tv The Civil War Slavery and Reconstruction in the West CSPAN August 14, 2019 12:07pm-1:22pm EDT
woodstock 50 years, sunday at 9:00 a.m. eastern on c-span's washington journal. also live on american history tv on c-span 3. university of washington historian quintard taylor focused on slavery and reconstruction on kansas and missouri before and after the civil war. the kansas city public library hosted this talk. >> let me get settled, organized here. i'm going to just push this over. hope i don't drop it here. i need some room for my lecture. i'm an old-fashioned guy who needs lecture notes. i'll try to squeeze them in here and hopefully they will fit. thank you for that introduction. that was amazing. i didn't know who she was
talking about, really i don't. also i want to thank a couple. i could be here all night thanking people but there are a couple of people i want to mention. the most important one is kelly, kelly bird. thank you for organizing all of this, bringing me here, getting us through the whole process of organizing the symposium itself as well as having me speak. and where is paul and nancy? paul is over there. paul, thank you for taking me to the best steak place in kansas city. okay. thank you. now paul has been very helpful in other ways as well. now diane has mentioned that my passion and i'll admit this, i will admit to this, my passion is blackpast.org. now a 15,000 page website. essentially a work that's based on volunteers. you can see some of it being skrold. i'm not touching on it.
you can see the scrolling. it started as kind of a project for our students at the university of washington and we forgot to gate it and as a consequence somebody wrote from new zealand and said, you know, share the information with us and answer questions and we realized this is going every where. then about, i don't know, six weeks, six, seven weeks later i get an invitation from someone at the state department saying we would like to send you to siberia -- we want your passport number and your bank account. and i'm thinking this is a scam, okay. but as fate would have it, as things turned out the person really was from the state department. we really did go to siberia. we toured a number of universities in siberia. they all loved african-american history. the african-american history that we had on our faculty website which preceded blackpast
and at that point we decided to come home and create the dedicated website. it's about 11 years old. we continue to add people both as volunteer contributors and there are people in this room who contributed to blackpast. certainly people who are going to contribute to blackpast. and we continue to have those numbers grow. the numbers grow not because of anything i've done. they grow because we have 700 volunteers from six continents. in other words, people who write about blackpast all the time. we'll do something fun. is leslie working this, moving this? okay. leslie, let's type in, if you can type in -- can you type anything? >> right here. >> yeah. type in the search bar, let's try -- you may have to do it here. go ahead. your fingers are more nimble than mine. >> i don't want to misspell
anything. >> the obvious stuff. i want you to type in sweden. >> sweden. >> the nation of sweden. >> sweden. nope. told you. >> okay. >> made it. >> okay. scroll down. >> it did find 551 results which is fantastic. looks like we're waiting for something to load. we have image results. web results. where are they. there we go. >> just had a big blank space. >> sweden. hit the first one called sweden. >> right here? >> next one up. >> this one here. >> yeah. >> let's see if it gives me a link. where have you gone? >> yeah go back to the very first one and see if it comes up. >> nothing there. this is frustrating for me.
this is embarrassing. >> we're make this work. >> sweden. >> you got that link. scroll down. >> these are all the entries that are related to sweden on this website. >> now you're going to say this is an african-american history website. no is that global african-american history website. we connect to 160 countries around the world. and the reason i bring this up is because i want you guys to know if you remember anything tonight, understand that african-american history is a global process. we are never far away from that history. it is always close. it exists in sweden, in spain,
in china. let's pull up. see if we can pull up china real quick. >> let's see how quickly i can do this. >> china, yeah. then we'll stop. >> this one? >> yeah. >> got the hang of it now. >> that's just one of the articles. just one of the articles. the whole point of this and i won't dwell on this, and this is an article that talks about the 700 year relationship between evide east africa and china. the point here is that this is a global history project. the point here is and i want to say this very clearly all of us are connected to african-american history. there's no way you can get away from that fact. and blackpast is the first attempt to try to pull all of this information together. we do it, again, because of volunteers. we do it because there are people dedicated to try to share
this information. so i urge all of you -- thank you leslie. then we'll go back to that. thank you. this is why i have technical folks here. give leslie a hand here. [ applause ] without her i wouldn't have been able to do this. this is -- so african-american history is both the large and the small. it's the large, it's the global, it's the universal as reflected in blackpast and i hope everybody in here will go home and look at blackpast. we want to get our numbers up to 5 million visitors. we already passed the 2 million mark so we have a good chance to reach 5 million. more important to get the numbers is to make sure people understand that this is a global history. understand the vast array of information that is available to us. for too long, for too long people like me have said where can i fine african-american history? there's no african-american history. or teachers have said we wish we
could teach african-american history but we don't know where to fine it. there's no excuse any more. there's absolutely no excuse any more. this is where african-american history resides and all it takes is a couple of clicks on the internet to get to it. but anyway, let me talk about the main topic tonight and the main topic, of course is -- let's see let me pull it up. the main topic, of course, is the african-american west and in particular slavery in the west and in particular how kansas relates to all of that. now one of the reasons i like coming to kansas city, besides the jazz and the barbecue and yes i'll partake of both later. one reason i like coming to kansas city because i consider kansas city kind of the jumping off place or the starting point for western history. not just african-american western history but for western history in general and, of course, there are two places as you can see on the screen.
