Siteseen Logo

Bleeding Kansas 18541861

Franklin Pierce

Bleeding Kansas 18541861: Franklin Pierce was the 14th American President who served in office from March 4, 1853 to March 4, 1857. One of the important events during his presidency was the outbreak of the violent events in Kansas, known in history as 'Bleeding Kansas'.

Definition and Summary of the Bleeding Kansas 18541861
Summary and definition:
'Bleeding Kansas' was the name given to a series of violent confrontations in Kansas, and the neighboring border towns of Missouri, following the passing of the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act.

The conflict known as 'Bleeding Kansas' involved conflicts between Anti-slavery and Pro-slavery militant activists from 1854 - 1861 that reached a state of a low intensity civil war. The border war known as Bleeding Kansas was a crucial point that led to the road to the American Civil war (1861-1865).

Bleeding Kansas Border War History
The Bleeding Kansas Border War erupted in 1854 following the Kansas Nebraska Act

  • The Missouri Compromise of 1820 admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a slave state which maintained the balance between 'free soil' and 'slave soil'. It also prohibited the extension of slavery north of the 3630′ latitude, as indicated on the map

  • The Compromise of 1850 contravened the Missouri Compromise by allowing the people of the new territories of New Mexico and Utah to decide whether their states favored or opposed slavery by virtue of Popular Sovereignty (meaning rule by the people),

  • The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed white settlers to decide (by popular sovereignty) whether or not to have slavery

Bleeding Kansas Background History for kids
Kansas-Nebraska Act opened up a massive region to slavery using the precedent of the Popular Sovereignty Doctrine. The anti-slavery leaders in the North were furious and launched a ferocious attack against the bill. It provided a focal point for the Abolitionist Movement who mounted a media campaign against the law, applied political pressure to abolish slavery and established a free-soil campaign. Settlers from the south flooded Kansas to acquire lands and vote for the expansion of slavery. Settlers from the North and the East also headed for Kansas intent on preventing the expansion of slavery. Inevitable the two sides became involved in violent confrontations - Bleeding Kansas was a proxy war (the government did participate but various politicians "fuelled the flames".

Bleeding Kansas for kids
President Franklin Pierce had approved of the
Kansas-Nebraska Act and had commented on slavery during his Inaugural Address on March 4, 1853 stating:  "I believe that involuntary servitude, as it exists in different States of this Confederacy, is recognized by the Constitution."

Senator William H. Seward was a determined opponent of the spread of slavery and said to the Southerners in Congress: "Come on, then...We will engage in competition for the soil of Kansas, and God give the victory to the side that is strong in numbers as it is in right."

Origin of the term 'Bleeding Kansas'
The origin of the term 'Bleeding Kansas' is generally credited to Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune. It is possible that the name was inspired by an Abolitionist poem called
'Our Country's Call'  published on July 17, 1856 in the Davenport (Iowa) Gazette. The first verse of the poem reads as follows:

 "Hear the Nation's call, freemen, one and all,
Hear Poor Kansas' earnest cry:
See her bleeding land lift its beckoning hand;
Sons of freedom, come ye nigh."

Bleeding Kansas Events for kids
As soon as the
Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, armed "Sons of the South" crossed the border of Missouri and founded the towns of Leavenworth and Atchison. Armed settlers from the North and the East founded the towns of Lawrence, Lecompton  and Topeka. The an election was held. Hundreds of men flooded over the boundary of Missouri and out-voted the free-soil (anti-slavery) settlers in Kansas, and then went home. The territorial legislature, chosen in this way, adopted the same laws of Missouri, including the slave code, as the laws of Kansas. This action brought vicious retaliation from the anti-slavery forces that erupted into the Civil war in Kansas (Bleeding Kansas), which continued intermittently until it merged with the large-scale Civil War of 1861-1865. This event was one of the Causes of the Civil War.

Bleeding Kansas Battles for kids
The skirmishes and battles fought during the Bleeding Kansas era are the Wakarusa War, the Sack of Lawrence, the Pottawatomie Massacre, the Battle of Black Jack, the Battle of Fort Titus, the Battle of Osawatomie, the Battle of Hickory Point, the Marais Des Cygnes Massacre and the Battle of the Spurs.

Bleeding Kansas Timeline, History and Facts for kids
Interesting Bleeding Kansas Timeline, History and facts for kids are detailed below. The history of Bleeding Kansas is told in a factual sequence consisting of a series of short facts providing a simple method of relating the events in Bleeding Kansas. Notable incidents in the Bleeding Kansas era were the emergence of John Brown as
militant activist, the Wakarusa War, the Sack of Lawrence, the Pottawatomie Massacre, the Battle of Black Jack, the Battle of Fort Titus, the Battle of Osawatomie, the Battle of Hickory Point, the Marais Des Cygnes Massacre and the Battle of the Spurs.

March 6, 1820: Missouri Compromise

1850: The Compromise of 1850, was drafted by Henry Clay, based on the ideas of Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois.

1854: Stephen A. Douglas writes the Kansas-Nebraska Act implementing the concept of popular sovereignty

May 30 1854: President Franklin Pierce signs the Kansas-Nebraska Act leaving the legality of slavery to the will of the people in Kansas Territory

June 1854: Pro-slavery supporters crossed the border of Missouri and founded the towns of Leavenworth and Atchison.

June 1854: Eli Thayer of Worcester, Massachusetts founded the Emigrant Aid Society to promote the settlement of anti-slavery groups in Kansas in Lawrence, Lecompton  and Topeka

June 1854: Abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher collected money to arm anti-slavery settlers with Sharps rifles, that became known as "Beecher's Bibles".

