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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division

Harper's Weekly, March 14, 1863

Kansas Regiment

Between 1854 and 1856, pro- and anti-slavery forces entered Kansas and clashed in bloody conflicts over whether the state was going to be a free or a slave state. The territory was known as "Bloody Kansas." It finally joined the Union in 1861 and quickly became a haven for runaways, many of whom fought during the Civil War.

"Lawrence was settled as a Free State town and soon became recognized as the headquarters of the Free State movement. As a result it was the center of proslavery hate, and at the same time the center of hope to the slaves across the border. The colored people of Missouri looked to it as a sort of "city of refuge," and when any of them made a "dash for freedom," they usually made Lawrence their first point... When the war broke out in 1861, the slaves on the border took advantage of it to make sure of their freedom, whatever might be the result of the conflict. They did not wait for any proclamation, nor did they ask whether their liberation was a war measure or a civil process. The simple question was whether they could reach the Kansas line without being overtaken."

Richard Cordley, Pioneer Days in Kansas (New York, 1903)

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