you guys have a monitor over there. can everybody over here see this? okay. you know these places. independence and west port. those are the places where the various trails west would go. and in a sense because of that kansas city has always played a crucial role, a pivotal role in terms of western history. nowhere is that more the case than in terms of the issue of slavery in the west and we're going to talk about that. kansas is crucial to the coming of the civil war. that's unfortunate. that's unfortunate. at the kansas-missouri border are crucial to what we would know as the civil war and the civil war, of course, is crucial to the changing of american history. now i'll give you something dramatic -- well maybe not so dramatic but think about this for a minute. i wouldn't be standing here before you if the civil war had
gone the other way. in other words, there are consequences of events in history and those consequences have repercussions that extend right to this very day. let's talk about kansas. i would argue that the kansas-missouri border is the fountain head of african-american history in the west and is the fountain head of that history -- i don't know of any other state beyond kansas that has so closely aligned its history itself as a state, so closely aligned to african-american history. now that may not make a lot of sense to you now and since we're saying this in missouri you may not think this is all that cool, but i'm going to try to make that argument tonight. no other state -- there's no other state beyond kansas whose history is so intertwined with the idea of african-american freedom, african-american
liberation. and also i would argue that i can't think of any other place except maybe lawrence in kansas that's more important to this history than quintero. i'll admit i'm not an expect on quindaro. quindaro has a history that extends beyond kansas and missouri and extend to the entire nation and it will help bring about the war that brings about the liberation of a whole host of black people, 4 million black people. the wyandot indians were the first abolitionists in kansas but not the only one. we'll talk about that in turn as well. bear with me as i start to
digress for a minute. i'm sorry i should have brought this up earlier. these are scenes from quindaro. i haven't been there. i'm going there on saturday. i'm looking forward to it. i'm looking forward to literally touching that history that's so very important to all of us in this room. but i start this lecture not with quindaro, not with kansas or missouri. i start with a much larger tale, a much larger story and that's the story of slavery in the american west. few historians link slavery to this region. we like to believe we're free from the curse of slavery. so many people talk about the curse of slavery and say the west was never inflicted with that curse. i argue differently that there were black slaves in every state and territory in the west up until 1860. let me repeat that. there were black slaves, enslaved black folks in every
state and territory in the west up until 1860. indeed, the vast majority of blacks who came to the west were themselves involuntary migrants. by involuntary migrants i mean they were brought as slaves into this region. there are some areas that are almost obvious in term of the question of slavery, texas. texas in 1860 would have 182,000 enslaved people. i'm going to put that in perspective, guys. one-third of the population of texas was enslaved by the other two-thirds. or put it another way, of the 50 counties in texas there are at least 17 that were predominantly black and predominantly black means that they were predominantly slaves. i won't say this, i'll let you read this quote from judge c. a. frazier. can you guys read this?
okay then i'll have to read it. this is texas judge c. a. frazier writing in 1860. i have no doubt of the right of a civilized and christian nation to capture the african wherever he may be found and subject him to labor, meaning slavery. than i have of one of our people to capture a wild horse on the prairies and reduce him to labor. in other words, this is a powerful justification -- i want to you see the picture here. this is brownsville, texas. brownsville, texas is as far south as you can go and remain in the united states. so slavery touched every corner of texas before the civil war. but i will also remind you that slavery touched other areas as well. these are former slaves in the indian territory. wish we had more time to talk about the indian territory. these are slaves in utah. i wish we had more time to talk about the mormon church and
slavery. and there were slaves in the oregon territory. as i said, slavery was a universal institution at least as far as the west was concerned. there was no corner that was free of slavery. there were enslaved miners in california. in fact, one-third of the blacks who mined gold in california in the 1850s were enslaved people. let me repeat that. one-third of the people who mined gold. we think of gold as a quintessentially where people were making money. enslaved people were involved in that as well. slavery in california. people think of berkeley today and think of it as radical politics. it's hard for us to imagine that in berkeley, in 1858 there were enslaved people. think about that. berkeley. if there's any place in the west that one would not identify with slavery, it would be berkeley
and yet there were slaves in berkeley. slavery in san francisco. we don't usually think of slavery in san francisco but this is an ad for fugitive slave. this is an ad for a fugitive slave from sacramento. so slavery is the institution. it's an institution that spread all throughout california. there's a myth or there's an idea, let me put it like this, an old idea that historians for a long time will argue, it was the idea that slavery couldn't extend beyond the 100th meridian. the argument they made slavery can only flourish where there's adequate rainfall. there's not adequate rainfall beyond the 100th meridian. but slaves can be cowboys. slaves can be gold miners. slaves can work in almost any occupying that existed in the west and there were those who advocated for just that thing. the 100th meridian is not the boundary. hardly the natural boundary of
slavery. slavery in texas. you can see the counties, predominantly black counties seen here. there's brazo rirch a county which was typical. it was an overwhelmingly black county and overwhelmingly black. forth ben county and a whole host of other counties in east texas represented. the picture at the bottom an old plantation home that reflect that stelave culture in texas. in oregon. nobody who argue that oregon is an extension of the south. let me read this statement. what representative william allen is a representative in the oregon territorial legislature. he's in a debate in 1857 with an anti-legislat anti-legislator. here's what representative allen
