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By: Sonia Aggarwal & Kerianne Girard
“Bleeding Kansas” was a war that took place in the Kansas Territory from 1853 to 1861. It was a period of violence when the Kansas Territory was being settled. In the war, anti-slavery “Free Soilers” and proslavery “Border Ruffians” fought over whether or not Kansas would have slavery. There were many causes of “Bleeding Kansas”. Prior to the war, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 had been put into action to settle the debate over whether or not America should keep the institution of slavery. It stated that all territories above the Missouri line (36’ 30”) would be free and all territories below the line would be slave states. After the Mexican War (1846-1848), the Compromise of 1850 had acted as a shortterm solution for the question of slavery in the new territories gained from Mexico. The Compromise accepted California into the Union with the right to decide whether or not it would be a slave state, organized the lands taken from Mexico into the territories of New Mexico and Utah, forbade the usage of the District of Columbia in the regional slave market, and settled a boundary between Texas and New Mexico. A long-term cause of the war was slavery itself and the struggling fight between northern abolitionists and pro-slavery southerners. A person who was a main cause of “Bleeding Kansas” was Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas wanted to build a transcontinental railroad from east to west during the Gold Rush (1848-1855), occurring primarily in California. But, he needed to please the pro-slavery biased Congress in order to get enough votes to do so. To please Congress, he proposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and would let the Kansas-Nebraska Territories decide whether or not they will have slavery based on “popular sovereignty”. The pro-slavery forces won and Douglas’s bill was passed. After the bill was passed, Nebraska remained a free state. But, Kansas became a slave state after thousands of “Border Ruffians” from Missouri came to Kansas as settlers and voted to keep slavery. This angered the northerners so much that war broke out in Kansas. This soon became known as “Bleeding Kansas”. During the war, two separate governments, one pro-slavery and one anti-slavery, were started in Kansas. But, only the pro-slavery government was recognized by the biased Congress. This government enacted the Missouri slave code in which a person could serve the death sentence just for speaking out against slavery. A major outbreak in the war occurred when proslavery men ransacked homes and businesses in Lawrence, Kansas in 1856. In retaliation to this, an abolitionist named John Brown led the Pottawatomie Massacre the same year in which Brown, his sons, and some men killed five pro-slavery settlers in Kansas. There had also been havoc in Congress when Andrew Butler’s nephew beat Congressmen Charles Sumner with a cane in 1856 for accusing his uncle in a speech concerning slavery. The last act of violence was the Marais Des Cygnes Massacre in 1858, in which five “Free Soilers” were killed. During “Bleeding Kansas”, a total of 55 people had died. Kansas later adopted a Free State Constitution in 1859. But, “Bleeding Kansas” was not officially over until 1861, when Kansas was admitted into the Union after the Confederate States had succeeded. “Bleeding Kansas” further angered the north on the topic of slavery. It therefore led to the Civil War the very year “Bleeding Kansas” finished, in 1861. “Bleeding Kansas” also led to the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. This is because more northerners voted for Lincoln since he was also against slavery and promised to dissolve the institution.
Missouri Compromise Meets KansasNebraska Act
The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was in place until it got repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. The Missouri Compromise settled the debate over whether or not America will have slavery by creating an imaginary line (36’ 30”) through America. It stated that all lands above the line will be Free states and all lands below the line will be slave states. But, the Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Act by stating that Kansas and Nebraska, which were both above the line, could decide whether or not they would be slave states based on “popular sovereignty”, or what the majority of people wanted. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise because of the KansasNebraska Act was the main cause of “Bleeding Kansas” because it angered many abolitionist northerners.
