One hundred and fifty years after Kansas became a state, historians are still uncovering the implications of its history as a territory. From the very first elections in late 1854 and early 1855, the local opposition continued to claim the government was illegitimate. While most histories focus on the facts of the violence, in To Govern the Devil in Hell Ponce focuses on the question of why both the local and national governments allowed the violence to continue unstaunched for so long. By focusing on governance of the territory, Ponce illuminates this fraught period of the state's history.
Pearl Ponce is an associate professor of history at Ithaca College and is the editor of Kansas's War: The Civil War in Documents.