August 1854: 29 northern emigrants (primarily from Massachusetts and Vermont) arrived in the newly established town of Lawrence, Kansas. 200 more arrived in September 1854.

November 1854: Thousands of armed pro-slavery men known as "Border Ruffians" pour over the border to sway the forth-coming election

November 29, 1854: The first election in Kansas and the pro-slavery forces win the election. Andrew H. Reeder was made governor but the election had been compromised by pro-slavery Missourians who had flooded the state

March 30, 1855: The Pro-slavery Border Ruffians sway the vote in the territorial legislature, oust all free-state members and remove Governor Reeder from office.

July 2, 1855: The pro-slavery legislature convene in the Shawnee Mission in Fairway, on the Missouri border, and began to pass laws to institutionalize slavery in Kansas

August 1855: A group of Abolitionist Free-Soilers met at Topeka and resolve to reject the pro-slavery laws passed by the territorial legislature and draft the Topeka Constitution.

August 1855: The  anti-slavery group form of a rival government called the Free-State Party. They adopt the Topeka Constitution and elect Charles Robinson as Governor

Violence escalates between the Border Ruffians and the Free-Staters

October 1855: John Brown arrives in Kansas determined to join the fight against slavery

November 21, 1855: The minor skirmish called the "Wakarusa War" begins  around Lawrence, Kansas, and the Wakarusa River Valley, when a Free-Stater named Charles Dow is shot by a pro-slavery settler.

December 1, 1855: An anti-slavery army of 1,500 lays siege to Lawrence. John Brown musters Free-State settlers into a defending army and erects barricades to defend Lawrence

December 1, 1855: No attack on Lawrence was made as a peace treaty is agreed

January 24, 1856: President Franklin Pierce declares the Free-State Topeka government to be a "revolution" against the rightful leaders

March 1856: The official territorial capital was moved to Lecompton, 12 miles from Lawrence

April, 1856: A congressional committee finds the previous Kansas elections to be fraudulent, pronouncing that the Free-State government represents the will of the majority.

April, 1856: The pronouncement is ignored by President and the pro-slavery legislature remains in power

May 21, 1856: A group of Border Ruffians entered the Free-State stronghold of Lawrence and burn the Free State Hotel, two newspaper offices and ransack homes and stores

May 22, 1856: Violence erupts in the Senate chambers. South Carolina Democrat Preston Brooks is seriously injured in an attack by Massachusetts Free Soil Senator Charles Sumner

May 24, 1856: The "Pottawatomie Massacre." A group led by John Brown kill 5 pro-slavery settlers along Pottawatomie Creek near Osawatomie, the incident becomes known as the "Pottawatomie Massacre."

June 2, 1856: The Battle of Black Jack. John Brown leads a Free-State militia attack on a pro-slavery militia led by Henry Clay Pate  near Baldwin City. The Battle of Black Jack becomes the first proper battle of the Bleeding Kansas Border War

July 4, 1856: President Franklin Pierce sends federal troops to break up an attempted meeting of the Free-State government in Topeka

August 16, 1856: The Battle of Fort Titus, near Lecompton. Free-Staters led by Captain Samuel Walker win the Battle of Fort Titus

August 1856: Battle of Osawatomie. John Brown leads a force against 400 proslavery soldiers in the "Battle of Osawatomie".

August 1856: Thousands of pro-slavery men form into armies and march into Kansas

September 13, 1856: The Battle of Hickory Point in which pro-slavery defenders surrendered to the free-state militia

October 1856: A new territorial governor, John W. Geary, takes office and manages to persuade both sides to keep the peace.

October 1856: John Brown leaves the state, as hostilities decrease

1857-1858: The peace agreement is broken broken by intermittent skirmishes and violent outbreaks

1857: The Lecompton Constitution, a pro-slavery document, is written in response to the anti-slavery position of the 1855 Topeka Constitution

March 4, 1857: James Buchanan is inaugurated as president

March 1857: James Buchanan approves the Lecompton Constitution

April 3, 1858: The Leavenworth Constitution, drafted by a convention of Free-Staters, was adopted by the convention at Leavenworth April 3, 1858, and by the people at an election held May 18, 1858.

May 19, 1858: The Marais des Cygnes Massacre. A Pro-slavery militia from Bates County, Missouri round up and kill 5 citizens during the Marais des Cygnes Massacre in Linn County

January 31, 1859: The "Battle of the Spurs". A Federal posse reach John Brown and slaves he is leading to freedom near Holton, Kansas, but flee when confronted

July 1859: The Wyandotte Constitution was the fourth, and last, constitution voted on by the people of Kansas Territory. The Wyandotte Constitution was drawn up at Wyandotte (now part of Kansas City) and rejected slavery.

October 4, 1859: The Wyandotte Constitution was approved by a vote of 10,421 to 5,530

April, 1860: The United States House of Representatives voted to admit Kansas under the Wyandotte Constitution. Senators from the south  left their seats as southern slave states seceded from the Union and the Senate passed the Kansas bill.

January 29, 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state

March 4, 1861: Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as President of the United States

March 4, 1861: Seven slave states formed the Confederacy (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas)

March 16, 1861: Four more states join the Confederacy (Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas)

April 12, 1861: The Civil War begins when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter.

May 10, 1865: The Civil War is fought for 4 years, 3 weeks and 6 days before it finally ends in 1865

US American History
1850-1865: Secession Era

ⓒ 2017 Siteseen Limited

First Published

Cookies Policy


Updated 2018-01-01

Publisher Siteseen Limited

Privacy Statement