With the admission of California in 1850, the United States needed to connect the new western land with the rest of the country. The Pony Express could only do so much. However, a transcontinental railroad or telegraph required the organization of the land west of Missouri, which was part of the 1804 Louisiana Purchase. Passed in 1854, the new law abolished on the demand of southern Congressmen the Missouri Compromise line and opened the newly opened territories of Kansas and Nebraska to popular sovereignty, people decide on the issue of slavery. Northerners were outraged that the free land of the west could fall into the hands of slave holders whose slaves would make free labor uncompetitive and who then would strangle to death the ideas of freedom of speech.

Northern and Southern settlers flooded into Kansas Territory. The first territorial election was manipulated by Missouri Border Ruffians who made sure a southern and slavery favorable legislature was put in place. To defend against these southern incursions and attacks on democracy, northern supporters of the free soil settlers provided weapons. By 1855, the territory was in a state of civil war. Election fraud, murder, and violence were common for the next five years. When Kansas had reached the necessary number of settlers, a new conflict arose over whether the new state would be free or pro-slavery. With new election manipulation, Kansas sent votes in favor and against to Washington. In the Senate, a southern minority with Northern Democratic support pushed through the admission of a slave state Kansas, but the House balked. With Kansas voters overwhelmingly refusing a slave state admission, the state had to wait until 1860 for admission. Northerners increasingly perceived that the southern minority would not shy away from violence and fraud to dominate politics. Southerners felt more than ever besieged as an oppressed minority.

Image: Free State Battery, 1856, Kansas State Historical Society, March, 1878, Col. Thomas W. Higginson.