Saturday, January 29, 2011


Today, 150 years ago, the federal government officially recognized Kansas as a state.  After six years of terrorism and guerilla warfare between the "Pukes" (aka Border Ruffians)  and the Jayhawkers, the Jayhawkers won.  Topeka triumphed over Lecompton; free labor and free soil triumphed over the evils of slavery.

God bless, my home state, Kansas.  To the stars through difficulties.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Daniel Webster on the evils of slavery in the West, 1819

“The laws of the United States have denounced heavy penalties against the traffic in slaves, because such traffic is deemed unjust and inhuman.  We appeal to the spirit of these laws; we appeal to this justice and humanity. We ask whether they ought not to operate, on the present occasion, with all their force?  We have a strong feeling of the injustice of any toleration of slavery.  Circumstances have entailed it on a portion of our community which cannot be immediately relieved from it without consequences more injurious than the suffering of the evil.  But to permit it in a new country, where yet no habits are formed which render it indispensable, what is it, but to encourage that rapacity, fraud, and violence against which we have so long pointed the denunciations of our penal code?  What is it, but to tarnish the proud fame of our country?  What is it, but to throw suspicion on its good faith, and to render questionable all its professions of regard for the rights of humanity and the liberties of mankind?” [quoted in Remini, DANIEL WEBSTER, 169]

Friday, January 21, 2011

Teaching Civil War 2.0

From the NYT Disunion:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New York Times on the Civil War

The New York Times is running a nice series of articles on the Civil War.  This post by historian Susan Schulten (especially with her explanation of the 1860 map of slavery) is rather stunning and revealing.  Thank you, Professor Schulten.

2011 Civil War Syllabus

Tomorrow, I get to start teaching this semester's "Sectionalism and Civil War" (H303) course.  I've not had the chance to teach it for a few years (I share the duties with my good friend, David Raney), and I'm very excited.  Here's the syllabus (you'll notice some things from the blog explanation).  Let the semester begin. . .

Jefferson Davis to Franklin Pierce, January 20, 1861

“Mississippi, not as a matter of choice but of necessity, has resolved to enter on the trial of secession.  Those who have driven her to this alternative threaten to deprive her of the right to require that her government shall rest on the consent of the governed, to substitute foreign force for domestic support, to reduce a state to the condition from which the colony arose.  In the attempt to avoid the issue which has been joined by the country, the present administration has complicated and precipitated the question.  Even now if the duty ‘to preserve the public property’ was rationally regarded, the probable collision at Charleston would be avoided.  Security far better than any which the federal troops can give might be obtained in consideration of the little garrison at Fort Sumter.  If the disavowal of any purpose to coerce So. Ca. be sincere, the possession of a work to command the harbor is worse than useless.” [Jefferson Davis to Franklin Pierce, “Some Papers of Franklin Pierce, 1852-1662,” American Historical Review 10 (1909): 366]