This history of the unrest in Kansas that prefigured the Civil War presents an “engaging and eye-opening examination of the struggle over slavery” (Louis P. Masur, author of The Civil War). In May, 1854, Massachusetts was in an uproar. A judge, bound by the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, had just ordered an African American man who had escaped slavery and settled in Boston to be returned to bondage in the South. An estimated fifty thousand citizens rioted in protest. Observing the scene was Amos Adams Lawrence, a wealthy Bostonian, who “waked up a stark mad Abolitionist.” He immediately took action, creating the New England Emigrant Aid Company to encourage abolitionists to emigrate to Kansas to ensure that it would be a free state. The town that came to bear Lawrence’s name became the battleground for the soul of America, with abolitionists battling pro-slavery Missourians who were equally determined to see Kansas perpetuate slavery. The onset of the Civil War only escalated the violence, leading to the infamous raid of William Clarke Quantrill when he led a band of vicious Confederates into town on a murderous rampage. Stark Mad Abolitionists shows how John Brown, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, Sam Houston, and Abraham Lincoln all figure into the story of Lawrence and the violent period known as “Bleeding Kansas.” The story of Amos Lawrence’s eponymous town is part of a bigger story of people who were willing to risk everything in the struggle for freedom and equality.
|Author||Robert K. Sutton|
|Publisher||Simon and Schuster|