Kansas Territory Elections 1855: Let ’em vote or they’ll tear the house down

Even if there hadn’t been local point men pushing slavery or county captains dashing it, Jefferson County could not have dodged the turmoil of Bleeding Kansas. Its location in Kansas Territory guaranteed it would grapple with the question dividing the nation.

Eastern Kansas Territory was pocked by clashes between free-staters (“no” to slavery in Kansas) and pro-slavers (expand slavery to more states, Kansas in particular). The contestants had been campaigning since late 1854, the year the Kansas-Nebraska Act
handed the slavery decision to settlers in the soon-to-be states.

Partisans on opposing sides of slavery moved in on Kansas Territory, along with settlers  less interested in slavery, and went about staking claims to land they hoped to buy at low government prices. Settlers would do the voting that would decide the slavery question for Kansas.

If you want to know what fraudulent elections look like, consider Jefferson County, Kansas Territory, on March 30, 1855. Continue reading “Kansas Territory Elections 1855: Let ’em vote or they’ll tear the house down”

North of the Kansas River

Battle of Hickory Point, Jefferson County, Kansas Territory, 1856

As battles go, this one wasn’t all that big. “Skirmish” comes to mind as a description for the two-day pre-Civil War fight that found early Jefferson County settlers armed and facing off at a little trading post on the prairie.  The heart of the issue was slavery, although participants might have seen a more immediate cause of self-defense or retaliation for the “outrages and depredations” going on in this part of Bleeding Kansas.  And, in all truth, a lot of the combatants in the Sept. 13-14 fight were not from Jefferson County, or even from Kansas Territory. More on that, and all the rest, later in this blog. Continue reading “North of the Kansas River”