Many years have passed since that last great border wars between Missouri and Kansas. The previous height of conflict was 150 some years ago. The United States Civil War smashed the last barriers of civility and the borders were on fire. Today’s conflict will be settled, we hope, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
The Abolitionist John Brown had taken up residency in Kansas in the late 1850’s. Brown’s consumptive Christian zeal for his cause would lead the peaceful man to acts of horrendous violence. His violence first manifested itself in Kansas, just south of Lawrence – the present home of KU.
With the Civil War the States were forced to ‘take sides.’ Kansas was the headquarters of the Free States – opposed to slavery. Missouri was a border state – with the population deeply divided on the merits of slavery. The Mayor in St. Joseph marched to the courthouse and took the American Flag down and proudly raised the Confederate Flag – before going off to fight for the South. Brothers fought brothers.
Lawrence Kansas was sacked by Quantrill’s Raiders in 1863. Jim Lane’s Jayhawkers terrorized pro-slavery Missouri farmers. These border ruffians defined the conflict of the time. Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence is considered the most horrific example of the border conflict. They ruthlessly murdered 150 men and robbed all banks and taverns. Jesse James was a product of these troubling times – finally meeting his own violent death later in St. Joseph.
This Saturday, November 24, 2007, another sacking is going to take place. The Missouri Tigers will take no prisoners. The KU Jayhawks, proudly carrying their 11-0 record, are going to find out what organized football is all about. The KU and MU fans will be tailgating together in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium. Well, probably not ‘together.’ But they will be in the same proximity.
This post is prompted by some of the rhetoric that has been flying across the border in the past week. Some football fans are actually dredging up the Border Wars of 150 years ago as stimulus for fan banter. Studying history is useful – learning about unbridled righteous emotion can teach us some lessons about our own human capacity for violence. Let’s hope the tailgating competition is restricted to the best bar-b-cue.
See Follow Up: Mizzou – Show Me State Heroes