said in 1857. gentlemen, he's talking about dryer, the gentleman says the slavery does not exist here meaning in oregon. well it has been proved upon this floor that slavery does exist in this territory in several counties. there are some in benton and lane and polk and i know not how many other counties. well, sir, slavery property is here. it is then -- it then becomes our duty to protect that property as recognized by the constitution of the united states. how many of you before tonight ever imagined slavery in oregon? okay. three people. four people. this is what i mean by slavery existing every where. indeed my argument, my argument is basic. that essentially the country, the nation was divided between north and south. the north by 1860 being free territory. the south, obviously, being dedicated to the institution of
slavery. here's where the west comes in. the west is the great prize that both the north and south were seek. they want to determine both northerners and southerners want to determine the course of history in the west, will that course be a history of freedom or will it be a history of slavery? that's the great debate that's going on. in many ways that explains what happens in kansas, on the kansas-missouri border that we'll talk about a little bit later on. but i'll tell you one thing. if there were people who generally involved in the debate over slavery one group that already settled that question and that's african-americans. african-americans in the west were to a person dedicated to the destruction of slavery whether they were enslaved or whether they were free. i'm going to spend a little bit of time talking about one of those guys, this is george bush. this is my george bush as opposed to president george
bush. let me give you some background. george bush was a black man. rieshlly mixed background. married to a white woman. he had six or seven kids. in 1844 he decided that he was going to take his family -- he was a farmer -- in of all places clay county. you know where clay county is. he was a farmer in clay county and going to take his family to the west because he unstood being a free black farmer in clay county after shocks compromise. i'll read all of this. john meanto remembers george bush. he was a younger person who befriended george bush on the trail and this is what bush said. this is meanto writing about this. i struck the road again in advance of my friends in idaho territory. george w. bush in sight. joining him we went on to the
springs. bush had means and a white woman for a wife and a family of five children. not many men of color left a slave state so well to do but it was not in the nature of things that he should be permitted to forget his color. as we went along together, he riding a mule and i on foot he led the conversation to this subject. he told me that he should watch when we got to oregon what usage was awarded to people of color and if company not find a free man's rights he would seek the protection of the mexican government in california or new mexico. he said there were few people on this train that i would say as much to as he had just said to me. i told him i understood. understand what george bush is saying. he's going to oregon. he already understands that there are restrictions on black freedom in oregon and he's willing to go somewhere else. so for him the oregon trail is
not just going to get land, it's going to get freedom. it's going to try to find a place where he can have freedom. so the bush party does come out to oregon. and they decide not to stay on the south side, they decide to move north into what is now washington territory. they are the first non-indians, create the first non-indian settlement. because of that move others follow and eventually washington territory will be divided or broken away from oregon to become a separate territory and ultimately a state. so even my own state has a history that's tied to the institution of slavery. slavery in the west. at least in this instance the resistance to the institution of slavery. let me talk quickly about the next example. this is charles mitchell. no one in this room has heard of charles mitchell and rightly so.
charles mitchell was a 13-year-old boy, enslaved boy in olympia, washington territory. abolitionists helped him to escape. he sneaked on to a vessel that would go from olympia north to british columbia. he was eventually discovered. he was thrown into the captain's cabin, held there because the assumption was that once the ship got to victoria, he would be taken into custody and he would be brought back to olympia and the attempt to gain his freedom would fail. here's what actually happened. abolitionists, here are some of these abolitionists. this is the victoria pioneer rifle core militia in british columbia. i started to say they are the black militia. they are the militia. they are the militia for british
columbia. almost all abolitionists. they find out about mitchell. they rescued him. they bring him before the chief justice of the colony and the chief justice of the colony says insofar as mitchell is in a vessel that's in british waters and sinceberry detain, great britain has ended slavery in 1833 mitchell is a free man. now there were comments about that and i wish you guys could read these comments. can anybody read these? read them out loud. go ahead, miss. go ahead. we're all in school here. go ahead. start with the first one, the one on the left. >> he was a little too far north. >> go ahead.
[ one ind [ undiscernible ] >> this is the northwest newspaper in port townsend. port townsend is a lovely town but a pro slavery town in 1860. can anybody on this side read the other section? go ahead. wait, wait. okay. the microphone. >> chief justice cameron decided that the law was clear that no man could be held a slave on british soil. he therefore ordered charles to be forthwith set at liberty. the decision was met by considerable applause and a few hisses. the boy was then welcomed to liberty by his white and colored friends.
it was a righteous decision. >> notice i called these opposing viewpoints. the americans were angry, the british were actually glad that this happened. but for charles mitchell this would mean his freedom. my point here and then i'll talk about this. my point here is that there are a lot of ways to challenge slavery. george bush challenged slavery in his own way and helps create the territory of washington which becomes the state of washington. charles mitchell takes matters into his own hands and with the help of abolitionists, white and black he becomes a free man. but these two stories also reflect on the fact that slavery is universal. it's all over the west. of course, nowhere is this more the case than in california. this is an enslaved minor. and here's the reason he's enslaved. technically you guys know your history. technically california is a free state. forget that. if the law -- it doesn't matter what the law says.
