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Bleeding Kansas: New England Emigrant Aid Company

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In 1854 and 1855, a group of businessmen and clergymen from New England arranged a company to transport more than 2,000 Yankees to the disputed Kansas Territory, in hopes that they would be able to win the upcoming vote on whether to have Kansas become a free or slave state. The overall movement that inspired this idea was known as the "Kansas Crusade."

Although they were relatively small in number, the Yankee population that migrated to the territory through the New England Emigrant Aid Company became disproportionately powerful. They established cities like Topeka and Lawrence and were politically dominant enough to make sure their own were elected to governorships and senate seats.

Perhaps even more notably, they also directly induced the "Bleeding Kansas" period, during which votes were won at the point of a bayonet or the barrel of a gun. Funded by Yankee churches and sustained by shipments of Sharps rifles from back home in New England, the NEEAC migrants participated in one of the bloodiest periods in American history, all within the relatively small Kansas Territory.

More can be learned about the New England Emigrant Aid Company through the Kansas Historical Society.


This project aims to gather together the profiles for the Yankees who migrated to the Kansas Territory in 1854-1855 under the auspices of the NEEAC. Louise Berry's list may well be the most definitive on the subject, so it will serve as the point of reference for us in determining which profiles to locate and add.


The name of this project is designed to reflect that additional Bleeding Kansas projects should be created, including for migrants from Missouri (Border Ruffians), major events (like the Pottawatomie Massacre), and key political figures. This is a major episode in American history and should be featured more on Geni. It would be wonderful if Kansans in particular joined to help spearhead this and any subsequent related projects.

Notable Figures

  • Amos Lawrence, primary financial backer of the NEEAC; namesake of Lawrence, Kansas
  • Samuel C. Pomeroy, businessman, railroad president, and U.S. senator
  • Horace "Haw" Tabor, prospector, businessman, Lt. Gov. of Colorado and U.S. Senator from Kansas
  • Eli Thayer, organizer of the movement and company; U.S. Representative from Massachusetts


The best on-line starting point comes courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society:

The best introductory reading, which is brief but gives a comprehensive picture of the events, is this classic:

  • Andrews Jr., Horace. “Kansas Crusade: Eli Thayer and the New England Emigrant Aid Company." New England Quarterly, 34 (1962): 497-514.

Perhaps the best primary source, replete with all its biases but rich in its tale, is:

Books on the subject include:

  • Corder, Eric. Prelude to Civil War; Kansas-Missouri, 1854-61. New York: Crowell-Collier Press, 1970.
  • Etcheson, Nicole. Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004
  • Freehling, William W. The Road to Disunion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.