8/30/2004

Contact: Victor Bailey, Hall Center director (785) 864-7822

Hall Center lecture series to celebrate Kansas Territory Sesquicentennial

LAWRENCE -- The Hall Center for the Humanities is hosting a September lecture series to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Kansas Territory.

All lectures will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vermont St. Boxed dinners will be available with pre-registration and will be served at 6 p.m. The lectures and dinners are free; call (785) 864-4798 to register.

The series begins Sept. 2 with Virgil Dean of the Kansas State Historical Society, who will discuss "Political Characters in Territorial Kansas." Politics were heated in this period because of a provision that allowed the territory's residents to decide whether slavery would be legal.

The figures who emerged include Missouri Sen. David Atchison, who urged Missourians to "resist the abolitionist plot"; Andrew Reeder, the first territorial governor, who was forced to choose sides in the conflict after he came to Kansas; abolitionist John Brown; and pro-slavery sheriff Sam Jones.

The second lecture will feature a view of Kansas history that is as controversial, if less bloody. Bill Tsutsui, associate professor of history, and Marjorie Swann, associate professor of English, will present "John Steuart Curry's Vision of Territorial Kansas" on Sept. 9.

Curry was a Kansas-born regionalist painter who returned to his home state in 1937 with a commission to paint murals in the rotunda of the Capitol in Topeka. The murals fueled a statewide debate because of their depiction of pre-Civil War chaos, characterized by Curry's famous portrait of John Brown. Many legislators thought the pictures portrayed the worst of Kansas and forced Curry to change the subjects of his remaining murals.

On Sept. 16, Pat Michaelis of the Kansas State Historical Society will present "Life in Kansas Territory: Toil and Turmoil From the Letters of John and Sarah Everett." Based on letters written by a couple who settled near Osawatomie in 1855, the lecture will offer an unusual picture of a pioneer family struggling against the hazards of the frontier, nature and political turmoil.

Mike Hoeflich, John H. & John M. Kane distinguished professor of law, and Susanne Valdez Carey, associate clinical specialist of law, will explore pre-statehood crime and punishment in their Sept. 23 lecture, "Crime and Violence in Douglas County, 1855-1865."

The lecture will address the turmoil caused by slavery and anti-slavery forces as they fought for regional dominance. Raiders and pirates on horseback such as William Clarke Quantrill and the James Brothers terrorized sites throughout the county and gave the state the nickname "Bleeding Kansas."

Kansas became a territory in 1854 and was admitted to the Union in 1861.

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