Bleeding Kansas

Bleeding Kansas

Overview
Bleeding Kansas, Bloody Kansas or the Border War, was a series of violent events, involving anti-slavery
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 Free-Staters and pro-slavery "Border Ruffian
Border Ruffian
In the decade leading up to the American Civil War, pro-slavery activists infiltrated Kansas Territory from the neighboring slave state of Missouri. To abolitionists and other Free-Staters, who desired Kansas to be admitted to the Union as a free state, they were collectively known as Border...

" elements, that took place in the Kansas Territory
Kansas Territory
The Territory of Kansas was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until January 29, 1861, when the eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Kansas....

 and the western frontier towns of the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 roughly between 1854 and 1858. At the heart of the conflict was the question of whether Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 would enter the Union as a free state or slave state
Slave state
In the United States of America prior to the American Civil War, a slave state was a U.S. state in which slavery was legal, whereas a free state was one in which slavery was either prohibited from its entry into the Union or eliminated over time...

. As such, Bleeding Kansas was a proxy war
Proxy war
A proxy war or proxy warfare is a war that results when opposing powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting each other directly. While powers have sometimes used governments as proxies, violent non-state actors, mercenaries, or other third parties are more often employed...

 between Northerners
Northern United States
Northern United States, also sometimes the North, may refer to:* A particular grouping of states or regions of the United States of America. The United States Census Bureau divides some of the northernmost United States into the Midwest Region and the Northeast Region...

 and Southerners
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 over the issue of slavery in the United States.
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Encyclopedia
Bleeding Kansas, Bloody Kansas or the Border War, was a series of violent events, involving anti-slavery
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 Free-Staters and pro-slavery "Border Ruffian
Border Ruffian
In the decade leading up to the American Civil War, pro-slavery activists infiltrated Kansas Territory from the neighboring slave state of Missouri. To abolitionists and other Free-Staters, who desired Kansas to be admitted to the Union as a free state, they were collectively known as Border...

" elements, that took place in the Kansas Territory
Kansas Territory
The Territory of Kansas was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until January 29, 1861, when the eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Kansas....

 and the western frontier towns of the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 roughly between 1854 and 1858. At the heart of the conflict was the question of whether Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 would enter the Union as a free state or slave state
Slave state
In the United States of America prior to the American Civil War, a slave state was a U.S. state in which slavery was legal, whereas a free state was one in which slavery was either prohibited from its entry into the Union or eliminated over time...

. As such, Bleeding Kansas was a proxy war
Proxy war
A proxy war or proxy warfare is a war that results when opposing powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting each other directly. While powers have sometimes used governments as proxies, violent non-state actors, mercenaries, or other third parties are more often employed...

 between Northerners
Northern United States
Northern United States, also sometimes the North, may refer to:* A particular grouping of states or regions of the United States of America. The United States Census Bureau divides some of the northernmost United States into the Midwest Region and the Northeast Region...

 and Southerners
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 over the issue of slavery in the United States. The term "Bleeding Kansas" was coined by Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley was an American newspaper editor, a founder of the Liberal Republican Party, a reformer, a politician, and an outspoken opponent of slavery...

 of the New York Tribune
New York Tribune
The New York Tribune was an American newspaper, first established by Horace Greeley in 1841, which was long considered one of the leading newspapers in the United States...

; the events it encompasses directly presaged the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.

The United States had long struggled to balance the interests of slaveholders and abolitionists. The events later known as Bleeding Kansas were set into motion by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, which nullified the Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 and instead implemented the concept of popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

. An ostensibly democratic idea, popular sovereignty stated that the inhabitants of each territory or state should decide whether it would be a free or slave state; however, this resulted in immigration en masse to Kansas by activists from both sides. At one point, Kansas had two separate governments, each with its own constitution, although only one was federally recognized. On January 29, 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state, less than three months before the Battle of Fort Sumter
Battle of Fort Sumter
The Battle of Fort Sumter was the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina, that started the American Civil War. Following declarations of secession by seven Southern states, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. On...

 which began the Civil War.

Origins




The issue of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, deeply embedded in the culture of the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, had been divisive since the country's formation. Indeed, the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 probably would not have been ratified had not slavery been preserved. The Constitution's three-fifths compromise
Three-fifths compromise
The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which three-fifths of the enumerated population of slaves would be counted for representation purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the...

