Based on historical
fact, "The Ballad of Black Jack"
deals with pro-and anti-slavery issues that nearly ripped the state
apart, putting "Bleeding Kansas" on the front pages of national
newspapers. This big stage musical production was written by Baldwin
City playwright and composer Don Mueller in 1970, and was performed
annually during the Baldwin
Maple Leaf Festival on the third full weekend
in October until 1983. Other than a one-year production in Lawrence
in 1986, the show was dormant until it was brought back to Baker University's
Rice Auditorium in Baldwin City in 2001.This year will be the 19th
production of the show.
The play tells
the true story of Northeast Kansas settlers in 1855 and 1856 who were
fighting for Kansas to enter the Union as a free state, and the opposition
they faced from pro-slavery Missourians. The show features historical
characters such as free-state Gov. Charles Robinson, free-state militia
leader Capt. James Abbott, pro-slavery sheriff Sam Jones, Ft. Leavenworth's
Col. Edwin Sumner and the fiery abolitionist John Brown. Lively songs
and dances and a love story are melded together with the historical
events surrounding two Quaker settlers in the area, Jacob Branson
and Charles Dow.