if the law is not enforced then freedom doesn't mean anything and i'll read this very quickly. although the present law makes it impossible to hold a slave longer than the present year, owning slaves is not a risk in california. because no one will put himself to the trouble of investigating the matter. slavery in california. we don't usually identify slavery with california but this is the situation that was going on. i'll also say this, there are people in california, white and black, who are dedicated to black freedom. there were abolitionists who would do everything they could to free as many of these enslaved people as possible. as i said before, you know, if there are slaves in berkeley, then there are abolitionists in oakland who are going to get them free. who are going make sure they are free people. the reason this is so poignant and so powerful is because in a place, in a place like california, in a place like san
francisco, slaves and free people are walking the same streets. they are both on the streets of san francisco. they are running into each other every day. as a result the free them, the abolitionists are more dedicated to bringing their liberty. peter lester was one of those guys who had it all. he was an abolitionists both in philadelphia before he came out and then when he got out the california, to san francisco. he was a wealthy measure chance. he didn't have to get involved in the political struggle but he did anyway. one of the thing he did was to open up the basement of his house to fugitive slaves. and there those fugitive slaves met lawyers. there those lawyers and those fugitive slaves would plan their freedom. in other words, this is an act of struggle going on in california as well. but nowhere is the struggle against slavery more important, more relevant, more powerful than in kansas.
kansas becomes the symbol. it becomes the fountainhead for abolition or liberation. kansas, white abolitionists and black abolitionists vowed to do all in their power to free enslaved african-americans and more importantly to create a political structure -- yeah i know some of you are familiar with this image -- to create a political structure that would prevent the territory and state to be dominated by slave holders. kansas -- who doesn't know about john brown. kansas in the 1850s attracted a dedicated group of abolitionists and those abolitionists would run the underground railroad as diana talked about. they would help shepherd african-americans out of slavery into freedom. i'll show you just a few slides. these are women abolitionist judges. this is clarina nichols and sarah robinson. they hid black slaves.
sara robinson was the wife of a governor. this is the dedication to freedom on the part of some in kansas at that particular time. i want you to read this -- i want somebody else to read this statement. this is clarina nichols protects a fugitive slave in 1861. any volunteers to read this statement? >> this is a story of clarina nichols protects a fugitive slave in 1861. my cistern, every brick of it rebuilt from the chimney of any late home played its part in the drama of freedom. one beautiful ending late in october 1861 as twie late was fading from the bluff a hurried message came to me from our
neighbor, fielding johnson. you must hide caroline. >> in other words, ordinary people, not so ordinary people, prominent people were engaged in the process of freeing slaves or protecting blacks from the institution of slavery. i come back to this image again. john brown and all that he represents. it's not just john brown. john brown and others are going to come to kansas, james h. lane, james montgomery, they are going become the famous or infamous jayhawkers. kansas. i want to make this point. it's crucial for us to understand this. kansas as far as i know is the only state in the country, only territory in the country at the time where white men risked their lives to go into a slave territory and free black people. i want you to think about that. the only other time this was happening was when a woman named
harriet tubman in maryland. some people don't agree with that. and i suggest that there are probably some reasons why they don't agree with it and i'll try to deal with those reasons. at any rate, this is the situation that's going on. anti-slavery men, white men going to free black men in missouri. kansas, at least in the beginning, pays -- kansas in the beginning pays tribute to the abolitionists. this is the first of two pictures i took in the kansas city chamber. i was surprised to see both of them. can you guys read the names? barely can read the names. charles robinson. john brown. a. h. reeder. these are abolitionists. their names are inscribed in the state capitol, in the state capitol building in topeka.
other names. j.h. lane. james montgomery. other names of abolitionists inscribed in the state capitol building. kansas then becomes this place of freedom. now, i'm going to say that, yes, there were whites who were dedicated to the freedom of freeing of black people and i think we have to give them credit here. but ultimately it was the black people who freed themselves. the vast majority of the people who would become free. look at these figures. in 1860 there were only 627. in 1865 there were 12,000. these 12,000 represented 9% of the population which is a larger percentage than there is of black folks in kansas to this day. so why did that happen? let me suggest a confluence of geography and politics. geography meaning on this side of the line, there were a lot of slave holding counties.
some of the most intense slave holding counties were in the missouri valley and along the border with kansas. what that meant then is that there were a lot of people who were going to say we need to leave missouri for freedom in kansas and there was one town that beckoned them. there was two. there was quindaro and also a place called lawrence. i feel i'm preaching to the choir. you know the lawrence story. this is one of the two banners that represent lawrence. what the stiff lawrence is all about. created by abolitionists. it was so dedicated to those abolitionists they named the main street massachusetts street. why did they do that? animosi because massachusetts was most identified with the destruction of slavery. understand what's going on here. they were making a direct challenge to slave holders who were 30 miles away. they were saying to those slave holders look we're going place of freedom, we'll stand for
freedom, and do everything we can to make sure people are free and, of course, there was going to be push back. you know some of that push back. lawrence is sacked by border ruffians in 1866. one person is killed. i feel like i'm preaching to the choir. you guys know this. there are national repercussions. how many of you heard about the caning of senator sumner. most of you. how many of you know that was as a direct result of lawrence? okay. well, then i don't need to talk. you guys know all of this. this is where lawrence -- this is where kansas becomes part of the national struggle. these are the debates that -- yes, there's murder in kansas but that murder in kansas comes to the floor of the senate in the sense of this violence at this particular time. kansas or excuse me lawrence doesn't escape. william quindaro, the raid on lawrence, kansas in 1863.