, under which three-fifths of a state's slave population was counted for purposes of its congressional representation, was another effort to balance the interests of slave state
Slave state
In the United States of America prior to the American Civil War, a slave state was a U.S. state in which slavery was legal, whereas a free state was one in which slavery was either prohibited from its entry into the Union or eliminated over time...

s and free states. The issue became even more contentious as the country expanded and was faced with admitting new states as free states or slave states, threatening to shift the fragile balance of power in either direction. The Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 was an attempt to preserve this balance; later, the Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850
The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five bills, passed in September 1850, which defused a four-year confrontation between the slave states of the South and the free states of the North regarding the status of territories acquired during the Mexican-American War...

 served a similar purpose, but the nation continued to teeter on the brink of civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine through Popular Sovereignty if they would allow slavery within...

 of 1854 created the Kansas and Nebraska territories and opened the lands to settlement by American pioneer
American pioneer
American pioneers are any of the people in American history who migrated west to join in settling and developing new areas. The term especially refers to those who were going to settle any territory which had previously not been settled or developed by European or American society, although the...

s. The Act also established that the question of whether slavery would be allowed in the new states of Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 and Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

 would be decided by the inhabitants of the states – essentially repealing the Missouri Compromise. The concept of letting the settlers decide, now known as "popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

," was an idea advocated by U.S. Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois, and was the Northern Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. He lost to the Republican Party's candidate, Abraham Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate contest following a famed...

, chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories. Popular sovereignty was an attempt to offer concessions to the Southern states
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 by making possible the expansion of slavery into both western and northern territories. While this doctrine, also known in Kansas Territory as "squatter sovereignty," was not actually formulated by U.S. Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass
Lewis Cass was an American military officer and politician. During his long political career, Cass served as a governor of the Michigan Territory, an American ambassador, a U.S. Senator representing Michigan, and co-founder as well as first Masonic Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan...

, he nevertheless earned the sobriquet "Father of Popular Sovereignty" by providing its ideological framework in a letter published in the Washington Daily Union, which later also secured for Cass the presidential nomination of the Democratic party.

Initially, it was assumed that few slave owners would attempt to settle in Kansas and make it a slave state, because it was thought to be too far north for profitable exploitation of slaves. However, the eastern portion of Kansas along the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 was as suitable for slave-based agriculture as the nearby "black belt" of Missouri in which most of Missouri's slaves were held.

The settlement and the zone formation of the state government in Kansas became highly politicized beyond the borders of the territory. There were a number of reasons for this. Missouri, a slave state, was uniquely exposed to free states, with Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 and Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

 bordering it on the east and north. Most parts of Missouri held very few slaves, and slave owners were a very small proportion of the state's population. If Kansas entered the Union as a free state, Missouri would have free soil on three sides. Since manumission
Manumission
Manumission is the act of a slave owner freeing his or her slaves. In the United States before the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished most slavery, this often happened upon the death of the owner, under conditions in his will.-Motivations:The...

, abolition activity, and escape were all more common in the border states, the existence of nearby free soil was a threat to Missouri slaveowners.

Also, in the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

, each state is apportioned two senate seats. A rough balance had existed between free and slave states, but each addition of a state threatened to tip the balance, disrupting the status quo (see Slave Power
Slave power
The Slave Power was a term used in the Northern United States to characterize the political power of the slaveholding class of the South....

).

Meeting of North and South



The first organized immigration
Immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

 to Kansas Territory was by citizens of slave states, most notably neighboring Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, who came to the territory to secure the expansion of slavery. Pro-slavery settlements were established by these immigrants at Leavenworth
Leavenworth, Kansas
Leavenworth is the largest city and county seat of Leavenworth County, in the U.S. state of Kansas and within the Kansas City, Missouri Metropolitan Area. Located in the northeast portion of the state, it is on the west bank of the Missouri River. As of the 2010 census, the city population was...

 and Atchison
Atchison, Kansas
Atchison is a city situated along the Missouri River in the eastern part of Atchison County, located in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 11,021. It is the county seat and most populous city of Atchison County...

.

