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Bleeding Kansas: Topics in Chronicling America

From 1854-1861, a series of violent confrontations over slavery took place in the territory of Kansas. This guide provides access to materials related to the topic of "Bleeding Kansas" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


New-York Daily Tribune prints Charles S. Weyman's anti-slavery, political rallying song "The Prize Song, Fremont and Victory" which acknowledges "where bleeding Kansas is waging warfare with Slavery!" September 13, 1856. New-York Daily Tribune (New York, NY), Image 5. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

A foreshock to the Civil War, Bleeding Kansas violently demonstrated the escalating North-South tensions. After the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Free Soilers, abolitionists and slavery proponents all streamed into Kansas to battle over the state’s slave-holding ability, and, of course, in questions of freedom and sovereignty, the collateral damage is never small. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


May 30, 1854 The Kansas-Nebraska bill becomes a law; the slave status of Kansas will be decided by the citizens of the state; the Missouri Compromise is null and void.
1854-1856 Pro-slavery, abolitionist and Free Soil groups hurry to settle Kansas to gain the upper hand in slavery question.
Early 1856 Disputes escalate to bouts of violence.
May 21, 1856 Lawrence, Kansas is sacked and burned by pro-slavery Border Ruffians.
May 22, 1856 Representative Brooks of South Carolina attacks and beats Senator Sumner of Massachusetts; an outside view of the Kansas clashes.
June 6, 1856 A sermon on the morality of the Kansas crisis.
June 1856 Kansas appears to be in a state of civil war; violence continues indefinitely as no compromise can be found.
December 27, 1856 Kansas’s Herald of Freedom sums up the situation in Kansas.
December 29, 1857 The Herald of Freedom is attacked for the second time by Border Ruffians.
July 5-29, 1859 The Wyandotte Convention; the resultant constitution calls for a free state.
August 20, 1859 Discontent with the new constitution is marked; regardless, the constitution ultimately stands.