This is a portrait of Stephen A. Douglas (18131861). Douglas was the senator of Illinois and later a nominee for president during the 1860 election, but had lost to Lincoln. He had proposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and would let the Kansas and Nebraska Territories decide on whether they will have slavery or not based on “popular sovereignty”, or what the majority of the people voted for. Douglas did this so that he could please Congress, which was biased towards slavery, so that they would vote for his transcontinental railroad, which would go from east to west. He wanted to build this railroad because at the time, the Gold Rush was occurring in California and the railroad would go through Chicago, where he owned real estate. Then, the price of his real estate would largely increase. But, this act did not just get votes for his railroad, it also caused the war of “Bleeding Kansas”.
“In view of this probable contingency, the resolution of annexation provides for the division of Texas into any number of States, not exceeding four, in addition to the present one, and that each of those States shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as it shall desire. But for this provision, no part of Texas south of 36°30' could ever become free, so long as there was a slave raising sugar or cotton on the lowlands. Under it, anyone of these new States can become free if it chooses, whenever it shall be admitted into the Union.”
The Territorial Question
“The Territorial Question” was a speech by Mr. Douglas in the Senate, during March 13th and 14th of 1850. Stephen Douglas is known for being against slavery in his brutal debates when the question of slavery in the territories came up. In this document, there is a debate between Mr. Webster and Mr. Douglas. The purpose of this debate is to discus whether the territory should become a slave or free state. This relates to “Bleeding Kansas” because it shows how Douglas fought for slavery for the bill organizing the territories of Kansas and Nebraska.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act was drafted by Stephen A. Douglas and passed by Congress in 1854. The act repeals the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which stated that all territories above the Missouri line (36’ 30”) would free and all territories below the line would have slavery, and lets the Kansas and Nebraska Territories decide on whether or not they will have slavery based on “popular sovereignty”, or what the majority of people wanted. It was created by Douglas to please the pro-slavery Congress so that they would vote for his transcontinental railroad, which would stretch from east to west, during the time of the Gold Rush. It was created so that the Kansas and Nebraska Territories could decide on whether or not they would be slave states and would therefore be allowed to become slave states. This act was the main cause of “Bleeding Kansas”.
Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Freesoiler
"Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of the Freesoiler" is a primary source picture depicting how Democrats are to blame when it comes to the violence against abolitionists in Kansas. In the picture, Stephen A. Douglas and Franklin Pierce, both democratic political leaders, are shoving a black slave down the throat of a man who is on the democratic platform. This relates to “Bleeding Kansas” because of the slavery “forced down” people’s throats in the territory.
“I can say to Death, be thou my master, and to the Grave, be thou my prison house; but acknowledge such creatures as my masters, never! Thank God, we are yet free, and hurl defiance at those who would make us slaves.”
Dr. Charles Robinson’s description of the territory on July 4, 1855
Dr. Charles Robinson gave a description of the territory on July 4th of 1855. Robinson was the agent of the Emigrant Aid Society. The purpose of this document was to rally the free soil forces.
The Pottawatomie Massacre
The Pottawatomie Massacre was led by John Brown on May 24, 1856. The massacre took place in Kansas. It was in retaliation to the previous ransacking of homes and businesses in Lawrence, Kansas by pro-slavery men three days before. During the Massacre, John Brown and his sons along with some other abolitionists slashed and killed five proslavery men in Kansas. The Pottawatomie Massacre was one of the major outbreaks of violence during “Bleeding Kansas”.
The Lawrence Massacre took place on August 21, 1863. Also know as Quantrill's Raid, this attack was led by rebel guerrillas by Quantrill’s Raider. The leader of the raid was William Clarke Quantrill. The purpose of the raid was to target Lawrence because of it support of abolition. The Lawrence Massacre happened as a fallout to the violence and tension that happened in Kansas, and also the attacks John Brown lead during “Bleeding Kansas”.
"Le Marais Du Cygne" - A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier
During the last of the great Kansas bloodlettings, the Marais Des Cynes Massacre happened. Some people survived, including B.L. Read, a Baptist minister. The purpose of this document is to tell the tale about what happened during the massacre. Whittier wrote this poem with the intension to visually paint a scene of what happened.
