Synopses & Reviews
Despite the immense body of literature about the American Civil War and its causes, the nationand#8217;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. Soikeand#8217;s detailed and entertaining narrative illuminates Iowaand#8217;s role in the stirring western events that formed the prelude to the Civil War.
and#8220;The dramatic role of frontier Iowa as abolitionand#8217;s western bridgehead in the crusade to save Kansas for freedom has long awaited definitive study. Now historian Lowell J. Soike has carefully reconstructed this story.and#8221;and#8212;Robert R. Dykstra, author of Bright Radical Star: Black Freedom and White Supremacy on the Hawkeye Frontier
and#8220;Who knew that the young Hawkeye state sent more settlers to and#8216;Bleeding Kansasand#8217; than all of New England combined? Deeply researched and clearly written, Busy in the Cause reconnects Iowaand#8217;s Underground Railroad to its Kansas roots and offers our most complete description yet of John Brownand#8217;s Missouri raid.and#8221;and#8212;G. Galin Berrier, historian, writer, and speaker on the Underground Railroad
andquot;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.andquot;andmdash;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."and#8212;Nicole Etcheson, Middle West Review
andquot;Busy in the Cause is worthwhile reading for anyone who is interested in the run-up to the Civil War in the West.andquot;andmdash;Dan Holtz, Nebraska History
andquot;Busy in the Cause is a lively and engaging narrative.andquot;andmdash;Brent M. S. Campney, Western Historical Quarterly
andquot;Busy in the Cause is a welcome addition to this literature, and its accessible narrative makes the work handy for undergraduate courses on Civil War and western history.andquot;andmdash;William Hickox, Kansas History
This enlarged edition of the most significant and celebrated slave narrative completes the Jacobs family saga, surely one of the most memorable in all of American history. John S. Jacobs's short slave narrative, A True Tale of Slavery, published in London in 1861, adds a brother's perspective to Harriet A. Jacobs's autobiography. It is an exciting addition to this now classic work, as John Jacobs presents further historical information about family life so well described already by his sister. Once more, Jean Fagan Yellin, who discovered this long-lost document, supplies annotation and authentication. This is the standard edition of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, reissued here in the John Harvard Library and updated with a new bibliography.
About the Author
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, 1880and#8211;1924.