Episode Four: Aftermath

In commemoration of the 155th anniversary of the capture, trial, and rescue of Kansan physician John Doy, KHC is featuring excerpts from “John Doy’s Escape” Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater script. The Shared Stories of the Civil War reader’s theater project is a partnership between KHC and the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.                                                                                

Henry David Thoreau. Photo courtesy of: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Henry David Thoreau. Photo courtesy of: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Despite differences of opinions toward slavery’s expansion, the John Doy trial and rescue elicited similar questions for both Kansans and Missourians, free and slave, at the dawn of the Civil War: Which laws could be broken in defense of doing what one believed to be the right thing, and to what lengths would citizens go to defend their rights?

The rescue of Doy was an illegal act. It was so construed in the border territory of Missouri. The rescue had been affected by the men of Lawrence and the smouldering [sic] hatred for the town was kindled into flame. There was less wild passion than before, less call for armed invasion and immediate revenge; it was a slow flame which burned in the hearts of the border men, but it was one which gave no sign of quickly dying out. “Our day will come,” declared the Ruffians and guerrillas, and they waited for the day impatiently.

Allen Crafton, Free State Fortress: The First Ten Years of the History of Lawrence, Kansas, 1954.

A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men. When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery, it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote. They will then be the only slaves. Only his vote can hasten the abolition of slavery who asserts his own freedom by his vote.

Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849. 

July 2014 marks the 155th anniversary of John Doy’s rescue and return to Lawrence, Kansas. Thanks to all who followed KHC’s tweets and blog posts of “John Doy’s Escape” Shared Stories of the Civil War script.