"If the outrageous fraud by which the Missourians pretended to elect
representatives for Kansas astonished the world, the proceedings of the conclave
of vagabonds, assembled under this mob authority, were still more astonishing.
Never did a less responsible body of men assemble under the pretence of making
-- William Addison Phillips,
The Conquest of Kansas, by Missouri and her Allies, 1856.
pro-slavery men from
Kansas to stuff the ballot boxes.
Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 not only
created the territories of
Nebraska, but also repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and allowed
the territory settlers to determine if they would allow
slavery within their
boundaries. Though the initial purpose of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was to
create opportunities for a transcontinental railroad, that changed with the
struggles between the north and south for dominance on the issue of slavery.
Numerous debates were held
before the act was passed in Congress, during which time the northern states
determined that the only way to rescue the new territory of
pro-slavery advocates was to send numerous northern emigrants into the territory
to establish as a free state. Before the Kansas-Nebraska Bill was even passed,
several Emigrant Aid Societies were formed, primarily in New England, to
populate the state with anti-slavery proponents.
Leading the charge was a
Massachusetts House of Representatives politician named Eli
Thayer, who formed
Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company,
which provided for plan to raise capital to offer inducements to anti-slavery
emigrants sufficient to offset the hardships of frontier life.
worked and before long a number of other Emigrant Aid societies were formed,
sending thousands of emigrants from free states, including
New England, Iowa, Ohio, and other Midwestern states into
These emigrants were known as Free-Staters, who quickly established a number of
new settlements such as
Lawrence, Topeka, and Manhattan. By the time they
arrived, there were already a number of settlements that had been formed by
Lecompton, and others.
protect themselves against the pro-slavery advocates, the Free-Staters formed
several organizations including the "Actual Settlers' Association of Kansas
Territory," which held its first meeting on August 12, 1854 to adopt regulations
that would protect them from the pro-slavery squatters.
January, 1855, a small group of men in the politically charged town of Lawrence
organized the "Free State Society" with the objective of “using all its
influence for the prohibition of slavery in Kansas."
The first session of the Bogus Legislature
was held at the
Territorial Capitol building at
now on the
This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
May 30, 1855, an election was held to establish the Kansas
was won and organized by pro-slavery
advocates, primarily due to hundreds of
non-residents flooding over the
Missouri state line and “stuffing” the ballot
boxes. The “Free-Staters” were obviously incensed, but the U.S. Federal
Government recognized the new territorial government, which the Free-Staters
referred to as the “Bogus Legislature.”
afterwards, the Kansas Free-State Party was formed to reject the
Bogus Legislature. The Free State Party then formed a “second” legislature that began
at a meeting at
Big Springs, Kansas
in September, 1855. The new party encouraged Republicans in Congress to block
pro-slavery efforts to control
and formed a number of new constitutions over the next several years, which
would repeatedly be rejected.
During these early days of the Free-Staters, the turmoil
between the two factions dramatically increased, leading to the
and brutal attacks by Jayhawkers upon the slavery men and raids upon
anti-slavery settlers by Missouri Bushwhackers.
battles between the opposing parties continued until a referendum was finally
authorized by the English Bill of 1858, which dashed all pro-slavery hopes of
Kansas Territory becoming part of the “South.” However,
continued struggles would delay the admission of Kansas as a
free state until January 1861. In the
meantime, the bitterness between the factions continued on into the
Free-State Party formally merged with the Republican Party in 1859 at a meeting
in Osawatomie, Kansas.
of Kansas, updated June, 2015.
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