Miranda Allegar & Julia Giordano
“Bleeding Kansas” is the name given to the violence that broke out in Kansas in 1856 when the notion of popular sovereignty for the decision of slavery was put into action, as mandated by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. As the critical choice loomed, both pro and antislavery groups rallied supporters from out of state to join their cause. This further catalyzed a guerrilla war in the state, taking the lives of between 56 and 200 people and paving the road for the full-scale civil war that would come just five years later.
Bleeding Kansas- Why It Was the Point of No Return
Further, the events in Kansas dominated the political scene on a national level, turning all parties and levels of government to the now unavoidable issue of slavery. While parties and presidencies had been dodging the issues of the expansion or abolition of slavery for years, the election of 1856 saw slavery enter the forefront of politics in a major way. During the conflict itself, popular sovereignty as a solution was questioned as it had led to such tampering and volatile results in Kansas. Further, Pierce’s administration had strongly backed the proslavery Lecompton legislature, which had widened the gap between the residents in Kansas and catalysed the fighting. As the election of 1856 moved forward, the various parties were forced to declare their stances. While the Democrats reaffirmed their belief in popular sovereignty, the Republican party denounced the Kansas-Nebraska Act and pushed for federal abolition, as illustrated in the campaign songs for the Republican candidate, Fremont, which proclaimed “we’re a band of freemen and we’ll down with slavery” and characterized slavery as “stealing” practiced by “arrant knaves.” Yet, through this all, the American party had been eradicated, with the Republicans in the place of the Whigs, marking the end of the Second Party System and the start of a new era for the nation. With slavery as the hot topic of the moment in the wake of the violence in Kansas, political leaders had no choice but to begin the hunt for a real solution, unlike the wishy-washy policies set by the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Compromise of 1850 that largely strove to postpone the issue. Now, with the country divided, as seen in the rallying of the New Englanders with the abolitionists and the Missouri residents with the proslavery side, a final answer to slavery was overdue and set in motion with the blood spilled in Kansas. There was no turning back.
War With Mexico- Why It Wasn't the Point of No Return
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"The Bleeding Kansas Crisis Begins: 1854," Global Events: Milestone Events Throughout
History, Edited by Jennifer Stock. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2014. GALE|YBKCHG220633562.
Weyman, Charles S. “Fremont and Victory. The Prize Song,” New York Daily Tribune. 1856.
Bridgman, Edward. “Letter from Edward Bridgman,” Africans In America. 1856.
Arnold, Brie Swenson. “"To Inflame the Mind of the North": Slavery Politics and the Sexualized Violence of Bleeding Kansas." Kansas History38. 2015. http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=4566a2e9-5c7f-47d7-9069-f8c2887aa6c6%40sessionmgr112&vid=0&hid=103.