Quelling Charlottesville Fury Avoids Historic Mistake

 

 

In Charlottesville young white nationalists tossed verbal grenades against blacks and Jews that quickly exploded into injury and death. Sadly, it coincided with the August 1863 Lawrence Massacre, which I discussed in my last post. Then, a band of racist ruffians killed 180 men and boys. Unlike this month, the 1863 officials made a historic mistake by upping the ante on revenge.

They may have felt justified in attacking Lawrence. After all, the two states had been duking it out on their common border for almost a decade in the escalating conflict over slavery. Those who launched the Lawrence Massacre wanted revenge. And they got it. But like the young demonstrators of Charlottesville, they didn’t bargain for all that they received.

In the wake of Charlottesville, other cities are hastening to remove their Civil War statues to preclude more violence. If what the nationalists really wanted was their statues and their symbolism, they ended up worse than they started.

Upping the ante on revenge

The Missouri ruffians’ satisfaction, like that of the marchers in Virginia, must have been short-lived. On August 25, 1863, General Ewing retaliated by issuing the infamous Order No. 11, which authorized the depopulation of the Missouri farmland where the Confederate raiders resided, foraged and took shelter. Not only that, but Union soldiers burned the very land. They, too, got worse that they gave.

Who started it?

In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act (drafted by Senator Stephen Douglas and President Franklin Pierce) decreed that the Kansas Territory could decide by popular vote whether it entered the Union as a slave or free state. Whenever a vote was taken, proslavery Missourians squatted on the land and stormed the ballot boxes.

In response, eastern abolitionists (including D.R. Anthony) emigrated to the territory, founding an abolitionist stronghold at Lawrence. Anthony later led Jennison’s Jayhawkers to defend Kansas and conduct counter-raids on Missouri.

You could say that the ill-conceived Kansas-Nebraska Act began the border wars in Kansas and Missouri, which escalated into a nationwide Civil War. Let us hope that our legislators respond more wisely than Stephen Douglas and Franklin Pierce in laying down decisions with far-reaching effects. And that those involved in Charlottesville realize that violence begets violence, and that everyone loses.

As a nation, we should treat Charlottesville as a warning and do what we must to heal before it escalates into a tragedy on the scale of the Lawrence Massacre and Order No. 11.

Click here to read more about the artist and painting above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defenseless town massacred

A band of 400 proslavery ruffians–many teenagers–led by a madman named Quantrill conducted the Lawrence Massacre in 1863 in Kansas on this day.  Most of the the town’s men were off fighting for the Union. As a result, 180 died and the town became ashes.

Personal Experience

Daniel Read Anthony knew the town of Lawrence like his own child because he helped to establish it. Therefore, he suffered its loss. In this excerpt from The Truth About Daniel, he visits just a few days after the attack:

Early on their fourth day in Lawrence, D.R. and Chas rode by the homestead of Martin Townsend, a farmer from Vermont who had settled in ’fifty-four. They found him pouring water from a bucket into a stone trough for a pair of oxen.

 

“Marty!” D.R. hailed him before swinging down from the saddle.

 

As the man turned, D.R. took in his friend’s face covered with grime and a four-day stubble. He asked Townsend how he had escaped.

 

“The day before the raid, I took my team a few miles outside of town to help my cousin. On my way home, I saw the town on fire and heard that Quantrill was singling out men old enough to bear arms. So I hid in the ravine where raiders wouldn’t go.

 

“I felt like a coward leaving my wife and children inside, but how would they have farmed if I turned up dead?” His house was ablaze, he said, but he was relieved to see his family out front. He gestured to a crude tent partially supported by a scorched tree. “We all survived, thank God, but this is all I have left of my home.”

 

D.R. wanted something to do, but there were no tools, not even an extra bucket.      “Apparently Quantrill’s raiders didn’t come to fight, but to murder and steal.”

“They never would’ve gotten away with it if so many of our men weren’t off to war.”

 

“So what happened when the army finally did come?” asked Chas.

 

Townsend leaned on his shovel and gestured toward the road. “The ruffians turned tail and ran south. Cavalry followed them right through town and out again.”

 

D.R. pictured how he would’ve handled the operation. The Jayhawkers and the Seventh Kansas were trained to grip their horses with their knees and shoot with both hands at once. Having faced Quantrill’s raiders in Missouri, he knew many of them to be teenagers with no training at all. At least the army will have extracted its toll on them, he consoled himself. Hopeful of a good report, he asked, “How many did Quantrill lose?”

 

Townsend sighed deeply. The anger blazing from his eyes contrasted with his dusty face. “One,” he replied.

 

“One!” roared D.R. “They caused all this damage and got away with only one casualty? What the hell was the army doing?”

Next time: Read how the Lawrence Massacre of 1863 fueled a Union retaliation.

Read more about this fateful day in Lawrence at History.com.

 

 

Daring Friends of Merritt and D.R. Anthony

Here are the men who freed John Doy from a Missouri prison. Doy is seated. Used with permission from the Kansas History Project

Here are the men who freed John Doy from a Missouri prison. Doy is seated. Used with permission from the Kansas History Project

Merritt Anthony, like his brother Daniel Read Anthony (D.R.), put aside the pacifism that is often associated with Quakerism and took up arms to free the slaves. In doing so, he joined one of America’s most radical and controversial opponents of slavery.

John Brown went to Kansas in 1855 and immediately stirred things up. He not only freed many African-Americans and sent them along the Underground Railroad, but he also, at one point, stated that he had “liberated 150 cattle from slavery” in Missouri. He soon became a target of southern sympathizers, and the attacks went back and forth. His massacre of proslavery men at Potawatomie Creek in 1856 and his brave stand against southern sympathizers at Osawatomie went a long way to earning his adopted state the moniker “Bleeding Kansas.” Daniel Read Anthony also pitched into that fray, but more on that later.

Merritt Anthony first took up residence in Osawatomie, about fifty miles south of Leavenworth, where D.R. settled. In between the two cities lies the city of Lawrence, an abolitionist-built enclave which D.R. helped to found in 1854. John Brown inadvertently caused much suffering to a friend of D.R. named John Doy.

Doy was a doctor from Rochester, NY. With D.R., he was among the first easterners to arrive in Kansas with the Emigrant Aid Company. Unlike D.R., he settled in Lawrence permanently. In 1859, the citizens of Lawrence decided that it was dangerous for ex-slaves to remain in the area and began escorting them to safer places. Brown agreed to lead one group and Doy another, sharing the men who went along as bodyguards. Unfortunately, Brown decided that his group was in greater danger than Doy’s, and departed first, taking all the guards with him.

Despite the shortage of guards, John Doy and his twenty-five year-old son Charles set off with their refugees and were beset by border ruffians from Missouri. The African-Americans were sent to the slave market and the Doys were taken to stand trial after spending months in subhuman conditions in jail. Charles was freed but John was sentenced for sixty-five years and moved to a more secure prison. In a daring escape, Charles and nine other northerners from Lawrence tricked the jailer and freed Doy. These valiant rescuers became known as the “Immortal Ten.”

Unfortunately, Charles’ encounter with mortality came even sooner than his father’s. About a year after the Immortal Ten became famous for their exploits, Charles Doy died at the hands of proslavery sympathizers. Soon after that John Brown, who put this father and son at so much risk, was hanged as an abolitionist martyr.

These principled, daring men were the associates, and probably heroes, of Merritt and D.R. Anthony.