"Abolitionism proposes to destroy the right and extinguish the principle of self-government for which our forefathers waged a seven years' bloody war, and upon which our whole system of free government is founded." -- Senator Stephen A. Douglas, in a speech in the Senate Chamber, March 3, 1854
"Come on, then, gentlemen of the slave states. Since there is no escaping your challenge, we accept it in the name of freedom. We will engage in competition for the virgin soil of Kansas, and God give the victory to the side which is stronger in numbers, as it is in right." -- Senator William Seward, on the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, May 1854
"I am a Border Ruffian from the State of Missouri; I am a Connecticut Yankee by adoption. In me you have Missouri morals, Connecticut culture -- this, gentlemen, is the combination which makes the perfect man." -- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Bleeding Kansas: An Overview
Between 1844 and 1848, pro-slavery (states' rights) and anti-slavery (free state) forces in the U.S. fought against each other in the Kansas Territory. As described by Wikipedia:
Bleeding Kansas (also called Bloody Kansas or the Border War) was a series of violent events, involving anti-slavery Free-Staters and pro-slavery "Border Ruffian" elements, that took place in the Kansas Territory and the western frontier towns of the U.S. state of Missouri roughly between 1854 and 1858. At the heart of the conflict was the question of whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free state or slave state. As such, Bleeding Kansas was a proxy war between Northerners and Southerners over the issue of slavery in the United States. The term "Bleeding Kansas" was coined by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune; the events it encompasses directly presaged the American Civil War.
Between 1844 and 1858, there were 55 known deaths in the Kansas Territory attributed to the fighting. Thousands of migrant families swarmed into the territory, many driven by their own fierce ideological beliefs regarding slavery and statehood.
For more historical background, read the excellent summary from PBS' "Africans in America" project or the collection of primary source excerpts from Assumption College.
Territorial Kansas Online: http://www.territorialkansasonline.org/~imlskto/cgi-bin/index.php?SCREEN=border
The Project: Current Work
Right now, this umbrella project serves as the place to put any profile associated with the Bleeding Kansas period. We can then sort the profiles into different categories to create relevant sub-projects.
There is currently one sub-project, for families that arrived in the Kansas Territory through the New England Emigrant Aid Company:
Future sub-projects will hopefully include (but are not limited to):
- Bleeding Kansas: Border Ruffians (contribute to our discussion on this term)
- Bleeding Kansas: Jayhawkers
- Bleeding Kansas: Pottawatomie Massacre
- Bleeding Kansas: Battle of Black Jack
Most available secondary sources on the Bleeding Kansas period tell the story from the perspective of the victorious Free-Staters, so we must exercise particular caution with them in this project. Primary sources, especially lists of migrants, are the best to consult. A suggested reading list is forthcoming.