Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Brawling Kentuckians in Bleeding Kansas

I admit it! I love reading nineteenth century newspapers. These rags of the day, whether they are daily, weeklies or tri-weeklies, have the unique ability to give you a quick sense of what life was like by reading the articles and advertisements.

In my last few posts I have been sharing excerpts that I have found from the Lexington Kentucky Observer and Reporter in the 1850s and 1860s. Thanks goes out to the Kentucky Virtual Library for having these online and available for the public to browse.

After months of contentious debate the Kansas-Nebraska Act finally passed through both the senate and house of representatives and was signed by President Franklin Pierce on May 30, 1854. Immediately upon passage settlers flooded into the new territories. At odds were those that favored the new lands be left for free labor and those that favored slave labor. Naturally arguments broke out over land disputes and boundary lines, but the free soilers and pro-slavery men brought an increased intensity.

Although no mention is made of the two feuding groups' politics, this November 8, 1854 story in the Observer and Reporter, which was a re-run story that originally ran in the Chicago Tribune, provides an idea of the reign of lawlessness in Kansas. It reads:

"We learn that an affray occurred in Kansas Territory on Tuesday last week, that resulted, it is feared, fatally to two citizens of that Territory. The difficulty was between two Kentuckians and several persons from Platte county, about a claim. The matter was left to a third party to settle, who decided in favor of the Kentuckians. When the decision was proclaimed, the Platte county claimants headed by one Burgess, attacked the other party and cut them up with knives in such a manner that no hopes are entertained of their recovery. The Governor, who is at Leavenworth, had the parties arrested at once, and it is hoped he will use vigorous means to put a stop to such lawless proceedings."

No comments:

Post a Comment