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Kansas History - Spring 2008

(Vol. 31, No. 1)

Kansas History, Spring 2008

Scott N. Morse, editor. "Knowledge is Power": The Reverend Grosvenor Clarke Morse's Thoughts on Free Schools and the Republic During the Civil War."

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The Reverend Grosvenor Clarke Morse, a pre-Civil War emigrant to Kansas, founded the First Congregational Church in Emporia and was instrumental in bringing the State Normal School (now Emporia State University) to Emporia. He was typical of New England emigrant churchmen in his belief in the superiority of New England institutions, most importantly the common school. In his "School Lecture," edited for publication in Kansas History by his great-great-grandson, the Reverend Morse denounced the South for failing to educate the poorest of its citizens. As a consequence, Morse believed, uneducated Southerners became pliable tools in the hands of the slave-owning aristocracy. Had a system of common schools been in place, educated Southerners "would have utterly frowned" on secession and the resulting Civil War would "never have occurred." Grosvenor Morse's "School Lecture" gives insight into the thinking of a representative New England churchman in Civil War Kansas.

Zachary J. Lechner, "'Are We Ready for the Conflict?': Black Abolitionist Response to the Kansas Crisis, 1854-1856."

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In this article, Zachary J. Lechner, a doctoral candidate at Temple University, addresses the wide range of black responses to the 1850s Kansas crisis. Black abolitionists fretted over the event's sectional implications, Lechner argues, teetering on a continuum between optimism and despair. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to popular sovereignty, whereby citizens could decide whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. Black leaders hoped that anti-Nebraska outrage would translate into a large-scale Northern movement to destroy the perceived influence of proslavery views at the national level. They also saw utility in the ensuing Kansas civil war. Perhaps the atrocities committed by Missouri "border ruffians" against free-state forces would further awaken Northerners to the slaveholding menace. Simultaneously, black abolitionists expressed pessimism about defeating the entrenched position of the Southern "Slave Power" in the federal government. According to these reformers, white Northerners either lacked the knowledge or the fortitude to counter the proslavery threat. The territorial controversy fueled black abolitionists' frustrations with the slow progress of the antislavery struggle. It prompted them, Lechner concludes, to connect the crisis to the danger of the Fugitive Slave Law and to speak in increasingly militant terms about what they considered an intractable divide between the North and the South.

Charlotte Hinger, "'The Colored People Hold the Key': Abram Thompson Hall, Jr.'s Campaign to Organize Graham County."

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With the establishment of Nicodemus, Kansas, for the first time in the history of the United States, enough African Americans had gathered in a specific region to affect critically important political issues indigenous to the settlement of the West. In just three years time, blacks in Graham County created the first township, secured its first official school district, persuaded Kansas Governor John Pierce St. John to appoint a black census taker, and controlled the structure of bi-racial political alliances. In "'The Colored People Hold the Key': Abram Thompson Hall Jr.'s Campaign to Organize Graham County," Charlotte Hinger, a western Kansas historian and novelist, explores Hall's extraordinary role in forcing county organization when the white population preferred delay. A northern African American journalist and consummate politician, Hall melded a racial agenda with pragmatic cooperation with whites. His correspondence with Governor St. John and news articles reveal his literary abilities and political skills. Hall's achievements are all the more remarkable in that he manipulated a non-violent solution to the struggle to organize Graham County at a time when violence often characterized county seat wars in western Kansas.

Bob Beatty, editor. "'You have to like people': A Conversation with Former Governor William H. Avery."

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Interview audio, video, and transcripts

The second in our series of articles based on the gubernatorial interviews captured on video by Washburn University political scientist Bob Beatty, this conversation with former congressman and governor William H. Avery explores his years in the Kansas state house of representatives in 1951 to 1955, the U.S. Congress in 1955 to 1965, and as governor in 1965 to 1967. During these years Avery tackled such issues as "big dam foolishness," taxes, education funding, the state's community colleges system, and the personal disappointment he felt after losing his bid for reelection in 1966 to Robert B. Docking. Although Avery served only a single term as governor, just prior to that he had spent a decade in Washington, D.C., representing northeast Kansas in the House of Representatives. Governor Avery was born and raised in Wakefield, Clay County, Kansas, where, at age ninety-six, he still resides on a portion of his family's farm. He graduated from University of Kansas at Lawrence in 1934 and engaged in business as a farmer and stockman near Wakefield. The interview with Governor Avery was conducted at his Wakefield home on December 5, 2003.


