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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.


Airmail Special Letter: Robert Carter to Mckinley Burnett

Airmail Special Letter: Robert Carter to Mckinley Burnett
Date: March 31, 1953
Attorney Robert Carter acknowledges receipt of a copy of a letter from McKinley Burnett sent with an enclosed memo from Superintendent of Topeka Schools, Kenneth McFarland. Carter advises Burnett that if the McFarland proceeds in this (possible dismissal of Negro teachers) he would immediately initiate a court action. Carter further advises that he would be in Des Moines and that he would be happy to meet any teachers who have received "these notices."


Anonymous resident to the governor's wife

Anonymous resident to the governor's wife
Date: August 20, 1963
An anonymous Kansas resident writes the wife of Governor John Anderson Jr. of Topeka concerning a proposed atheist colony near Stockton, Kansas. The author expresses her opposition to the colony and regards it as a plot of communist Russia. Madalyn Murray [O'Hair] of Baltimore, Maryland, proposed the colony after the Supreme Court decision in Murray v. Curlett (1963) declared prayer in schools unconstitutional. Ms. Murray formed Other Americans, Inc. (a Maryland corporation) to advance atheist interests and establish an atheist colony in Kansas. Carl Brown, a farmer near Stockton and former Kansas state senator, served as a director of that corporation. Mr. Brown, an avowed atheist, deeded 160 acres of land near Stockton to the corporation. During the 1950s and 1960s, the national debate over the role of religion in public life centered on the use of prayer in public schools. Many people associated atheists with communists and approached this issue from the larger context of the cold war. Historical Society staff removed the author's name and place of residence from this copy of the letter to comply with her request for privacy.


Attorney Robert Carter to McKinley Burnett

Attorney Robert Carter to McKinley Burnett
Date: September 14, 1951
This letter dated September 14, 1951, is from NAACP Assistant Special Counsel Robert L. Carter to Topeka NAACP Chapter President McKinley Burnett. Carter advises Burnett that the National Chapter of the NAACP would require $5,000 to take the Brown case to the United States Supreme Court. However, Carter explained that the money would have to be raised locally and that nearby NAACP chapters could contribute if they so desired.


Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: The case of the century

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: The case of the century
Creator: Kansas Bar Association
Date: 2004
Produced by the Kansas Bar Association, this 70-minute video features a reenactment of the 1952 and 1953 oral arguments presented to the United States Supreme Court in the landmark school segregation case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.


Capital punishment in Kansas

Capital punishment in Kansas
Creator: Kansas Attorney General, Civil Division
Date: March 1, 1974
Staff of the Civil Division of the Kansas Attorney General's Office prepared a legal history of capital punishment in Kansas. This document includes four separate drafts, or versions, of this history. Various lists of persons executed in Kansas are also included. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia (1972) declared many state capital punishment laws unconstitutional, prompting many states, including Kansas, to reconsider their approach to the death penalty.


Charles E. Bledsoe to the NAACP Legal Department

Charles E. Bledsoe to the NAACP Legal Department
Creator: Bledsoe, Charles E.
Date: September 5, 1950
In the letter, Charles E. Bledsoe, attorney for the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP, outlines the general nature of Topeka's situation as influenced by local laws. In particular, Bledsoe refers to the Kansas Permissive Law of 1879 that allowed individual school districts to segregate schools if they so desired. However, the law did not mandate school segregation in Kansas. The response to this letter is Kansas Memory item #213410.


David J. Brewer and C. B. Brace to William Kincaid

David J. Brewer and C. B. Brace to William Kincaid
Creator: Brewer, David J. (David Josiah), 1837-1910
Date: July 25, 1870
A letter written by David J. Brewer and C. B. Brace, Leavenworth, Kansas, to Reverend William Kincaid, minister of the Congregational Church in Rushville, New York, encouraging him to become the minister of the First Congregational Church in Leavenworth, Kansas. The letter describes the church and invites Rev. Kincaid to spend time with the congregation. He accepted the position and served from the fall of 1870 through January, 1876. Brewer was a lawyer. During his distinguished legal career, he was a Kansas Supreme Court Justice,1871 - 1884, United States Circuit Court Justice, 1884 - 1889, and United States Supreme Court Justice, 1889 - 1910.


David Josiah Brewer, Kansas Supreme Court Justice

David Josiah Brewer, Kansas Supreme Court Justice
Creator: Bell, Charles Milton
Date: between 1871 and 1884
Portrait of David Josiah Brewer, Kansas Supreme Court Justice,1871 - 1884, United States Circuit Court Justice, 1884 - 1889, and United States Supreme Court Justice, 1889 - 1910.