At the same time, several anti-slavery organizations in the North
Northern United States
Northern United States, also sometimes the North, may refer to:* A particular grouping of states or regions of the United States of America. The United States Census Bureau divides some of the northernmost United States into the Midwest Region and the Northeast Region...

, most notably the New England Emigrant Aid Company, were organizing to fund several thousand settlers to move to Kansas and vote to make it a free state. These organizations helped to establish Free-State settlements further into the territory, in Topeka
Topeka, Kansas
Topeka |Kansa]]: Tó Pee Kuh) is the capital city of the U.S. state of Kansas and the county seat of Shawnee County. It is situated along the Kansas River in the central part of Shawnee County, located in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was...

, Manhattan
Manhattan, Kansas
Manhattan is a city located in the northeastern part of the state of Kansas in the United States, at the junction of the Kansas River and Big Blue River. It is the county seat of Riley County and the city extends into Pottawatomie County. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 52,281...

, and Lawrence
Lawrence, Kansas
Lawrence is the sixth largest city in the U.S. State of Kansas and the county seat of Douglas County. Located in northeastern Kansas, Lawrence is the anchor city of the Lawrence, Kansas, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Douglas County...

. Abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher
Henry Ward Beecher
Henry Ward Beecher was a prominent Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, abolitionist, and speaker in the mid to late 19th century...

 collected funds to arm like-minded settlers with Sharps rifle
Sharps Rifle
Sharps rifles were those of a series begun with a design by Christian Sharps. Sharps rifles were renowned for long range and high accuracy in their day.-History:Sharps's initial rifle was patented September 17, 1848 and manufactured by A. S...

s, leading to the precision rifles becoming known as "Beecher's Bibles
Beecher's Bibles
"Beecher's Bibles" was the name given to the breech loading Sharps rifles that were supplied to the anti-slavery immigrants in Kansas.The name came from the eminent New England minister Henry Ward Beecher, of the New England Emigrant Aid Society, of whom it was written in a February 8, 1856,...

." By the summer of 1855, approximately 1,200 New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

ers had made the journey to the new territory, armed and ready to fight.

Rumors had spread through the South that 30,000 Northerners were descending on Kansas, and in November 1854, thousands of armed pro-slavery men known as "Border Ruffians," mostly from Missouri, poured over the line in an attempt to steal the election to Congress of a single territorial delegate. Less than half the ballots were cast by registered voters, and at one location, only 20 of over 600 voters were legal residents. The proslavery forces won the election. While Kansas had approximately 1,500 registered voters at the time, not all of whom actually voted, over 6,000 votes were cast. More significantly, the Border Ruffians repeated their actions on March 30, 1855 when the first territorial legislature was elected, swaying the vote again in favor of slavery.

The proslavery territorial legislature convened in Pawnee
Pawnee, Kansas
Pawnee is a ghost town in Geary County, Kansas, United States, which served as the first official capital of the Kansas Territory in 1855. Pawnee was the territorial capital for exactly five days – from July 2 to July 6, 1855 – before pro-slavery legislators voted to move the capital to Shawnee...

 on July 2, 1855, but after one week it adjourned to the Shawnee Mission
Shawnee Methodist Mission
Shawnee Methodist Mission was a camp established by missionaries in 1830 to minister to the Shawnee tribe of Native Americans, relocated to its present location in 1839. It was also the second capital of the Kansas Territory, holding that designation from July 16, 1855, to the spring of 1856...

 on the Missouri border, where it began passing laws to institutionalize slavery in Kansas Territory
Kansas Territory
The Territory of Kansas was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until January 29, 1861, when the eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Kansas....

. In August 1855, a group of Free-Soilers met and resolved to reject the proslavery laws passed by the territorial legislature. This meeting led to the drafting of the Topeka Constitution
Topeka Constitution
The Topeka Constitutional Convention was held in October 1855 in the town of Topeka, Kansas Territory. The convention was held in the town's Constitution Hall...

 and the formation of a shadow government. In a message to Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 on January 24, 1856, President Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States and is the only President from New Hampshire. Pierce was a Democrat and a "doughface" who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Pierce took part in the Mexican-American War and became a brigadier general in the Army...

 declared the Free-State Topeka government to be a "revolution" against the rightful leaders.

Later, in April 1856, a three-man congressional committee investigated the vote. The majority report of the committee found the elections to be improperly influenced.

