Into the Devil’s Den

David Starr Hoyt’s peace attempt proved fatal.

David Starr Hoyt was an early casualty of “Bleeding Kansas.” In the mid-1850s, he was a leader of abolitionists in the territory. On May 21, 1856, a pro-slavery force sacked Lawrence, looting and burning many of the buildings. On August 12, the citizens of Lawrence, tired of the guerrilla fighting, sent Hoyt as an emissary to seek a peaceful resolution. He went to the pro-slavery stronghold of Fort Saunders (photo). No agreement was reached. Hoyt was murdered soon after leaving town. Free Staters attacked and captured Fort Saunders three days later in retaliation.

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