Pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces in Kansas battled over political control of the territory from its organization in 1854 until the end of the decade.  No crisis during this period had weightier political consequences than the fight which erupted in 1857 and continued through 1858 over the drafting of a pro-slavery constitution in Lecompton.  Adding to the controversary, when the pro-slavery legislature initially submitted the constitution to a referendum, they offered a "no slavery" option that actually included slavery and thus earned a boycott from free soil forces.  The resulting "Lecompton swindle" as Republicans called it had the effect of dividing the Democratic Party because President James Buchanan insisted on accepting the dubious results of the election, while fellow Democrat Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois rejected the fraud.  Douglas was the leading advocate of "popular sovereignty" for the territories and could not bring himself to support a repudiation of this principle, but Buchanan demanded loyalty.  The feud between the two leading Democrats helped set the stage for the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 and much of the subsequent break up of the national Democratic Party. The Congress ultimately rejected the Lecompton Constitution and Kansas entered the nation as a free state in 1861. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Date Title
New York Times, “Virginia Politics,” October 26, 1857
Washington (DC) National Era, “Douglas’s Organ on Kansas,” October 29, 1857
New York Times, “Important Rumor,” October 31, 1857
New York Times, “News from Kansas,” November 13, 1857
Stephen A. Douglas to John A. McClernand, November 23, 1857
New York Times, “The Kansas Constitution,” December 8, 1857
Washington (DC) National Era, “Independence of Voting,” December 10, 1857
New York Times, "The Missing Walker," December 14, 1857
New York Times, “Governor Walker in Washington,” December 15, 1857
New York Times, “Secretary Stanton’s Call for an Extra Session of the Kansas Legislature,” December 17, 1857
Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull, December 18, 1857
New York Times, “The Fight in Congress,” December 18, 1857
New York Times, “The Republicans and Gov. Walker,” December 19, 1857
New York Times, “Governor Walker and General Cass,” December 24, 1857
New York Herald, “News from Kansas,” December 30, 1857
Washington (DC) National Era, “Presidential Intervention Against Slavery,” December 31, 1857
New York Herald, "The Kansas Trouble in Congress," January 3, 1858
Lyman Trumbull to Abraham Lincoln, January 3, 1858
New York Herald, "Kansas," January 4, 1858
New York Herald, "The Slavery Question in Congress," January 5, 1858
New York Herald, "Kansas as a Slave State," January 7, 1858
New York Herald, "The Approaching Conclusion of the Kansas Comedy," January 27, 1858
New Orleans (LA) Picayune, "Admission of Kansas," February 10, 1858
New York Herald, “The United States Senators From Kansas,” February 20, 1858
New York Herald, "Political Agitation in this Metropolis," Febraury 26, 1858
Israel Washburn to James Shepard Pike, March 16, 1858
Israel Washburn to James Shepard Pike, March 20, 1858
New York Times, “Douglas’ Kansas Speech,” March 24, 1858
Boston (MA) Herald, “Kansas as it Passed the Senate,” March 26, 1858
Charleston (SC) Mercury, "The Result in the House," April 7, 1858
Charleston (SC) Mercury, "The Rejection of Kansas," April 26, 1858
Salmon Portland Chase to James Shepard Pike, May 12, 1858
Lyman Trumbull to Abraham Lincoln, June 16, 1858
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “The Voice of Kansas,” June 19, 1858
New York Herald, “The Hon. Joshua R. Giddings vs. the Administration and the Slave Power,” June 27, 1858
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, "The Passage at Arms between Lincoln and Douglas in 1854," July 1, 1858
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, "Douglas Coming Home," July 7, 1858
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Senator Crittenden,” July 8, 1858
New York Herald, “Senator Douglas at Chicago,” July 12, 1858
New York Times, "Senator Douglas at Chicago," July 13, 1858
Lawrence (KS) Herald of Freedom, "Prepare for the Fight," July 17, 1858
New York Herald, "Lecompton to be Rejected," July 26, 1858
John Jordan Crittenden to Abraham Lincoln, July 29, 1858
New York Times, “The Kansas Election,” August 2, 1858
Charleston (SC) Mercury, "The Lecompton Constitution Rejected," August 9, 1858
New York Times, “Death of Lecompton," August 11, 1858
Thomas C. Sharp to Ozias Mather Hatch, August 11, 1858
New York Herald, “The Illinois Campaign,” August 13, 1858
New York Herald, “Political Joking," August 15, 1858
New York Times, “Democratic Prospects In Illinois,” August 18, 1858
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “Signs of Fright,” August 20, 1858
