In the days of what historians call “bleeding Kansas” as that territory fought its way toward statehood with a fierce border war with Missouri and a civil war virtually raging inside its borders, two territorial governors were charged with treason. Through a long and complicated series of events neither of those two was ever convicted. The key man in that part of the Kansas-Missouri drama was a Missourian, a prominent businessman and lawer from Kansas City named Kersey Coates, an eastern-educated lawyer who studied under the prominent Pennsylvania senator, Thaddeus Stevens. When the Emigrant Aid Society, a group believing in a free-soil Kansas, asked Stevens to name a man to be their legal agent, he recommended Coates. Coates was against slavery, a stand strengthened by his Quaker father who was a leader in the underground railroad.

AOWM – September 15