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Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era Hardcover – January 29, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An ambitious, important, long-overdue, and very successful revisionist history of the organization of Kansas Territory. . . . Essential reading for anyone interested in the ideological origins of the Civil War."

From the Back Cover

"Prodigiously researched and boldly written, Etcheson's study reopens the important story of 'Bleeding Kansas' in a thought provoking and compelling way."--Michael Fellman, coauthor of That Terrible War: The Civil War and Its Aftermath

"Kansas Territory did indeed bleed for freedom, but as Etcheson's elegant, balanced, and deep account shows, the 'slaves' about whom combatants there were most passionate were white."--Craig Miner, author of Kansas: The History of the Sunflower State, 1854-2000

"An ambitious, important, long-overdue, and very successful revisionist history of the organization of Kansas Territory. . . . Essential reading for anyone interested in the ideological origins of the Civil War."--Kenneth Winkle, author of The Young Eagle: The Rise of Abraham Lincoln

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 370 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (January 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700612874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700612871
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,209,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James W. Durney VINE VOICE on November 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Bleeding Kansas", 150 years after the event this phrase still causes strong feelings. Very few are neutral on Kansas even now. In trying to solve the question of slavery expanding into the territories, Congress left it to the settlers allowing Congress to maintain a fragile peace on the national level. On the Kansas Missouri border, this policy caused the Civil War come early and stay late. Popular Sovereignty pictured peaceful elections decided by local voters in a spirit of good fellowship and respect. Popular Sovereignty was stuffing the ballot box, intimidation, murder and small battles between "settlers" imported by both sides. Immigrant Aid Societies, Breecher's Bibles, Red Legs and Jayhawkers all entered our vocabulary. Jim Lane and John Brown become national figures. William Quantrill, Cole Younger and Frank James all start their travels in Kansas. While we have names and strong feelings on "Bleeding Kansas" or "The Troubles" as Missourians called this time, most of us do not have a good grasp of the events.
Nicole Etcheson fills this void. She manages to keep national politics, regional responses, local politics and the fighting in perspective without overwhelming the reader. With her sure narration, we walk the halls of Congress, sit in meetings at the White House, raise money for immigrant aid, ride with John Brown or just try to get a crop in. Along the way, she refuses to take side! The author uses each side's ideas and justifications for their actions without moralizing or condemning. This gives us a real insight into the thinking of Missourians crossing the border to vote in elections. While helping us to understand the actions of the New Englanders that contributed thousands of dollars to resettle "free soil" families while buying rifles.
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This is a good and very detailed book about the events in Kansas after the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. The Act was designed to bring "popular sovereignty" to the decision of slavery. The residents of the territory would decide if the new state they were creating would be slave or free. Sounds very reasonable to today's readers, but the idea was full of "unintended consequences". First of all, Kansas was a new territory with very few residents. Most the people deciding on slavery would be newcomers to the state. Both pro and anti slavery people flooded into the territory to vote their preference. Lawlessness, political underhandedness and violence was common. Slavery vs. anti-slavery was a very hot button issue at the time. People were not willing to compromise on something they felt so strongly about.

The anti-slavery people had several different views. The free-soilers were people who wanted the state free, but didn't really want existing slavery ended. They didn't want thousands of freed slaves coming to Kansas to compete for resources. The abolitionists were the more extreme, by the standard of the times. The abolitionists wanted all slavery ended everywhere. John Brown was the best known and most radical of the abolitionists. He resorted to terrible violence which hurt the anti-slavery cause.

At the time, many people in the country thought that this was the civil war that had been avoided for 40 years. Kansas was eventually admitted as a free state. But instead of solving the slavery issue in the United States, it just highlighted it. The fuse was lit and country broke into a terrible and bloody civil war just months after Kansas became a state.

I highly recommend this book. It explains an interesting and important part of history that is too often overshadowed by the American Civil War which followed.
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I am using this book for a college research paper and could not have asked for more. I'm a Kansan, so the story is interesting to me but the big bonus with this book is the research involved. Etcheson did an amazing job of researching this matter and provides a super comprehensive narrative. I can honestly say that there isn't much of anything that was unclear about the period after reading this. All aspects of the events are covered in depth and all factors are fleshed out thoroughly. If you are looking for a good book to use for a research project and interested in the subject, I highly recommend it.
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Really good read! This book covers a period of the Civil War that is often glossed over, "Bleeding Kansas". "Hardcore" CW buffs will especially enjoy this work. It covers the early history, both political & military of the slavery/anti slavery issue. It presents the complex issues that existed
not just in Kansas but throughout the US in the antebellum period. There were some good guys & some bad guys on both sides of the struggle
in Kansas & that is well presented here.
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Nicole Etcheson does a masterful job of weaving the chaotic detail of the early Kansas chaos into a cogent history. She convincingly demonstrates that the stories we heard in high school of the motivations underlying the conflict were over generalized at best, and usually misleading. Her narrative is lively and her insights are enlightening. This book should be read by anyone interested in the events leading to the Civil War.
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