tv Bleeding Kansas CSPAN August 31, 2015 6:12pm-6:25pm EDT
see into the dome where that is. when you're at the top of the capital, and you can go out on the balcony and look and see for about 40 miles, if you lean back on one of the four corners of the balcony, you can see -- who is a kansan indian warrior. he is a bronze statue and i guess even though i mentioned earlier that it took us 37 years to complete our capital, some people might say it was not completed until 2002 because that is the year we put that on top of the building. there were always notes that there should be a statue on top of the building, and, for a while, the goddess of agriculture was considered. she was considered a little too promiscuous for the state of kansas, so she was not chosen. but it is an iconic tribute to the original people here first. so there was a big ceremony when
he was placed on top of the building. it is a little tie-in for the old and new. >> the series of violent battles about whether kansas would be a free state, upa next on the tour up to be cut, a conversation about bleeding kansas. >> in 1854, all eyes were on kansas because congress had passed a law creating the kansas nebraska territory and 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, it set in motion a tremendous competition between folks who wanted to expand slavery and folks who wanted to put it on a course of ultimate extinction. as a result, everybody was concerned about kansas. if you were for slavery, you wanted to make sure kansas would become a slave state. if you are opposed to slavery, you wanted to make sure no opportunities for slavery were opened up. this movement into the territory created by congress in 1854 becomes the headline for the next decade. then it becomes all out war. first, they move into kansas to set up institutions through the process of voting and creating the kansas legislature that would create laws that would
favor and support slavery. once that happens, then it becomes a constant -- a competition and people who want to make sure kansas does not become a slave state start pouring in as well. we are sitting in a house here in topeka 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. john brought his family from franklin, indiana, in march of 1855, 3 months after the town of topeka was established. he becomes an activist in the cause.
in the beginning of the fall of 1855, these rival forces are each creating their own towns here in the county, for instance, to come to see as a community that was established by proslavery people, now about five miles to the east of topeka. it was the scene of proslavery folks. and then one holiday and the people in his group were found, topeka of december of 1854, they come with the notion they will have a free state. that is just five miles apart. all up and down the kansas river, you have these communities. one is a free state community as opposed to compton, a proslavery
community. they hope, each one, to run the other side out. one of the things missourians do is they bring all sorts of militias from missouri into kansas. they identify lawrence as a community settled by new england antislavery people. so they really are going to drive the people out. so, an army literally comes into existence from all the militia units that are coming in from missouri. the war in december of 1855 is the result. i think what is interesting about the effort to eradicate lawrence and to drive all the antislavery people out of the
territory for this conflict, right outside of lawrence in december of 1855, is that the antislavery people, likewise, mobilize. for instance, the militia here in topeka, it goes to lawrence to defend lawrence. and john brown and his family come up to lawrence to help defend lawrence. you have all of these people coming together at lawrence and the proslavery people reinforce one another and the antislavery people reinforce one another, that new network is created as a result of the various antislavery people coming together at lawrence. and john meets john brown and they become associates in the whole resistance by two of the
efforts of the missouri institute control and promote and expand slavery. this house, we do not know exactly what it was built, but i think it was built in that summer and fall of 1856. this wall, which was right behind me, is an example of the intense conflict going on. structurally, the wall does not do anything holding the floors up or anything like that. but someone went to a lot of trouble to haul that in here and put this wall in from the basement up to the ceiling here on the first floor. i think it was built because of a need to reinforce the exterior walls. you have got these proslavery people with cannons running
around and shooting. in 1856 when the house was built, richie's idea was to make the house as solid as he possibly could. it is kind of like a fort in that sense. the house has become known as somebody's fort, whether you on one side or the other. that results ultimately in richie's arrest for his involvement in raiding stores. he will be arrested and he managed to escape and found his way back to franklin, indiana, leaving a wife.
when richie comes back to topeka in the spring of 1857, the free soil people have gained control. -- of the territorial legislature. they begin to institute rather than proslavery freelation, they enact soil antislavery legislation. ,that pretty well seals the deal for kansas to become a free state rather than a proslavery state. the result is pretty clear that the people have become dominant. when that happens, it turns into a different scenario.
that scenario is the people involved now began to operate the underground railroad. beginning in 1857, what happens is this house becomes one of the sitters where escaping slaves -- one of the centers where escaping slaves can find refuge and gain assistance to be transported to nebraska and into iowa, where they will be able to go to canada, where they will ultimately find themselves free. so the underground railroad becomes a less violent manifestation, though the same people were involved trying to weaken the fabric of slavery in missouri by helping runaways succeed.
we have an active underground railroad operation from 57, 58, 59 and so on, that this house plays a role and so on. the people like those who come to kansas because they see kansas as an opportunity to create a new society from the ground up. in that sense, it will be an opportunity for themselves but also an opportunity to shape the institutions in a way that they would conform to their value system. one of the things he will do is richie will be very committed to not only prohibition and women's rights and temperance and rights, butcans' he will be instrumental in founding washington university, to be an institution that is a part of this community. the idea that we will have an
educated citizenry, inclusive, it is an improvement over what we had in the mississippi river at the time. kansas city was a fertile ground for a new america. we tell the story to visitors. principally, we have an education program which we deal with, middle schoolers and education schools, where we talk about the underground railroad and we connect the activities this house represents. we tell the story and kids can identify with it. but we 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. you have freedom issues we talk