Lecompton Constitution

Anna S & Jariah D

Description

Before applying for statehood, Kansas had to draft a constitution. In 1857, a convention was held in Lecompton, Kansas, to do this. However, most of the delegates that attended were pro-slavery, because the delegate elections were rigged. At the convention, two different versions of the constitution were proposed. The first allowed slaves to stay and placed no restrictions on future slave trades. The second allowed slaves to stay in the territory, but prohibited future slave importations. Either way, slavery would not be completely left out of the constitution. Eventually, Kansas applied for statehood as a slave state using the “pro-slavery” constitution (the one allowing slaves to stay with no restrictions on future trade). Because this was evidently fraudulent (the delegate elections had been rigged) the constitution received a lot of opposition in Congress, however it was supported by Buchanan.

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Significance

The Lecompton Constitution created a lot of controversy. It was a great example of the consequences of popular sovereignty. When the constitution was submitted to the people to vote on, many believed it was rigged and refused to participate in the vote. So, the vote was not actually representing the voice of the population, it was expressing the vote of extreme supporters of slavery. When it was submitted a second time to the people of Kansas, more decided to vote and a majority did not approve of it. The situation showed that popular sovereignty, while an appealing subject, was not the most effective. The controversy surrounding it also showed how extreme people were willing to go to support (or protest against) slavery.

Sources

"Lecompton Constitution (1857)." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2014. Web. 18 Dec.

2014.

"Constitutional Conventions of Kansas - Page 2." Constitutional Conventions of Kansas - Page 2. Web. 19 Dec. 2014. <http://www.legendsofkansas.com/constitutionalconventions2.html>.