Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ad Astra Per Aspera

On the 152nd Anniversary of Kansas' Statehood, it's worth taking a moment to reflect upon the struggles that led to its establishment. If you have ten minutes, PBS has a good summary of the violent atmosphere on the Kansas frontier in the years leading up to the Civil War.

Of course, much of the bloodshed between pro- and anti-slavery factions occurred near the Kansas-Missouri border. A Congressional report of the "Special Committee Appointed to Investigate the Troubles in Kansas" vividly portrays the twisted mindset of the pro-slavery forces seeking to shape the future of the Kansas territory. John H. Stringfellow, a fervent Border Ruffian from Missouri, provided the following testimony to the committee (emphasis mine):
Free-State men who came into the Territory after the passage of the bill were regarded with jealousy by the people of western Missouri, for the reason that a society had been formed, by members of Congress and others, for the avowed purpose of shaping the institutions of Kansas Territory so as to make it a free State, in opposition to the interests of the people of Missouri. If no emigrant aid societies had been formed in the northern States, the emigration of people from there known to be in favor of making Kansas a free State would have stimulated the emigration from Missouri. Had it not been for the emigrant aid societies the majority in favor of slave institutions would, by the natural course of emigration, have been so great as to have fixed the institutions of the Territory, without any exciting contest, as was in the case of the settlement of the Platte purchase. That was the way we regarded the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, as by reserving a restriction to introduce southern institutions into Kansas. This and the principle of it was what induced us to support it. The fixed time that any action was taken to form societies in Missouri to counteract the movements of emigrant aid societies was in October, 1854. The end sought to be attained by the formation of these societies, was to induce citizens to move into the Territory who were friendly to the institution of slavery. We held public and private meetings. The members of these societies knew each other, and in public and private pledged to use all honorable means to make Kansas a slave State.
Stringfellow's brother Benjamin was much more explicit concerning his movement's intentions, instructing an audience in St. Joseph, MO, to "mark every scoundrel that is in the least tainted with free-soilism or abolitionism and exterminate him."   
Meanwhile, in a letter to his cousin Sidney, a young Massachusetts transplant named Edward Bridgman described his rapid evolution into an abolitionist and a Free-Stater:
In some small towns the men are called up nearly every night to hold themselves in readiness to meet the worst as scouting parties of Alabamians Georgians and Missourians are around continually, plundering clothes yards, horses and cattle, and everything they can lay hold of. A few miles from Lawrence a man was plowing. A party of Southerners came along and being hungry killed his best ox, ate what they wanted, took away some and left the rest. Such like occurrences are almost daily taking place. Last Thursday, news came from Lawrence that she was in the hands of the Ruffians, and that they had demolished the free state Hotel, burned Robinson's house, and destroyed the two printing presses. Almost immediately a company of 30 was raised. There was no reason why I could not go for one, so I borrowed a rifle and ammunition and joined them. The thought of engaging in battle is not a pleasing one, but the free state men are compelled to. Why should I not do [so] as wall as others, I have nothing to hinder me and my life is no dearer to me than the lives of others are to them.
The sacking of Lawrence recounted by Bridgman was led in part by Benjamin Stringfellow. Shortly after the arrival of Governor John Geary in late 1856, most of the bloodshed would cease. Kansas, however, would have to wait more than four years for admission into the Union, following the secession of the Confederate states, which had been formidable roadblocks in the quest to establish the territory as a free state. To the stars through difficulty.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Yet Another Update on the Pedestrian Bridge

If you can't tell by now, I'm just a little anxious for the new Squibb Park Bridge to open... so that my walk to Brooklyn Bridge Park will be cut in half. Here's another progress shot, taken yesterday afternoon. The upland connection is nearly complete, and the section closest to the water has been installed. Stay tuned for railings in the near future...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Update: Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge

While the Squibb Park Bridge didn't make its year-end deadline, it is inching closer to completion. As you can see above, a third section--the closest to Squibb Park--is nearly complete. In the very near future, the walk from Brooklyn Heights to the waterfront will be much more fun. Once the trees fill out, I'm picturing something along these lines. Stay tuned!

Photo of the Day: East River Morning Fog

Yesterday's view from Brooklyn Bridge Park:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Revisiting Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5

Pier 5 Soccer Fields (looking west)

Other than a long-distance shot pre-Sandy, I haven't posted any photo updates on Pier 5 since the construction site tour. The Pier has now been open for a few weeks, and yesterday we took our first look up close. More glimpses of the new pier (the third of six) follow, taken on a chilly, but sunny, Saturday afternoon.

Maura and Blue, enjoying a stroll on the south promenade

Picnic Peninsula, looking south to the pier
A few of the 25 grills dotted throughout the picnic area. January seems like a good time to stake your claim!
Detail of a timber picnic table, made from Longleaf Yellow Pine, salvaged from Pier 1.
Prefabricated concession stand, also featuring reclaimed pine and a green roof. No word yet on a vendor.