The Attack on Lawrence: A Turning Point in Kansas History

A Conversation With K Lawrence

Lawrence focuses his practice on the electricity and natural gas industry representing funds and financial institutions, energy traders, marketers, renewables and other project developers and investors. His experience includes regulatory proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and state utility commissions.


The Lawrence Massacre

In 1861, the border conflict between Kansas and Missouri reached a new level of intensity. Although Civil War raged in the East, the animosities of the territorial period lived on, and William Quantrill’s raid on the Free-State town of Lawrence was an expression of those hostilities.

At dawn on August 21, a group of 400-plus guerrillas led by Quantrill rode into Lawrence. They swept down Massachusetts Street, looting shops and burning buildings. They focused their attention on the Eldridge House and a farm where George Ellis and his family were living. Quantrill’s men killed the Ellis father, but George and his mother survived.

The residents of Lawrence were not armed, which, combined with the surprise and swiftness of the raid, left them defenseless against the savagery of the attack. This was one of the most significant events in the so-called Jayhawker war and a turning point in the history of Kansas. It also paved the way for the Civil War to come to Kansas.

The Battle of Osceola

k lawrence was part of a generation of African American artists who carefully considered their role and responsibility in depicting black history and contemporary life. His subjects and style reflected these considerations.

He was a founding member of the Harlem Art Workshop, a studio space on West 135th Street that brought together artists like Augusta Savage and Charles Alston. The workshops provided a community of creative support and a powerful model for mentorship that remained an important aspect of Lawrence’s career.

The workshop also gave Lawrence access to a wide range of materials, including drawing supplies, which helped him develop his skills. Using these tools, he developed a style that would become one of his hallmarks: the use of line and tone to convey depth.

The Workshops were a turning point for Lawrence and Gwendolyn. The experience fueled their wanderlust, and they moved from New York to Nigeria where they taught art to local students.

The Lawrence Raid

Throughout his life Lawrence’s opinions and artistic preferences earned him a controversial reputation, often scorned as tasteless, avant-garde or pornographic. But, in the years before his death, he gained a broader audience thanks to the obscenity trials that surrounded the unexpurgated edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. He also rewrote and published Studies in Classic American Literature, a set of literary interpretations that emphasized both the power and seriousness of Herman Melville.

After leaving Beauvale, Lawrence travelled widely with Frieda. Their wanderlust took them to Australia, Italy, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Mexico. They wrote several travel books, including Sea and Sardinia and Movements in European History.

During this period, Lawrence and Frieda met Aldous Huxley. They formed a close friendship that endured to the end of his life. Huxley helped to boost Lawrence’s literary reputation with his introduction to a collection of letters published in 1932. During his later years, Lawrence frequently visited local archaeological sites and tombs in Southern Italy. He wrote essays inspired by these excursions, including Sketches of Etruscan Places, which contrasted the lively past with Benito Mussolini’s fascism.

The Lawrence Decision

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas’ anti-sodomy law violated the Constitution. The ruling seemed to come like lightning from above, but it was the culmination of years of work by activists who rejected their state’s discriminatory laws.

The justices considered three questions: Does the Texas statute criminalizing homosexual sodomy offend the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? Does it infringe the right to privacy embedded in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? And should Bowers v. Hardwick be overruled?

Lawrence and Garner argued that the law infringed their rights to equality and privacy, but they lost. They died soon after the decision; Garner was 39 and Lawrence was 68. The Supreme Court decision “was a landmark case that set the stage for decades of progress on gay, lesbian and bisexual issues,” says Segovia. But he notes that the same progress hasn’t been made for transgender people, who still face a higher level of discrimination and violence.

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