Kansas’ messy racial history dates to its founding

Topeka — During the prelude to the Civil War, Kansans fought on the side of what was right, seeking to keep the scourge of slavery out of the state and help the enslaved.

Wait a minute, historians say.

As Kansas celebrates its 150th birthday Saturday, those who have devoted their careers to studying the period want to fill people in on something: Most of the settlers who fought to ensure Kansas entered the union as a free state initially wanted to ban blacks from the state entirely.

"They were hardly abolitionists who shared our 21st century racial views," said Jonathan Earle, a history professor at the University of Kansas, located in the former abolitionist stronghold of Lawrence. "They didn't want anything to do with these people. They didn't like slaveholders really."...

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