September Open Thread
Lessons from the Civil War
One of my goals in writing this publication has been to provide a voice to forgotten victims of medicine. For this reason, I to try to respond to comments and messages I receive (e.g., I really appreciate all the heartfelt messages paid subscribers leave when they sign up). However, as this publication has gotten larger and larger it’s become harder and harder for me to respond to everything I receive, especially since correctly responding to (or even liking) many of the comments requires a lot of thought and is surprisingly easy to mess up.
Likewise, I receive a lot of emails (almost all of which I read through). I used to respond to them as well, but I discovered too many of the people I responded to would then sign me up for mailing lists, and before long my email address received so many emails it was no longer possible for me to go through it.
So, after thinking all of this over, I realized the best way to reach me was to encourage you to do so through a comment, and if I don’t reply, try to leave the comment again on my newest post shortly after it’s published. Likewise, I also realized to help with that I needed to have monthly open threads where you can ask whatever you want (I specifically would like to know what topics you want me to cover), and I prioritize responding to.
Note: I am also presently testing having a monthly subscriber chat.
With the monthly threads, I would like to make the email worth your time to read, rather than just having it serve as a reminder of the open thread. For this month, I’d like to address a question I received repeatedly over email in response to the last article—what is the earliest example of vote fraud I know of in America?
The primary reason I spend so much time studying history is because it’s remarkable how eerily history repeats itself. As a result, you can often learn much about human nature and predict what will happen in the present by studying how similar events played out in the past.
At this point in time, I am quite alarmed by the political changes I am observing within our nation, as I am seeing many trends of polarization and divisiveness I’ve never witnessed previously in my lifetime. For that reason, I’d like to review some of the events which happened shortly before the American Civil War:
In 1854, a bill was proposed to organized the territories of Kansas and Nebraska that was conducted in conjunction with longstanding attempts to create a transcontinental railroad through the region. At the time this was proposed, significant tensions existed throughout the United States on which states slavery would be legal in. Due to a prior agreement (the Missouri Compromise), both Kansas and Nebraska were too far north to be slave states, but Missouri refused for the railroad to pass through their state unless slavery was legalized in these new states. Eventually a new and highly controversial compromise (“popular sovereignty”) was made—settlers in the territories would vote for or against slavery.
Elections to the Territorial Legislature [of Kansas], held on March 30, had been a fiasco. Of almost 6000 ballot papers counted, only 1410 were marked by legitimate settlers, the rest by armed companies of Missourians who crossed the border to systemically cast illegal votes. Elected by this fraud a proslavery legislature set up temporary headquarters at Shawnee Mission.
On the fourth of July [celebration] settlers mingled with Indians in traditional costumes and toasts to the Shawnee were reciprocated in kind by Pascal Fish, but with with skirmishes and assassinations on the increase the harmony belied an atmosphere of impending civil war among the white race. Speeches urged vigilance and companies of militia, formed for self-defense, paraded before the crowd…The territory was descending into a conflict known as the Border War or “Bleeding Kansas.”
Over the summer, the partisan struggle grew even more entrenched. Territorial governor Andrew Reeder, who had declared the March the elections illegal, was removed from office and replaced by Wilson Shannon, a man more sympathetic to t he proslavery cause. The legislature ousted all Free-State members and passed a code of “black laws,” with slave codes and sedition measures to prohibit criticism of slavery. On September 19, representatives of legal settlers, refusing to recognize the authority of the bogus legislature, convened in Topeka to frame a rival constitution and name their own territorial delegate for Congress.
On November 21 an incident sparked a crisis that became known as the “Wakarusha War.” A proslavery man, Franklin Coleman, shot dead his abolitionist neighbor Charles Dow in a boundary dispute over adjoining land claims, and fled to Westpost, Missouri, into the protective custody of Douglas County sheriff Samuel Jones. Five days later, as abolitionists pressed for the killer to be brought to justice, the sheriff rode out with an armed posse and arrested sixty-five-year-old Jacob Branson, who had shared a cabin with the murdered man, alleging that he had threatened the life of another proslavery supported, Harrison Buckley. Branson, the only reliable witness of the crime had merely retrieved Dow’s body and carted it home, and to all appearances was being arrested to prevent him testifying against Coleman.
Believing that Branson would likely be hanged, James Abott organized a rescue party. In the early hours, as Jone’s posse returned with their prisoner towards Abbott’s home at Blanton’s Bridge, they ran into ten men lined across the road with rifles and pistols leveled. After a tense standoff, during which Abott accidently discharged his revolver, Branson was released.
Retribution was swift. Jones had Governor Shannon issue warrants for the arrest of the “insurrectionists” to be tried for violation of Kansas Territory law at the new proslavery capital Lecompton. On December 1, briefed that outlaws were hiding in Lawrence, Shannon deployed 1000 troops to surround the town. [However] the wanted men had already fled.
On December 8, Governor Shannon signed a peace treaty with Free-State leaders and the siege of Lawrence ended. The army withdrew to Missouri and the fugitives emerged from hiding.
The truce did not last. On January 15 abolitionist sellers held a clandestine election of officers to a rival Free-State legislature, inflaming Sheriff Jones, who reacted by voicing his attempt to "wipeout Lawrence and drive every Free-State man out of territory, or force them to openly recognize the validity of the territorial laws." The abolitionist leaders hastily dispatched a letter to President Pierce requesting he intervene to prevent the invasion. Peirce responded by declaring the free state organization "insurrectionary, revolutionary and treasonable," and upheld Sheriff Jones as the only "constituted authority."
One week later, April 18, a congressional investigation committee accompanied by Sheriff Jones entered Lawrence and, bent upon a policy of intimidation, arrested a number of respectable citizen on trumped up charges. On 23 April, under cover of darkness, an unknown gunmen shot the sheriff in the back, but the bullet lodged between the shoulder blades and he survived the attempted assassination.
On May 21 Jones exacted his revenge. His men entered Lawrence, gutted the offices of Herald of Freedom and the Kansas Free State newspapers, smashed the presses, threw the types in the Kaw River and set fire to the nearly completed Free State Hotel, leaving at a smoldering roofless ruin. Wild with drink they plundered houses, destroyed what they could not carry and, as evening approached, loaded and burned Governor Robinson's house on Mount Oread, lighting the darkening sky with flames. In retaliation the abolitionist guerrilla John Brown and his four sons massacred five proslavery man on Potawatomi creek and mutilated the corpses.
Kansas was planted into a four–month reign of terror. An atmosphere of fear shrouded the border counties as marauding bands of Missourian "border ruffians" scoured the country side burning buildings, destroying crops, rustling horses and livestock and targeting prominent abolitionists. Abram’s in-law William Sellers was tarred and feathered and, for preaching against slavery his colleague Anthony Bewley was hanged by a lynch mob.
I thus would argue the above events illustrate why it is very important for the citizenry to believe in the integrity of their elections.
Lastly, in the previous article, one reader made a very interesting observation I added to the article after publication. A good case can be made that the spreading of biosolids throughout the United States (fertilizer made from repurposed sewage) helped to spread COVID-19 since the virus was in that sewage.
I hope you appreciated the first open thread! Feel free to ask me about anything medically related you have not been able to inquire about yet.
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