Tuesday, August 16, 2011

John Brown frowns

There is a book display by the reference desk highlighting the annual event series “The Civil War on the Western Frontier” – which commemorates Lawrence’s tumultuous early history.  On the display, there are about nine different images of John Brown and for days now they have all been glowering at me.  It is amazing that such an unassuming name can be attached to such an intemperate face.  Get a load of this guy:
I think maybe he is peeved that I’m a little undereducated about Lawrence’s pivotal role in the abolitionist movement and the Civil War – although, in my defense, I’m from an area of Kansas that avoided much historical significance during the Civil War (and since).  So to escape the pressure of John Brown’s unrelenting scrutiny, I have decided to enjoy some of the events of “The Civil War on the Western Frontier” and learn the history of my adopted home.  My progress so far (achieved over the course of my lunch hour):

Stop one: The Carnegie Library’s Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area exhibit, which showcases a large, wall-mounted, back-lit, Plexiglas timeline of the area’s role in the expansion of freedoms in America.  There’s also a separate room focused on the Kansas-Nebraska Act.  If you go, be sure to take a close look at the intense political cartoons of the era.

My takeaway thought from the exhibit:  while today’s political climate feels like it couldn’t be more contentious, at least our current Congressmen aren’t bludgeoning each other on the floor of the Senate (as of this posting):

It took Senator Sumner 3 years to recover and Representative Brooks was fined $300.

Stop Two: Lawrence Visitor Center (the old train station in North Lawrence) -  I watched a 27 minute locally produced docudrama which gave the lowdown on Lawrence, from its founding through Quantrill’s Raid.  I was the only person in a theater that would seat thirty, so it felt like a command performance (take a friend).  A train went by during a battle scene and for about thirty seconds I was convinced the Visitor’s Center was equipped with Dolby.

Stop Three - Burger King on 6th (which I’m pretty sure is on the National Register of Historic Places).  Racing back to work, I managed to get ketchup on every surface in my car in an unintended homage to Bleeding Kansas. 

Tomorrow I will continue my lunchtime immersion in Lawrence history, right here at LPL, by attending guest speaker Dr. Jonathan Earle’s presentation “John Brown’s Raid.” Bring your lunch and join us – I hear he is an awesome speaker and hopefully you will feel inspired to take home one of the creepy John Brown books off the display.

Ransom - Reference

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your dedication to learning about local history, Ransom. Who knew that going to Burger King could be educational...
: *)