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Bleeding Kansas is the term used for the series of violent political turmoils in the United States during the settling of the Kansas territory between 1854-1861. It was a confrontation between the anti slavery, Free-Staters, and pro slavery. (Border Ruffian or Southern Elements)
- The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 called for a popular sovereignty to determine whether the territory became a free state or a slave state. Popular sovereignty would be decided by the votes of the people rather than outsiders (Congress) and would be determined through the tally of the officials. The act overturned the Missouri Compromise which used latitude as the boundary between slave and free territory.
- The Kansas–Nebraska Act, created from Indian lands as well as territories of Kansas and Nebraska under the U.S. government, would allow the people to determine their state’s slavery status, whether to become part of the Union or pro slavery state.
- Proslavery and antislavery supporters arrived in Kansas to become residents and gain the right to vote. Pro Slavery President Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) appointed the Kansas Territory officials which is why thousands of non-resident pro-slavery Missourians were able to gain residency in Kansas.
- By 1855, opposing governments had been established in the area. These were proslavery Missourians and antislavery groups.
- The instability was supported by the activities of factions interested in the slavery issue. It is said that Missourians and northerners allegedly sent free-state settlers and armaments to the territory.
- On November 21, 1855, a Free-Stater named Charles Dow was shot by a proslavery signifying the ‘Wakarusa War’. Another fatality also occurred when Thomas Barber was shot near Lawrence on December 6.
- Hostilities erupted when thousands of Missourians crossed the border and threatened Lawrence, a free-state. By May 21, 1856, ‘Border Ruffians’ looted the town of Lawrence. The Free State Hotel was burned and their homes and establishments were ransacked.
- As a retort, John Brown, who led anti-slavery fighters in Kansas, arranged the murder of five proslavery settlers along Pottawatomie Creek. The pro slavery men were seized from their home and hacked to death with broadswords. Brown, together with his men, escaped. They began to plan an uprising that would take place at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. The uprising was supported financially by Boston abolitionists.
- By May 1856, Republican Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts ridiculed Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina. Sumner mocked Butler’s pro-slavery agenda towards Kansas. The following day, Butler’s cousin, Congressman Preston Brooks from South Carolina, nearly killed Sumner on the Senate floor using a heavy cane. The event stunned the nation and contributed to the developing North-South split. North as anti slavery and South as pro slavery.
- In April 1856, Congressional committee arrived in Lecompton to investigate an election fraud where the pro slavery’s government office was moved in Lecompton. The committee found out that the elections were elected by non-residents. However, President Pierce refused to acknowledge the investigations. This event was called by the Free Staters as ‘Bogus legislature’.
- By July 4, 1856, President Pierce’s announcement led to approximately 500 U.S. Army troops arriving in Ft. Leavenworth and Ft. Riley with their cannons directed at the Constitution hall. Senator Charles Sumner’s cousin, Colonel E.V. Sumner ordered the dispersion of the Free State Legislature.
- By August of 1856, pro slavery men formed into armies and marched into Kansas. Brown and his men engaged in the ‘Battle of Osawatomie’.
- Peace prevailed upon the ‘border war’ when John W. Geary was appointed as the territorial governor in September. For two years, peace ensued in the area.
- The last outbreak of violence was Marais des Cygnes massacre in which five free state men were killed by Border Ruffians.
- Violence continued to erupt until 1861 and all throughout the course of the creation of the constitution that would determine the fate of Kansas.
- Four constitutions were drafted and submitted to govern Kansas. The first constitution was the 1855 Topeka Constitution wherein it attacked the federally authorized government elected by non-resident Missourians. This was the first reform against slavery.
- The second constitution was the pro slavery 1857 Lecompton Constitution. This constitution was promoted by President James Buchanan wherein the Congress called for another election because voting anomalies were uncovered. Free state men boycotted the election.
- The third document was the Leavenworth Constitution passed by Free State delegates. This constitution was the most progressive for it extended suffrage to every male citizen regardless of their race. The constitution also supported the basic frameworks for the rights of women.
- The last document was the 1859 Wyandotte Constitution drafted in 1859. It was approved by the electorate by a two to one margin, 10,421 to 5,530, on October 4, 1859. It admitted Kansas as a free state effective of January 29, 1861 in which Kansas entered Union as it’s own free state.
- Approximately 56 people died in Bleeding Kansas until its end in 1859.
- Horace Greeley, founder and editor of New York Tribune, coined the term ‘Bleeding Kansas’.
Bleeding Kansas Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Bleeding Kansas Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Bleeding Kansas which is the term used for the series of violent political turmoils in the United States during the settling of the Kansas territory between 1854-1861.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Bleeding Kansas Facts
- Where is Kansas?
- Bleeding Kansas Word Search
- Did It Happen?
- My Perspective
- Editorial: Political Cartoon Analysis
- Analyzing Primary Source: Anti-slavery Meeting Advertisement
- What If?
- The Finale…
- Repeating History
- Collage Making
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Link will appear as Bleeding Kansas Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 26, 2017
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