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$200 Reward! for runaway slaves

$200 Reward! for runaway slaves
Creator: Williams, G.D
Date: June 7, 1860
Wanted poster offering a reward of $200 for the capture of two slaves from Saline County, Missouri. It includes the names and descriptions of the two slaves.


A. Pierse to Eli Thayer

A. Pierse to Eli Thayer
Creator: Pierse, A.
Date: March 31, 1857
A. Pierse wrote from Washington, D.C. to Eli Thayer in Worcester, Massachusetts. Pierse was born in North Carolina and lived most of his life in the South but had been living in Minnesota Territory for the past seven years. He told Thayer that he planned to move to Kansas in the spring of 1857. Pierse offered Thayer his opinion on what free state supporters should do in Kansas Territory. He informed Thayer that, although he had "Southern opinions on the subject of slavery" and believed the federal government had no right to prohibit slavery in the territories, he was "without prejudice for or against either side" in the debate over slavery in Kansas Territory. Pierse suggested that the best course for free staters to take would be to accept the Dred Scott decision, actively participate in the political process in Kansas Territory, and work for the admission of Kansas as a state with or without slavery. Once Kansas was admitted, he contended, free state supporters would be on firmer legal ground to advocate for the prohibition of slavery, since it was generally accepted that "the people have the power to prohibit slavery in their state." He concluded by stating that once Kansas was a state, free staters could make the case that property would be worth 3 or 4 times more if slavery was prohibited in the state.


Aaron D. Stevens to Jennie Dunbar

Aaron D. Stevens to Jennie Dunbar
Creator: Stevens, Aaron D.
Date: December 3, 1859
From his jail cell at Charles Town, Virginia, abolitionist Aaron Dwight Stevens, 1831-1860, wrote his dear friend, Jennie Dunbar, regarding his actions and prospects ("Slavery demands that we should hang for its protection") and that he regretted nothing except that he would not live to "see this Country free." Stevens, reported to be one of abolitionist John Brown's bravest men, used the alias Captain Charles Whipple while following Brown. Stevens was convicted of treason and conspiring with slaves for his part in Brown's October 16, 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and was hung at Charles Town on March 16, 1860.


Abraham Lincoln to Mark W. Delahay

Abraham Lincoln to Mark W. Delahay
Creator: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
Date: May 14, 1859
Lincoln regretfully declines an invitation to attend the Osawatomie convention on May 18, 1859, which was to formally organize the Republican Party in Kansas. Lincoln warns against "the temptation to lower the Republican Standard [in whatever platform the convention might adopt] in order to gather recruits. "In my judgment," Lincoln continues, "such a step would be a serious mistake" that "would surrender the object of the Republican organization-- preventing the Spread and Nationalization of Slavery." This two-page, handwritten copy of a letter sent by Abraham Lincoln to Mark Delahay was probably given to the Kansas Historical Society by Delahay's daughter, Mary E. Delahay, in the early 1900s.


Address of the Constitutional Convention to American Public

Address of the Constitutional Convention to American Public
Date: April 3, 1858
A committee made up of John M. Walden, James Fletcher, Thomas Ewing, Jr., Isaac T. Goodnow, Henry J. Adams, T. Dwight Thacher, and Addison Danford prepared this eleven-page manuscript "address to accompany the instrument" adopted at the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention. The statement essentially laid out the philosophical foundations and rationale for the new document. It argued that the facts showed the overwhelming majority of Kansans desired admission as a free state.


African American woman tintype

African American woman tintype
Date: between 1860 and 1865
A tintype of an unidentified African American woman. This photo was passed down through generations of the Platt family. Jireh Platt was an active abolitionist in Mendon, Illinois. His sons Enoch and Luther, members of the Beecher Bible and Rifle Colony, settled in Wabaunsee County, Kansas Territory, where they operated a station on the Underground Railroad. The Platts may have helped this woman escape to freedom. The fact that she is wearing a wedding ring is significant, as slaves weren't legally allowed to marry.


