the post-Civil War era.