Bleeding Kansas

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In 1853, the area between California and Oregon was organized into a single territory simply known as Kansas. Both Proslavery as well as antislavery groups were in a rush to settle this new territory. Both groups wanted to ensure they had a majority of the population in this new territory. The majority of the population could later be used to ensure a nonslave or slave state status. This mutual desire to populate Kansas led to several bloody incidents from 1853 to 1861.

In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act attempted a compromise on the extension of slavery. It repealed the Missouri Compromise and reopened the issue of extending slavery north of lat. 36°30, allowing settlers of Kansas and Nebraska to decide the slavery issue amongst themselves. During this same time frame a company named the Emigrant Aid Company was organized in Massachusetts with antislavery immigration to Kansas as its goal. Proslavers in Missouri and throughout the south became concerned that an antislavery group was being formed and they took counteractions of their own.

Towns were established by each group-Lawrence and Topeka by the free-staters and Leavenworth and Atchison by the proslavery settlers.

Slavery soon became the main issue for this territory along with statehood status. Proslavers won the first elections in 1854 and 1855. Armed Missourians intimidated voters and election officials all the while stuffing the ballot boxes. Andrew H. Reed, a proslaver, became the territories first governor in 1854 and by 1855 all free-state members of the legislature had been removed from office. A capital was then established in Lecompton, and proslavery statutes were voted for and adopted. In retaliation, the antislavery faction set up a rival government in October 1855 in Topeka. Now the territories had separate governments, each outlawing the other.

In November 1855, violence erupted. A free-state man...