Insurrection and Commonwealth
Appendix No. 2: Engaging a Radical Past: Anti-Racism in Kansas Free State Struggle, 1854
← 218 | 219 →APPENDIX NO. 2
ENGAGING A RADICAL PAST
Anti-Racism in Kansas Free State Struggle, 1854← 219 | 220 →
← 220 | 221 →Anti-Racism in the Kansas Free State Struggle, 1854–64
History in the U.S. prior to the Civil War occurred on tumultuous political terrain that is still highly contested academically. One of its most controversial episodes is the struggle for a slavery-free Kansas. This essay1 will show how crucial aspects of this history have been marginalized and/or repressed in conventional scholarly accounts, and will build an interpretive framework with widened cultural and political scope. This will derive from its close examination of the unique contributions of three key social change agents: 1) Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune; 2) German 48er freedom fighters relocated to the Kansas Territory (K.T.) after 1855; and 3) a German 48er journalist working from London for Greeley, Karl Marx. Following the perspective of Frederick Douglass, discussed in more detail below, this essay acknowledges the abiding residual effects of racism among many (perhaps most) of the otherwise politically progressive whites of the day. Nicole Etcheson has recognized this explicit Kansas Free State capitulation to white privilege in her recent history of Bleeding Kansas.2 My studies however disclose the manner in which a variety of vanguard white radicals stood in alliance with the leading voices of radically egalitarian African Americans, anti-slavery Native Americans, and Kansas German-Americans engaged in the Free State struggle. By focusing on the emancipatory political praxis...
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