“Bleeding Kansas” was a term used to describe the violence that erupted in the Kansas Territory in the 1850s. This violence was mostly between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions, and it eventually led to the Civil War. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the long-term effects of “Bleeding Kansas” and how it shaped America’s history.
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The Prelude to “Bleeding Kansas”
In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. This act also repealed the Missouri Compromise, which had forbidden slavery in the area. The Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed the settlers of those territories to choose to allow or forbid slavery within their own borders, by popular sovereignty. This act led to a sharp increase in violence and tensions in the region, which eventually came to be known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1854 and created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The act was a victory for pro-slavery forces who wanted to extend slavery into the western territories, and it led directly to the outbreak of violence in “Bleeding Kansas.”
The Kansas-Nebraska Act also repealed the Missouri Compromise, which had forbidden slavery north of the 36° 30′ latitude line. The repeal enraged anti-slavery forces, who began to agitate for the immediate admission of Kansas as a free state. When pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers flooded into Kansas, armed conflict broke out between them. This violence culminated in the sack of Lawrence by proslavery forces in May 1856, and “Bleeding Kansas” became a rallying cry for anti-slavery northerners in the lead-up to the Civil War.
The “Free Soil” movement
The “Free Soil” movement was a term used to describe the coalition of Northerners who opposed the extension of slavery into new territories. The movement began in the early 1840s, gained momentum in the late 1840s and early 1850s, and peaked in 1854 with the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a bill that allowed settlers in those territories to decide for themselves whether or not slavery would be permitted. The bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Franklin Pierce in 1854.
The “Free Soil” movement wasanimated by a number of factors: economic self-interest, distaste for the peculiar institution of slavery, resentment of the growing political power of the slaveholding South, and a belief that the expansion of slavery would hinder the development of free labor economies in the West. The movement also had strong moral and religious underpinnings. Most Northerners were Protestants who believed that all men were equal in the eyes of God and that slavery was a sin.
The “Free Soil” movement was politically diverse, encompassing everyone from die-hard Whigs to former members of Andrew Jackson’s Democratic Party. The common thread that united these disparate groups was their opposition to slavery. In 1848, some members of the “Free Soil” movement even helped to form a new political party dedicated to stopping the spread of slavery: the Free Soil Party. Although short-lived, the party played an important role in American politics by helping to elect Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860.
The Violence in “Bleeding Kansas”
“Bleeding Kansas” was a term used to describe the violence that took place in Kansas Territory during the 1850s. The violence was caused by the debate over whether or not Kansas would allow slavery. The proslavery and antislavery groups both used violence in an attempt to force their views on the people of Kansas.
The sacking of Lawrence
On May 21, 1856, a pro-slavery mob destroyed the town of Lawrence, Kansas. The attack was in retaliation for the sacking of Palmyra, Missouri, by anti-slavery forces the previous month. The violence in “Bleeding Kansas” continued for years and had long-term effects on the United States.
The sacking of Lawrence was led by Sheriff Samuel J. Jones and US Marshal Israel B. Donnellan. They were accompanied by about 500 men, many of them from Missouri. The pro-slavery mob destroyed nearly everything in Lawrence, including homes, businesses, and churches. They also killed two men and injured dozens more.
The violence in “Bleeding Kansas” continued for years and had long-term effects on the United States. The attack on Lawrence caused many people to move to Kansas to support the anti-slavery cause. This abolitionist movement eventually led to the Civil War.
The Pottawatomie Massacre
The Pottawatomie Massacre was a highly controversial event that took place in Franklin County, Kansas on May 24 and 25, 1856. In the wake of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Missouri border ruffians had descended upon the territory in an effort to force it to accede to slavery. The situation quickly degenerated into a bloody conflict known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
On May 24, a group of Proslavery men led by David Rice Atchison raided the town of Lawrence, Kansas, which was known to be a hotbed of anti-slavery sentiment. They destroyed several businesses and terrorized the residents.
In response, anti-slavery militant John Brown assembled a small band of men and set out for Pottawatomie Creek, where five Proslavery men were camped. Brown and his men went through the campsite and killed each man with a sword or knife, even though they were sleeping and defenseless. This event came to be known as the Pottawatomie Massacre.
The violence in “Bleeding Kansas” finally came to an end with the outbreak of the Civil War. However, the lasting effects of the conflict could still be seen in the state for many years afterwards.
The Aftermath of “Bleeding Kansas”
The violence in “Bleeding Kansas” impacted the state for years to come. The most notable long-term effect was the split of the state into Kansas and Nebraska. This was a direct result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which was passed in 1854. The act allowed for popular sovereignty, which meant that the residents of each state would decide whether or not to allow slavery.
The election of 1856
After “Bleeding Kansas”, the nation turned its attention to the upcoming presidential election. The Democrats nominated former U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, James Buchanan. The Republicans chose John C. Fremont, the popular explorer of the American West. The new Know-Nothing Party nominated former President Millard Fillmore.
Buchanan won the election, but it was a close race. He won with just over 50% of the popular vote and 174 electoral votes. Fremont came in second with 114 electoral votes and Fillmore came in third with 8 electoral votes.
The election of 1856 was significant because it was the first time that a major political party (the Republicans) had been formed on the issue of slavery. It was also significant because it showed that the nation was deeply divided on the issue of slavery.
The Dred Scott decision
In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the Dred Scott case, which threw out a Missouri slave’s lawsuit for his freedom and affirmed the status of slaves as property, not citizens. The decision also stated that Congress could not ban slavery in any U.S. territory. The ruling further stoked tensions between the North and South and helped push the country toward Civil War.