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Lecompton Constitution (Martin, 1997)

Textbook

James Kirby Martin, et al., eds., America and Its Peoples:  A Mosaic in the Making, 3rd ed., vol. 1 (New York:  Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1997), 475.

Late in 1857, President Buchanan faced a major test of his ability to suppress the slavery controversy.  In September, proslavery forces in Kansas met in Lecompton, the territorial capital, to draft a constitution that would bring Kansas into the Union as a slave state.  Recognizing that a proslavery constitution would be defeated in a free and fair election, proslavery delegates withheld the new state charter from the territory's voters.  Instead, they offered voters a referendum on whether they preferred "the constitution with slavery" or "the constitution without slavery."  In either case, however, the new constitution guaranteed slave ownership as a sacred right.  A Free Soiler described the proslavery proposal this way.  "Vote to take this arsenic with bread and butter, or without bread and butter."  Free Soilers boycotted the election and, as a result, "the constitution with slavery" was approved by a 6000-vote margin.

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How to Cite This Page: "Lecompton Constitution (Martin, 1997)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/16982.