Open violence


In October 1855, John Brown
John Brown (abolitionist)
John Brown was an American revolutionary abolitionist, who in the 1850s advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to abolish slavery in the United States. He led the Pottawatomie Massacre during which five men were killed, in 1856 in Bleeding Kansas, and made his name in the...

 came to Kansas Territory to fight slavery. On November 21, 1855 the (relatively bloodless) "Wakarusa War
Wakarusa War
The Wakarusa War was a skirmish that took place in Kansas Territory during November and December 1855 as part of the Bleeding Kansas violence. It centered around Lawrence, Kansas, and the Wakarusa River Valley.- Background :...

" began when a Free-Stater named Charles Dow was shot by a pro-slavery settler. The only fatal casualty occurring during the siege was one Free-State man named Thomas Barber. He was shot and killed on December 6, 1855 where the main body of the invaders were encamped, some 6 miles (10 km) from Lawrence
Lawrence, Kansas
Lawrence is the sixth largest city in the U.S. State of Kansas and the county seat of Douglas County. Located in northeastern Kansas, Lawrence is the anchor city of the Lawrence, Kansas, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Douglas County...

. A few months later, on May 21, 1856, a group of Border Ruffians entered the Free-State stronghold of Lawrence, where they burned the Free State Hotel, destroyed two newspaper offices and their printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

es, and ransacked homes and stores
Sacking of Lawrence
In the northern spring of 1856, the Sacking of Lawrence helped ratchet up the guerrilla war in Kansas Territory that became known as Bleeding Kansas.-Background:...

.

The following day, on the afternoon of May 22, 1856, Preston Smith Brooks (a Democratic Congressman from South Carolina) physically attacked Senator Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner was an American politician and senator from Massachusetts. An academic lawyer and a powerful orator, Sumner was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction,...

 of Massachusetts in the Senate chambers, hitting him on the head with his thick cane. Sumner was blinded by his own blood, and staggered away until he collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat Sumner until he broke his cane. Several other senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by Rep. Laurence Keitt
Laurence M. Keitt
Laurence Massillon Keitt was a South Carolina politician who served as a United States Congressman. He is included in several lists of Fire-Eaters—men who adamantly urged the secession of southern states from the United States, and who resisted measures of compromise and reconciliation,...

, who was holding a pistol and shouting "Let them be!" This was in retaliation for insulting language Sumner used against Brooks's relative in a speech Sumner made that denounced Southerners for proslavery violence in Kansas. Sumner was beaten severely and did not return to his Senate desk for three years as a result of his injuries to the head and neck area; he became regarded as an antislavery martyr.

These acts in turn inspired John Brown to lead a group of men in Kansas Territory on an attack at a proslavery settlement at Pottawatomie Creek. During the night of May 24, the group, which included four of Brown's sons, led five pro-slavery men from their homes and hacked them to death
Pottawatomie Massacre
The Pottawatomie Massacre occurred during the night of May 24 and the morning of May 25, 1856. In reaction to the sacking of Lawrence by pro-slavery forces, John Brown and a band of abolitionist settlers killed five settlers north of Pottawatomie Creek in Franklin County, Kansas...

 with broadswords. Brown's men let Jerome Glanville and James Harris return home to the cabin of Harris.

On June 2, 1856, John Brown took future Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 Colonel Henry C. Pate and 22 other pro-slavery soldiers prisoner at the Battle of Black Jack
Battle of Black Jack
The Battle of Black Jack took place on June 2, 1856, when anti-slavery forces, led by the noted abolitionist John Brown, attacked the encampment of Henry C. Pate near Baldwin City, Kansas. The battle is cited as one incident of “Bleeding Kansas” and a contributing factor leading up to the American...

.

In 1856, the official territorial capital was moved to Lecompton
Lecompton, Kansas
Lecompton is a city in Douglas County, Kansas, United States. It is part of the Lawrence, Kansas Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 608 at the 2000 census. Lecompton played a major historical role in pre-Civil War America as the Territorial capital of Kansas from 1855 to 1861...

