Cottage Conversation: Stark Mad Abolitionists

Join us as author and former Chief Historian of the National Park Service Robert Sutton and President Lincoln’s Cottage’s Executive Director Erin Mast discuss Sutton’s book, Stark Mad Abolitionists: Lawrence, Kansas, and the Battle over Slavery in the Civil War Era.

In May 1854, Massachusetts was in an uproar. A judge, bound by the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, had just ordered a young African American man who had escaped from slavery in Virginia and settled in Boston to be returned to bondage in the South. An estimated fifty thousand citizens rioted in protest. Observing the scene was Amos Adams Lawrence, a wealthy Bostonian, who “waked up a stark mad Abolitionist.” As quickly as Lawrence waked up, he combined his fortune and his energy with others to create the New England Emigrant Aid Company to encourage abolitionists to emigrate to Kansas to ensure that it would be a free state.

The town that came to bear Lawrence’s name became the battleground for the soul of America, with abolitionists battling pro-slavery Missourians who were determined to make Kansas a slave state. The onset of the Civil War only escalated the violence, leading to the infamous raid of William Clarke Quantrill when he led a band of vicious Confederates (including Frank James, whose brother Jesse would soon join them) into town and killed two hundred men and boys.

Stark Mad Abolitionists shows how John Brown, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, Sam Houston, and Abraham Lincoln all figure into the story of Lawrence and “Bleeding Kansas.” The story of Amos Lawrence’s eponymous town is part of a bigger story of people who were willing to risk their lives and their fortunes in the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality.

 

Robert Sutton, former Chief Historian of the National Park Service, devoted his career to sharing stories with the public at America’s most iconic historic parks. He has written, contributed to, and edited over thirty books and articles on American history.


When: Thursday, September 28

Reception: 6:00 pm, Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center (Entrance at 140 Rock Creek Church Road NW)
Lecture: 6:30 pm, President Lincoln’s Cottage
Admission: $10 for the lecture and $10 for the reception. To purchase tickets and RSVP click here.

Free for Cottage members at the $250 level or above. To reserve your seat as a Cottage member $250 or above, email Michelle Martz at MMartz@lincolncottage.org or call (202) 688-3735.

Cottage Conversations offers relaxing evenings to socialize and learn something new about our 16th president from authors, collectors, and artists. The program begins with a cocktail reception, is followed by the lecture, and concludes with a book signing.

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