1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lawrence (Kansas)

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LAWRENCE, a city and the county-seat of Douglas county, Kansas, U.S.A., situated on both banks of the Kansas river, about 40 m. W. of Kansas City. Pop. (1890) 9997, (1900) 10,862, of whom 2032 were negroes, (1910 census) 12,374. It is served by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe and the Union Pacific railways, both having tributary lines extending N. and S. Lawrence is surrounded by a good farming region, and is itself a thriving educational and commercial centre. Its site slopes up from the plateau that borders the river to the heights above, from which there is a view of rare beauty. Among the city’s principal public buildings are the court house and the Y.M.C.A. building. The university of Kansas, situated on Mount Oread, overlooking the city, was first opened in 1866, and in 1907–1908 had a faculty of 105 and 2063 students, including 702 women (see Kansas). Just S. of the city of Lawrence is Haskell institute (1884), one of the largest Indian schools in the country, maintained for children of the tribal Indians by the national government. In 1907 the school had 813 students, of whom 313 were girls; it has an academic department, a business school and courses in domestic science, in farming, dairying and gardening, and in masonry, carpentry, painting, blacksmithing, waggon-making, shoemaking, steam-fitting, printing and other trades. Among the city’s manufactures are flour and grist mill products, pianos and cement plaster. Lawrence, named in honour of Amos A. Lawrence, was founded by agents of the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company in July 1854, and during the Territorial period was the political centre of the free-state cause and the principal point against which the assaults of the pro-slavery party were directed. It was first known as Wakarusa, from the creek by which it lies. A town association was organized in September 1854 before any Territorial government had been established. In the next month some pro-slavery men presented claims to a part of the land, projected a rival town to be called Excelsior on the same site, and threatened violence; but when Lawrence had organized its “regulators” the pro-slavery men retired and later agreed to a compromise by which the town site was limited to 640 acres. In December 1855 occurred the “Wakarusa war.” A free-state man having been murdered for his opinions, a friend who threatened retaliation was arrested by the pro-slavery sheriff, S. J. Jones; he was rescued and taken to Lawrence; the city disclaimed complicity, but Jones persuaded Governor Wilson Shannon that there was rebellion, and Shannon authorized a posse; Missouri responded, and a pro-slavery force marched on Lawrence. The governor found that Lawrence had not resisted and would not resist the service of writs; by a written “agreement” with the free-state leaders he therefore withdrew his sanction from the Missourians and averted battle. The retreating Missourians committed some homicides. It was during this “war” that John Brown first took up arms with the free-state men. Preparations for another attack continued, particularly after Sheriff Jones, while serving writs in Lawrence, was wounded. On the 21st of May 1856, at the head of several hundred Missourians, he occupied the city without resistance, destroyed its printing offices and the free-state headquarters and pillaged private houses. In 1855 and again in 1857 the pro-slavery Territorial legislature passed an Act giving Lawrence a charter, but the people of Lawrence would not recognize that “bogus” government, and on the 13th of July 1857, after an application to the Topeka free-state legislature for a charter had been denied, adopted a city charter of their own. Governor Walker proclaimed this rebellion against the United States, appeared before the town in command of 400 United States dragoons and declared it under martial law; as perfect order prevailed, and there was no overt resistance to Territorial law, the troops were withdrawn after a few weeks by order of President Buchanan, and in February 1858 the legislature passed an Act legalizing the city charter of July 1857. On the 21st of August 1863 William C. Quantrell and some 400 mounted Missouri bushrangers surprised the sleeping town and murdered 150 citizens. The city’s arms were in storage and no resistance was possible. This was the most distressing episode in all the turbulence of territorial days and border warfare in Kansas. A monument erected in 1895 commemorates the dead. After the free-state men gained control of the Territorial legislature in 1857 the legislature regularly adjourned from Lecompton, the legal capital, to Lawrence, which was practically the capital until the choice of Topeka under the Wyandotte constitution. The first railway to reach Lawrence was the Union Pacific in 1864.

See F. W. Blackmar, “The Annals of an Historic Town,” in the Annual Report of the American Historical Association for 1893 (Washington, 1894).