2009 Lincoln-Harman Lecture Jonathan Earle, Department of History, Kansas University February 25, 2009, sponsored by History Department, Washburn University
“If I went West, I think I would go to Kansas”
—Abraham Lincoln, the Sunflower State and the Election of 1860
Jonathan Earle is an award-winning historian of American politics, with specialties in 19th Century and Civil War era. He earned a BA in history at Columbia University in 1986 and master¹s and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University, in 1992 and 1996 respectively. Since 1997 he has been a professor in the history department at the University of Kansas, and since 2003 Associate Director of the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics.
He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, winner of the Byron Caldwell Smith award and the best book prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic; John Brown¹s Raid: A Brief History, Major Problems in the Early Republic; and the Routledge Atlas of African American History.
His latest project is a book for Oxford University Press on the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860.
He has appeared on the History Channel, C-SPAN, A&E and PBS, and in 2006 was named one of eight “Top Young Historians” in the nation. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas.
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SUMMER SESSION 2009 Lifetime Wellness, PE 198K, is an upcoming Kansas Studies course. If any of you would ever like to hike, bike, or canoe along with us, let me know. Maybe Center for Kansas Studies fellows can arrange to give a little trail talk on their areas of Kansas expertise. Contact Patti Bender, Asst. Prof., HPEES, firstname.lastname@example.org, 785-670-1966. Images below are from a PowerPoint presentation from a previous section of this outdoor summer class.
FALL SEMESTER 2008: Two Fellows of the Center, Chris Hamilton and Tom Schmiedeler taught a course "Global Warming: Science and International Policies." Sections were GG300 (geography) and PO300A (political science), which can fulfill an upper-level elective in the social sciences. Additionally, students pursuing a graduate Liberal Studies degree were encouraged to enroll in either LS501GB (geography) or LS502GB (political science).
This course was taught on Monday evenings, 5:30 to 8:00 PM, spring semester 2008. Schmiedeler's particular topics, taught during the first half of the semester, included atmospheric influences on global warming, impact of global warming on climate regions, population, and spatial variations in the consumer culture and their impact on global warming. Hamilton's' topics included sources of resistance to the science of global warming, variations in the policy responses of states, cities and countries to global warming, and an evaluation of presidential candidates and U.S. legislation in creating the most effective policy solutions for climate change.
SUMMER SESSION 2008:From June 10-June 13, 2008, nineteen juniors and three teachers from Waring School in Beverly, Massachusetts, visited Kansas. They were interested in seeing our landscape and in learning about the Kansas connection to issues of race and equality. Hosted by families lined up by Center for Kansas Studies fellow Tom Averill, these students went to Dover, Kansas, home of the Sommerset Café with its great pie, to Echo Cliff, to the Flying W Ranch (the Center helped pay for their lodging), to the State Capitol building, to the Brown v. Board Museum, to Lecompton’s Territorial Museum and to the Sunflower Music Festival. They experienced everything from rain to clear skies to tornado sirens. At the Flying W Ranch, poet Steven Hind (CKS has published four of his books of poetry) read his work and talked to the students along with Tom Averill and Amy Fleury. Some writing that came out of the experience:
The Sommerset Cafe, June 11th, 2008, Dover, Kansas--
Today I learned that the Kansa Indians existed. They were here and now they are in Oklahoma, pushed off the limestone and dirt. In the corner, a 60-year-old man sits in his overalls, t-shirt, and cap. He is watching “Days of Our Lives.” When we trooped in, he looked amused but said nothing.
Yesterday I learned that there is a Lawrence, Kansas. It’s named after Lawrence, MA. Abolitionists settled it as part of the effort to make sure Kansas became a free state; they bled for it. Today I saw limestone cliffs in a place that is known for its flatness. The stone is soft when first exposed and can be easily worked. It is so well layered that it can be split off into blocks with ease. It cures in the air becoming hard and unworkable. I am searching for the meaning of hardening rocks. If I were clever, it would be a metaphor for the people who came here, changing and taking to the place and then becoming rooted in it, hardening into the proper form. But that does not work, the place is changing. Dover is dying, the town grows smaller as the Hamiltonian vision marches on. ADM [Archer, Daniels, Midland], we bow to thee.
