The question of who won Bleeding Kansas is a complicated one. The violence and bloodshed of the Civil War affected the state deeply, and its people are still grappling with the aftermath today.
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The events that led to the violence in Kansas
The year 1854 saw two very important events in American history. The first was the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe and the second was the Kansas-Nebraska Act. These two events would lead to a lot of violence and bloodshed in the country, particularly in the state of Kansas.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a bill that was passed by the US Congress in 1854. The bill created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, and it also repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a victory for pro-slavery forces in the US, as it opened up new territory for slavery. This led to violence in the new territories, as pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers fought for control. The violence culminated in the proslavery raid on Lawrence, Kansas in May 1856, which was led by US senator and proslavery firebrand, David Rice Atchison. The violence in “Bleeding Kansas” ultimately led to the Civil War.
The election of 1855
The election of 1855 was a turning point in the conflict over slavery in the United States. In this election, pro-slavery supporters won a significant victory in Kansas, which tipped the balance of power in the US Congress in favor of slaveholders. This victory emboldened the pro-slavery faction and led to increased violence in Kansas as well as other parts of the country.
The violence in Kansas
The violence in Kansas became known as Bleeding Kansas. The violence was caused by the fight over whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state. The violence peaked in 1856 when proslavery and antislavery settlers fought each other. The violence continued until the Civil War began in 1861.
The Wakarusa War
In the fall of 1855, a pro-slavery settlement at Lawrence, Kansas, was destroyed by a proslavery force from Missouri. In response, John Brown led an attack on the town of Pottawatomie Creek, Kansas, in which five proslavery men were killed. The following spring, brown and a group of followers seized the U.S. Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in an attempt to start a rebellion among slaves. The raid failed and Brown was hanged for treason. These events emboldened both sides in Kansas, leading to increased violence and the outbreak of full-scale war in late 1856.
The Sack of Lawrence
On May 21, 1856, a proslavery mob attacked Lawrence, Kansas, in retaliation for the city’s role as a center of antislavery activity. The attackers looted and burned businesses and homes, causing $1.5 million in damage (equal to about $40 million today). The Sack of Lawrence was one of the opening scenes of “Bleeding Kansas,” the violent prelude to the Civil War.
In the spring of 1856, tensions were high in Kansas Territory over the question of whether it would enter the Union as a slave state or a free state. On May 21, a group of about 700 proslavery men—many of them Missourians—invaded Lawrence in retaliation for the city’s role as a center of antislavery activity. The invaders looted and burned businesses and homes, causing $1.5 million in damage (equal to about $40 million today). In response to the Sack of Lawrence, abolitionist John Brown led a raid on a proslavery settlement at Pottawatomie Creek on May 24, 1856, in which he and his followers killed five men with broadswords. Brown’s raid set off a new round of violence that lasted for months and earned Kansas the nickname “Bleeding Kansas.”
The Battle of Black Jack
On June 2, 1856, a posse of pro-slavery residents from Missouri, led by Sheriff Samuel Jones, attacked and captured the anti-slavery town of Lawrence, in Kansas Territory. The raiders terrorized the townspeople and destroyed much of the town, but they were unable to find the main leader of the anti-slavery movement, abolitionist John Brown.
The aftermath of the violence
The violence in Kansas had many consequences. The most immediate was that it deepened the divide between the North and the South. Northerners were appalled by the violence and began to see the southern states as tyrannical and barbaric. This increased the sectional tensions that would eventually lead to the Civil War.
The Leavenworth Constitution
The Leavenworth Constitution was a document created in response to the violence in “Bleeding Kansas.” It was proposed by pro-slavery activists in an effort to get Kansas admitted to the Union as a slave state. The constitution was never ratified, but it served as a rallying point for pro-slavery supporters.
The Leavenworth Constitution was created in response to the violence in “Bleeding Kansas.” The violence in Kansas territory had been ongoing since the 1850s, when the issue of slavery was first introduced into the territory. The violence reached a fever pitch in 1855, when pro-slavery and anti-slavery activists began fighting for control of the territory.
In May of 1858, a group of pro-slavery activists met in Leavenworth, Kansas, and drafted the Leavenworth Constitution. The constitution would have made Kansas a slave state. The constitution was never ratified, but it served as a rallying point for pro-slavery supporters.
The Leavenworth Constitution caused a split among pro-slavery activists. Some believed that violence was the only way to achieve their goals, while others believed that constitutional means were the best way to proceed. This split would ultimately lead to the Civil War.
The Lecompton Constitution
The Lecompton Constitution was a document created by pro-slavery supporters in Kansas Territory in order to establish it as a slave state. It was named after the town of Lecompton, where it was drafted and ratified. The constitution was deeply unpopular, both in Kansas and nationally, prompting claims that it was a “fraud” aimed at securing slavery’s expansion. It would ultimately lead to the collapse of the pro-slavery movement in the territory and contribute to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
The Buchanan Administration and the Dred Scott decision
The violence in Kansas Territory had important consequences for the American nation. The most immediate was the involvement of the Buchanan administration in the dispute. Paradoxically, President James Buchanan, who had been elected in 1856 as a supposed “Northern man with Southern principles,” played a major role in alienating Northern public opinion and ensuring that the Republican Party would triumph in 1860.
Buchanan was determined to bring Kansas into the Union as a slave state. He therefore appointed a proslavery territorial governor, signed a pro-slavery Kansas Constitution, and sent troops to support the proslavery “government” in Lecompton. When it became clear that these actions were unpopular in the North, Buchanan retreated slightly, but he continued to support the pro-slavery cause. In 1857, he endorsed the infamous Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court, which declared that African Americans could not be citizens of the United States and that Congress had no power to ban slavery in federal territories. This decision further angered Northerners and helped propel Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party to victory in 1860.