Mulling Kansas 1856 and America 2016
The more I read about Kansas in the 1850s, the more I see some unhappy parallels to today.
I’ve been reading Bleeding Kansas, another lender from my historical daughter. And the more I read about Kansas in the 1850s, the more I see some unhappy parallels to today.
— Each side undercutting the legitimacy of the other. Refusing to recognize election results when other side wins.
— Federal government paralyzed by parallel disagreements. House would make a move, Senate would block it.
— Allegations of voter fraud, some of them quite accurate. In a March 1855 election, some 5,427 votes were cast — even though there were only 2,905 voters residing in the Kansas territory.
— Violence becoming part of politics. South Carolina congressmen beats the hell of a Massachusetts senator on the floor of the Senate.
What happens when these trends accelerate:
— Militia activity becoming more widespread.
— Political parties edging into becoming militias.
— General radicalization with the passage of time. Today’s extremism is tomorrow’s norm.
— When people are charged with treason, juries say it was self-defense.
— John Brown commits acts of terror to respond to the attack on Lawrence, Kansas.
— Eventually, the presence of U.S. troops are polling places is needed, but even so doesn’t happen.
Photo credit: John L. Magee (c.1820 – c.1870)/Boston Athenaeum Digital Collections/Wikimedia Commons