Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bleeding Kansas

Yesterday was a very important day, and I bet you didn't know it. Sure, it was the official release date for 2014 Topps S1, but more importantly it was the 153rd birthday of the greatest state in the Union, Kansas. Today's post has nothing to do with cards, but if you appreciate history and freedom, stick around and you just might learn something kind of cool.

Thanks to petethan for the inspiration for the above image improvements.

I was born and raised in the great state of Kansas and have lived here all of my life. In addition to collecting to cards, I enjoy reading about the history of this state and my hometown. Long ago we were written off as nothing more than the key to Oz and a red state with a really good basketball university. We're a lot more than that though, especially if you go all the way back to our beginnings, when we changed the entire landscape of the United States and the world forever. 

As Americans spread west in the early 1850's, stealing land from the Indians and plowing everything in site, the USA ran into a little problem. The pro-slavery vs anti-slavery debate was getting pretty hot and no one knew what to do with the new states being added. Do they allow slavery or not? The Kansas-Nebraska Act was created by Senator Stephen A. Douglas as a way to let the citizens of the new states decide for themselves. If the responsibility of the decision rested on a democratic vote, then neither side would be mad at the outcome, right? Wrong. 

The race was on. Thousands of pro slavery and Free Staters rushed to Kansas to gain citizenship and the right to vote. President Franklin Pierce (you know, that one president you could never remember on your history tests) was strictly pro slavery. Pierce filled the Kansas Territory with pro slavery politicians from Missouri to serve as officials. The Free Staters said this was bullshit, so they elected and created their own government in Kansas. As you can imagine, two governments in one state doesn't work too well, especially when they represent the polar opposite views of the North and the South.

In November of 1854, the first elections were held to send a Kansas delegate to the Senate. Kansas had 1,500 qualified voters, but somehow 6,000 votes were cast. Pro slavery Missourians (now called Border Ruffians) had flooded over the border to stuff the ballot boxes. Dick move. In March of 1855, these punks did it again. To counter the Border Ruffians, 1,200 New Englanders immigrated to Kansas. These fellas from the North didn't come empty handed, they came packing some serious heat. 

Abolitionists such as John Brown (pictured in top picture) came to Kansas in October of 1855. Things got out of hand when a Free Stater named Charles Dow was shot by a pro slavery settler. And when I say they got out of hand, they got out of hand. A war began and violence quickly spread between the anti slavery settlers and the pro slavery settlers. In May of 1856, Missourians invaded Lawrence, Kansas (center of the Free State movement) and burned it to the ground. 

 The outrage spread through the North and South, leading to fights... physical fights... on the floor of Congress. Thousands more from both the North and South hurried to Kansas to form armies. Battles were waged all throughout the eastern part of Kansas between the militias. When the smoke cleared, miraculously only 56 died from the wars in Kansas, but that was just the beginning of the bloodiest time in American history.

Tempers flared from the atrocities in Kansas throughout the USA and nothing could be done to settle them. Kansas was admitted to the Union in January of 1861, and soon after the Confederate States succeeded from the Union.

So there you have it. I bet you hadn't realized how important Kansas was? Without it, who knows how long it would have taken for the Civil War to kick off if at all. Would the Confederates have won? Would we still have some slave states or would the entire country be pro slavery? Who knows, but God Bless Kansas and the men and women from the North who defended her freedom with their lives.