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The Death Count for Bleeding Kansas

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Carpetbagger, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. Carpetbagger

    Carpetbagger Sergeant

    Jul 23, 2015
    Mostly I've read that 200 people died in Bleeding Kansas (McPherson, 1988, Guelzo, Lincoln and Douglas, 2008) but I found this 1995 article that says it was only 56. The author isn't a PhD, but he has decent credentials, and mostly his work looks well sourced. Anyone have any idea about this debate? I'm wondering why Guelzo used the 200 number 12 years after the paper was published. (He thinks its wrong? He doesn't know about the article?)


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  3. Patrick H

    Patrick H Captain

    Mar 7, 2014
    I haven't read the article carefully yet, but I will. It seems very well researched. As the author says, the exact number of political killings will probably never be known. His list at the end documents specific killings very well and I found that especially interesting.
    Carpetbagger likes this.
  4. Harvey Johnson

    Harvey Johnson Sergeant

    Oct 22, 2014
    Watts's 22 year old analysis is excellent but unfortunately largely ignored, probably for the two reasons the author states.

    First, the killings were more equally divided between pro and anti slavery victims than the historians you list above want to admit. As the author notes, "Contemporary antislavery accounts and the writings of historians generally depict the anti-slavery people as the victims of proslavery attackers." In fact, the number of pro-slavery victims was 25% greater than the number of anti-slavery victims.

    Second, the total number of murders were far lower than those same historians want to admit.

    In Division and Reunion, Ludwell Johnson also states, "It has never been established that violence in 'bleeding Kansas' greatly exceeded the average for the frontier. Much of the blood was transmuted printers ink; the antislavery press entertained its readers with tales of [violence...]"
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
    KLSDAD likes this.

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