Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri; The Long Civil War on the Border
Edited by Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke; August 2013; 360 pages, 10 photographs, 6 x 9; Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1928-3, $37.50; Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-1929-0, $19.95
Long before the first shot of the Civil War was fired at Fort Sumter, violence had
already erupted along the Missouri-Kansas border—a recurring cycle of robbery, arson, torture, murder, and revenge. This multifaceted study brings together fifteen scholars to expand our understanding of this vitally important region, the violence that besieged it, and its overall impact on the Civil War.
Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri blends political, military, social, and intellectual history to explain why the region’s divisiveness was so bitter and persisted for so long. Providing a more nuanced understanding of the conflict, it defines both what united and divided the men and women who lived there and how various political disagreements ultimately disintegrated into violence. By focusing on contested definitions of liberty, citizenship, and freedom, it also explores how civil societies break down and how they are reconstructed when the conflict ends.
Essays on “Slavery and Politics of Law and Order along the Border” examine how the border region was transformed by the conflict over the status of slavery in Kansas Territory and how the emerging conflict on the Kansas-Missouri border took on a larger national significance. Other essays focus on the transition to total warfare and examine the wartime experiences of the diverse people who populated the region in “Making the Border Bleed.” Final articles on “The Border Reconstructed and Remembered” explore the ways in which border residents rebuilt their society after the war and how they remembered it decades later.
As this penetrating collection shows, only when Missourians and Kansans embraced a common vision for America—one based on shared agricultural practices, ideas about economic development, and racial equality—could citizens on both sides of the border reconcile.
“In this book a team of eminent historians reinterprets the riveting story of the infamous border conflict that inflamed the sectional crisis and impelled America toward the precipice of civil war. Told from a multiplicity of fresh and revealing perspectives, the story runs the gamut from the arrival of the first slaves in the region to the bloody clashes that wracked the border both before and during the Civil War to the legacy of the two states’ rivalry that has continued until the present day. Gripping, authoritative, and eye-opening, the essays will both captivate and enlighten readers with surprising new insights and original interpretations into the origins, character, and ultimate meaning of the long and violent border conflict.”—Kenneth Winkle, author of Lincoln’s Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, D.C.
“This sophisticated yet engaging collection addresses the quintessential political and social issues that defined the western border. Going well beyond the traditional timeframe for the ‘Civil War era,’ it explores not just the antebellum and war years, but also the decades of reflection that followed. A splendid primer for the history of that fiercely contested region.”—Daniel E. Sutherland, author of A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War
“This fine anthology underscores the central place of Kansas and Missouri in relation to the Civil War. It offers nuanced and wide-ranging explorations of history presented in an entertaining fashion.”—William Garrett Piston, editor of A Rough Business: Fighting the Civil War in Missouri
CONTRIBUTORS: Aaron Astor, Joseph M. Beilein Jr, Diane Mutti Burke, Brent M. S. Campney, Jonathan Earle, Kristen K. Epps, Nicole Etcheson, Michael Fellman, John W. McKerley, Tony R. Mullis, Jeremy Neeley, Kristen Tegtmeier Oertel, Christopher Phillips, Pearl Ponce, Jennifer L. Weber.
JONATHAN EARLE is an associate professor at the University of Kansas and the author of Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil and John Brown’s Raid: A Brief History with Documents. DIANE MUTTI BURKE is an associate professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the author of On Slavery’s Border: Missouri’s Small-Slaveholding Households, 1815–1865.
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