A History of Lawrence, by Rev. Richard Cordley (1895)


     About three years ago, it was suggested that the writer prepare a history of Lawrence covering the period of its early settlement. Without realizing what was involved in such an undertaking, he consented. Since coming to understand the difficulties in the way he has often been inclined to withdraw his consent. It soon became evident that no history can ever be written which will be satisfactory to those who took part in those early struggles. It was a time of intense excitement, and those who passed through those scenes retain vivid impressions of them. Any description will seem tame compared with the graphic picture they have in mind.

     Then it is impossible to do justice to all the actors engaged. The movement that saved Kansas was of the people, rather than of the leaders. There were leaders, but they were leaders chiefly because they went before. They did not create the movement, nor the sentiment out of which it grew. The people moved towards Kansas of their own implulse. They did not go at the beck of any man. They followed certain men because they were going their way. If all the leaders had failed them they would have chosen others and gone on. They were moved by individual conviction and a common impulse. Men and women who have never been heard of displayed a spirit of self sacrifice and heroism as worthy of remembrance as anything history records of the noted names. No history can do honor to all who deserve it.

     It is becoming quite common to under-rate heroism that saved Kansas for freedom. The cold blooded historian goes mousing among old letters and he finds that these early heroes were men and women, of like frailties with ourselves. But the glory of heroism is not that angels come down to mingle in the affairs of men, but that common men and women, when the occasion demands, can rise to such sublime heights of heroism and self sacrifice.

     It becomes the people of Kansas to appreciate her own history and the men who laid the first foundations. It was the heroic age, and in the future it will take its place with Plymouth Rock and Lexington.

     The writer acknowledges his indebtedness to those who have written before him. It would be impossible to name all the writers who have been of service to him. The following are among the number:

     A. T. Andreas, History of the State of Kansas; especially his military history and county histories; Charles Robinson, The Kansas Conflict; Leverett W. Spring, Kansas; D. W. Wilder, Kansas Annals; Eli Thayer, The Kansas Crusade; J. H. Gihon, Governor Geary's Administration; United States Biographical Dictionary; J. N. Holloway, History of Kansas; W. A. Phillips, Conquest of Kansas; C. S. Gleed, Kansas Memorial; The publications of Kansas State Historical Society.

     The write gladly acknowledges his special obligation to Hon. F. G. Adams of the State Historical Society who has at times given him free access to the remarkable collection of early newspapers which are on file in the rooms of that institution.


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