Slave Journeys of Cass County

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Video: Interview on the issue of slavery, race, and freedom on the MO/KS border

Diane Mutti-Burke, Associate Professor of History at UMKC, Author of “On Slavery’s Border: Missouri’s Small Slaveholding Households, 1815-1865.”

Excerpts from The Underground Railroad in Kansas, by Eva Allen:With the passage of the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, the newly-opened territory quickly became a battleground between pro- and anti- slavery forces, with the Underground Railroad playing a crucial role in the struggle.

Escaping slaves quickly began to view Kansas as a safe haven, and word spread that if they could reach Lawrence, they would be assured of help. Many former slaves stopped first in Quindaro, an abolitionist settlement just across the Missouri River from Parkville. From Quindaro, fugitives continued on to Lawrence, then to Topeka, and after that headed north along The Lane Trail.

The trail was marked with rock piles, and the settlements of Albany and Plymouth were founded with the main purpose of serving as stations on the Lane Trail. There are not records to show how many used the trail.

The exact number of Lawrence homes where escaped slaves were hidden will probably never be known, but may be fairly impressive. An 1859 letter from J. Bowles of Lawrence stated, ‘In the first four years, 1855 to 1859, I am personally known to the fact of 300 fugitives having passed through and received assistance from the abolitionists here at Lawrence.’

Morris W. Werner, “Lane’s Trail and the Underground Railway,” Kansas History Web Sites,

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