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tv   American History TV  CSPAN  May 2, 2015 7:47pm-8:01pm EDT

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american history tv, we will be live from oak ridge cemetery in springfield, illinois, for a reenactment of president lincoln's funeral, 150 years later. we will begin at 2:30 eastern as a procession every and actors at the ceremony. and we will have live coverage from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. eastern for the funeral, including the eulogy, speeches, musical performances, and 36 cannon salute from the 1865 service. president lincoln's funeral, 150 years later, sunday at 2:30 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> all weekend american history tv is featuring topeka, kansas. in 1951, the naacp filed a case on behalf of parents with children enrolled in topeka's public schools for african-americans. this led to the landmark u.s. supreme court decision in brown versus board of education, which
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ruled that segregated public schools were unconstitutional. hosted by our cox comedic haitian's cable partners, c-span city tour staff recently visited many sites showcasing the city's history. learn more about topeka all weekend, here on american history tv. >> in 1854, all eyes were on kansas. congress had passed a law creating a kansas-nebraska territory, opening up areas of the united states that had been set aside as non-slavery, that it was possible for slavery to grow and develop in kansas. as a consequence, that set in motion a tremendous competition between those folks who wanted to expand slavery and those folks who wanted to put it on a course of ultimate distinction. -- extinction. and as a result everybody was
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, concerned about kansas. if you were for slavery, you wanted to make sure that kansas would become like missouri, a slave state. if you were opposed to slavery you want to make sure that no new opportunities were opened up. this movement into the territory that was created by congress in 1854 becomes the headline for the next decade. it becomes all out war. first, the missourians move into kansas to set up institutions through the process of voting and creating a kansas territory legislature that would create laws that would favor and support slavery. once that happens, it becomes a competition and people who want
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to make sure that kansas does not become a slave state start pouring in as well. and so we are sitting in a house here in topeka that was built by one of those people who came to kansas in 1855, the first part of 1855, with the intent that he was going to stop the spread of slavery. this was john ritchie, who brought brought his family from indiana in march of 1855, three months after the town of topeka was established. and he becomes a very active -- and activist in the free state cause. beginning by the fall of 1855, these rival forces are each creating their own towns. here in shawnee county, for instance, to come say -- tecumse
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h is a community established by folks for slavery. it's five miles east of to -- topeka. it was a scene of proslavery folks. cyrus holliday and his people found topeka in 1854. they come with the notion that they will have a free state town. that is just five miles a part. -- apart. all of and down the river, you have these communities, one is a free state community and another is a proslavery community. they hope each one to run the other one out the other side , out. one of the things that missouri they bring all sorts of militias from missouri -- one of the
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things that missouri does, they bring all sorts of militias from missouri into kansas and identify lawrence as a community settled by anti-slavery people. they are going to drive the people out of lawrence. so an army literally comes into existence from all these units coming in from missouri. and the so-called wakarusa war in december of 1855 is the result. what is interesting about that effort to eradicate lawrence and to drive all of the anti-slavery people out of the territory, through this -- this conflict right outside of lawrence in december of 1855, is that the antislavery people likewise mobilized. for instance, a militia here in topeka goes to lawrence to defend lawrence.
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and so people -- and john brown and his family come up from ocelot amine -- come up to help defend lawrence. you have all of these people in the kansas territories coming together at lawrence. the proslavery people sort of reinforce one another, and the anti-slavery people reinforce one another. that new network is created as a result of various antislavery people coming together in lawrence. john ritchie, for instance meets , john brown. so they become associates in this whole resistance to the efforts of the missourians to control the territory and promote and expand slavery. this house -- we do not know exactly when it was built. this house, we think, was built
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in that late summer and fall of 1856. this wall right behind me is an example of the intense conflict that was going on. because structurally, the wall does not do anything for holding the floors up, or anything like that. but it is -- someone went to a lot of trouble to haul that rock in here, and put this wall from the basement up to the ceiling here on the first floor. and i think it was built because of the need to reinforce the exterior walls. because you've got these proslavery people that have cannons running around and shooting at free soil and anti-slavery communities. in 1856 when this house was built, ritchie's idea was to make this house as solid as he possibly could. and so it's kind of like a fort in that sense.
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the house has become known as somebody's fort, whether you are on one side or another. and that will result ultimately in ritchie's arrest for his involvement in raiding stores and he will be arrested and incarcerated in the proslavery jail over in lecompton, and managed to escape in the fall of 1856 and find his way back to franklin, indiana where he spent the winter with his family, his father and his family in indiana, leaving a wife and children here in topeka. interestingly enough. now, when -- when ritchie comes back to topeka in the spring of 1857, the free soil people have gained control of the territorial legislature.
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and so they begin to institute, rather than proslavery legislation for governing the territory, they enact a free soil anti-slavery legislation. and that pretty well seals the deal that kansas is ultimately going to be a free state rather than a proslavery state. because the result, by 1857, is pretty clear. the free soil people have become a dominant. and when that happens, bleeding kansas turns into a different scenario. and that scenario is that the people involved in trying to block the spread of slavery now began to operate the underground railroad. beginning in 1957, what happens is that this house becomes one of the centers where escaping
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slaves can find refuge and gain assistance to be transported to nebraska and into iowa, and turned over to abolitionists in iowa, where they will be helped to canada, where they will ultimately find themselves free. so the underground railroad becomes a less violent manifestation of bleeding kansas. the same people are involved. the ritchies, for example, are the same people involved in trying to weaken the fabric of slavery in missouri, and helping runaways succeed. we have an active underground railroad operation from 1957 -- 1857-1859 and so on in this house plays a role in that. you have people like the ritchies, who come to kansas because they see kansas as an opportunity to create a new society from the ground up.
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and in that sense, it will be opportunity for themselves and -- but also opportunity for them to shape the institutions in a way that will conform to what they believe to be their value system. now, one of the things that ritchie will do is he will be , committed to not only prohibition and temperance, and women's rights, and african-american rights, but he will also be interested in education and he will be instrumental in the founding of washburn university, to be an institution that is part of this community. the idea that we are going to have an educated citizenry, and inclusive citizenry, is an improvement over what we had east of the mississippi at the time. kansas is a fertile ground for a new america. we tell the story to visitors,
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principally -- we have a heritage education program, in which we deal with middle schoolers and elementary education schools. we talk about the underground railroad and we connect the activities that the house represents because it was a station on the underground railroad. we tell the richies story and kids can identify with it. they also go five blocks to the south and they go to the monroe school where they talk about the issues that lead to the civil rights movement of the 1950's. so you have freedom issues in the 1850's that we talk about here and at the monro school, we talk about freedom issues of the 1950's at the monroe school. kids can begin to understand that something really important about america happens right here in topeka.
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>> are at the weekend, american history tv is featuring topeka, kansas. our city staff recently traveled there to learn about its rich history. learn more about topeka and other stops on our tour at you are watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. you can watch the classes every saturday evening here at 8:00 eastern. next, mercer university professor douglas thompson talks about religion and its impact on the relationship between slaves and their owners during the antebellum period. he cites nat turner's 1831 slave rebellion and frederick douglass' 1845 memoir as examples of how whites and blacks interpreted biblical passages on slavery.


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