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What was the short term significance of settlement in Kansas in the 1850s and 1860s?

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Introduction

What was the short term significance of settlement in Kansas in the 1850s and 1860s? The USA had become divided over the 'great issue of the age', the issue of slavery. Slavery first caused divisions on a political level which then seeped, like a virus, out across America to become a serious social issue. In the 1850s and 1860s the events which transpired in the Kansas territory echoed throughout America and signified the beginning of the bleakest moment in the country's history; the American Civil War. Kansas showed the first signs of physical violence between Northern and Southern Americans. Furthermore it was Kansas' admission into the Union that would upset the balance of power within Congress, thus emphasising the enormity of the short term significance of the settlement in Kansas. The American Congress became more and more divided by the power struggle between the North and the South over the major issue of the age, this was the significant problem of slavery. 'From morning to night, day after day, and week after week, nothing can get a hearing that will not afford an opportunity to lug in something about Negro slavery...'1. This rift in politics was particularly problematic when it came to deciding whether Kansas should become a 'Slave State' or a 'Free State'. Senator Douglas proposed the Kansas-Nebraska Bill in 1854; this proposed that the slave status of Kansas would be decided by popular sovereignty, therefore revoking the Missouri Compromise of 1820. ...read more.

Middle

'Whatever apologies may be offered for the toleration of slavery in the States, none can be offered for its extension in the Territories where it does not exist. Let us all protest loudly, by whatever was may seem suitable against this enormous crime.'6 Had the Independent Democrats succeeded in preventing the bill and found a new method of dealing with Kansas they may have been successful in, at least, preventing the violence within Kansas and possibly even preventing the Civil war that followed. However, this was far from achieved. Douglas' bill, that aimed to create a fair state, merely divided America further and created enormous tensions both politically and socially over the settlement of Kansas. An event of serious significance caused by the settlement within Kansas was the bloodshed that came from the splitting of the governances and the conflict within the territory, the major bloodshed took place between 1854 and 1857, this was known as 'Bleeding Kansas'. This was of such high significance as it showed that the American people were willing to kill for their cause. Bleeding Kansas was, in effect, a mirror image of the American Civil War that was to soon follow, only on a smaller scale. The violence and hatred that was displayed within Kansas ruined both the economy and what little hope there had been for political unification. Kansas was torn apart by the fierce fighting that took place within its borders. ...read more.

Conclusion

The settlement, or rather lack of settlement, of Kansas was extraordinarily significant both socially and politically. The Unions inability to create an effective means of implicating Kansas as a free or slave state led to the mass influx of outsiders into the area which flared the hatred of the Northerners and Southerners. Furthermore, it showed signs of America becoming sectionalised as two opposing constitutions were formed within the territory. The events also highlighted the fragility of the Union and consequently led to the collapse of it. Above all the events within Kansas were highly significant for foretelling what would soon unfold across America. 1 Taken from 'The American Destiny volume 6 'A house divided', page 91 2 Taken from 'The Kansas-Nebraska Act: A Century of Historiography' Vol. 43, No. 2 (Sep., 1956), pp. 187 3 Sumner's "The Barbarism of Slavery" Speech - June 4, 1860 http://dotcw.com/sumner%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cthe-barbarism-of-slavery%E2%80%9D-speech-june-4-1860/ 4 Sumner's "The Barbarism of Slavery" Speech - June 4, 1860 http://dotcw.com/sumner%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cthe-barbarism-of-slavery%E2%80%9D-speech-june-4-1860/ 5 Transcript of Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) Located 02/03/11 http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=old&doc=28&page=transcript 6 From 'The American Civil War and its Origins, 1848-65 Third edition', page 76. Written by, Alan Farmer Hodder Murray. 7 From 'The Atlantic Monthly Volume 0001 Issue 4 (February 1858)' Title 'Review of the Kansas Usurpation [pp. 492-500] 8'Bleeding Kansas' Located 10/03/2011 http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h84.html 9 Farmer, Alan 'The American Civil War and its origins 1848-65' page 55. 10 Picture from 'The American Destiny' volume 6 'A House Dividing' page 103 Commager HS 11 Taken from 'The American Destiny' Volume 6 'A House Divided', page 104 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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