Movement in Kansas
Only days after the Kansas-Nebraska Act
was passed in 1854, pro-slavery and anti-slavery supporters rushed in to
settle the state, both sides hoping to affect the outcome of the first
election. Because the act stated that the future status of
slavery in the
two territories was to be decided by popular vote, the two sides competed to
win the region for their political beliefs.
was not affected like Kansas,
as it was too far north to attract slave owners.
Even before the Kansas-Nebraska Act
had been passed,
Eli Thayer, a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives,
had organized the New England Emigrant Aid
Company to promote the emigration of abolitionist New Englanders to
Numerous other societies were also formed after the act had passed, all with
the same objective – to ensure that Kansas
would become a
By the summer of 1855, more than 9,000 Free-State
advocates had settled in Kansas.
Not to be outdone, the Southerners fought just as hard to make Kansas
a slave state. With
right next door, numerous pro-slavery settlers flooded across the border,
many of whom established Town Association Companies and formed some of the
earliest cities, such as
At risk in the South, was not only their way of life and culture, but, more
importantly, their economy, which was largely based on the plantation
system, which, of course, needed slaves to survive.
For six years, pro-slavery and Free-State
factions fought in Kansas
as popular sovereignty degenerated into violence.
A number of “Blue Lodges,” a secret pro-slavery organization, were formed in the South
to assist in promoting the interests of the slave power. The society was
known by different names, such as the "Friends Society," the "Social Band,"
"Dark Lantern Society," and the "Sons of the South," but, by whatever name
it might be known the object was always the same. Each member took a solemn
oath, after which he was given the signs, handshakes, and passwords of the
order. Severe penalties were provided for any violation of the oath, or for
divulging the secrets of the organization, and in a few instances these
penalties were executed upon offending members. The order was a branch of
the famous Knights of the Golden Circle, the common
object being the same -- the extension of slavery.
Competition between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions reached a climax
on May 30, 1855, when Kansas
held territorial elections. Although only 1,500 men were registered to vote,
6,000 ballots were cast, many of them by pro-slavery "border ruffians" from
As a result, a pro-slavery legislature was elected, which passed laws
stipulating that only pro-slavery men could hold office or serve on juries.
One statute imposed five years imprisonment for anyone questioning the
slavery in Kansas.
were obviously incensed, but, the U.S. Federal Government recognized the new
territorial government, which the
referred to as the “Bogus
Legislature.” Free Soilers then held their own
"Free State" convention in Topeka in the fall of 1855, and drew up a
constitution that prohibited
slavery in Kansas.
They submitted the Topeka Constitution to the territory's voters, who
approved it by an overwhelming majority. The Topeka government then asked
Congress to admit Kansas
as a free state.
then had two legislatures--one pro-slavery, the other against. However,
President Franklin Pierce threw his support behind the pro-slavery
legislature and asked Congress to admit Kansas
to the Union as a slave state. However, the president was denied.
Another group called the
also known as the Army of Law and Order was formed in 1855. From the name of
this organization, one would naturally suppose that it was formed for the
purpose of promoting peace, prosperity and good government among the people
of Kansas. But, such was not the case. It was an armed force, the strength
of which has been variously estimated at from 500 to 1,100 men, organized by
David R. Atchison and
John H. Stringfellow, whose policy was banishment or extermination of
all Free-State men in the territory.
Popular sovereignty degenerated into violence on May 21, 1856, when 800
pro-slavery men, many from Missouri,
to arrest the leaders of the
The posse burned the local hotel, looted a number of
houses, destroyed two anti-slavery printing presses, and killed one man.
war of revenge erupted in Kansas
led primarily by abolitionist John Brown. In reprisal for the Sacking of
Lawrence, Brown and six companions dragged five pro-slavery men and boys from
their beds at Pottawatomie Creek, split open their skulls with a sword and cut
off their hands. More battles and skirmishes followed including the
Battles of Black Jack and
Franklin in June, the
Battles of Fort Saunders,
Osawatomie in August, and the
Battle of Hickory Point in September, 1856.
sides, with armed men ransacked farms, stole horses and cattle, and attacked men
of the opposing faction. Before it was over, guerilla warfare in eastern Kansas
left 200 dead, leading to the nickname “Bleeding
In June, 1856, the Law and Order League wrote an eight
page manuscript appealing to southerners to provide support for the pro-slavery
cause in Kansas
Territory, in the form of emigration, financial donations, and/or moral support.