David Josiah Brewer, Kansas Supreme Court Justice

David Josiah Brewer, Kansas Supreme Court Justice
Date: between 1884 and 1910
Copy of an original oil painting of David Josiah Brewer, Kansas Supreme Court Justice,1871-1884, United States Circuit Court Justice, 1884 -1889, and United States Supreme Court Justice, 1889 -1910.


Edmund Burke Whitman? to Franklin B. Sanborn

Edmund Burke Whitman? to Franklin B. Sanborn
Creator: Whitman, E. B. (Edmund Burke), 1812-1883
Date: May 10, 1857
E. B. Whitman (letter not signed, but author's identity is pretty clear), an agent in Lawrence for the National Kansas Committee, wrote Franklin Sanborn in Massachusetts regarding his disappointment with the lack of support being given by "our professed friends" in the East. To their discredit, according to Whitman, Massachusetts "supporters" had refused to provide assistance which was desperately needed for the Kansas settlers who had just endured a very "severe winter." He believed false information was being circulated for political purposes by individuals within the Free State movement: "Kansas, bleeding Kansas, is of value to them only so far as it subserves their selfish ends."


Five of state's first-class cities end school segregation

Five of state's first-class cities end school segregation
Creator: Topeka Capital
Date: December 4, 1955
This article describes how Kansas schools had begun?and in some cases completed?the process of desegregation after the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board declared that segregated educational facilities were unconstitutional. Lawrence, Salina, and Atchison had completed integration, while Wichita, Kansas City, and Topeka were still in the process of implementing their plans. In some cases the integration plans were attacked; for instance, in Topeka, students were allowed to continue attending their old school through the sixth grade, a move that some believed was simply reinforcing segregation. Prior to the Brown decision in 1954, only cities with populations over 15,000 ("first-class" cities) were allowed to have segregated grade schools, and some towns, like Pittsburg, had abolished segregated schools before the Brown case.


Governor Clyde M. Reed correspondence, Supreme Court

Governor Clyde M. Reed correspondence, Supreme Court
Creator: Kansas. Governor (1929-1931 : Reed)
Date: 1929
This file includes topical correspondence relating to Supreme Court appointments which is part of a bigger collection of Governor Clyde M. Reed correspondence.


Harold Fatzer to Chief Justice Earl Warren

Harold Fatzer to Chief Justice Earl Warren
Creator: Fatzer, Harold R
Date: May 20, 1954
Harold Fatzer, attorney general of Kansas, wrote this letter to the chief justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, Earl Warren, three days after Warren handed down his decision in the case Brown v. Board of Education. In it, Fatzer congratulates Warren on the conclusion of the case and his well-written opinion and notes that, while he himself was personally opposed to segregation, his office had felt it necessary to "sustain the Kansas statute." He also mentions that the integration process in Kansas should be completed within two years.


J.J. Bulger to Governor Jonathan M. Davis

J.J. Bulger to Governor Jonathan M. Davis
Creator: Bulgar, J.J.
Date: June 22, 1923
In this letter J.J. Bulgar of Wichita, Kansas, summarizes events leading to the creation of the Kansas Court of Industrial Relations, the Kansas Supreme Court decision upholding the Industrial Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared the Kansas law unconstitutional. In the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice William Howard Taft argued that the Kansas law "curtails the right of the employer on the one hand, and the employee on the other, to contract about their own affairs."


James Peckham to Henry Miles Moore

James Peckham to Henry Miles Moore
Creator: Peckham, James
Date: March 20, 1857
Peckham, writing from New York City, described the strong anti-slavery feelings that had emerged among many Northerners in the wake of the March 6, 1857, Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case in which it was ruled that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories (such as the Kansas Territory).


John James Ingalls to Elias T. Ingalls

John James Ingalls to Elias T. Ingalls
Creator: Ingalls, John James, 1833-1900
Date: June 10, 1859
From Sumner on June 10, 1859, just days after the election for delegates to the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention, Ingalls wrote his father about the "well fought" contest in a county (Atchison) that was "an old stronghold of pro-slavery democracy." Ingalls won, of course, even though he at first "regarded the contest as a hopeless one," but still feared that the Democrats could control the convention; if so, "Kansas may be a Slave State after all. . . . It is Estimated that there are five hundred slaves in the territory today by virtue of the Dred Scott decision. A family recently came to this place from Kentucky with five."


Jones v. McProud appellate court case

Jones v. McProud appellate court case
Creator: Kansas Supreme Court
Date: 1900
This case file includes but not limited to briefs, mandates, court orders, appellee's petition for reviews, correspondence and case briefs from the appellant's previous trial in question. Case number 11921 is by the applicants Gracie Jones, Mabel Jones and their next friend and father, George W. Jones versus Principal B.E. McProud of the School in District No. 29. The case file was scanned in existing order.


