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The Big Blue Union
The Big Blue Union was published in Marysville, Kansas, appearing on Saturday mornings beginning with the first issue on March 29, 1862, and continuing through its last on May 19, 1866. Marysville is the seat of Marshall County, located in northeast Kansas. Taking its title partly from the Big Blue River that flowed through the town, the paper boasted a Republican affiliation and maintained a pro-Union stance in a community whose founder and early residents were decidedly proslavery. Besides serving the growing number of Union sympathizers in Marshall County, the paper also targeted Republicans in neighboring Washington County. The masthead of The Big Blue Union stated “Westward the Star of Empire takes its Way,” referring to an 1860 painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze of the same title depicting the settlement of the West and symbolizing the idea of Manifest Destiny.
The Big Blue Union frequently covered the military activities of Confederate sympathizers based in Missouri and reported on the tensions between the proponents of slavery and the supporters of Kansas as a free state. Several men served as editors and publishers of The Big Blue Union during the newspaper’s short tenure. Among these, Edwin C. Manning was the most significant. A returning Civil War veteran, Manning took over publishing the paper on August 15, 1863. He had already achieved some journalistic notoriety in Marysville during a two-month stint with the proslavery Democratic Platform in 1860, when he changed the paper’s politics without changing its title or informing the owner of the printing press. Manning was elected in the fall of 1864 to the Kansas State Senate, serving one term. Publication of The Big Blue Union was suspended from November 5, 1864 until September 30, 1865.
The Big Blue Union ceased publication altogether on May 19, 1866, citing competition from a rival, The Marysville Enterprise as the cause of its demise. Soon afterward, Manning moved to Manhattan where he began publishing the Kansas Radical.
Provided by: Kansas State Historical Society; Topeka, KS