History of the Border War between Kansas and Missouri

It's the Jayhawkers versus the Bushwackers in the 255th rendition of the Border War.

"Come on, then, gentlemen of the slave states. Since there is no escaping your challenge, we accept it in the name of freedom. We will engage in competition for the virgin soil of Kansas, and God give the victory to the side which is stronger in numbers, as it is in right."

Senator William Seward - 1854

We all grew up not liking the state of Missouri very much and the University of Missouri even less. But do you really know why other than the fact that they are a rival school with horrible colors, a generic mascot and rude fans with delusions of grandeur who like to throw whiskey bottles at opposing teams' bands? Well, here is a short history lesson I found on this website that will provide a little background on the severe dislike between these two states.

The "war" between Kansas and Missouri began when Kansas was opened for settlement in 1854, seven years before the Civil War. According to the concept of "popular sovereignty," settlers could decide whether to admit their territory as a slave or free state. No doubt, both sides were ugly - it was a "war" between people that had strong opposing sentiments and lifestyles at stake.

On May 30, 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed, which opened the two territories to white settlement primarily so that a railroad could be built across the plains to the Rockies.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise and reopened the issue of extending slavery north, allowing the two territories to decide the matter for themselves. As a result, settlement of the state was spurred by the determination of both pro-slavery and abolitionist factions to achieve a majority population in the territory.

The word Jayhawker comes from a mythical bird that cannot be caught. The term was applied to the free-state guerrillas who opposed slavery. Those that favored the Confederacy soon earned the name of Bushwhackers, because they primarily lived in the "bush," or country, and their legs "whacked" the bushes as they rode.

So in a nutshell; Kansas=good Missouri=bad

The two most notorious and prominent figures in these times were William Quantrill and John Brown.

We all know about Quantrill's attack on Lawrence.

On the morning of August 21, 1863, Quantrill, along with about 400 men, descended on the town of Lawrence. In this carefully orchestrated raid, he and his band, in four terrible hours, turned the town into a bloody and blazing inferno unparallel in its brutality. Quantrill and his bushwhacker mob of raiders began their reign of terror at 5:00 a.m., looting and burning as they went, bent on total destruction of the town, then less than 3,000 residents. By the time it was over, they had killed approximately 180 men and boys, and left Lawrence nothing more than smoldering ruins.

John Brown is known mostly for his attack on Harper's Ferry in Virginia, but he also took part in many brutal displays of violence in Missouri, including this one: In May 1856, Brown and 6 followers, including 4 of his sons, visited the homes of pro-slavery men along Pottawatomie Creek, dragged their unarmed inhabitants into the night, and hacked them to death with long-edged swords. At once, "Old Brown of Osawatomie" became a feared and hated target of slave-staters.

What happened to each man? -Brown was found guilty of treason against Virginia and was hanged in Charlestown -Quantrill was shot through the spine and died at a military prison in Louisville, Kentucky in 1865.

I leave you with this quote from a Lawrence county clerk:

"They may kill me, but they cannot kill the principles I fight for. If they take Lawrence, they must do it over my dead body."

Bring it Mizzou Ad Astra Per Aspera