even now when we look back, when i look back on this, this is amazing. 190 men and boys killed in lawrence, kansas. they are all of age or almost of age to go into the military. therefore, they were shot and killed. there was a terror campaign. we sometimes well terror is going on, you know, in the 21st century. terror was going on in kansas at that particular moment. that's the kind of situation that was going on against the backdrop of the civil war. but as i said before, we can talk about abolitionists who were freeing blacks but we need to talk about a much larger number of blacks who freed themselves and they did so with their feet. they did so by making their way to lawrence and by making their way to kansas and freedom. henry clay bruce was one of those folks. henry clay bruce was the brother of mississippi senator, future
senator blanch bruce. and he recounted what he did to regain his freedom. anybody illegal to read this? anybody? who is going to read? >> i strapped my waist to a pair of colt revolvers and plenty of ammunition for the run to the border. we avoided the main road and made the entire trip at night without meeting anyone. we crossed the missouri river on a ferrari goat to forth t. leavenworth, kansas and i then felt like a free man. >> this is july 1862. >> thousands of missouri slaves found their way into the union mines. protected by the gallant union soldiers and their free state of kansas. others still crossed the missouri river in search of
liberty on the bridge of ice which god had built for their special accommodation. these people came among as wholly destitute. their suffering was relieved by charity of friends here and elsewhere. >> those friends here and else was was the kansas emancipation league. they were dedicated to the destruction of slavery. i'll read this. this is short. this is richard cordley. the negros are not coming. the negros or not coming. they are here. they will stay here. they are to be our neighbors whatever we may think about it, whatever we may do about it. it says a number of things. it says about the determination of abolitionists and suggests
there's resistance to those black folks coming in to kansas at that particular time. there are a whole host people. white abolitionists will help but a remarkable group of women i want to talk b-the ladies refugee aid society will help. these are black women, many hadn't been in kansas more than two or three or four years. they were themselves former slaves, fugitive slaves bust they banded together and used their resources from bake sales and everything else to raise money to help those thousands who were coming in behind them. eventually the ladies refugee aid society evolved into the kansas federation of colored women's club which i understand is still around today and if they are they have a really proud legacy because this is how they began. now, these people are coming to kansas. they are free in kansas. and a lot of the abolitionists
assumed that they would essentially become farmers or farm workers in kansas. in other words, exchange labor for their freedom. a lot of other people had other notion, including the blacks themselves, particularly the black men. they decided to join the union army. you guys may know that a larger percentage of white soldiers in the union army came from kansas than any other state. you probably know that do you not? you know it now. let me suggest to you that a larger percentage of black soldiers came into the union army from kansas that by far than from any other state. let me add to that. not only did they come in to the army, they were brought into a larger extent by this man james h. lane. and they formed the first kansas colored regiment and second kansas colored regiment. these were people who literally were enslaved a few years
earlier. they understood perhaps better than northwest meaning of freedom and therefore they were willing to put their lives on the line. these are two depictions. this is one in butler, missouri and this is the battle of honey springs in oklahoma which is one of the most famous battles that the first kansas color participated in. let me be clear. we all remember the movie "glory" and know the history of the 4th regiment and officially the first black registerments in the civil war. unofficially this is the first black regiment. these people preceded the glory folks by two years. by two years. these are kansas people who are fighting for their freedom. [ applause ] of course this is one of the ofteners, captain william mathews. you can see that there are changes that are taking place rapidly in kansas. all this is going on against the backdrop of just a few years. 1860 to 1865.
i love this. this is the battle flag of the first kansas colored volunteers. these women still preserve the battle flag. you can almost see in their faces how proud they are of the fact that they would the flag that was waved in battle numerous times during the american civil war. so what happens here is that african-americans in kansas become part of the body politic or they demand to become part of the body politic. the kansas state colored convention meets in leavenworth in october of 1863. remember these dates. there are 7,000 black folks in kansas. almost all of them have come since 1860. and yet, they commit themselves to a future in the state of kansas. they commit themselves to become part of the body politic. their goals, universal male suffrage, access to public education, right to serve on juries, a ban on discrimination and public transportation.
i would argue, you know, some might differ with me on this, i would argue this is the beginning of the civil rights movement in kansas. not the 1960s. not the 1950s. this is the beginning of that s of that in a minute. this is from the leavenworth convention. i'll read the short stuff. it does not follow that because so much is being done for us that we can do nothing for ourselves. and then they began the talk about how they can organize the black community to be self-sufficient. how they can organize the black community so it controls its destiny. the second statement is just as important. it applies as much now as it did then. our misery is not necessary to your happiness. your rights can never be secure while ours are denied. remember that. your rights can never be secured
while ours are denied. and so these folks were beginning to assert themselves as part of the kansas political scene. okay. why does he show this? you all know about linda brown in the 1954 topeka board of education decision. you probably know linda brown just died about a month ago. do you not? the supreme court was so different then. so very different then, but i would argue that different as it was, it still passed down a decision that would fundamentally alter america and alter american society that would eventually allow for a much more diverse supreme court today. but this is what you don't know. this is the background. linda brown's father filed suit in i think 1951, but the first suit was filed in 18 79, and it was filed by black men and women
upset that topeka had segregated the schools. they filed the lawsuit. and there was a ka bunch of lawsuits. there was an editorial that inspired the lawsuit. we hear no speedish schools, irish, german schools, not none. all the children of the city are at liberty to attend the school nearest to them except the poor child that god chose to create with a black face. we say to every colored man and woman to come together and resolve that you would no longer submit to this unjust discrimination on account of your color. this thing has gone on long enough, and now if it can be stopped, let's stop it. this is 1879. in other words, when you think of brown v board of education, understand the long roots and there were people in 1879 who were dedicated to trying to bring about this change.
