Dr. Lewellyn W. Jacobs was a Miami County Doctor who was a veteran of the Confederate States Army, which was proudly inscribed on his gravestone in Osawatomie’s Oakwood Cemetery.

Dr. Jacobs’ gravestone reads “Lewellyn W. Jacobs CORP CO A 10th BN HV ARTY CONFEDERATE STATES ARMY Feb 3, 1917, METROPOLITAN GUARDS.” Given that Doctor Jacobs was a veteran of the Confederate Army following the Civil War, one might imagine that he would be ill-received in Miami County, which was a bastion of abolitionists and free soil advocates during the Civil War, but the opposite was the case.

This was noted in William Cutler’s “History of the State of Kansas,” published in 1883: “L.W. JACOB’s, M. D., physician and surgeon, was born in Virginia in 1844. He took a regular course in the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia, from which he graduated in the spring of 1868. He began practice in Baltimore, Md., but removed to Paola in 1870; he then came to Osawatomie and has since practiced in the place and vicinity. He served a term as Superintendent of the State Asylum for the Insane at Osawatomie. Dr. Jacobs has a large and increasing practice and is one of the popular physicians of Miami County.”

One of the realities of the Civil War was that when it ended, Americans were weary of the cultural and social conflicts and the violence that split the nation asunder. They sought to heal the wounds of the nation that had created the Civil War, and this created a desire to put the Civil War behind them.

Kansans who had endured the cruel bloodletting of both “Bleeding Kansas” and the Civil War over slavery in Kansas beginning in 1854 were sick of the constant stress and dangers posed by the Civil War in 1865 and wanted to put the cultural and violent conflicts over slavery behind them.

Therefore, though under the surface the fault lines of cultural conflicts in regards to racism remained, on the surface of American culture, there was an effort to put the Civil War in the past and heal as a nation.

Confederate veterans were not given the same veteran’s benefits as Union veterans, but they were welcomed back into the American cultural fold much more cordially than the formerly enslaved African-Americans who found that northern racism and southern racism were merely two sides of the same coin and faced racist prejudice and discrimination following the Civil War by racist European Americans.

European-American Confederate veterans such as Dr. Jacobs were often seen as rehabilitated Americans even in Kansas, but African-Americans found themselves effectively subject to defacto re-enslavement by racism and segregation in the North and the South, and unfortunately, by failing to resolve the issue of racism and the divisions it created in American culture, created continued cultural conflicts that Americans have yet to fully resolve in American cultural life today.

Grady Atwater is site administrator of the John Brown Museum and State Historic Site.

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