From Snake Oil to Medicine: Pioneering Public Health
by R. Alton Lee
xi + 233 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Westport, Conn.: Praeger, Healing Society: Disease, Medicine, and History, 2007, cloth $49.95.
Reviewed by Eric Juhnke, assistant professor of history, Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa.

Kansas in the Great Depression: Work Relief, the Dole, and Rehabilitation
by Peter Fearon
xviii + 316 pages, map, bibliography, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2007, cloth, $44.95.
Reviewed by Derek Hoff, department of history, Kansas State University, Manhattan.

Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966
by Gerald R. Butters, Jr.
xvi + 348 pages, appendices, bibliography, index, illustrations.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2007, cloth $44.95.
Reviewed by Thomas Prasch, associate professor of history, Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas.

Founded by Friends: The Quaker Heritage of Fifteen American Colleges and Universities
edited by John W. Oliver, Jr., Charles L. Cherry, and Caroline L. Cherry
xxi + 290 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Lanham, Md.: The Scarecrow Press, 2007, cloth $35.00.
Reviewed by Gary R. Entz, associate professor of history, McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas.

Bound in Twine: The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880-1950
by Sterling Evans
xxiv + 334 pages, illustrations, maps, bibliography, index.
College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2007, cloth $42.00.
Reviewed by R. Douglas Hurt, professor of American agriculture and rural history, the American West, and the Midwest, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Upstream Metropolis: An Urban Biography of Omaha & Council Bluffs
by Lawrence H. Larsen, Barbara J. Cottrell, Harl A. Dahlstrom, and Kay Calame Dahlstrom
xvi + 510 pages, photographs, map, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007, paper $24.95.
Reviewed by William S. Worley, department of history, University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Law and Order in Buffalo Bill's Country: Legal Culture and Community on the Great Plains, 1867-1910
by Mark R. Ellis
xxii + 263 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007, cloth $45.00.
Reviewed by Michael J. Broadhead, historian, Office of History, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alexandria Virginia.

Books on Trial: Red Scare in the Heartland
by Shirley A. Wiegand and Wayne A. Wiegand
xvii + 280 pages, illustrations, notes, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007, cloth $24.95.
Reviewed by Fred Whitehead, freelance poet, writer, and editor.

Deadly Dozen: Forgotten Gunfighters of the Old West, volume 2
by Robert K. DeArment
x + 416 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Joseph G. Rosa, president, English Westerners' Society, London, England.

Mamie Doud Eisenhower: The General's First Lady
by Marilyn Irvin Holt
xiv + 190 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliographic essay, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Nicole L. Ansolver, assistant professor of history, Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa.

Boss-Busters & Sin Hounds: Kansas City and Its Star
by Harry Haskell
464 pages, illustrations, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2007, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Thomas C. Percy, professor of history, Hutchison Community College, Hutchison, Kansas.


A Sweet, Separate Intimacy: Women Writers on the American Frontier, 1800-1922. Edited by Susan Cummins Miller. (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2007, xvii + 447 pages, paper $26.95.)

After three years out of print, Miller's anthology of thirty-four women writers is again available. The collection is comprised of non-fiction, fiction, and poetry, and features the voices of Anglo, Chinese, Hispanic, and Native American women first published during the settlement of the American frontier. Several themes recur in their works, including "isolation, mystic attachment to the land, death of loved ones, mourning, and frustration when drudgery got in the way of writing" (p. 5). Miller historically situates each author and provides suggestions for further reading, though the excerpts included in this volume are motivation in and of themselves for continued exploration of the writers that penned them.