why is this? even though the civil war was fought and even though the north won. there's still a reconstruction process. we think about it in the south, but look at what's going on in kansas. essentially what happens is there's a new group of leaders who will emerge who will fight for rights and justice. the most important of those leaders, there were a lot of them, the most important was charles henry langston. as you can see from this photograph, he's overshadowed by his most famous -- more famous congressman brother and langston hughes. but charles henry langston is a remarkable guy. and langston hughes says much of his politics comes from listening to his grandfather's struggle. and his grandfather was committed to justice and freedom
for the people in kansas. >> abolitionist and civil rights activist, 1817, we ask at your hands no special privilege. we seek no favor, but we do demand equality before the law. we seek complete emancipation, legal equality. these are the natural inherent and inalienable rights of man, 1866. >> don't go anywhere. there's another one i want you to read. i love the way she reads. what happens with charles henry langston and other black men and some black women come together to create a conference. another convention.
they meet this time in lawrence, kansas in 1866, and they talk about their rights. and this is a longer one. be prepared. this is the statement that comes from that convention in lawrence, kansas in 1866. >> black kansans demand voting rights, 18 66. the right to exercise the elected franchise is an inseparable part of self-government. no man, black or white, can justly be deprived of this right. it is not merely a conventional privilege which may be extended to or withheld from any class of citizens at the will of a majority. but a right as sacred and invaluable as a right to life, liberty, or property. >> before you go on to the next paragraph, understand what's being said here. no man, white or black, can be
justly the deprived of this right. it is not merely a conventional privilege that needs to be extended by the white majority. there was a debate whether blacks were going to be allowed to vote and whether women white or black would be allowed to vote, and the men would decide. and this convention is saying the men don't have the right to decide this. these are rights that need to be extended toereveryone. these are the natural rights of human beings. >> since we blacks are going to remain among you, we believe it unwise to take from us as a class our natural rights. shall our presence con deuce to the welfare peace and prosperity of the state, or be a cause of dissension, discard, and irritation. we must be a constant trouble in this state until it extends to us an equal and exact justice from the proceedings of the
convention of colored citizens, lawrence, kansas, october 17th, 1966. >> 1966 is obviously wrong. that should be 1866. that's my fault, guys. my bad, as they say. sorry. i want to focus on this one thing. we must be a constant trouble in this state until it extends to us equal and exact justice. and then i want you to think about the guy who walked out a little while ago. you know? there's a relationship there. even though he and i may disagree, understand that he has a vision of rights and justice that may differ from all of ours, but it's still predicated on the fact that all are equal, and all should be treated equally regardless of their circumstances or regardless of their color, regardless of the clothes they wear, regardless of the background they come from. that's what equality is all about. and that's not something that came from me or him. that's something that came from the founding fathers.
thank you. charles langston is going to continue his agitation until he dies. it's not equal and exact justice. there's not complete freedom as you'll see in a minute, and that struggle continues to this very day. i want to suggest to you something. freedom is not simply just getting the ballot. for african americans in the late 19th century freedom is only land. it's having a control over your own destiny. having the right to have your own and kansas becomes that place for a lot of african americans hoping to do just that. after the civil war nearly 40,000 african american women
and men headed to kansas to find that freedom through land ownership. i want you to read the words. the topeka colored citizen. our advice to the people of the south, come west. come to kansas in order that you may be free from the prosecution of the rebels. we know who the rebels are. if blacks come here and starve, oh well. there's an idea that blacks can't survive in kansas. they'll come and starve, and the editor says this is a black editor. if the blacks come here and starve, all well, it is better to have skartarved to death in kansas than to be shot and killed in south. a lot of black folks did come and took advantage of the homestead act. kansas became a place of particular interest for a lot of african americans. i have free reasons for that. i'll work through them. first, kansas is the place that
is closest to the south which has the large black population that has an allowance for homesteading. you know you can come and claim 160 acres, and if you stay on the land for five years, it's yours for free as long as you improve it. if you really want to push the process, you can stay on it for six months and buy the land for $1.25 an acre. where we can buy $1.25 an acre land anymore? and so there are a lot of people, far more whites than blacks but -- you guys, i know you are descendents of some of these people who homesteaded. i don't even have to look at your faces. i know you are. and there were a lot of black folks who participated in homesteading, especially in kansas. they came for the same reason as everybody else. they wanted land and they wanted opportunity. for blacks, it was a little more than just wanting the land. for blacks, owning the land
meant full and perfect freedom. it meant real citizenship. real connection to the community. they come to homestead. there's factor number two. and i know something about the current republican party in kansas. but in the 1880s, kansas republican party seemed to be a political beacon. it seemed to be a place of hope. frederick douglas said it best. the republican party is a shift and all else is the sea. the republican party is the ship and all else is the sea. if you're in alabama, louisiana, mississippi, and the democrats are taking over, and you learn that there's a place dominated by republicans, you might take a chance. you might just say that's better. and, of course, there's the legacy of bleeding kansas. there's john brown again. how many times have we seen john
brown? but the symbolism here is important. it's not just a picture of john brown up there. kansas was the first state where john brown and other abolitionists took direct action to free black people. kansas was the first state to support to emancipation prok proclamati proclamation. kansas was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment. kansas was a place where people would come to be free. not just black folks. people came to central kansas because they hoped to be free. black folks made it to kansas at the same time. including the exodusers, the people from mississippi and alabama who made their way out to a place called kansas. i want to tell you a story.
