Bleeding Kansas Facts

Bleeding Kansas Facts
When Kansas became an organized territory on May 30, 1854 it immediately became the subject of controversy. Pro-slavery politicians and businesses wanted slavery to be introduced into the territory, but free-soil forces were strongly opposed. Rather than decided the matter themselves, Congress decided to leave it up to the people of Kansas in the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 had forbidden slavery north of 36°30 latitude, but allowed it in Missouri. Senator Stephen Douglass of Illinois believed that allowing Kansas to decide its own fate on the slavery issue would be a sensible, peaceful compromise, but almost immediately there were problems. Local and territorial elections were notoriously corrupt and the territory was quickly flooded by pro-slavery people from neighboring Missouri and free-soilers supported by abolitionist groups and other antislavery groups in the North. By 1856, there was a pro-slavery territorial government in Lecompton and a free-soil government in Topeka. Violence between the factions finally began on November 21, 1855 when a pro-slavery farmer named Franklin Coleman shot and killed his neighbor, free-soiler Charles Dow. Although the feud was more personal than political, it set off a spate of violence between the factions in rural Douglas County and proved to be the opening shots in Bleeding Kansas violence. Even after Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state on January 29, 1861, the violence in Kansas continued throughout the Civil War. About thirty pro-slavery people were killed and as many as 100 free-staters/free-soilers were killed in the violence, which was one of the many factors that led to the Civil War.
Interesting Bleeding Kansas Facts:
The "Sacking of Lawrence" happened on May 21, 1856 when pro-slavery forces attacked the predominately anti-slavery town of Lawrence. About 300 proslavery forces rode into town and destroyed the presses of the town's two newspaper. The attack focused on the newspapers and not the people: only one anti-slavery person was injured and one pro-slavery raider was killed.
Notorious outlaw Frank James, brother of the even more notorious Jesse James, rode with William Quantrill's raiders during the Civil War. Although Frank wasn't at the "Sacking of Lawrence," the attack was led by Quantrill.
The "Pottawatomie Massacre" took place on May 24 and 25, 1856 near the Pottawatomie Creek in Franklin County. Angered by the Sacking of Lawrence, militant abolitionist John Brown led members of the anti-slavery militia known as the Pottawatomie to slash, stab, and shoot to death five pro-slavery settlers in the county.
Pro-slavery forces were often referred to as "Border Ruffians" during Bleeding Kansas since many of them were from nearby Missouri. They were also sometimes referred to as "Bushwackers."
Anti-slavery forces were often referred to as "Jayhawkers" or "Red Legs." The origins of the term Jayhawker is a source of debate, but the term "Reg Leg" probably came from the red leggings many Jayhawkers wore.
Most of the violence during Bleeding Kansas involved guerilla operations, primarily hit and run attacks, but on August 30, 1856 the Battle of Osawatomie was a more traditional type battle. About to 400 pro-slavery forces attacked the town of Osawatomie, which was known to be an anti-slavery center. Although John Brown and some others tried to defend the town, they were forced to retreat. Five anti-slavery people were killed.


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