The Sioux in South Dakota History: A Twentieth-Century Reader. Edited by Richmond L. Clow. (Pierre: South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2007, 320 pages, paper $18.95.)

This collection of essays taken from South Dakota History seeks to broaden the picture many Americans continue to hold of Native Americans, a picture largely based on pre-1900 images and stereotypes. Specifically the collection speaks to post-nineteenth-century experiences of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Sioux, though it is "not intended to be a comprehensive examination of twentieth-century Sioux history, but, rather, a sampling of the best essays South Dakota History has to offer on a variety of facets and themes in Sioux history since 1900" (p. 1). The essays address such topics as the struggle for land, reservation life, health on the reservation, changes in governmental policies towards Native Americans, and confrontation and radical actions taken by tribal members, and the collection as a whole attempts to understand a contemporary people in a changing world.

Drifting West: The Calamities of James White and Charles Baker. By Virginia McConnell Simmons. (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2007, xxviii + 210 pages, cloth $29.95.)

On September 14, 1867, a drifter named James White emerged "wraithlike" from the Colorado River at Callville, Nevada. He said Indians had attacked the mining expedition of which he had been a part; that they had killed the expedition's leader, Charles Baker; and that he had narrowly escaped by taking to the river on a log raft. He was, to hear him tell it, the first white man to traverse the tributary through the Grand Canyon. White's story-expanded and embellished by the journalists who published it-became legend, though it was quickly disputed. Indeed, John Wesley Powell, a one-armed Civil War veteran holds the official record of first navigating the canyon's river in 1869. Simmon's explores this controversy in the context of providing a history of drifters like White and Baker, "the flotsam and jetsam of westward migration" (p. xv).

The Sunflower Sinner: An Odyssey of Politics and Passion. By Cynthia Dennis. (Topeka, Kans.: Woodley Memorial Press, 2007, 216 pages, paper $16.00.)

In 1949, when he was a thirty-four-year-old, McPherson, Kansas, attorney, Paul A. Lackie was elected chairman of the Young Republicans of Kansas and thought himself on his way to the governor's office. By 1963, however, he was seated on the witness stand in a Wichita courtroom, testifying as to his role in the alleged bribery of Governor Fred Hall for the early parole of abortionist Annas Brown who was convicted in 1950 after a woman died in her basement. In this volume Davis, Lackie's oldest daughter, tells the story of her father's rise and fall in Kansas politics and raises interesting questions about some of the state's mid-century movers and shakers.

Dividing Western Waters: Mark Wilmer and Arizona v California. By Jack L. August, Jr. (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 2007, xix + 172 pages, paper $32.95.)

Readers of Kansas History, who are familiar with our history of interstate water disputes and litigation, should find Dividing Western Waters of considerable interest. Arizona v California, the longest U.S. Supreme Court case in history, was fought over water rights to the Colorado River and its tributaries in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. From 1952 until 1963 these states battled over what shape they would take-whether, as one of Arizona's lawyers put it, as "nothing more than a home for Gila Monsters" (p. xix) or as fertile environments with the water necessary to sustain urban growth. August provides a history of the court case and a selective biography of one of its major players, Mark Wilmer, who served as the lead attorney for Arizona during the last six years of the case and who is credited with crafting the innovative argument that secured the state's victory.

"Gentleman George" Hunt Pendleton: Party Politics and Ideological Identity in Nineteenth-Century America. By Thomas S. Mach. (Kent State, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2007, 307 pages, cloth $39.95.)

This first modern biography of George Hunt Pendleton, a Democratic representative (1857-1865) and senator (1879-1885) from Cincinnati, Ohio, offers "not only a microcosmic view of Democratic Party operations during his lifetime but also a case study of the longevity of Jacksonian principles and their political adaptation during some of the most critical periods in the nation's history" (p. 1). Included was Bleeding Kansas and although Pendleton's voting record "did note indicate a strong adherence to one side of the [slavery] issue or another" (p. 36), Mach notes that he did play an important part in the national wrangling over the future state. This examination of a "significant but neglected" figure (p. 1) provides extensive notes and a lengthy bibliography, both aids to future research on Pendleton.