Puritans of the West
The University of Hesperus
Two Neighbors of St. Louis
The New England Woman
A New England Abode of the Blessed
Up to Date Misogyny
"The Gullet Science"
Plagiarizing Humors of Benjamin Franklin
* * * * *
An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter:
PURITANS OF THE WEST
Let nouther lufe of friend nor feir of fais,
mufe zow to mank zour Message, or hald bak
Ane iot of zour Commission, ony wayis
Call ay quhite, quhite, an blak, that quhilk is blak
First he descendit bot of linage small.
As comonly God usis for to call,
The sempill sort his summoundis til expres.
If it be heroism that we require, what was Troy town to this?
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
OF local phases of the American spirit, none has incited more discussion than that developed in Kansas. The notion that the citizens of the State are somewhat phrenetic in experimental meliorism; that they more than others fall into abnormal sympathies and are led by aberrations of the crowd—intoxications the mind receives in a congregation of men pitched to an emotional key—this notion long ago startled peoples more phlegmatic and less prone to social vagaries.
Closer consideration shows the Kansas populace distinctly simple in mental habit and independent in judgment. Yet their old-time grangerism and Greenbackism, and their still later Prohibitionism, Populism, and stay law have caused that part of the world not so inclined to rainbow-chasing to ask who they as a people really are, and what psychopathy they suffer—to assert that they are dull, unthinking, or, at best, doctrinaire.
This judgment antedates our day, as we said. It was even so far back as in the time of Abraham Lincoln, when Kansas was not near the force, nor the promise of the force, it has since become. And it was in that earlier and poorer age of our country when folks queried a man's suitability and preparedness for the senatorial office. Then when Senatorship fell to General James Lane, and some one questioned the Free-State fighter's fitness for his duties, President Lincoln is said to have hit off the new Senator and the new State with "good enough for Kansas!" and a shrug of his bony shoulders. Derogatory catchwords have had a knack at persisting since men first tried to get the upper hand of one another by ridicule, and the terse unsympathy and curl of the lip of Lincoln's sayings have kept their use to our day.
One outsider, in explaining any new vagary of the Kansans, suggests, with sophomore ease, "The foreign element." Another tells you, convicting himself of his own charge, "It is ignorance away out there in the back woods." "Bad laws," another conclusively sets down. Opposed to all these surmises and guesses are the facts that in number and efficiency of schools Kansas ranks beyond many States, and that in illiteracy the commonwealth in the last census showed a percentage of 2.9—a figure below certain older States, say Massachusetts, with an illiterate percentage of 5.9, or New York, with 5.5. As to its early laws, they were framed in good measure by men and women* of New England blood—of that blood although their forebears may have pushed westward from the thin soil of New England three generations before the present Kansans were born. Again its citizens, except an inconsiderable and ineffective minority, are Americans in blood and tradition.
* I include "women" because Lucy Stone once told me she draughted some of the Kansas laws for married women while sitting in the nursery with her baby on her knee. Other women worked with her, she said. Their labor was in the fifties of the nineteenth century—at the height of the movement to ameliorate the legal condition of married women.
It is in truth in the fact last named, in the American birth of the people who gave, and still give, the State its fundamental key, that we are to find the causes of Kansas neologism and desire for experiment in every line that promises human betterment. It is a case of spiritual heir-at-law—the persistence of what the great ecclesiastical reactionist of our day has anathematized as "the American Spirit." For each new ism the Kansans have pursued has been but another form and working in the popular brain of the amicus humani generis of the eighteenth-century Revolutionists, or, as the people of their time and since have put it, "liberty, equality, fraternity."
Kansas was settled by Americans, American men and American women possessed by the one dominating idea of holding its territory and its wealth to themselves and their opinions. They went in first in the fifties with bayonets packed in Bible boxes....