Annals of Kansas, January - February, 1855

Annals of Kansas, January - February, 1855
Creator: Wilder, Daniel Webster, 1832-1911
Date: January, 1855 through February, 1855
D. W. Wilder's "Annals of Kansas," published in 1886, provides a day-by-day chronicle of significant events in Kansas. These are digital images of Annals of Kansas entries for the territorial period of 1854-1861.


B. W. Lewis Bros. To Governor Thomas Carney

B. W. Lewis Bros. To Governor Thomas Carney
Creator: B. W. Lewis Bros.
Date: August 24, 1863
B. W. Lewis Bros. of Glasgow, Missouri, writes Governor Thomas Carney of Topeka, Kansas, concerning its plan to send emancipated slaves to Kansas. The letter claims a high number of slaves are escaping their masters and are only recovered at considerable expense. The firm outlines a plan to free its slaves by November 1, 1863 and send them to Kansas by boat. The letter asks Governor Carney if he is aware of any objections to this plan. The letter claims that most of the slaves near Glasgow will have escaped to Kansas by year's end. President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in areas controlled by Confederate forces, became effective January 1, 1863. As a Union slave state, Missouri was not legally affected by the proclamation.


Barstow Darrach to Samuel L. Adair

Barstow Darrach to Samuel L. Adair
Creator: Darrach, Barstow
Date: April 20, 1857
Barstow Darrach, a doctor at New York Hospital, wrote Adair that he was encouraged by the results of the recent Leavenworth election, and that he had authorized a Mr. Tator to settle his affairs in Osawatomie, Kansas Territory. Darrach also discussed the slave oligarchy and indications that St. Louis was opposed to slavery. He cited several events that he felt indicated the free state cause was progressing.


Billings & Bryant to John Brown, bill of sale for horse wagon

Billings & Bryant to John Brown, bill of sale for horse wagon
Creator: Billings & Bryant,
Date: Between 1855 and 1859
The state of Iowa frequently served as a relatively safe haven for abolitionist John Brown and his followers during the late 1850s, and Iowa City was on the famous Lane Trail which carried many free-state activists and settlers to and from Kansas. This document, from "Billings & Bryant," indicates that the partners had received $100 from John Brown as payment "in full for a heavy Horse Waggon" that they agreed "to ship immediately to J B Iowa City, Iowa; care of Dr. Jesse Bowen." Bowen was a member of the Kansas Central Committee of Iowa who later lived in Leavenworth, Kansas Territory.


Bottle whimsy

Bottle whimsy
Creator: Frederick I. Douglas
Date: between 1927 and 1933
Carved figure inside a glass bottle, depicting a slave on an auction block. The figure was carved by Frederick I. Douglas to represent a story passed down by his father, Thomas O. Douglas, who had been sold in a similar manner in Tennessee. Thomas Douglas was an Exoduster who settled in Wabaunsee County in 1879. His son Frederick's carvings won ribbons when exhibited at a Topeka fair in 1927.


By Authority.  Official Message of His Excellency Gov. A. H. Reeder, to the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Kansas.

By Authority. Official Message of His Excellency Gov. A. H. Reeder, to the First Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Kansas.
Creator: Reeder, Andrew H. (Andrew Horatio), 1807-1864
Date: July 3, 1855
This printed version of Reeder's address included a review of how the land that became Kansas was acquired by the United States and of various legislation and treaties that applied before the passage of the Kansas Nebraska Act. Reeder also identified some of the responsibilities of the Legislature including establising a means of determining if Kansas was to be slave or free, establishing counties, setting up a judicial system, levying taxes, organizing a militia, determining a permanent seat of government, and creating a constitution. He also included some statistics from the first official census, which recorded 2,904 qualified voters out of 8,521 residents (only free males could vote). Reeder indicated the need to resolve the issue of selling intoxicating liquors to Native Americans.


