Bleeding Kansas Significance

What is the significance of Bleeding Kansas?

Expert Answers
mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The significance of “Bleeding Kansas” is that it showed how divisive the slavery issue was and how passionate people were on both sides of the slavery issue. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in 1954, creating the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, with the people in those territories being able to determine if slavery would exist. Stephen Douglas, the author of the bill, proposed this concept, known as popular sovereignty, as part of the bill.

Because Nebraska was not suitable for the growing of cotton and the use of slaves, people turned their attention to Kansas. Slavery could successfully exist in Kansas, and both sides wanted to be sure their viewpoint prevailed. Both sides sent people to Kansas to advocate for their position. This led to conflicts, with some property being destroyed and blood being shed. John Brown became famous when he killed some people who supported slavery.

This event was one of a series of events that pushed the United States closer to the Civil War. Each side no longer believed it could trust or work with the other side. It also showed that people were willing to fight and to die to see their position regarding slavery prevail. Some people believe this fighting that occurred in Kansas was the most important event that pushed the United States toward the Civil War.

yamaguchityler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bleeding Kansas, during 1855-1858, had a huge impact on the entire nation. Due to the constant conflicts caused by slavery during this period, much of the nation was split and pinned against each other. Of course, with the North wanting slavery abolished and the South wishing to maintain it, there was certainly tension between the two regions in the United States.

Much like the Louisiana Purchase, where the North and South argued over whether or not the new land would adopt slavery, Bleeding Kansas was similar in that the issue was whether or not to allow slavery in Kansas. This problem between the two was caused by the Kansas-Nebraska Act that essentially allowed the state of Kansas to decide their own fate on this issue.

With so much tension already built up due to slavery, this conflict was yet another add on to the hatred that already existed with the North and South. Of course, with the Civil War occurring, "Bleeding Kansas" can certainly be credited, amongst many other factors, as what led up to the beginning of the war.

pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Bleeding Kansas" only proved that popular sovereignty would not work when deciding the fate of slavery in the Western territories. Stephen Douglas authored the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed the people who lived in the territory to vote on whether or not they would allow slavery. Douglas's ultimate goal was to bring these two territories into the Union in order to quickly build a transcontinental railroad. Kansas territory was soon overrun by those trying to influence the vote. Slaveowners from Missouri came and the Midwest sent their own representatives. Violence soon broke out. Abolitionist groups helped to fund their own fighters such as John Brown. Brown would lead a massacre at Pottawatomie Creek and he would later try to launch a slave revolt at Harper's Ferry in 1859.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The significance of "Bleeding Kansas" is that this crisis really pushed the North and South apart and had a great deal to do with causing the Civil War.

"Bleeding Kansas" refers to fighting that happened in Kansas over the issue of whether Kansas would be slave or free.  This conflict was triggered when the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 gave Kansas the right to decide on this issue.  After the act passed, forces for and against slavery poured into Kansas and started fighting each other with atrocities on both sides.

The conflict in Kansas helped to cause more hatred between the North and the South.  This, of course, helped to bring about the Civil War.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

Bleeding Kansas which is a period of violence during the settling of the Kansas territory definitely shows the weakness of this political doctrine and shows how well it didn’t work in Kansas in the 1850s. Thousands of pro-slavery and anti-slavery flooded in the state. Violent clashes occurred, popular sovereignty caused chaos. Kansas-Nebraska act led to hatred and violence.