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The fourth and final Constitutional Convention was authorized
by an act of the Territorial Legislature and approved by Governor Medary on February 9,
1859. The convention assembled at Wyandotte - Kansas City) on July 5,
1859 and organized by electing James M. Winchell as president and John A. Martin as
secretary. Thirty-five Republicans and seventeen Democrats were
chosen to attend the convention. By this time the issue of
slavery had pretty
much been decided in the territory, but there were other controversial issues to
decide, including the eastern boundary of the state, which is now part of
Colorado. Also discussed was the possibility of equal voting rights to
Though this didn't pass, women were given the right to participate in school district elections, to own property, and gave women
equal rights in the "possession of their children." The constitution stated that
the legislature was to "provide for their equal rights in the possession of
After working diligently for several weeks, the constitution was completed on
The Wyandotte Constitution meetings were held in the
Railway building in Kansas City,
All the Republican members except Thomas S.
Wright of Nemaha County signed the document; however none of the Democrats would
sign, as they object to several key provisions. This created a bitter partisan
contest in the subsequent campaign to ratify the constitution, but finally on
October 4, 1859 it ratified in a vote of the people by nearly a 2 to 1 margin.
State officers was elected on December 6th, preparatory to admission into the
Union, though more than a year would elapse before these officers were called
upon to assume the duties of the positions to which they were elected.
The proposed constitution were prepared and sent
to the President of the United States, but would take some time to pass the
House and the Senate due to the
pro-slavery advocates. However, when Abraham
Lincoln was elected president, many southern states began to leave the Union and
admission decreased. The last six southern senators left their seats on January
21, 1861, and later that same day the Senate passed the
bill. A week later the House passed the bill and sent it to the president for
his signature. Ironically, it was President James Buchanan, a man who had been
much despised by most
Free-State settlers, who signed the bill making
the 34th state on January 29, 1861.
Following is a list of the members of the
Wyandotte Convention by districts:
1st - Leavenworth County -- Frederic Brown, Robert C. Foster,
Samuel Hipple, W. C. McDowell, Adam D. McCune, Pascal C. Parks, William Perry,
John P. Slough, Samuel A. Stinson, John Wright.
2nd - Atchison County -- Robert Graham, John J. Ingalls, Caleb
3d - Doniphan
County -- John W. Forman, E. M. Hubbard, Robert J.
Porter, John Stiarwalt, Benjamin Wrigley.
4th - Brown County -- Samuel A. Kingman.
5th - Nemaha County -- Thomas S. Wright.
6th - Marshall and Washington counties -- J. A. Middleton.
7th - Jefferson County -- C. B. McClelland.
8th - Jackson County -- Ephraim Moore.
9th - Riley County -- S. D. Houston.
10th - Pottawatomie County -- Luther R. Palmer.
11th - Johnson County -- J. T. Barton, John T. Burns.
12th - Douglas County -- James Blood, N. C.
Blood, William Hutchinson, Edwin Stokes,Solon O. Thacher, P. H. Townsend, L. R. Williams.
13th - Shawnee County -- J. P. Greer, H. D. Preston, John
14th - Wabaunsee, Davis, Dickinson and Clay counties
-- Edmund G.
15th - Lykins County -- W. P. Dutton, Benjamin F. Simpson.
16th - Franklin County -- James Hanway.
17th - Osage, Breckenridge, Morris and Chase counties
McCullough, James M. Winchell.
18th - Linn County -- James M. Arthur, Josiah Lamb.
19th - Anderson County --
James G. Blunt.
20th - Coffey and Woodson counties -- Allen Crocker, Samuel E.
21st - Madison, Hunter, Butler, Greenwood, Godfrey and Wilson
counties -- George H. Lillie.
22nd - Bourbon, McGee and Dorn counties -- J. C. Burnett, William
23d - Allen County -- James A. Signor.
A glance at the above list will show that the leaders of both
the Free-State and
>pro-slavery parties of former days were absent.
James H. Lane, Charles Robinson,
Samuel N. Wood, Speer,
Charles H. Branscomb, and others who gave such loyal support to the
Constitution, were missing; and on the other hand not a single prominent
pro-slavery man was among the 17 Democratic delegates. Of the 52 delegates
composing the convention, three-fourths of them were under the age of 40 years.
It was a young men's convention. Practically all occupations were represented.
There were 18 lawyers, 16 farmers, 8 merchants, 3 manufacturers, 3 physicians, 1
surveyor, 1 printer, 1 mechanic, and 1 land agent.
Compiled and edited by
of Kansas, updated March, 2017.
the Article: Much of the historic text in this article comes from Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History,
edited by Frank W. Blackmar, published in 1912 as well as Kansas: History of the State of Kansas, by William G. Cutler;
published in 1883.
However, other sources have also been used, the content combined, and heavily
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