Marais Des Cygnes Massacre
The Marais Des Cygnes Massacre took place in Kansas in 1858. It was led by Charles Hamilton, who was accompanied by about 30 men. The Massacre was an attack on “Free Soilers” in Kansas. During the Massacre, Hamilton and his proslavery men came into Kansas from Missouri and took 11 “Free Soilers” with them, five of whom they shot and killed. This Massacre was the last outbreak of violence during “Bleeding Kansas”.
"A blush as of roses Where rose never grew! Great drops on the bunch grass, But not of the dew! A taint in the sweet air for wild bees to shun! A stain that shall never Bleach out in the sun!"
Letter From Philadelphia’s People’s City Committee of Superintendence
The “People’s City Committee of Superintendence” from Philadelphia wrote a letter to the citizens of Philadelphia concerning the elections in 1860. The letter describes how the future of the territories and whether they will be free or slave states depends on the election. The purpose of this letter was to get the citizens of Philadelphia to vote for Lincoln so that slavery will be abolished and Philadelphia will not be at risk of becoming a slave state. This letter talks about how the election will be like the struggle of Kansas during “Bleeding Kansas”. This is also how “Bleeding Kansas” affected the election of Lincoln in 1860.
“Slavery prohibited. There shall be no slavery in this state; and no involuntary servitude, except for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
Free State Constitution
Kansas adopted the new free-state constitution in 1859. Before it adopted the Constitution, Kansas had been a slave state since 1854, when the KansasNebraska Act had been passed and allowed Kansas and Nebraska to choose whether they would be a slave state or not based on “popular sovereignty”. The Constitution was passed after the new senator of Kansas, John W. Geary, came into power. The Constitution was an important outcome of “Bleeding Kansas”. But, despite the new Constitution, “Bleeding Kansas” did not officially end until 1861.
Bibliography and Pictography
“Bleeding Kansas.” A&E Television Networks. http://www.history.com/topics/bleeding-kansas. (access February 6, 2013)/ “Bleeding Kansas: A Narrative Guide to the Sources.” Assumption College. http:/www1.assumption.edu/ahc/Kansas/default.html. (accessed February 6, 2013). “Bleeding Kansas The Kansas-Nebraska Act”. Wikispaces. http://bleedingkansaschi.wikispaces.com/. (accessed February 6, 2013).
“The destruction of the city of Lawrence, Kansas, and the massacre of its inhabitants by the Rebel guerrillas, August 21, 1863.” 1863. Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004669987/. (accessed February 9,3013).
Douglas, Stephen A. “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875”. Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=010/ llsl010.db&recNum=298. (accessed February 8, 2013). “Pottawatomie Massacre”. Kansas Historical Society. http://johnbrownsrevolutionofslavery.weebly.com/revolution.html. (accessed February 9, 2013). “The Pottawatomie Massacre”. Wikispaces. http://causesofthecivilwar.wikispaces.com/%E2%80%9CThe+Pottawatomie+Massacre%E2%80%9D+1856. (accessed February 9, 2013). Stern, Alfred Whittal. “The Alfred Whittal Stern Collection of Lincolniana”. “Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of the Freesoiler”. Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?scsmbib:11:./temp/~ammem_14rc::. (accessed February 6, 2013). Stern, Alfred Whittal. “The Alfred Whittal Stern Collection of Lincolniana”. “To the Citizens of Philadelphia”. Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?scsmbib:11:./temp/~ammem_14rc::. (accessed February 6, 2013). “Stephen Douglas”. Ohio Historical Society. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=110. (accessed February 6, 2013). “The Territorial Question.” Furman University. March 13-14, 1850. http://eweb.furman.edu/~benson/docs/Douglas50.htm. (accessed February 9, 2013). Whittier, John Greenleaf. “Le Marais Du Cygne”. “Bleeding Kansas: A Narrative Guide to the Sources”. Assumption.edu. http://www1.assumption.edu/ahc/Kansas/default.html. (accessed February 8, 2013).
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