Anniversary of Quantrill’s Raid

August 21, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederate guerrilla William Quantrill’s devastating raid on Lawrence.  The raid took 150 lives and left 80 women widows.  Even the most ardent Kansas State fans would have to agree that it was a horrible and despicable deed.

Quantrill’s raid was not an act of war but an act of terrorism carried out on innocent civilians. Every day newspapers document current terrorist atrocities around the world and at home.  The recent heinous Boston Bombing would make a good discussion “bridge” from the present to the past.  Why do people make war on civilians? What is the perspective of the terrorist versus the victim?  What can be done to stop this type of warfare?

The Kansas Historical Society has a Read Kansas! lesson that addresses two different perspectives on the 1863 raid.  “The Civil War Comes to Kansas: Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence”  is available on the website,  It is already aligned to the new Kansas Standards for History, Government, and Social Studies as well as the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards.

When you are in Topeka be sure to stop by the Kansas Museum of History to see the other “survivors” of the raid.  Burned musical instruments, melted glass, and a charred Bible speak volumes about the personal devastation of terrorism.

About mmadden2013

I am director of education for the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka, Kansas, and teach Public Museum Education at the University of Kansas.

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