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Kansas History - Winter 1998/1999

(Vol. 21, No. 4)

Kansas History, Winter 1998/1999

Judith R. Johnson and Craig L. Torbenson, "Stories from the Heartland: African American Experiences in Wichita, Kansas."

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Johnson and Torbenson, professors of history and geography respectively at Wichita State University, use some twenty-five oral histories as the basis for this study of Wichita's African American community through five decades. The interviews reveal a strong, deeply rooted African American presence in Wichita; and interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, they find that "while some of the more blatant examples of discrimination may have disappeared," Wichita "remains a divided city," with blacks concentrated in the city's northeast sector.

Robert S. LaForte, "Gilded Age Senator: The Election, Investigation, and Resignation of Alexander Caldwell, 1871-1873."

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Corruption and "dirty" money are nothing new to Kansas or national political campaigns, as Professor LaForte reminds us in his study of one "Gilded Age" United States Senator from the Sunflower State. After enduring a legislative investigation in 1872 and a congressional inquiry in 1873, and less than two months after the state's senior senator, Samuel C. Pomeroy, failed in his bid for reelection because of corruption allegations, Alexander Caldwell resigned rather than face almost certain ouster by his Capitol Hill colleagues. "The Gilded Age, as [Mark] Twain and [Charles Dudley] Warner conceived it," concludes LaForte, "was in full bloom, and Kansas was making its contribution."

Christopher C. Lovett, "'To Serve Faithfully': The Twenty-Third Kansas Volunteers and the Spanish American War."

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This interesting study of Kansas's African American regiment, that pulled garrison duty in Cuba from September 1898 through February 1899, sheds new light on its history and achievements. It is, according to Professor Lovett, a neglected "story that needs to be told" mainly because "it is a tale of achievement and victory against the racial stereotypes and prejudice prevalent in Kansas during the Gilded Age."

Nicole Etcheson, "Novelists Revisit Territorial Kansas: A Review Essay."

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Nicole Etcheson, an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas--El Paso, critically analyzes two recent novels that have territorial Kansas as their primary settings, and in the case of the Cloudsplitter one of the state's most significant icons--John Brown--as its primary character.

Volume 21 Index