As we discussed, the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) officially repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820. It also triggered a struggle for control of the Kansas Territory, to determine whether Kansas would (eventually) be organized a a Free Soil or slave-holding state.
Most pro-slavery activists felt that, regardless of the Popular Sovereignty claims made by proponents of the Act, the “unspoken bargain” had been that Kansas would be organized as a slave state (to balance out the more northerly potential state in Nebraska, where no one believed plantation agriculture could survive).
While most immigrants into Kansas were only interested in the opportunity of becoming land owners, others traveled there specifically to join the struggle over the state’s destiny. In the short term, pro-slavery activists had a great advantage in electoral politics, as “armed voters” could cross the border from slave-holding Missouri on polling days, to stuff the ballot boxes in support of pro-slavery government in Kansas. Violence was not long in coming.
The link provides a good, brief overview of some of the issues involved in Kansas’ decent into violence. We also see our friend, Missouri’s own militant U.S. Senator David “Whiskey Dave” Acheson (“kill every Gad-damned Abolitionist in the district”), and the lethal saber-wielding John “Pottawatomie” Brown……