On the Border in a Border State
July 14, 2011
The Civil War 150th Anniversary Commemoration reminds us that Platte County was right in the heart of the war. The war was not just from 1860 to 1865, the debate over slavery started much earlier here.
Much of this area was settled originally by citizens from Kentucky and Tennessee. They brought with them their traditions of farming tobacco and hemp, as well as other farm products. With the labor intensive tobacco and hemp crops, the farmers brought their slaves to work the farms.
The debate over the statehood of Kansas, from 1854 to 1861, brought both slaveholders and abolitionists to the area as they tried to establish their opposing ways of life in the area. The burning of Lawrence occurred in 1856, well before the firing on Fort Sumter. The wounds of the argument eventually lead to the evacuation of much of the county by the Union Army in Leavenworth. Some towns in the area were abandoned and never rebuilt.
Our library has a nice selection of material on the Civil War. One book that mentions the events of this area is Border War: Fighting over Slavery before the Civil War by Stanley Harrold. As we hear about the national remembrances of the Civil War this summer, it is also good to remember how these events from so long ago have shaped our very neighborhoods.