150 years ago this week, Missourians and Kansans would move beyond the decades of rhetoric over the debate on slavery and move to actual fighting to try to resolve the issue. On May 21, 1856, pro-slavery forces, mostly from Missouri, would hit the Free State stronghold of Lawrence, Kansas. Grady Atwater is the curator for the John Brown State Historic Site in Osawatomie, Kansas. He says that raid would enrage abolitionist John Brown. Brown and his men would retaliate by hacking to death with broadswords five pro-slavery settlers near the Pottawatomie Creek in Eastern Kansas. Atwater says they used swords for two reasons: They were quieter and they were in-line with Brown’s Old Testament views that often times had people being smited with swords. Retaliations on both sides of the border would continue for many years to come in what many see as the real start of the Civil War. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the characters and how did their personalities affected the course of events. The Missourinet will also air an hour-long feature called The Border War: Where It All Began this Friday evening at 7:06 with re-airings Saturday night at 7:06, Sunday morning at 7:06 and Sunday afternoon at 5:06.
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