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Kansas History - Summer 2008

(Vol. 31, No. 2)

Special Issue

Kansas History, Summer 2008

Editor's Introduction

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Joel Paddock, "The Gubernatorial Campaigns of Robert Docking, 1966-1972."

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The premature death of former Governor Robert B. Docking in October 1983 precluded his inclusion in the interview project that serves as the basis for Kansas History's gubernatorial series, which commenced with articles on John Anderson, Jr. and William H. Avery. Fortunately, however, some excellent scholarship already exists, so we reached into the journal's archive to redo Joel Paddock's fine article from 1994, "The Gubernatorial Campaigns of Robert Docking, 1966-1972." Paddock, a professor of political science at Missouri State University, found that during these turbulent years the state's electoral politics, like those nationally, were in flux. In Kansas, Robert Docking epitomized a new style of electoral politics that slowly replaced the historical dominance of the Republican Party with a more competitive two-party politics in which individual political entrepreneurs ran candidate-centered campaigns. "Like many Democratic officeholders who survived and even flourished during a period of growing Republican dominance of presidential politics, Docking fashioned an electoral strategy that appealed to an increasingly independent electorate. Ironically," concludes Professor Paddock, "this increasingly independent electorate contributed to greater two-party competition in Kansas during the 1970s and beyond."

Virgil W. Dean, editor, "Seeking 'Realism and a Little Rationality' in Government: The Observations of Former Governor Robert F. Bennett."

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Between the second governor Docking, who chose not run for a fifth term in 1974, and Governor John Carlin was Robert F. Bennett, whose death at age seventy-three in October 2000 also precluded his inclusion in the gubernatorial interview project. As luck would have it, however, Governor Bennett had the opportunity to reflect on his term as Kansas governor for publication shortly before he left office. We have included excerpts from this interview, first published by the National Governors' Association in 1981, as the second of three articles that make up the heart of this special issue of Kansas History. In the December 27, 1978, interview the state's thirty-ninth governor speaks of the disappointment of not being given a second term and the accomplishments of his administration. Bob Bennett, a Johnson County lawyer, Prairie Village city councilman and mayor, and a member of the state senate for a decade prior to his 1974 run for the governorship, presided over--as president of the senate and governor--a state government in transition. Political friends and foes alike admired Bennett's intellect and grasp of the intimate details of policy and government, but as one observed Bennett did not "delegate authority as he should have, and he never really connected with ordinary folks. . . . The ordinary people of Kansas mistook his intellect for arrogance."

Bob Beatty, editor. "'Be Willing to Take Some Risks to Make Things Happen': A Conversation with Former Governor John Carlin."

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Interview audio, video, and transcripts

Third in this special issue and in our series of articles based on the gubernatorial interviews captured on video by Washburn University political scientist Bob Beatty, a conversation with former state legislator, governor, and archivist of the United States John W. Carlin explores issues such as the high cost of energy, the severance tax, capital punishment, and education. Carlin, a Saline County dairy farmer who was first elected to the state legislature in 1970, upset Governor Bennett in the 1978 election and served two terms as Kansas's fortieth chief executive. "Carlin was very much an activist governor who sought change when he felt it was needed and was willing to fight for the changes he wanted," writes Professor Beatty in the introduction. "Carlin's two terms as governor were served with Republican legislatures, so the Democratic governor had to be politically adroit, flexible, and convincing to muster the majorities needed to get his programs passed." When the legislature said no, however, Carlin was not averse to taking his case to the people-a tactic he used to great effect in 1982. "All things considered," wrote Joe P. Pisciotte in his Selected Papers of Governor John Carlin, "Carlin's is a legacy of change," and his approach was that of "pragmatic progressivism; a type of leadership steeped in pragmatic dreaming."


A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution
by David A. Nichols
355 pages, illustrations, notes, index.
New York: Simon and Schuster, 2007, cloth $27.00.
Reviewed by Rusty Monhollon, assistant professor of history, Hood College, Frederick, Maryland.

Jo Shelby's Brigade Iron Brigade
by Deryl P. Sellmeyer
381 pages, maps, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Gretna, La.: Pelican Publishing Company, 2007, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by William Garrett Piston, professor of history, Missouri State University, Springfield.

The Civil War's First Blood: Missouri, 1854-1861
by James Denny and John Bradbury
vi + 138 pages, illustrations, bibliography.
Boonville, Mo.: Missouri Life, 2007, paper $29.95.
Reviewed by Tim Rues, Site Administrator, Constitution Hall, Kansas State Historic Site, Lecompton.

Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam
by Pope Brock
336 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
New York: Crown, 2008, cloth $24.95.
Reviewed by R. Alton Lee, emeritus professor of history, University of South Dakota.

Kiowa Humanity and the Invasion of the State
by Jacki Thompson Rand
xii + 204 pages, photographs, figures, tables, notes, bibliography, index.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008, cloth $45.00.
Reviewed by Joseph B. Herring, director, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry: A Brief History with Documents
by Jonathan Earle
xiv + 158 pages, illustrations, maps, notes, bibliography, index.
Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, The Bedford Series in History and Culture, 2008, paper $15.95.
Reviewed by Bruce R. Kahler, professor of history, Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist: Writings from the Ozarks
edited by Stephen W. Hines
xi + 330 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2007, cloth $34.95; and

Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life
by Pamela Smith Hill
xi + 244 pages, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index.
Pierre: South Dakota State Historical Society Press, South Dakota Biography Series, 2007, paper $12.95.
Reviewed by Melissa Tubbs Loya, associate editor, Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains.

Kansas Memory
Kansas Historical Society
Reviewed by Rebecca Edwards, Eloise Ellery Professor of History, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York.

