Bloody Kansas



The truce between slavery and freedom which had been maintained for thirty-five years was broken. The war was about to recommence with tenfold energy. Numerous events had greatly strengthened the abolition party in the North, and all other questions of public policy grew unimportant before the imminent demands of this. A reorganization of parties became necessary. The old Whig party had received its death-blow. The Democratic party divided into two sections, on new lines. Finally the Free Soilers and a section of the Whigs and Democrats fused together in opposition to the new aggressive attitude of slavery, and the Republican party came into existence, while the pro-slavery members of the old parties joined hands as a modified Democracy. The country was drifting it knew not whither. The armies were in the field, arrayed for legislative battle, and the hot and bitter sentiment that was widely manifested was full of the elements of actual war.

The first phase of hostility declared itself on the soil of Kansas, organized as a Territory on May 30, 1854. The decision that slavery might be introduced there led to warlike conflicts between settlers from the Northern States and armed parties from the adjoining slave State of Missouri. An organized effort had been made by the anti-slavery societies of the North to secure Kansas, by colonization with emigrants of abolition sentiments. Missouri made an equally strong effort to secure it to slavery, but rather by violence than by colonization. An armed band of two hundred and fifty Missourians marched upon the settlers at the new town of Lawrence, and threatened to drive them out at the point of the bayonet if they did not immediately strike their tents and leave the Territory. They refused to do so, and their assailants retired, without carrying out their threat. But this battle of words was followed by a series of sanguinary assaults upon the settlers, in which a state of actual war was inaugurated.

An election for a Territorial legislature was ordered in 1855. The slave-holders of Missouri and Arkansas at once adopted a new expedient. They entered the Territory in large bands, took possession of the polling-places, drove the actual settlers from the polls, and cast their votes in favor of pro-slavery candidates. Though the settlers numbered but 2905 voters, there were cast at this mockery of an election 6320 votes. In 1857 the pro-slavery legislature met, formed a Constitution, submitted it to the people, and ratified it at an election in which no votes in opposition were allowed or counted. This fraudulent operation was endorsed by the administration, but it was soon proved that the Free State settlers of Kansas were too greatly in the majority to be thus dealt with. A convention was held at Wyandotte in 1859, in the election of whose members, though many fraudulent pro-slavery votes were again polled, the Free State party gained a decided majority. A Constitution was adopted in which slavery was prohibited. This was submitted to popular suffrage, and carried by a vote of 10,421 for to 5530 against. In 1860, after the withdrawal of the Southern members from Congress, the State was admitted under this Constitution.





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