Sunday, January 30, 2011

Happy 150th

The state of Kansas is officially 150 years old as of Saturday. It was a grand day with unseasonably nice weather, and events across the state marked the anniversary.
What now?
I say the celebration should last four more years. When Bryce Benedict and I appeared on WIBW news with Ralph Hipp the other day, I referred to January 29, 1861, as a line of demarcation in that "second birth of freedom" that was our Civil War. Bryce disagreed, pointing out that freedom was still a ways off for a lot of people when Kansas became a state and that many of our founding fathers were not gung-ho for equality of the races or anyone else.
He's right, but so am I.
Just as the Declaration of Indpendence was a step, the Constitution was a step, the Emancipation Proclamation was a step, Kansas statehood was a step. The United States is not a done deal. It is a process. We are still making it happen. Our founding fathers gave us ideals and a process by which to bring them to realization.
It is up to us--each of us, all of us, every generation -- to carry the work forward. That is exactly what was happening 150 years ago in Kansas. There was a celebration and then Kansans set about securing the freedom and Union they had just proclaimed.
January 29 was just the beginning.
(Photo courtesy of Kendall Gott who is pictured in civilian clothing at the celebration at Fort Scott, KS. In his arms, his loyal hound, Stevie.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WIBW Today at 4

Bryce Benedict and I will join Ralph Hipp on WIBW TV at 4 p.m. today to talk about the 150th of Kansas. Bryce is the author of Jayhawkers: The Civil War Brigrade of James H. Lane. We'll be visiting about events marking the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and encouraging folks to check out the Civil War Roundtable of Eastern Kansas. The CWRT meets this evening at the Koch Education Center at the Kansas State Historical Society, 6:30 p.m., and is open to the public. Our speaker tonight is the eminent Dr. Herschel Stroud, nationally recognized as an expert on Civil War medicine. He will be discussing Abraham Lincoln. The membership of our CWRT is so diverse, so committed to understanding and learning. It is a great way to introduce students to the study of the Civil War so we invite you to bring your class or your kids and join us!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

150 Years

The 150th anniversary of Kansas Statehood is nearly upon us, as is the anniversary of the American Civil War.

Kansas entered the Union as a free state on January 29, 1861, and then half the nation seceded. Anyone who thinks this period of our nation's history was romantic is an idiot. It was unimaginably stressful, filled with hardships and uncertainty. Over the next four years, my goal is to publicize as much as possible in as many ways as possible, the connection between Kansas and the war. It is a rich, powerful history and I look forward to sharing it and to hearing from you.