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The Seminole Freedmen: A History. By Kevin Mulroy. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, Race and Culture in the American West series, 2007, xxxii + 480 pages, cloth, $36.95.)

In this volume Kevin Mulroy explores the thesis that, "with only a few notable exceptions, the history of the Seminole freedmen has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misrepresented" (p. xxv). This unique American cultural group is not, as has been posited since the community's beginnings in eighteenth-century Florida, an amalgamation of Africans and Seminoles that became "Black Indians." Rather this group of maroons-runaway slaves living in the West Indies and South, Central, and North America-associated with, but did not become, Seminole Indians. These "Seminole maroons" often "began their relationships with Seminoles by living in an Indian town, as either a slave or a free person. But once their numbers had grown sufficiently to support a community, the great majority moved off and formed separate maroon societies under African leadership" (p. xxvi). Mulroy follows the Seminole maroons as they emigrated west and discusses the communities they formed in Oklahoma in the early days of its statehood.

Black Women in Texas History. Edited by Bruce A. Glasrud and Merline Pitre. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2008, viii + 256 pages, cloth $40.00, paper $19.95.)

Comprised of eight chapters, organized chronologically from the Spanish period to the recent past and written by experts on each of the eras covered, Black Women in Texas History is "concerned with race, space, place, class, and gender . . . [and] moves black females into the center of Texas history" (p. 11). Each chapter discusses the economic, social, political, and cultural influences that shaped black women throughout Texas's history, with a focus on their community-making efforts. Eight themes that describe these efforts emerge in the essays: resisting, creating, struggling, overcoming, migrating, learning, uniting, and leading. The extensive notes and bibliography provided in the collection will encourage future research on these themes, and, as the editors note, "this 'first' analytical and chronological survey of black women in [Texas] may serve as a measuring rod for other states" (p. 3).

The Trans-Mississippi West, 1804-1912: Part IV: Guide to Records of the Department of the Interior for the Territorial Period, Section 3: Records of the General Land Office. Compiled by Robert M. Kavasnicka. (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2007, xix + 656 pages, paper two-volume set $49.)

The Trans-Mississippi West, 1804-1912: Part IV: Guide to Records of the Department of the Interior for the Territorial Period, Section 3: Records of the General Land Office, The Guide Supplement Containing State Lists and Other Appendixes. Compiled by Robert M. Kavasnicka. (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2007, xix + 656 pages, paper two-volume set $49.)

With this two-volume set the National Archives Administration continues its publication of a major research aid that "identifies and describes significant series of civil records relating to the contiguous States and Territories carved out the area west of the Mississippi" (p. xiii), including Kansas. This volume features documents registered with the General Land Office, which presided over the public domain. The records of this federal agency include, for example, "Reports on Iowa Indian lands in Kansas and Nebraska, 1888-89. . . . Also included are field notes for township surveys, for select contracts, and for less routine surveys such as the resurvey of the east boundary of the Iowa Indian Reservation in Kansas, 1872; . . . [and] the retracement of the boundary between Kansas and Oklahoma Territory, 1891" (p. 232).

Best of Covered Wagon Women. Edited by Kenneth L. Holmes. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008, 304 pages, paper $19.95.)

Kenneth L. Holmes spent much of his career at Oregon College of Education collecting and studying firsthand accounts of those who traveled west during the nineteenth-century. The result was his eleven-volume series, Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1890. The series has now been distilled into eight of the best accounts of women leaving the lives they knew in hopes of something better in unknown lands. These accounts tell remarkable, personal stories of exceedingly hard journeys, though they also speak to the common experiences of those who migrated cross county. In his introduction to each author, Holmes sets their works in a larger context, providing a clearer picture of the lasting impact the journeys had on these early American families.

The Big Red One: America's Legendary 1st Infantry Division from World War I to Desert Storm. By James Scott Wheeler. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007, xiv + 594 pages, cloth $34.95.)

In The Big Red One, James Scott Wheeler chronicles the history of the "Fighting First," the oldest continuously serving division in the U.S. Army, which has served in war- and peacetime during WWI, WWII, the Cold War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm, and in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Since 1955 the division has been headquartered at Fort Riley, Kansas. The human experiences of the soldiers and their families living in the Sunflower State as well as those stationed throughout the world, Wheeler notes, "is an important part of the American national experience" (p. 1). This first comprehensive history of the 1st Infantry-a record of its battles, leaders, weapons, and soldiers-documents too "the history of the nation and the military policies that have shaped our destiny over the past nine decades" (p. 527).

The Dairies of John Gregory Bourke: Volume Three, June 1, 1878-June 22, 1880. Edited and annotated by Charles M. Robinson III. (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2007, ix + 555 pages, cloth $55.00.)

John Gregory Bourke, aide-de-camp to Brigadier General George Crook and firsthand witness to the early Apache campaigns, the Great Sioux War, the Cheyenne Outbreak, and the Geronimo War, was a prolific diarist, filling 124 manuscript volumes with notes, sketches, and photographs. Bourke's dairy-compiled, edited, and annotated for the first time in this set of eight planned volumes-provides an early critical examination of the U.S. government's treatment of American Indians, as, for example, when Bourke includes a transcript of a meeting between Crook and the Ponca Tribe. As introduction he notes, "This conference is inserted verbatim merely to show the cruel and senseless ways in which the Government of the United States deals with the Indian tribes who confide in its justice or trust themselves to its mercy" (p. 179). Along with its detailed descriptions of governmental policies towards Indians, Bourke's dairy also provides ethnographic information on various tribes and different ethnic groups represented in the U.S. military.