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The Conflict with Slavery
Kansas

by John Greenleaf Whittier

Read at the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the state of Kansas.

BEAR CAMP HOUSE, WEST OSSIPEE, N. H.,
Eighth month, 29th, 1879.

To J. S. EMERY, R. MORROW, AND C. W. SMITH, COMMITTEE:

I have received your invitation to the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of the first settlement of Kansas. It would give me great pleasure to visit your state on an occasion of such peculiar interest, and to make the acquaintance of its brave and self-denying pioneers, but I have not health and strength for the journey. It is very fitting that this anniversary should be duly recognized. No one of your sister states has such a record as yours,--so full of peril and adventure, fortitude, self-sacrifice, and heroic devotion to freedom. Its baptism of martyr blood not only saved the state to liberty, but made the abolition of slavery everywhere possible. Barber and Stillwell and Colpetzer and their associates did not die in vain. All through your long, hard struggle I watched the course of events in Kansas with absorbing interest. I rejoiced, while I marvelled at the steady courage which no danger could shake, at the firm endurance which outwearied the brutalities of your slaveholding invaders, and at that fidelity to right and duty which the seduction of immediate self-interest could not swerve, nor the military force of a proslavery government overawe. All my sympathies were with you in that stern trial of your loyalty to God and humanity. And when, in the end, you had conquered peace, and the last of the baffled border ruffians had left your territory, I felt that the doom of the accursed institution was sealed, and that its abolition was but a question of time. A state with such a record will, I am sure, be true to its noble traditions, and will do all in its power to aid the victims of prejudice and oppression who may be compelled to seek shelter within its borders. I will not for a moment distrust the fidelity of Kansas to her foundation principle. God bless and prosper her! Thanking you for the kind terms of your invitation, I am, gentlemen, very truly your friend.
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