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Time Lines: Prior to 1860

March 6, 1820

The Missouri Compromise, an agreement between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress to regulate of slavery in the western territories, was signed into law by President James Monroe. It would result in Maine being admitted as a free state and Missouri being admitted as a slave state.

March 15, 1820

Maine admitted to Union as a free state.

August 10, 1821

Missouri admitted to Union as a slave state.

May 30, 1854

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, creating the territories of Kansas and Nebraska and repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine if they would allow slavery within their boundaries was signed into law by President Franklin Pierce.

November 29, 1854

Pro-slavery Missourians pour over the Kansas Border to vote for Congressional Delegate.

March 30, 1855

Missourians by the thousands cross Kansas Border again, to vote in General Election, including future Confederate General Joseph O. “Jo” Shelby.

November 1, 1855

Almost 200 people are killed between this date and December 1, 1856, accompanied by $2,000,000 in property damage.

January, 1856

Free Soil Advocates conduct own election electing Charles Robinson as Governor.

May 21, 1856

The Sacking of Lawrence - Lawrence, Kansas is burned to the ground by Missouri “Border Ruffians” for the first time.

May 22, 1856

Incident in U. S. Congress over Kansas slavery in which South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks savagely beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with a cane.

May 24, 1856

The Pottawatomie Massacre occurred during the night of May 24 and the morning of May 25, 1856. In reaction to the sacking of Lawrence (Kansas) by pro-slavery forces, John Brown and a band of abolitionist settlers (some of them members of the Pottawatomie Rifles) killed five pro-slavery settlers north of Pottawatomie Creek in Franklin County, Kansas. This was one of the many bloody episodes in Kansas preceding the American Civil War, which came to be known collectively as Bleeding Kansas.

June 2, 1856

The Battle of Black JackJohn Brown and 29 others met Henry Pate and fought the battle of Black Jack. This started after Brown's two sons were captured and held prisoner by Pate. The five hour long battle went in Brown's favor and Pate and 22 of his followers where captured and held for ransom. Brown agreed to release them as long as they released Brown's son. The battle is cited as one incident of “Bleeding Kansas” and a contributing factor leading up to the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865.

August, 1856

Jayhawker Jim Lane vows to “Sweep all pro-slavery forces from the Kaw River Valley.”

August 16, 1856

The Battle of Fort Titus - Near Fort Titus, Kansas 50 Free-Staters force surrender of pro-slavery forces.

August 25, 1856

Border Ruffian George Washington Clarke enters Kansas intending to raid Osawatomie, but is surprise attacked by Jayhawker James Montgomery, a dentist, and routed back to Missouri abandoning most all personal effects of he and his men, including a Black Flag bearing the Inscription, “Victory or Death.”

January, 1857

John Brown goes to Boston to raise money for his militia and meets George Luther Stearns who provides Brown with 200 Sharp’s rifles and $500, later to be followed by $7,000 and other funds. Stearns was one of the "Secret Six" who aided John Brown in Kansas, and financially supported him until Brown's execution after the ill-fated raid on Harpers Ferry. Stearns would go on to recruit the famed 54 Massachusetts African-American Regiment lead by Colonel Shaw. Stearns, all told, would recruit 14 black regiments during the war.

February 26, 1857

At the age of 19, William Clarke Quantrill leaves Dover, Ohio for Kansas under the guardianship of Harmon Beeson and Henry Torrey.

March 6, 1857

Dred Scott Decision – The United States Supreme Court ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants, whether or not they were slaves, were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States. It also ruled that the United States Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories. The Court also ruled that because slaves were not citizens, they could not sue in court. Lastly, the Court ruled that slaves, as chattel or private property, could not be taken away from their owners without due process.

March 15, 1857

William C. Quantrill arrives in Kansas Territory never to return home again.

October 5, 1857

Kansas Free-Soilers elect a delegate to Congress.

October 16, 1857

The Lecompton Constitution - This was the second of four proposed constitutions for the state of Kansas (it was preceded by the Topeka Constitution and followed by the Leavenworth and Wyandotte). The document was written in response to the anti-slavery position of the 1855 Topeka Constitution of James H. Lane and other free-state advocates. The territorial legislature, consisting mostly of slave-owners, met at the designated capital of Lecompton in September 1857 to produce a rival document. Free-state supporters, who comprised a large majority of actual settlers, boycotted the vote. Buchanan's appointee as territorial governor of Kansas, Robert J. Walker, although a strong defender of slavery, opposed the blatant injustice of the Constitution and resigned rather than implement it. This new constitution enshrined slavery in the proposed state and protected the rights of slaveholders. In addition, the constitution provided for a referendum that allowed voters the choice of allowing more slaves to enter the territory.

January 4, 1858

Kansas voters, having the opportunity to reject the constitution altogether in the referendum, overwhelmingly rejected the Lecompton proposal by a vote of 10,226 to 138. And in Washington, the Lecompton constitution was defeated by the federal House of Representatives in 1858. Though soundly defeated, debate over the proposed constitution had ripped apart the Democratic party, paving the way for Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860.

May 19, 1858

The Marais des Cygnes Massacre - Pro-slavery Kansas settlers under the command of Charles A. Hamilton round up 11 Free State Men and murder them in a ditch next to the Marias des Cygnes River near Trading Post, Kansas.

August 2, 1858

In Kansas, a general election held under the supervision of Federal troops (to guarantee a fair election) abrogates the Proslavery Lecompton Constitution by a 6 to 1 margin.

December 19, 1858

John Brown raids Missouri freeing 10 slaves and pillages along the way.

December 20, 1858

Jayhawker Eli Snyder pillages Bates County, Missouri.

February 24, 1859

Missouri Legislature passes bill authorizing the raising of an Army to combat border intrusions and offers a $3,000 reward for the capture of those committing “Outrages” on Missourians.

July 30, 1859

Quantrill returns to Lawrence , Kansas and opens a rural school close to Osawatomie, Kansas.

October 16, 1859

John Brown and a contingent of abolitionists capture the Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in order to arm themselves and lead a 200,000 plus slave army to sweep through the South liberating slaves in its march. However, it fails and Brown is captured by Federal troops under the command of future Confederate Army General in Chief Robert E. Lee and Confederate Cavalier, General J. E. B. Stuart.

December 2, 1859

John Brown hanged in Virginia.

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