Sending it to various newspapers and Southern organizations, the appeal was
eight pages long. Listed here is only a part, but, provides a peek at the
Appeal by the
Law and Order Party of Kansas
Territory to Their Friends in the South, and to the law-abiding people of the
The undersigned, at a
recent meeting of the party, were constituted a committee, charged, among other
things, with the publication of this address.
That a state of
insurrection and civil war exists among us is abundantly evident: the "Law
and Order Party " on the on side, opposed on the
other by the abolitionists, sent out and sustained by the Emigrant Aid Societies
of the North. A brief review of the points at issue, and their controlling
circumstances, may be useful to justify our appeal for aid.
politics, the question of free or slave state has swallowed up ever other. The
abolitionists on the one hand, in accordance with their early teaching, regard
slavery as the
greatest possible evil; they deem it a monstrous national crime, which their
false theories of government impute equally to every portion of the Confederacy,
and thus believing themselves individually responsible for its existence, they
feel bound each to struggle for its overthrow. To such extremes have wicked
demagogues stimulated their fanaticism, that their perverted consciences justify
any mode of warfare against slaveholders, however much in violation of the law,
however destructive of property or human life, and however atrociously wicked it
may seem to others; nay, many of them already go so far as to oppose all law,
religion, property, order, and subordination among men, as subversive of that
they are pleased to call man's natural and inherent equality. And with them it
is no mere local question of whether
slavery shall exist
or not, but one of far wider significance, a question of whether it shall exist
anywhere in the Union.
Thousands of pro-slavery men from
Kansas to stuff the ballot boxes.
they justly regard as the mere outpost in the war now being waged between the
antagonistic civilizations of the North and the South; and winning this great
outpost and stand-point, they rightly think their march will be open to an easy
conquest of the whole field.
On the other hand, the
pro-slavery element of the "Law and Order Party " in
looking to the Bible, find
slavery ordained of
God; they find there, as by our law,
slavery made "an
inheritance to them and their children forever." Looking to our national census,
and to all statistics connected with the African race, and considering, too,
their physical, intellectual, and moral natures, we see that slaver is the
African's normal and proper state; since, in that state, that race multiples
faster, has more physical comfort, less vice, and more moral and intellectual
progress than in any other.
There are radical and
marked differences in the theory between the two parties, and not less so their
difference in practice. While we, in good faith, sustain and uphold the laws,
the abolitionists on the other hand, in effect, repudiate and set them at
defiance; with open disloyalty they assert the invalidity of the territorial
laws, while they render our national insignia only the mockery of a hollow
respect; indeed, more than once, they have openly resisted the marshal in the
service of process, and, in some places, their organized armed resistance to the
territorial laws is so overwhelming that ministers of the law there never
attempt the discharge of their official duties; they have repudiated payment of
taxes, and have held and published the proceedings of large public meetings in
which they have resolved to resist, even to blood, the territorial laws.
They have secret
military organizations for resisting the laws and for carrying out their
abolition designs upon Kansas
-- organizations in which the members are bound by the most solemn oaths to obey
their leaders, in all cases, not excepting even murder and treason.
It is widely reported
and generally believed that the northern abolitionists are now raising large
bodies of armed men, under military organization and discipline, to be
surreptitiously introduced into the territory for the objects of driving out the
peaceable inhabitants, setting the laws at defiance, and overwhelming the
Law and Order Party at the decisive election for a
Territorial Legislature in October.
We must have your help.
Appoint agents, responsible, trusty reliable men for every state, district, and
neighborhood, whose whole business shall be to canvass for aid. Friends of the
cause must contribute according to their several gifts -- we must not meanly
abandon our birthright, and without a struggle, yield to grasping monopoly this
fairest Eden of our common domain -- this land of flowing brook and fertile
is indeed the garden spot of America and in every way adapted to Southern
institutions; in no other part of the Union is slave labor more productive; and,
in the present imperiled state of our civilization, if we do not maintain this
outpost, we cannot long defend the citadel. Then rally to the rescue.
result of the internal strife in
Congress refused to adopt either party’s constitution and
would not be allowed to become a state for several years.
the new territorial governor, John Geary, finally arrived in
he ordered on September 12, 1856 that all state militias be disbanded. As part
of the state militia, the Army
The 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
of Kansas, updated March, 2017.
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