MCNAMARA, John as “A Clergyman of the Episcopal Church” (1824-1885). In Perils by mine own Countrymen: Three Years on the Kansas Border. New York and Auburn: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1856.

$ 300.00

12mo., (7 5/8 x 5 1/8 inches). (Scattered spotting throughout). Original publisher’s brown cloth, elaborately stamped in blind to both covers, the smooth spine stamped in gilt (extremities bumped).

Provenance: Contemporary manuscript ownership inscription of H. Darrah to recto of first blank.

First edition. After the Compromise of 1850, Kansas became a battleground state for the question of slavery. The “Committee of the Territories” bill, passed in 1853/54, proposed to “organize” the Nebraska territory, which included the area that would become the state of Kansas, stipulating that the slavery question would be decided by popular sovereignty. This essentially repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, extending slavery beyond the 36' 30" line, and set off the era known as “Bleeding” or “Bloody” Kansas. “There had been several attacks during this time, primarily of proslavery against Free State men. People were tarred and feathered, kidnapped, killed. But now the violence escalated. On May 21, 1856, a group of proslavery men entered Lawrence, where they burned the Free State Hotel, destroyed two printing presses, and ransacked homes and stores. In retaliation, the fiery abolitionist John Brown led a group of men on an attack at Pottawatomie Creek. The group, which included four of Brown’s sons, dragged five proslavery men from their homes and hacked them to death.

“The violence had now escalated, and the confrontations continued. John Brown reappeared in Osawatomie to join the fighting there. Violence also erupted in Congress itself. The abolitionist senator Charles Sumner delivered a fiery speech called ‘The Crime Against Kansas,’ in which he accused proslavery senators, particularly Atchison and Andrew Butler of South Carolina, of [cavorting with the] ‘harlot, Slavery.’ In retaliation, Butler’s nephew, Congressman Preston Brooks, attacked Sumner at his Senate desk and beat him senseless with a cane.

“In September of 1856, a new territorial governor, John W. Geary, arrived in Kansas and began to restore order. The last major outbreak of violence was the Marais des Cynges massacre, in which Border Ruffians killed five Free State men. In all, approximately 55 people died in ‘Bleeding Kansas.’ Several attempts were made to draft a constitution which Kansas could use to apply for statehood. Some versions were proslavery, others free state. Finally, a fourth convention met at Wyandotte in July 1859, and adopted a free state constitution. Kansas applied for admittance to the Union. However, the proslavery forces in the Senate strongly opposed its free state status, and stalled its admission. Only in 1861, after the Confederate states seceded, did the constitution gain approval and Kansas become a state” (

“Graff describes McNamara’s career in Kansas as a stormy one, as could be expected during the years of ‘Bloody Kansas’” (Wagner-Camp). “After spending some time in Chicago he returned to Missouri and then visited Fort Leavenworth where he organized a parish. After a heated discussion with the post commandant, McNamara was banned from the post. McNamara was a staunch antislavery man who believed it was his duty to preach against slavery” (David Dary, “Kanzana”). A very nice copy of a book published in the midst of great turmoil.