Saturday, June 29, 2013


There on the prairie, on the edge of settlement,
the great sea of grass flowing to the west,
cities, towns, and farms to the east,
these Ohio men laid out their town,
measured out their farms,
knowing it would be some time
before government surveyors arrived,
but only a short time before claims jumpers,
Missourians, and Border Ruffians.

They came with plows and ideals,
to sow and reap new lives from the Kansas soil.

Raised on abolition, they had seen
runaways pass through their villages,
had seen the fear and hope in the eyes
of men, women, and children;
heard it in the whispered voices
in barns and cellars, under cover in wagons
as they waited for the slave hunters to pass.
Quakers to a man, they sat in Meeting
listening to those who counseled patience
and trust in God that laws would change.
They had helped hide runaways;
bought only goods made with free labor.
But this was not enough.
When Kansas opened, they went west
to send a message to the nation.
Kansas would be free,
by the ballot, they hoped;
by force if necessary.

It was their season,
and they waited for conflict to sprout.

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