Photo of John Brown 1856
On this day in 1855, in opposition to the fraudulently elected pro-slavery legislature of Kansas, the Kansas Free State forces set up a governor & legislature under their Topeka Constitution, a document that outlaws slavery in the territory.
Trouble in territorial Kansas began with the signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act by President Franklin Pierce in 1854. The act stipulated that settlers in the newly created territories of Nebraska and Kansas would decide by popular vote whether their territory would be free or slave. In early 1855, Kansas' first election proved a violent affair as over 5000 so-called Border Ruffians invaded the territory from western Missouri forcing the election of a pro-slavery legislature. To prevent further bloodshed, Andrew H. Reeder, appointed territorial governor by President Pierce, reluctantly approved the election.
In May 1856, Border Ruffians sacked the abolitionist town of Lawrence In retaliation a small Free State force was formed, armed by supporters in the North & under the leadership of militant abolitionist John Brown. It massacred five pro-slavery Kansans along the Pottawatomie Creek. Raids, massacres, and skirmishes follow the establishment of Kansas' second government, and the territory becomes popularly known as "Bleeding Kansas.” However, in 1861 the irrepressible differences in Kansas are swallowed up by the outbreak of full-scale Civil War in America.