The Flying W Ranch, Kansas, June 11th--
I watch the tiny white flowers move with the gusts of wind. It seems to be a dance that has no name. They rise and fall, together in time with the beat of the sun. Everything I see within my peripheral vision is moving. The flowers, the leaves, the grass, the clouds, the hills…everything but me. I’m the stage on which the dancers dance. Part of the picture, but not part of the story.
The Flying W Ranch, June 11th--
Farmland surrounds me. Beauty here in Kansas does not lie in many houses or a big city. Beauty lies in the rolling hills, the flatland, the crops that grow, and the trees. It lies in the small towns, big clouds that signal rain, lightning bolts, and horses. It lies in the people in the farm that surrounds me.
Beauty makes you oblivious to time and direction. When you look around, you realize their sky is our ocean, vast and clear. When you look into their sky, it seems to go on forever, like our ocean. The wind through the trees sounds like the waves hitting the ocean shore. It sounds like home. Not only is their sky our ocean, but their mountain is our hill.
Flying W Ranch
Monroe School, Brown v. Board, June 12th--
The Kozol reading, as well as the facts of life around us, put me in the mind of Chief Justice Brown, who wrote the decision of Plessy v. Ferguson. He wrote along these lines: “The fourteenth amendment was undoubtedly not intended to abolish any distinction between the two races, a distinction that must exist so long as the two are distinguishable by color.” Is it possible, then, that segregation – at least in a de-facto sense – will continue until the sci-fi fantasy exists that intermarriage eventually makes the entire human race a shade of light-ish brown? Is there a way to extinguish human xenophobia?
Monroe School, Brown v. Board Museum, June 12th--
Knowledge is Power
It’s why the white suburban mothers shrieked at the top of their lungs at the first black students to integrate the public school systems in Kansas. It’s why slaves were kept away from literature. When one can learn, one opens up an infinite array of opportunities for change. As I walk through the Hall of Courage in the museum, I can’t help but feel ashamed of the power in inequality and the power in fear. But with time has come some positive change, however gradual. With the right tools can come change. With the right tools comes power. Knowledge.
Supported with funding and web support by the Center for Kansas Studies— “Map of Kansas Literature”
SPRING SEMESTER 2008: This new section of the CKS Map of Kansas Literature site (linked from "Kansas Sources") is an ongoing collaborative effort among Washburn students and faculty. Seventeen Kansas authors and poets were mapped by the Fall 2006 "Honors 201c" class, team-taught by professors Tom Averill, English department and Carol Yoho, Art department. Additional writers will be added to this map over time.
Supported with funding by the Center for Kansas Studies—
“Through Martha's Eyes”
Broadcast MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2007 AT 9 PM
on KTWU, Channel 11
screenplay by Marcia Cebulska
directed by Charles Cranston
produced by Telemark Pictures
Reverend Thomas Johnson paid $800 for 15-year-old Martha on May 24, 1856 and took her from West Port, Missouri into Kansas Territory. But once there, he did not set her free but put her hands to work at the Shawnee Mission Indian Manual Labor School. There, besides laundry and scrubbing floors, it was Martha’s job to scrub Indians and cut off their hair. At night, Martha is drawn into an underground world where rules are broken but integrity is valued. She also finds unexpected romance and a dream of freedom.
Based on real characters and events, this 42-minute film tells the story of an African-American girl and her introduction into a world of frontier justice, border ruffians and harsh punishment. Filmed in the Flint Hills, “Through Martha’s Eyes” explores the racial climate of its time while telling a warm human story of growing awareness, love and brave resistance.
View still photos from the shooting of this film from Telemark Pictures.