The Fight Over Slavery in the Kansas Territory

The fight over slavery in the Kansas Territory was one of the most important events in American history. This blog will explore the events leading up to the fight, the fight itself, and the aftermath.

Checkout this video:

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was an act of Congress that created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska and opened them up to white settlement. The act was a victory for the pro-slavery forces in the American South, as it allowed them to extend slavery into new areas. However, the act also angered many Northerners, as it seemed to contradict the principles of the Missouri Compromise of 1820. This fight over slavery in the Kansas Territory would eventually lead to the Civil War.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820

The Missouri Compromise was an effort by Congress to settle the issue of slavery in the Louisiana Territory, which had been acquired by the United States in 1803. The territory was divided into two parts, Louisiana and Missouri, and slavery was forbidden in the northern part of the Louisiana Territory. In 1819, however, Missouri applied for statehood, and its admission to the Union would have upset the careful balance between slave and free states.

In an attempt to maintain that balance, Congress passed the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Missouri as a slave state but prohibited slavery in all other parts of the Louisiana Territory north of the 36° 30′ parallel. This line became known as the Mason-Dixon line.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was a law passed by the United States Congress that created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The act also repealed the Missouri Compromise, which had prohibited slavery in those territories.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was one of the major events leading up to the American Civil War. It angered both abolitionists and slaveholders, and ultimately helped to split the nation into two factions: those who supported slavery and those who opposed it.

The Kansas Territorial Legislature

The Kansas Territorial Legislature was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting over the issue of slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. In this first paragraph, we will take a look at the makeup of the legislature and how it became a battleground for the slavery debate.

The First Kansas Territorial Legislature

The first Kansas Territorial Legislature was convened in Pawnee on July 2, 1855. The question of slavery was the most important issue facing the new territory. The pro-slavery faction, led by Governor Andrew Reeder, favored allowing slavery in the territory. The anti-slavery faction, led by Congressman Jim Lane, opposed slavery.

The legislature was evenly split between the two factions, with 25 pro-slavery and 25 anti-slavery delegates. After a month of deadlock, Reeder adjourned the legislature on August 15. He called for a special session to be convened in October in Shawnee Mission.

The Shawnee Mission Convention failed to break the deadlock. The legislature adjourned on November 9 without passing any laws.

The Second Kansas Territorial Legislature

In January 1857, the second Kansas territorial legislature convened in Lecompton. Though the election had been unfair, with proslavery voters packing the polls, the legislature was more representative of territorial residents than the first one. Free-state lawmakers still outnumbered proslavery legislators, but by only a slim margin.

The legislature’s first order of business was to choose a delegate to Congress. The proslavery faction put forward John Calhoun for the position, while the free-staters nominated Samuel L. Adair, a minister and strong opponent of slavery. After a long and contentious debate, Calhoun won the seat by a vote of 33 to 25.

The legislature then turned its attention to crafting a new territorial constitution. The document they produced, known as the Lecompton Constitution, included a clause that protected slaveholders’ property rights. It also giving Kansas residents the right to vote on whether or not slavery would be allowed in their county (a provision known as “popular sovereignty”).

The Lecompton Constitution was submitted to Congress for approval in late 1857. President James Buchanan, a committed supporter of slavery, threw his weight behind the measure. But many members of Buchanan’s own party opposed it, and it failed to garner enough support to pass.

The issue of slavery in Kansas Territory remained unresolved. In March 1858, Congress passed another law admitting Kansas as a state—this time without any mention of slavery in its constitution. That summer, Kansans held a constitutional convention and drafted a document that prohibited slavery throughout the state. This constitution became known as the Leavenworth Constitution, and it was approved by voters in October 1858. With that, Kansas finally became a state—and part of the growing battle over slavery that would lead to Civil War just a few years later.

The Lecompton Constitution

In 1857, the fight over slavery in the Kansas territory came to a head with the proposal of the Lecompton Constitution. The Lecompton Constitution was a pro-slavery document that would have made Kansas a slave state. The fight over the Lecompton Constitution was one of the key events that led to the Civil War.

