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Lecompton Constitution (Divine, 2007)

Textbook
Robert A. Divine, et al., The American Story, 3rd ed., vol. 1 (New York:  Pearson Education, Inc., 2007), 368.
While the Dred Scott case was being decided, leaders of the proslavery faction in Kansas concluded that the time was ripe to draft a constitution and seek admission to the Union as a slave state.  Since settlers with free-state views were now an overwhelming majority in the territory, the success of the plan required a rigged, gerrymandered election for convention delegates.  When it became clear the election was fixed, the free-staters boycotted it.  The resulting constitution, drawn up at Lecompton, was certain to be voted down if submitted to the voters in a fair election and sure to be rejected by Congress if no referendum of any kind was held.  To resolve this dilemma, supports of the constitution decided to permit a vote on the slavery proposition alone, giving the electorate the narrow choice of allowing or forbidding the future importation of slaves.  Since there was no way to vote for total abolition, the free-state majority again boycotted, thus allowing ratification of a constitution that protected existing slave property and placed no restriction on importations.  Meanwhile, the free-staters, who had finally gained control of the territorial legislature, authorized a second referendum on the constitution as a whole.  This time, the proslavery party boycotted the election, and the Lecompton constitution was overwhelmingly rejected.

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How to Cite This Page: "Lecompton Constitution (Divine, 2007)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/16973.