The Kansas-Nebraska Crisis

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The significance of Bleeding Kansas and its contribution to the onset of the Civil War

Summary:

Bleeding Kansas was significant because it highlighted the violent conflicts between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions. This period of unrest in the Kansas Territory demonstrated the deep national divide over slavery, contributing to the onset of the Civil War by intensifying sectional tensions and proving that compromises were increasingly untenable.

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What is the significance of Bleeding Kansas?

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 there. 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.

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What is the significance of Bleeding Kansas?

"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.

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What is the significance of Bleeding Kansas?

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.

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What is the significance of Bleeding Kansas?

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.

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How did "Bleeding Kansas" contribute to the onset of the Civil War?

As tensions over slavery heated up in the 1850s, Congress decided to allow the citizens living in the Kansas territory to decide for themselves through the ballot whether or not the state would enter the union as a free or a slave state, a well-meant but ultimately disastrous attempt to defuse a volatile situation. This led both sides of the slavery debate, those who believed in freedom for all people and those who believed in slavery, to flood into the territory to try to influence the vote. Tensions escalated sharply, and violent incidents and clashes followed. Pro-slavers called "border ruffians" came over the border from Missouri, a slave state, and burned, looted, and killed in order to intimidate the abolitionists. John Brown, an abolitionist later famous for the Harper's Ferry raid, led a band of people in violence against the pro-slavers. Violence grew and erupted into a situation akin to a civil war. Though Kansas eventually came into the country as a free state in 1861, the events there helped legitimize the idea of violence as a solution to the slavery problem. The bloody events, and their use as propaganda by both sides also increased polarization and hatred, further hardening the uncompromising positions that led to the Civil War.

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How did "Bleeding Kansas" contribute to the onset of the Civil War?

If you lived in Kansas, the Civil War began for you in 1855. This is when pro-slavery "border ruffians" poured into Kansas to attempt to establish that territory as a slave state. There they clashed with anti-slavery Kansans, as well as many people, like abolitionist John Brown, for example, that went there expressly to fight against slavery. The issue began when Senator Stephen Douglas extended the principle of popular sovereignty to the territory, which he organized under the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The fighting that led the territory to be known as "Bleeding Kansas" accompanied political intrigue and fraud over the establishment of a constitution for the territory. "Bleeding Kansas" can mainly be said to have led to the Civil War because it led to the establishment of the Republican Party. This development, which accompanied the collapse of the old two-party system that included the Whigs and the Democrats, made compromise between the North and South less likely. When the Republicans, whose platform called for a ban on the expansion of slavery, won the White House under Abraham Lincoln in 1860, South Carolina led the way in seceding from the Union. "Bleeding Kansas" played a major role in escalating tensions between the North and the slave states.

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Why did Bleeding Kansas lead to the Civil War?

Bleeding Kansas is used to describe the period of violence during the settling of territories in Kansas and Nebraska. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in response to complaints that settlers could not lay claim to homesteads because both areas had not yet been organized into territories. However, Southern congressmen were not especially enthusiastic about admitting Nebraska and Kansas into the Union as the areas lay north of the 36 30' parallel (this is the area populated by free states). The Missouri Compromise of 1820 had effectively established this imaginary line to separate free and slave states.

Now, with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, both Kansas and Nebraska would get to decide whether either would be a free or slave state. This effectively destroyed the fragile peace secured by the Missouri Compromise. With passage of the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act, hostilities erupted in a bid to decide the fate of Kansas as either a slave or free state (Nebraska was further north and its fate as a free-state was never in question). Bloody conflict erupted between thousands of Northerners (who descended on Kansas to try to influence the make-up of the new state legislature) and Missourians, who poured over the border into Kansas to vote for a pro-slavery legislature.

The Northerners set up their Free-state legislature in Topeka, while the Missourians eventually moved their pro-slavery state legislature to Lecompton. There were now two opposing state legislatures in Kansas. The violence continued unabated. Pro-slavery factions tarred, feathered, and killed free-state militiamen. The abolitionist John Brown led an attack on pro-slavery men at Pottawatomie Creek. Five pro-slavery men were dragged from their homes and hacked to death. The Marais des Cynges massacre killed five free-state men. The terrible violence continued until a new governor, John W. Geary arrived to restore order in Sept. 1865.  Bleeding Kansas became one of the most important triggers for the Civil War.

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How did "Bleeding Kansas" contribute to the onset of the Civil War?

The 1850s incidents and time period that became known as “Bleeding Kansas” grew out of the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act that governed the legality of slavery in the Western States. A reaction to the Missouri Compromise, the Act gave more leeway for each territory to decide the legality of slavery. This freedom of choice, called “popular sovereignty,” emphasized the territories’ rights over federal standardization, which foreshadowed the states’ rights issue emphasized in the Civil War.

Kansas became the primary state in which the battles over slavery were fought, both legally and physically. Two separate legislatures were established. People swarmed to the state in support of both sides. Many new settlers brought workers whom they insisted could be legally enslaved. Abolitionists and opponents of the expansion of slavery not only verbally confronted the pro-slavery residents, but even attacked them and destroyed their property. These conflicts reached a peak with incidents at Pottawotamie Creek, led by the ardent abolitionist John Brown, and at Marais de Cynges. The level of violence and the inability of the two sides to compromise peacefully in the 1850s foreshadowed the nationwide violent conflict of the 1860s.

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