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Kansas Statehood

Today In History : January 29, 2022

On This Day In History
On January 29, 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free (non-slave) state. It was the 34th state to join the Union. The struggle between pro- and anti-slave forces in Kansas was a major factor in the eruption of the Civil War.

In 1854, Kansas and Nebraska were organized as territories with popular sovereignty (popular vote) to decide the issue of slavery. In Nebraska there was really no debate over the issue. The territory was filled with settlers from the Midwest, where there was no slavery.

In Kansas, the situation was much different. Most of the settlers were against slavery. Some were outright abolitionists, like John Brown. However, just over the border was pro-slavery Missouri. When residents of Kansas voted on the issue of slavery, many Missourians jumped over to fraudulently vote for slavery. This triggered the massive violence that earned the area the name “Bleeding Kansas.” Both sides committed atrocities, and the fighting over the issue of slavery became a preview of the Civil War.

Kansas remained one of the most important political questions throughout the 1850s. Each side of the issue drafted constitutions. The anti-slavery faction eventually gained the upper hand. Kansas entered the Union as a free state; however, the conflict over slavery in the state continued into the Civil War. Kansas was the scene of some of the most brutal acts of violence during the war. One extreme example was the sacking of Lawrence in 1863, when pro-slavery forces murdered nearly 200 men and burned the anti-slavery town.

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