this is a story about a sharecropper to epitomizes this tale. john solomon lewis. this guy and this family, sharecroppers in mississippi, they get way behind in debt. the owner threatens them with violence, and they decide we got to get away. we've got to get out of here. if we don't, if we stay, we may be killed. and so john solomon louis sneaks his family out of his sharecropper cabin in the middle of the night. they go down to the swamp near the mississippi river, and they wait in hopes that a steam boat will come and bik thpick them u. they wait for six weeks hoping somebody will stop, and that steam boat captain finally comes up, pulls up and allows john solomon louis and his family to get on that seam boat.
you can see. this isn't john solomon louis, but these are the exdusters bound for kansas. the steam boat captain says where do you want to go, john solomon louis utters one word, kansas. that's it. just kansas. and everybody knows exactly what that means. that's what i mean by the image of kansas as opposed to the reality. the image of kansas among african americans was going to be extremely powerful at that time. and so african americans will move. these are the descendants of the exdusters. these people are in a host of small towns and on some small farms throughout kansas to this day. they will become part of the body politic of kansas. of course the most famous kansas settlement is in the west,
nicodemus. how many of you have heard of this. you know the story. it's named after the legendary black prince. i love this quote. the land was so flat that one could see what his neighbor was doing in the next county. this is nicodemus. this is the area around there. and there was one woman. i love her statement. she came from kentucky where there were rolling hills and trees. and she followed her husband. her husband had already come out. and the husband came back to get her. he brought her to nicodemus. he pointed there, and she said i looked with all the eyes i had. where is nicodemus. i don't see it. then he pointed to the plumes of smoke and said, the -- she said the families lived in dugouts. we landed and we struck tents. the scenery was not at all inviting, and i began to cry.
i mean, think about that. think about if you come from kentucky. if you come from missouri and you end up in western kansas, that's a challenge. the physical landscape, the physical landscape is a challenge. but the important thing is that willie anna stayed and she and others stayed and helped to make nicodemus for a while a prosperous community. anybody want to read this one? we'll have the people in the black raise their hand. >> nicodemus as described by the newspaper in the newspaper in 1886. nicodemus was originally settled by the colored race and by their patience and untiring energy have succeeded in gaining a grand, glorious victory over
nature and the elements and what used to be the great american desert now blooms with waving grain. >> you know, this is a pioneer story. this is powerful as any. if we had more time, i would talk about the real little house on the prairie which is black settlers in kansas and nebraska. you get the sense of this. now i'm going to get personal. i went to nicodemus in 2010. don't read this. the print is too small. how many of you have been there? oh. okay. maybe i should stop right now. this is the photograph i took. they have about 300 people as permanent residents but every august second, august 1st and second, thousands of people descend there for the annual
parade. that parade is a testimony to that sense of self-determination. here's this guy on the tractor, and there are buffalo soldiers and all kinds of people. they all reflect on the idea that nicodemus was a thriving and prosperous community. let me let this state what i would suggest to you. nicodemus is not alone. there were thousands of african american farmers. they tilled the soil in 81 of the 105 counties in kansas by 1920. blacks comprised 5% of the state's farmers by 1920. blacks owned 1400 farms which included collectively 177,000 acres of land in 1920. nicodemus reflects the idea of black prosperity, especially on the land. this is from the co-pea ka mail and breeze.
some of the most successful farmers in kansas are colored men who came to the state without a dollar and who have accumulated small fortunes. they own fine farms, live in handsome country houses, ride to town in good carriages and are respected by their neighbors, and they have all the advantages and comforts and joy of their white neighbors. for some black folks, there was some success. this is the most successful of those people, junius groves and his wife. he was a former slave. groves. he was a former slave. he comes to kansas in 1879. he's not really part of the exodus, but he makes his way out from kentucky. he has, like, a dollar and a half in his pocket. he goes to work for $0.75 day. and 30 years later junius groves is one of the most prosperous
people, i didn't say one of the most prosperous black people, one of the most prosperous people in kansas. he is by this point the potato king. i mean he raises more irish potatoes than any other farmer in america. he has several thousand square miles -- not -- i'm sorry, 40 squi square miles in seven kansas counties and by 1907, he's reputed to be the largest grower of irish potatoes anywhere in the country. he was too early for mcdonald's, but he still made a great deal of money. this is groves. this is matilda. this is their house near evansville. how many of you know where evansville is. edwardsville. okay. okay. i'm sorry. you have to correct two things on this. you know where -- where is edwardsville, then? where is it?
it's where? on the other -- this is his house. it was the largest in the county. the first to have a telephone and running water. this is a black man who had success on the kansas soil. we know something about the general civil rights movement. and we all know the story of greensboro, the first sit-ins, except that's not true. the first sit-ins were actually at this drugstore in wichita, kansas two years before greensboro. in fact, the people in greensboro learned from the folks in wichita, kansas about the techniques for organizing a sit-in. and one of the leaders of that sit-in was ronald w. walters who eventually becomes a prominent
professor at howard university. this is what he writes in -- about this. he's writing years later, but this is what he says. as we sat, we seldom spoke to each other, but many things crossed my mind. how could i react when my white classmates came in? how would they react? would my career in college be affected? would i be able to get a job? what did my family think of what i was doing? were we doing the right thing at all? i am sure others were thinking the same thing, but they never waivered. i was proud of our little group. in other words, these were people making history and establishing a pattern in wichita that would spread across the south and the entire country. what i'm suggesting here is that the struggle for civil rights that began in the 1860s in kansas would continue. we see it with the brown decision.
