The Big Divide: A Travel Guide to Historic and Civil War Sites in the Missouri-kansas Border Region

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9780976443414: The Big Divide: A Travel Guide to Historic and Civil War Sites in the Missouri-kansas Border Region

FULLY UPDATED for 2015! From the new Preface: We have spent the past decade touring Kansas and Missouri, sharing the remarkable history of this area. We have sold thousands of copies of the book you hold in your hands. We often hear back from people who have read The Big Divide and visited the sites we’ve recommended in these pages. And it’s clear to us that the bug is spreading — people are getting to be as passionate about the Missouri-Kansas Border Region as we are! The Big Divide is a guide to nothing less than America’s most consequential border. We not only tell its amazing story but launch our readers on the road to discovery at more than 130 historic sites, monuments, museums, parks, cemeteries, and shrines across the Border Region. The Big Divide offers multiple paths for exploring the history of our area, as well as tips to help you and your family make the most of your travels. But before we get to all that, you may be wondering: What do we mean when we say “America’s most consequential border”? Every place in America has made some sort of history. But not every place has made American history. What is so striking about the Missouri-Kansas Border Region is how many things happened here on which the fate of the whole United States turned. We call these the “hinges of history,” and when you add them all up, it is a staggering chain of events:

  • The Louisiana Purchase (1803) doubled the size of the U.S., brought in the entirety of 11 states including Kansas and Missouri, led to the legendary journey of Lewis and Clark (1804–06), and pointed the young nation toward its frontier.
  • The Missouri Compromise (1820) headed off sectional trouble between slave states and free states, but would tear the country apart when it was repealed.
  • The Indian Removal Act (1830) created a “permanent” Indian territory in present-day Kansas, and prevented pro-slavery Missourians from settling the area. Instead, overland trails originating in the Border Region took thousands of families to homes in the Far West, including Mormons who were tragically evicted from Missouri.
  • The Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) put the country on a path to Civil War, and turned the Border Region into a national battleground. “Bleeding Kansas” made John Brown a national hero (and villain) and marked a violent turn in the debate over slavery and states’ rights.
  • The Lecompton crisis (1857) tried to admit Kansas to the Union as a slave state. This created deep divisions that would ultimately put Abraham Lincoln in the White House and lead to the creation of the Confederacy.
  • Missouri’s Civil War (1861) — The governor was in open rebellion, and a string of successful attacks by pro-Southern forces had the Union Army in retreat.
  • The Battle of Island Mound (1862) is now recognized as the first time that African-American soldiers fought in the Civil War, one of several events that convinced Union generals and President Lincoln that black men not only could fight, but they should fight and they would fight for their freedom.
And that’s just the 19th century. In the 20th century, such local notables as Amelia Earhart, Harry Truman, and the plaintiffs in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case were just as influential in extending new freedoms to women and people of color. *** If this is your first time reading our guide, welcome! We ask only that you prepare to be surprised, entertained, and even inspired by America’s most consequential border. It’s time to take a ride on The Big Divide.

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L'autore:

Diane Eickhoff, an editor turned historian, published her first biography, Revolutionary Heart, with Quindaro Press in 2006. It was named a Kansas Notable Book by the State Library of Kansas and honored with a Willa Cather Award and ForeWord’s gold medal for biography. Aaron Barnhart was television critic for the Kansas City Star from 1997 to 2012. In 2010 Quindaro published a collection of his criticism, Tasteland. In addition to their “Hinges of History” presentations, Diane and Aaron both lecture regularly for the Kansas and Missouri humanities councils. They are at work on two nonfiction narratives. Diane and Aaron are married and live two blocks from the Missouri-Kansas state line.

L'autore:

Diane Eickhoff is a textbook editor turned historian. She is the author of Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols and the Pioneering Crusade for Women’s Rights. She lectures for the Kansas and Missouri Humanities councils. Aaron Barnhart is the former television and media critic for the Kansas City Star. He has contributed to the New York Times, Village Voice, and other publications. He lectures for the Kansas and Missouri Humanities councils. They live in Kansas City, Missouri — two blocks east of the Missouri-Kansas state line.

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