The old church in Ossawatomie, Kansas, attended by John Brown.
Abolition agitation was given new fuel when, on May 30, 1854, Congress passed the famous Kansas-Nebraska Bill, setting off the southern portion of Nebraska into a new territory called Kansas, and leaving the question of slavery or no-slavery to be decided by its inhabitants. The fight for Kansas began at once. Slaveholders from Missouri poured into the new territory, and in New England an Emigrant Aid Society was formed, which started large parties of Free-Soilers to Kansas. The first party started in July, 1854, and John G. Whittier sent them a hymn, which was sung over and over during the long journey.
The Kansas Emigrants.
WE cross the prairie as of old
The Pilgrims crossed the sea,
To make the West, as they the East,
The homestead of the free.
We go to rear a wall of men
On Freedom’s southern line,
And plant beside the cotton tree
The rugged Northern pine!
We’re flowing from our native hills
As our free rivers flow:
The blessing of our Motherland
Is on us as we go.
We go to plant her common schools
On distant prairie swells,
And give the Sabbaths of the wild
The music of her bells.
Upbearing, like the Ark of Old,
The Bible in our van,
We go to test the truth of God
Against the fraud of man.
No pause, nor rest, save where the streams
That feed the Kansas run,
Save where our Pilgrim gonfalon
Shall flout the setting sun!
We’ll tread the prairie as of old
Our fathers sailed the sea,
And make the West, as they the East,
The homestead of the free!
—John Greenleaf Whittier.
Song of the Kansas Immigrants—Johnny Whistletrigger
A tip o’the hat to The Bard on the Hill.