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The Black Jack, Kansas Scrapbook includes newspaper clippings telling the account of the battle and town of Black Jack, as well as some history of Black Jack-area families including O’Neil, Von Tries, Black, and Pearson. Most clippings are from the Wellsville Globe and the Ottawa Herald. Photographs are included.

The Battle of Black Jack was the first armed conflict between proslavery and antislavery forces in the United States. The battle near Baldwin City on June 2, 1856, had implications far beyond Kansas Territory. Some call it the first battle of the Civil War. The Kansas-Nebraska Act had opened Kansas Territory in 1854 and allowed citizens to determine whether Kansas would be a free or slave state. The territory soon became a battleground between those who supported slavery in the territory and those who opposed it. On May 21, 1856, Sheriff Samuel Jones, the first sheriff of Douglas County, and a posse of 750 proslavery men raided Lawrence. In retaliation, John Brown and a small group of men—including some of his sons—violently murdered five men living on Pottawatomie Creek on May 24, 1856. Accompanied by a proslavery militia, Henry Pate set out to find Brown. He captured two of Brown's sons and held them prisoner. On June 2, Brown's free-state militia attacked Pate's men encamped on the grounds. About 100 men engaged in a three-hour battle, which led to Pate's surrender. The battle further divided the nation’s already-polarized abolitionist and proslavery factions. As politicians, newspapers, and citizens watched the story of “Bleeding Kansas” unfold, hints of a larger potentially violent conflict to come became increasingly evident. The Battle of Black Jack is significant for its association with abolitionist John Brown. Both the battle and the coverage of the battle in the nation’s newspapers introduced John Brown, who called for armed insurrection to end slavery.

Publication Date



Social Life and Customs


Arts and Humanities

Size of Collection

1 linear foot

Dates of Collection


Manuscript Number

SpC MS 0400

Black Jack, Kansas Scrapbook, 1930-1974



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