, a town only 12 miles (19.3 km) from Lawrence. In April 1856, a three-man congressional investigating committee arrived in Lecompton to look into the troubles. The majority report of the committee found the elections to be improperly influenced by Border Ruffians. The President failed to follow its recommendations, however, and continued to recognize the pro-slavery legislature as the legitimate government of Kansas. In fact, on July 4, 1856, Pierce sent federal troops to break up an attempted meeting of the shadow government
Shadow government
Shadow government may refer to:*An opposition government in a parliamentary system, see Shadow Cabinet*A term for plans for an emergency government that takes over in the event of a disaster, see continuity of government...

 in Topeka.

In August, thousands of proslavery men formed into armies and marched into Kansas. That same month, Brown and several of his followers engaged 400 proslavery soldiers in the "Battle of Osawatomie
Battle of Osawatomie
The Battle of Osawatomie took place on August 30, 1856 when 250-300 Border Ruffians led by John W. Reid and Rev. Marvin White attacked the city of Osawatomie. John W. Reid was intent on destroying free state settlements and then moving on to Topeka and Lawrence to do more of the same. John Brown...

." The hostilities raged for another two months until Brown departed the Kansas Territory, and a new territorial governor, John W. Geary
John W. Geary
John White Geary was an American lawyer, politician, Freemason, and a Union general in the American Civil War...

, took office and managed to prevail upon both sides for peace. This was followed by a fragile peace broken by intermittent violent outbreaks for two more years. The last major outbreak of violence was touched off by the Marais des Cygnes massacre
Marais des Cygnes massacre
The Marais des Cygnes Massacre is considered the last significant act of violence in Bleeding Kansas prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War. On May 19, 1858, approximately 30 men led by Charles Hamilton, a Georgia native and proslavery leader, crossed into the Kansas Territory from...

 in 1858, where Border Ruffians killed five Free State men.

In all, approximately 56 people died in Bleeding Kansas by the time the violence completely abated in 1859. Following the commencement of the American Civil War in 1861, additional guerrilla violence
Bushwhacker
Bushwhacking was a form of guerrilla warfare common during the American Revolutionary War, American Civil War and other conflicts in which there are large areas of contested land and few Governmental Resources to control these tracts...

 erupted on the border between Kansas and Missouri.

Constitutional fight


An adjunct to the guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 in Bleeding Kansas was the fight over the constitution that would govern the state of Kansas. Several constitutions were drafted, including the 1855 Topeka Constitution, which created the shadow Free-State government to resist the illegitimate government voted in by unregistered Missourian voters.

In 1857, a Kansas constitutional convention was convened, which drafted what has become known as the "Lecompton Constitution
Lecompton Constitution
The Lecompton Constitution was the second of four proposed constitutions for the state of Kansas . The document was written in response to the anti-slavery position of the 1855 Topeka Constitution of James H. Lane and other free-state advocates...

," a pro-slavery document. The abolitionist forces boycott
Boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

ed the ratification vote because it failed to offer them a means to vote against slavery. The Lecompton Constitution was accepted by President James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

, who urged acceptance and statehood. Congress disagreed and ordered another election. In the second election the pro-slavery forces boycotted the process, allowing the anti-slavery forces to claim victory by defeating the document. In the end, the Lecompton Constitution died because it was not clear whether it represented the will of the majority.

In mid-1859, the Wyandotte Constitution
Wyandotte Constitution
The present Constitution of the State of Kansas was originally known as the Wyandotte Constitution to distinguish it from three proposed constitutions that preceded it...

 was drafted; this document represented the prevailing abolitionist view. It was approved by the electorate by a 2-to-1 margin, and Kansas entered the Union as a free state pursuant to its terms on January 29, 1861.

Heritage Area


In 2006, legislation that enabled a new "Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area
Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area
Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area is a federally designated U.S. National Heritage Area located in eastern Kansas and Western Missouri, principally in the region of the Missouri-Kansas Border War from 1854 to 1858. FFNHA was authorized on October 12, 2006, with the passage of the National...

" (FFNHA) was passed by Congress. The heritage area is tasked with describing the story behind the Missouri/Kansas border war, the story of settlement, and the enduring struggle for freedom in the region to the present. FFNHA comprises 41 counties, 29 of which are in eastern and east-central Kansas and 12 of which are in western Missouri.

Films

  • KCPT Kansas City Public Television and Wide Awake Films (2007).

Bad Blood, the Border War that Triggered the Civil War a documentary DVD (ISBN 0-9777261-42)

External links