we also see it with the protest demonstrations. and let me say this. the 60s struggle for civil rights was not a complete victory. indeed, there are still issueses that we deal with today. and when i talk about that, i talk about it in kansas but also in the entire country. martin luther king's dream has not come about today. i'm going to show you something. these are the demonstrations in kansas, in lawrence, kansas. this is what i want to get to. and i know how many of you are familiar with the death of dominique white. how many of you have heard of this before? this is a black lives matter issue. and i guess the sad thing about this is that you can go and look up the deaths of these unarmed black men all over the country, including in topeka, kansas. i don't know all the circumstances here.
people from topeka would be in a better position to talk about this. >> i'm from topeka, and i know about it. the other thing that's not often mentioned is it was just not far from a school. >> yeah. this is the issue. >> just repeat what he said. >> okay. i got to repeat what you said. he knows about topeka. he lives in topeka. the other thing about it it was yards away from a school. okay. i think i've got it. here's the point that i want to make. i want to conclude with this. we can revere the civil rights movement. we can revere the abolitionists white and black in kansas who did the right thing in the 1850s. who at great risk to themselves brought about racial justice or as much racial justice as they could provide at that particular moment, but the battle is not over. the struggle is not over. this nicodemus symposium is not
just about nicodemus. it's about how you have to extend forward the legacy, the legacy of racial justice. i urge you guys. you weren't around in the 1850s or 1860s. some of you weren't even around in the 1960s, but we're all here now, and there are still issues to be dealt with, and i urge you to think about becoming the new kansas abolitionists, becoming the people today who will do what john brown and the others did in the early period to try to bring about racial justice. i hope you'll take up the challenge and know that history is not just entertaining. history have a road map to the future, and we are the future. we are living it right now. and those challenges are still here. the question is how will you meet the challenges? thank you very much.
>> excellent. that was such a great speech. the time flew by. so we only have time for two questions. i know you guys have so many more. i know. i get it, but we got to get him to dinner and clean up. two questions. raise your hand if you have a question. i'm going to make you choose who gets to ask them. raise your hand if you have a question. >> okay. >> hello. i am stacey evans, the chair of the western university association. my question is what made kansas change into such a red state? >> i can cop out. i don't live in kansas. i live in washington. it's a complex question. it's predicated on the fact that
really -- i don't want to leave the impression that all of the whites in kansas were dedicated abolitionists. they were not. most were anti-slavery. i make a distinction between them. abolitionists wanted to bring about freedom and somewhat equality. anti-slavery people wanted to get rid of slavery was it affected them. those folks after slavery was destroyed, they backed away from equality because they were never committed to them in the first place. in the first time kansas republicans became more and more conservative. all republicans became more and more conservative. can we see a link between abraham lincoln and donald trump? they're both republicans. if you can explain that at a national level, we can explain what happens in kansas.
another question? >> the last question, t a lot of -- it's a lot of question. >> go ahead. >> in your research did you come across anything of bishop vernon and also the statue erected -- >> i don't know about the second man, but bishop vernon is discussed on our website. he is not the founder of western university. he certainly is one of the major figures, and so take a look at the website. go to black past and you can read about him. ma'am? go ahead. >> i can tell you a little bit. >> okay. she can tell us. >> i'm sure he probably already knows this answer. maybe he's just asking it for the crowd. he was the dean at western university for two terms. and he also went to be the treasurer for the united states of america. and during the time that he's the treasurer, of course, his
name is on the united states currency. >> wow. wow. >> could i take a point of personal privilege? i hope that somewhere in this audience is a woman named vergie brak. are you here? is she here? >> she's over here. >> there she is. this is my point of personal privilege. vergie was my high school librarian back in the day. she looks younger than i do. but she was my high school librarian. stand up, please. and she now lives in topeka. i can say that i'm standing here because i used the library. vergie, thank you for coming. thank you. >> and we would like to thank all of you for coming out tonight. check our website for more of our upcoming events. thank you.
all week we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. lectures in history. american art%s. real america. the civil war. oral histories. the presidency. and special event coverage about our nation's history? enjoy american history tv now. weeknights we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight a look at a recent conference held at purdue university titled remaking american political history. we'll feature programs from the gathering focusing on u.s. politics and government from the earliest days of american republic. american history tv airs at 8 p.m. eastern on c-span3.
>> sunday on q and a. new york times staff photographer doug mills talks about photos covering president trump. >> obviously he enjoys having us around. i really believe despite his constant comments about fake news and the media and so forth, i really feel he enjoys having us around, because it helps drive his message. it helps drive the news of the day which he can do every day and does every day. he's constantly driving the message. and, therefore, having us around really allows hip to do that. -- him to do that. >> sunday night at 8 eastern on c-span's q and a. next, historian henry louis gates talks about reconstruction which lasted from the end of the civil war until 1877. the amendments to promote equality for african americans and the jim crow laws and other