The Lecompton Constitution of 1857

The Lecompton Constitution was a document drafted in 1857 to establish a new state constitution for Kansas. It included provisions for the admittance of slavery into the territory and was highly controversial both in Kansas and nationally. The constitution was ultimately rejected by Congress, but the event served as a major catalyst leading to the Civil War.

The drafting of the Lecompton Constitution began in May 1857, just two months after President James Buchanan had taken office. Buchanan was a strong supporter of slavery and saw the expansion of this institution into new territory as key to maintaining its strength nationwide. In Kansas, pro-slavery forces were incontrol of the territorial government and they set about drafting a constitution that would guarantee the legality of slavery within the proposed state.

Anti-slavery activists, on the other hand, were vehemently opposed to the spread of slavery and fought against the adoption of the Lecompton Constitution. In January 1858, a referendum was held on the constitution and it was narrowly approved by voters. However, due to widespread fraud and manipulation, it is believed that the true result would have been much different had all votes been counted honestly.

The issue of whether or not to admit Kansas as a slave state became a contentious one in Congress, with both sides lobbying heavily for their respective positions. Ultimately, Congress voted against admitting Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution, dealing a major blow to pro-slavery forces. The rejection of this constitution played an important role in further fueling sectional tensions which would eventually lead to war.

The Lecompton Constitution of 1858

The Lecompton Constitution was a pro-slavery document drafted in 1857 to facilitate Kansas’ admittance into the United States as a slave state. The constitution was rejected by the U.S. Congress, but it did spur debate over the issue of slavery in the Kansas Territory and beyond. The territory’s pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions each sent delegations to Washington, D.C., to make their case before Congress. In the end, the Lecompton Constitution was defeated, and Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state in 1861.

The Civil War in Kansas

The Civil War in Kansas was fought over the issue of slavery. Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state in 1861, but the Missouri Compromise of 1820 had prohibited slavery in the territory. This led to a conflict between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the Kansas Territory. The conflict came to a head in 1855 when pro-slavery settlers from Missouri invaded Kansas and set up a government that allowed slavery.

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, fought on August 10, 1861, was the first major engagement of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River and the culmination of months of border violence in southwest Missouri and Kansas. A Confederate force of about 5,400 men under Brigadier General Samuel R. Curtis attacked a much smaller Union army under Major General Nathaniel Lyon near Springfield, Missouri. Although the Union army was defeated, Curtis’s stand against overwhelming odds prevented the Confederates from consolidating their hold on Missouri and set the stage for further Union victories in the state later in the war.

The Battle of Mine Creek

The Battle of Mine Creek was fought on October 25, 1864, in Kansas’ Lyon County, near the present town of Prescott. It was the largest engagement of the American Civil War west of the Mississippi River and the last major Confederate offensive in Kansas.

On October 23, 1864, a Confederate force of 8,500 men and 24 cannon under the overall command of Major General Sterling Price began a raid into Missouri and Kansas. The goal of the raid was to drive Union troops out of the two states and to raise money by looting and burning towns and farms along the way.

The Union force assigned to stop Price’s raid was made up of 7,000 men from Missouri and Kansas, under the command of Major General Samuel R. Curtis. Curtis had been following Price since he crossed into Missouri on October 19, but he was unable to bring him to battle until Mine Creek.

The battle took place on a rainy day over muddy roads and fields. The Union forces were able to hold off the initial Confederate attack, but they were quickly surrounded. The Confederates outnumbered the Union troops two-to-one, but they were also low on supplies and facing increasing resistance from Union forces as they moved northward.

After 10 hours of fighting, the Confederates finally broke through the Union lines. The Union troops retreated in disorder, leaving behind over 400 dead and 1,500 captured. The Confederate victory at Mine Creek was one of their last successes of the war; within a month, Price’s raid had been stopped and his army defeated at Westport (now part of Kansas City), ending any serious threat to Union control in Missouri and Kansas.

Scroll to Top