Charles A. Wright to Hiram Hill

Charles A. Wright to Hiram Hill
Creator: Wright, Charles A.
Date: June 16, 1856
Charles Wright wrote from Lawrence, Kansas Territory, to Hiram Hill. Wright spoke passionately about the free state cause after the Sack of Lawrence and the Pottawatomie Massacre, imploring "eastern friends" for help. In Wright's words, "talk will do no good that time is past what we now need is men money and rifles". He added that southerners were "using every effort" to drive free staters from the Territory. U.S. Troops were attempting to disband the ruffians, though according to Wright they only dispersed and reorganized elsewhere.


Charles Robinson to Eli Thayer

Charles Robinson to Eli Thayer
Creator: Robinson, Charles, 1818-1894
Date: April 2, 1855
Charles Robinson, writing from Lawrence, Kansas Territory to Eli Thayer in Worcester, Massachusetts, described voting irregularities in the March 30, 1855 election of members to the territorial legislature. Robinson maintained that the election was "controlled entirely by Missourians" who came to the territory, took over the polling places, and cast illegal ballots to ensure that proslavery supporters were elected to the legislature. Robinson also reported that free staters in Lawrence had formed themselves into four military companies, and urged Thayer to send Sharps rifles and cannons for these forces.


Circular Letter, Underground Rail Road Depot, To the Friends of the Fugitives from Slavery

Circular Letter, Underground Rail Road Depot, To the Friends of the Fugitives from Slavery
Creator: Abbott, William E.
Date: March 4, 1858
This printed, circular dated Syracuse, March 4, 1858, announce the dissolution of the Syracuse Fugitive Aid Society and directed all "Fugitives" interested in such assistance in the future to contact Rev. J. W. Loguen of that place who would assume "the entire care of the Fugitives who may stop at Syracuse.


Citizens of Lawrence!

Citizens of Lawrence!
Date: Between 1859 and 1860
This document warns the citizens of Lawrence, Kansas Territory, that U.S Marshal Leonard Arms and his "piratical minions" were searching for slaves in Lawrence and urges the citizens to "know your rights and stand to them" to refuse him entry to their homes.


Columbus Johnson

Columbus Johnson
Date: 1889
This is a photograph of Columbus Johnson, who lived in Dunlap, Kansas. He was born in Maryland, the child of a free man and a slave woman who was purchasing her freedom. His mother died when lightning struck a tree, and Columbus was taken to Tennessee where he was auctioned. Johnson learned several trades including harness making and carpentry. He could read and write and frequently read newspapers. While employed at the Braham Mill, he met and married Josephine, a 13 year old slave girl. Columbus Johnson served in the Civil War, and when he was mustered out, he returned to Gallatine, Tennessee. In 1869, Benjamin Singleton, Columbus Johnson and others organized the Tennessee Real Estate Homestead Association. They learned that homesteads were available in Kansas. Johnson went to Topeka where he was active in the Kansas Colonization project with Pap Singleton, under the auspices of the Freedman's Aid Society. His wife and family joined him in Topeka. In 1884, he moved the family to Dunlap where he was active in the community. In June 1884, Johnson and five white businessmen organized the Farmers Bank of Dunlap. He was a trustee in the St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church and one of the shareholders and organizers of the Dunlap Colored Cemetery Association. Johnson died October 17, 1894.


Comparison of products, population, and resources of the free and slave states

Comparison of products, population, and resources of the free and slave states
Creator: Batchelder, John M.
Date: 1861
A bar graph comparing free and slave states between 1850 and 1860. Categories compared include schools, libraries, books, newspapers, periodicals, literacy, land area, population, militia, wealth, exports, imports, canals, railroads, postage, mail, transportation, agricultural products, farm value, and manufacturing.


Cyrus K. Holliday to Franklin Crane

Cyrus K. Holliday to Franklin Crane
Creator: Holliday, Cyrus Kurtz, 1826-1900
Date: November 14, 1856
The letter, written by Cyrus Holliday from Meadville, Pennsylvania, discusses the results of the 1856 Presidential election and its anticipated impact on the Kansas issue. Holliday describes to Franklin Crane, a prominent Topeka doctor, a meeting in Boston where he was encouraged to make Kansas a free state. Many of those present at the meeting were influential figures in emigrant aid companies. The letter also discusses efforts to make Nicaragua a slave state in order to achieve a compromise with the South. In addition, Holliday mentions making speeches on behalf of John C. Fremont and Kansas.


Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday

Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday
Creator: Holliday, Cyrus Kurtz, 1826-1900
Date: October 7, 1855
Cyrus K. Holliday, founder of Topeka, Kansas Territory, advised his wife in Meadville, Pennsylvania concerning travel. He restated advice from his much longer letter of September 26th. He wrote of his nomination, yet to be confirmed by vote, as a delegate to the Topeka Constitutional Convention. Holliday decided to decline the editorship of The Kansas Freeman. He expressed sympathy for Lizzie Holliday, his wife's sister, and suggested boarding when Mary Holliday and their daughter Lillie arrived, as he had not yet built a house.


Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday

Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday
Creator: Holliday, Cyrus Kurtz, 1826-1900
Date: December 6, 1855
Cyrus K. Holliday wrote briefly from Free State Headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas Territory to his wife, Mary Holliday, in Meadville, Pennsylvania, describing the number and location of surrounding Proslavery forces and of Free State forces gathered in Lawrence. Cyrus had been working for peace, but was prepared to fight in a shortly expected attack.


Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday

Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday
Creator: Holliday, Cyrus Kurtz, 1826-1900
Date: August 12, 1855
Cyrus K. Holliday wrote from Lawrence, Kansas Territory to his wife, Mary Holliday, in Meadville, Pennsylvania of his journey to Kansas City to obtain a land warrant for Topeka and to attend the Free State Convention. Two of his articles had been published in The Herald of Freedom, a Lawrence newspaper, and he sent copies. Mentioning political difficulties, Holliday suggested that his wife wait until fall to travel to Kansas. He rented out his cabin in Topeka for profit. A deadly cholera epidemic at Fort Riley had ended.


Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday

Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday
Creator: Holliday, Cyrus Kurtz, 1826-1900
Date: April 1, 1855
Cyrus K. Holliday wrote from Topeka, Kansas Territory to his wife, Mary Holliday, in Meadville, Pennsylvania. He described the Territorial Legislature election of March 30, 1855, in which he was a Representative candidate for the Fourth District (in the third election district). Missourians had taken charge of the polls, and Holliday, along with other free state Kansas Territory citizens, did not vote. He assured his wife that Kansas would be a free state. Business in growing Topeka continued to delay his return to Meadville. Holliday also alluded to the recent birth of their child and mentioned his ragged clothing.


Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday

Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday
Creator: Holliday, Cyrus Kurtz, 1826-1900
Date: February 6, 1859
Cyrus K. Holliday, soon to return to Topeka after a productive territorial legislative session in Lawrence, wrote to his wife, Mary Holliday, in Meadville, Pennsylvania. He wrote about a festival held at the Eldridge House, and reported on several other incidents of note: the arrest of John W. Doy, captured by Missourians while helping former slaves travel to Iowa; John Brown's avoidance of capture by [John P.] Woods (at the Battle of the Spurs on January 31, 1859); and Charles Fischer's escape after being twice arrested as "a fugitive slave." Holliday also wrote that the legislature had passed and Governor Samuel Medary would approve a bill granting Josephine Branscomb a divorce. Despite Holliday's efforts, the constitutional convention would be held at Wyandotte in July. He had refused [Alfred L.] Winans' request for a recommendation.


Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday

Cyrus Kurtz Holliday to Mary Dillon Holliday
Creator: Holliday, Cyrus Kurtz, 1826-1900
Date: July 2, 1856
Cyrus K. Holliday wrote from Topeka, Kansas Territory, where hundreds of free state supporters were gathering for a Mass Convention on the 3rd and meeting of the free state legislature on the 4th, to his wife, Mary Holliday, in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Cyrus reported that U. S. dragoons from Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley were camped around Topeka, since difficulty was expected. [In fact, U. S. and proslavery troops dispersed the free state legislature on the 4th.) Two companies of northern immigrants had been turned back at the Missouri River. Cyrus seemed skeptical that effective action would be taken against this outrage.


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