Kanzas News, Vol 1, no. 1, page 1

Kanzas News, Vol 1, no. 1, page 1
Creator: Plumb, Preston B., 1837-1891
Date: June 6, 1857
This is the front page of the very first edition of the "Kanzas News," edited by Preston Plumb and printed in Emporia, Kansas Territory. The lead article is about the Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court and it includes excerpts from the May edition of "Putnam's Monthly." The article documents the reaction of free staters to the Dred Scott decision, which was decided by the Supreme Court in March, 1857. Because he had lived on free soil for several years and had been refused the opportunity to buy his freedom, Dred Scott sued his owner, Irene Emerson, in an attempt to gain his freedom through the courts. The Supreme Court determined that Dred Scott, and all other African-descended slaves, were property and not legal citizens of the United States. Slaves could not, therefore, sue the federal government for redress. The court decision also annulled the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Scott would remain a slave. Emerson's second husband, abolitionist Calvin C. Chaffee, returned Scott to the Peter Blow family, his original owners in Missouri, who voluntarily freed Scott shortly thereafter on May 26, 1857.


Lucinda Todd to Walter White

Lucinda Todd to Walter White
Creator: Todd, Lucinda Wilson, 1903-1996
Date: August 29, 1950
First Letter from the Lucinda Todd, of the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP, to NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White. In the letter, Todd outlines the problems in Topeka and the fact that the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP wants to test the limits of Kansas law regarding segregated schools. The letter eventually led to the involvement of the NAACP and the arrival of the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and Executive team to the Todd home in Topeka for Brown case strategy sessions.


Major problem in Kansas--negro teachers hit by desegregation

Major problem in Kansas--negro teachers hit by desegregation
Creator: Murphy, Anna Mary
Date: January 29, 1956
This article describes how the desegregation of schools in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education case would affect black schoolteachers across Kansas. The author gives the example of Topeka where, when the school board began desegregating schools prior to the final decision in the Brown case, black teachers lost their jobs. Although the school board wanted to "avoid any disruption of the professional life of career teachers," many schools were hesitant to place black teachers in classrooms containing both white and black students. Members of the black community who had opposed the Brown v. Board case at the local level had feared that integration would apply only to students, not to teachers, and it appeared to some that this would in fact be the case.


NAACP Legal Defense Fund to Charles Bledsoe

NAACP Legal Defense Fund to Charles Bledsoe
Date: September 18, 1950
In his reply to Topekan attorney Charles Bledsoe, NAACP legal counsel Robert L. Carter outlined his initial thoughts on strategies and approaches to the case. Two of Carter's main points were that the Topeka NAACP should recruit "as many plaintiffs and their parents from various grades from the lowest to the highest," and that the case be tried in a three-judge court in order to "by-pass the U.S. Court of Appeals and go directly into the U.S. Supreme Court." The letter from Charles Bledsoe prompting this reply is Kansas Memory item #213409.


Paul E. Wilson to T. Justin Moore

Paul E. Wilson to T. Justin Moore
Creator: Wilson, Paul E
Date: June 10, 1953
In this letter, assistant attorney general Paul Wilson responded to T. Justin Moore's query about the desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Wilson writes that he is not fully informed of the current situation in Topeka, but that he believes the school board is beginning the integration process in anticipation of the court's ruling that segregation is unconstitutional. He also mentioned that some contracts for African-American teachers had not been renewed because the board felt that many white parents would not want their children to be taught by black teachers. Wilson was a defense attorney for the Topeka school board and he argued their case before the Supreme Court. On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren handed down the ruling that segregated educational facilities were indeed unconstitutional.


Reuben Eaton Fenton, speech "The Designs of the Slave Power"

Reuben Eaton Fenton, speech "The Designs of the Slave Power"
Creator: Fenton, Reuben E. (Reuben Eaton), 1819-1885
Date: February 24, 1858
Representative Reuben Fenton, of New York, delivered this speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, in reaction to the Congressional debate over the validity of the Lecompton Constitution. Believing that the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was a mistake, meant to allow the extension of slavery into the new territories, Fenton emphasized that their forefathers recognized that slavery and anti-slavery men could not coexist. Thus, under the authority outlined in the Constitution, slavery in all Territories should be abolished, in line with the Federal Government's duty to "install a government [in the Territories] conducive to the greatest degree of happiness and welfare" of its residents. Fenton did not believe that the Lecompton Constitution represented the will of Kansas' citizens, insisting that the majority, as free state supporters, were proposing no challenge to the Government constructed by the founding fathers.


Robert Carter to Herbert Bell

Robert Carter to Herbert Bell
Date: September 14, 1951
Carter's letter to Bell can be used in conjunction with his letter to Burnett to help students appreciate the scale of the effort that preceded the Brown case's arrival at the U.S. Supreme Court.


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