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Kansas History - Spring 2015

Kansas History, Spring 2015(Volume 38, Number 1)

Lauren W. Ritterbush, “Visit to Blue Earth Village”

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For more than four centuries the Kanza (Kaw) Indians made their homes in what we now recognize as part of the state of Kansas. Early during this period they lived along the Missouri River, but traveled widely, including along the river that bears their name, the Kansas or Kaw River. By the late eighteenth century they had established a permanent village (or villages) along the Kansas. Here they experienced both continuity and change as the cultural and political dynamics of the region shifted with more frequent and intense contact, direct and indirect, with Euroamericans. Clues to the experiences of the Kanzas in the early nineteenth century can be extracted from the written records produced by some of those who visited and through limited archaeological investigations of their former homes. This article provides a glimpse of Kanza life through the eyes of others, particularly a party of the Long Expedition of 1819. This view reveals a period of relative quiescence before the dramatic changes in Kanza society following the Treaty of St. Louis in 1825.

Brie Swenson Arnold, “‘To Inflame the Mind of the North’: Slavery Politics and the Sexualized Violence of Bleeding Kansas”

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During the national crisis over slavery known as Bleeding Kansas, Northerners expressed concerns over the expansion of slavery and the aggressions of the Slave Power using rhetoric and imagery of sexualized violence. In the thousands of newspaper articles, speeches, songs, plays, poems, pamphlets, and political cartoons produced about Kansas in the 1850s, Northerners presented a boldly gendered and sexualized critique of the political crisis over slavery. They described the expansion of slavery into Kansas as “the rape of a virgin territory,” created political cartoons and parade scenes that visualized Kansas as a despoiled virgin, and circulated accounts of the purported rapes of actual free-soil white women by proslavery men in Kansas. The proliferation of such representations in Northern popular print and political culture served a crucial political function in the late 1850s. They connected the North and Northerners in common ways of talking about Kansas, inflamed white Northern animosity toward the South and proslavery men, and helped fuel greater Northern political commitment to stopping the spread of slavery.

John Hart, editor, “A New Account of the Battle of Platte Bridge, July 26, 1865: The Recollections of John Benton Hart”

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Union soldier John Benton Hart, Eleventh Kansas Cavalry, thought he was done with war once General Sterling Price and his Confederate columns had been driven from Missouri in the fall of 1864. Instead, just as discharge beckoned, his regiment was ordered west to protect the Oregon Trail against a concerted assault by Indian tribes—a struggle that would cost his unit more casualties than all of its Civil War service combined. In a memoir dictated to his son in 1918, Hart recalled the climactic engagement of that period, the Battle of Platte Bridge, July 26, 1865, at what is now Casper, Wyoming. He rode with the dashing Lieutenant Caspar Collins into an ambush by thousands of warriors; helped collect the remains of Collins’s body, his heart cut into strings; and claims, to his shame, to have scalped a Cheyenne opponent. One of a mere four or five eyewitness accounts by men who rode with (or against) Collins, Hart’s narrative provides new information and raises new questions about a celebrated episode on the tragic road to the Little Bighorn. Edited by historian and author John Hart, a great grandson of the Platte Bridge veteran, this is the first publication of these excerpts from a much longer manuscript.

Book Reviews

A Store Almost in Sight: The Economic Transformation of Missouri from the Louisiana Purchase to the Civil War
by Jeff Bremer
239 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2014, paper $39.95.
Reviewed by Thomas N. Maloney, professor of economics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

Soldiers in the Army of Freedom: The 1st Kansas Colored, the Civil War’s First African American Combat Unit
by Ian Michael Spurgeon
xii + 442 pages, illustrations, notes, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by Zach Isenhower, PhD candidate, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.

Cheyenne War: Indian Raids on the Roads to Denver, 1864–1869
by Jeff Broome
528 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Sheridan, Colo.: Aberdeen Books, 2013, paper $24.95.
Reviewed by Jason Herbert, master’s candidate, Wichita State University.

Native American Environmentalism: Land, Spirit, and the Idea of Wilderness
by Joy Porter
224 pages, notes, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014, paper, $24.95.
Reviewed by Kerry Wynn, associate professor of history, Washburn University, Topeka.

Busy in the Cause: Iowa, the Free-State Struggle in the West, and the Prelude to the Civil War
by Lowell J. Soike
xvi + 288 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014, paper $30.00.
Reviewed by William D. Hickox, doctoral candidate, department of history, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Tom Horn in Life and Legend
by Larry D. Ball
xii + 554 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 2014, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by John Mack, instructor of history, Georgia Perimeter College, Decatur.

American Carnage: Wounded Knee, 1890
by Jerome A. Greene
xviii + 599 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Tony R. Mullis, associate professor, Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The Nature of Childhood: An Environmental History of Growing Up in America since 1865
by Pamela Riney-Kehrberg
xiv + 273 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2014, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Rebecca Onion, visiting scholar, department of history, Ohio University, Athens.

Book Notes