By Andy May
The Bleeding Kansas period lasts from 1854 when Kansas was opened to white settlement until 1861, when it became a state. What were the people like? Why did thousands of Kansans fight and die over the issue of slavery? Some claim it was only money, but this does not ring true, it had to be more than that for the fighting to be so fierce. Besides this, the anti-slavery people repeatedly offered to compensate the slave-owners for the loss of their slaves, and the pro-slavery people turned these offers down.
During the 1850s, popular votes were used to determine which states were free and which were slave, why didn’t this work? Why was “popular sovereignty” a “living, creeping lie” according to the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln? And yet, popular sovereignty was the solution proposed by the anti-slavery Northern Democratic Presidential nominee, Stephen A. Douglas, why? For that matter, why did the Democratic Party split into two parties allowing Lincoln to slip in and win with 40% of the vote? Most importantly, why did so many pro-slavery Democrats come to Kansas and quickly become Republican and anti-slavery? This book examines the Kansas immigrants and their radical transformation, the book is about the people. We use the immigrant’s first-hand accounts, from privately published autobiographies, published essays, letters, and standard histories to tell the story of the people of Kansas during this critical period in American history.
The book is historical fiction, but the events all really happened and all the characters are real people. I needed the flexibility of historical fiction so I could invent dialog when necessary for the story. The people are presented as I came to understand them.
Sometimes to learn what happened you need to listen to those that were there and lived through it.
Listen to Hank Booth interview me on October 24th, 2019 here. Go directly to about 25:00 to listen to the interview using the slider.
Review by Billie Fulton, author of Faith is not Silent:
“Andy May’s book captivated me with the real-life stories of pioneers living in Kansas between 1854 and 1861. The reality of what happened during those years is sometimes difficult to accept and even more challenging to understand. Moral questions weighted heavily on the financial decisions that faced the state of Kansas prior to the Civil War. Mr. May’s in depth research including maps, drawings and photographs successfully documents his story for future generations. A must read for Civil War historians as well as those seeking to understand why decisions made 165 years ago continue to influence society today.
Some of the people of Bleeding Kansas: