1854. The Kansas-Nebraska Act becomes law. After a generation of containment by the Missouri Compromise, a path is created for slavery to expand. Southerners are ecstatic and northerners enraged. Both sides rush settlers to the Kansas Territory, seeking to gain the majority. Guerilla warfare results, with Americans killing Americans.
Monty Tolliver, a former congressman from Ohio, inspired by a remote figure from his past, moves to Kansas, determined to make it a free state. Two young men, Billy Rutledge from Mississippi and Robert Geddis from Rhode Island, seek a new start on life in Kansas. They all find in Kansas a land embroiled in violence, and cross paths with abolitionist John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and other historical figures. When a grisly double murder occurs, the investigation uncovers secret societies, betrayals, and cover ups.
Chronicling the “Bleeding Kansas” era of the 1850s, a precursor to the Civil War, And Union No More confirms that one cannot fully understand the latter without knowledge of the former.
Book Buy Link: https://geni.us/2qwjozg
Stan Haynes, an attorney and author, spent his legal career as a litigator with a Baltimore law firm. A graduate of the College of William & Mary and of the University of Virginia School of Law, he has had a lifelong interest in American political history, particularly concerning the presidency. He resides in Maryland. Visit his website at www.stanhaynes.com.
Kansas was a tinderbox. All awaited the spark that would ignite a blaze.
As though stepping into a time machine and traveling back to pre-Civil war era, Haynes has reconstructed the events of the mid 1850s when Kansas found itself in a divide between abolitionist and proslavery factions. Set forth on a series of intertwining paths the reader is grasped in compelling storytelling by people historically significant to the ultimate creation of the Kansas Constitution to become a free state. From the eyes of many: an abolitionist reporter, a conductor of the underground railroad, a proslavery rogue and a former congressman turned captain in the militia, no stone is left unturned by Haynes.
During most of 1855, disputes between the free-state and proslavery populations in the Kansas Territory were largely battles of words. The free-staters followed their policy of passive resistance to the laws of the new territorial legislature, but stopped short of active defiance. The town of Lawrence remained, as it had been since the first group from the New England Emigrant Aid Company arrived in August 1854, their stronghold.
Taking the front stage throughout most of the novel, Montgomery “Monty” Tolliver is a character so well defined and depicted that it was only natural for him to lead the story through the happenings in Lawrence, Kansas. As many from all over the country flock to gain footing in the movement to build a campaign for free states–to push out the proslavery ruffians who bring threats to the very border with corruption and even war on their minds, Monty often found himself directly in the middle of both sides torn on what was morally right and wrong. His determination to see a country, and state, free of slavery meant that his goals of building a foundry and new life for his family would be pushed back whilst he dove into the fight for a better, free Kansas. It was easy to get lost in the words of a nation so divided, set on attacking one another that this reviewer could close her eyes and imagine herself in the blood soaked streets as if the events were happening right before me. Vivid imagery and emotion were brought to life on every page as a means to draw out the inner fight within yourself making you want to yell, “Can they not yet see reason? Do they not know what lies ahead should they continue on such a harrowing path of destruction of self and country?”
Monty could only shake his head in disgust. What was the country coming to? Over the span of one week, there had been the attack on Lawrence, the massacre at Pottawatomie, and a brutal beating in Congress, where he had previously served. Where was a statesman, he wondered, like his old boss, Henry Clay, when the country needed someone—anyone—to bring it together, to try to make peace?
Seeing through the eyes of many different characters, including that of a young, proslavery man who quickly found himself on the wrong side, it made for a winding journey with a plethora of twists and turns which the story needed to keep a reader on their toes. A novel such as this, with so much history woven into the pages and characters, truly needed those moments of shock to make the reading experience enlightening and emotionally captivating. You don’t just get the facts. The author delivers a deep dive into the lives of the people involved and the reader comes to care about what happens to them–witnessing their growth as Haynes shows you a world that already exists, then building it up more for you to see a small part of what would make history.
We’ve turned the corner, Robert. More and more free-state settlers are arriving here every month. We outnumber the slavers by a large number now. The time is coming soon when we will no longer be the shadow government of the territory any longer, and we take control.”
“You make it sound like it’s over.”
“Still work to do but, mark my words, Kansas is going to be a free state. You’re still young. Go live in Washington City. Experience it. I enjoyed my years there, at least most of them. The Evening Star is a respected newspaper. And you’re sure to find a suitable wife much easier there than here, where the pickings are, shall we say, rather slim.”
“You’re going hammer and tongs over this. One might think you want to get rid of me.”
“I only want what’s best for you, my friend.”
The language used in telling this story is cathartic and heart-warming. In combination with Haynes’ obvious research and time taken into constructing a tale about bravery, friendship, patriotism, hardships and the beginnings of war, you are left with an immersive adventure that takes you by storm. While some historical accounts, when fictionalized, are heavy and dry– this story is anything but with its readability being smooth, with little error, and a structure that balances out the factual with the added details. Dialogue was carefully selected and dispersed throughout this novel so that when the meaty moments arrived they were often “nail-bitingly good”, making you wish for more.
“And Union No More” by Stan Haynes receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company
To have your historical novel editorially reviewed and/or enter the HFC Book of the Year contest, please go HERE