22 illustrations, 1 map, 1 appendix
Despite the immense body of literature about the American Civil War and its causes, the nation’s western involvement in the approaching conflict often gets short shrift. Slavery was the catalyst for fiery rhetoric on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line and fiery conflicts on the western edges of the nation. Driven by questions regarding the place of slavery in westward expansion and by the increasing influence of evangelical Protestant faiths that viewed the institution as inherently sinful, political debates about slavery took on a radicalized, uncompromising fervor in states and territories west of the Mississippi River.
Busy in the Cause explores the role of the Midwest in shaping national politics concerning slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. In 1856 Iowa aided parties of abolitionists desperate to reach Kansas Territory to vote against the expansion of slavery, and evangelical Iowans assisted runaway slaves through Underground Railroad routes in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. Lowell J. Soike’s detailed and entertaining narrative illuminates Iowa’s role in the stirring western events that formed the prelude to the Civil War.
Lowell J. Soike is retired from the State Historical Society of Iowa, where he served as a historian for thirty-six years. He is the author of Without Right Angles: The Round Barns of Iowa and Norwegian-Americans and the Politics of Dissent, 1880–1924.
"Busy in the Cause is a unique and important contribution to Iowa history and to the literature of the 1850s Free Soil movement in the unsettled West."—Civil War Books and Authors
"Soike's clearly written narrative illuminates the intersection between free soilism in Iowa and turmoil in Bleeding Kansas. . . . [She] has filled a niche in elaborating Iowa's role in the territorial struggle."—Nicole Etcheson, Middle West Review