New York Times, "Meeting of Douglas and Lincoln," August 23, 1858
Leavenworth (KS) Journal, "Cheering News," August 26, 1858
Joseph Medill to Abraham Lincoln, August 27, 1858
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “A Faithful Witness,” August 27, 1858
New York Times, “What will Kansas do Next?,” August 31, 1858
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “The Three Points in Douglas’ Creed,” September 7, 1858
New York Times, “Opposition Ratification Meeting in Philadelphia,” September 16, 1858
Recollection by Henry Clay Whitney, Charleston Debate, September 18, 1858
Ripley (OH) Bee, “More Insubordination,” September 18, 1858
New York Herald, “Mr. English on the English Bill,” September 19, 1858
Newark (OH) Advocate, “The English Bill in Kansas,” September 29, 1858
New York Herald, “Treachery in Tammany,” October 9, 1858
Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “A Peep Behind the Curtain!,” October 12, 1858
New York Herald, "Exhausted to the Dregs," October 13, 1858
New York Herald, “Our Richmond Correspondence,” October 17, 1858
Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “A Great Ado about Nothing,” October 19, 1858
New York Herald, "Election Eve," November 1, 1858
New York Times, "The Illinois Election," November 5, 1858
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, "Rejoicing for Douglas," November 11, 1858
Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, "A House Divided, &c.," November 17, 1858
(St. Louis) Missouri Republican, “What the English Bill has Done for Kansas,” November 27, 1858
New York Herald, “The Struggle Among the Virginia Democracy,” December 5, 1858
New York Times, “The War Begun,” December 10, 1858
Abraham Lincoln to Lyman Trumbull, December 11, 1858
Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Who are the Agitators?,” December 16, 1858
New York Times, “Douglas and the Democracy,” December 25, 1858
Recollection by Gustave Koerner, Senator Douglas Reelected, January 5, 1859
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “For the Lambs of the Flock,” January 12, 1859
Memphis (TN) Appeal, “The Chicago Times, Senator Douglas and the Administration,” January 18, 1859
New York Herald, “Forney on a Short Allowance,” January 23, 1859
New York Herald, “The Presidential Question,” January 29, 1859
Boston (MA) Liberator, "Letters from Friends of the Cause," February 18, 1859
New York Herald, “The Black Republicans and Mr. Douglas,” February 22, 1859
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “A Hand Writing on the Wall,” March 11, 1859
Ripley (OH) Bee, “Untitled,” March 19, 1859
Atchison (KS) Freedom’s Champion, “Free vs. Slave,” March 26, 1859
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “Drawing it Mild,” April 9, 1859
Ripley (OH) Bee, “Gov. Wise and the Presidency,” April 16, 1859
New York Herald, “The Charleston Convention,” April 20, 1859
Boston (MA) Advertiser, “Democratic Movements,” May 10, 1859
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “An Episode in the Southern Tour of Douglas,” June 10, 1859
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Virginia Will Lead,” June 22, 1859
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “Caught,” June 27, 1859
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “Cook and His Enemies,” August 23, 1859
Lowell (MA) Citizen & News, “The Why and Because,” October 5, 1859
Lydia Maria Child to Henry Alexander Wise, October 26, 1859
New York Times, "The Brown Invasion Transplanted From Kansas," November 5, 1859
San Francisco (CA) Bulletin, “Organization of the United States House of Representatives,” December 7, 1859
New York Herald, "The Slavery Agitation," December 10, 1859
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “Election of Mr. Forney,” February 4, 1860
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “Pennsylvania,” March 5, 1860
Lowell (MA) Citizen & News, “Kellogg on Douglas,” March 17, 1860
New York Times, “A Bomb-Shell for Charleston,” April 19, 1860
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “Mr. Buchanan’s Letter,” April 20, 1860
Chicago (IL) Press and Tribune, “Douglas Nomination,” April 21, 1860
Newark (OH) Advocate, “How Mr. Buchanan’s Patronage Is Dispensed in Ohio,” May 11, 1860
(Montpelier) Vermont Patriot, “Don't Care,” November 3, 1860
John Sherman to William Tecumseh Sherman, November 26, 1860
Chicago Style Entry Link
Birkner, Michael J., ed. James Buchanan and the Political Crisis of the 1850s. Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press, 1996. View Record
Birkner, Michael J., moderator. “James Buchanan and the Political Crisis of the 1850s: A Panel Discussion.” Pennsylvania History 60, no. 3 (1993): 261-287. View Record
Collins, Bruce W. "The Democrats' Electoral Fortunes During the Lecompton Crisis." Civil War History 24, no. 4 (1978): 314-331. View Record
Elbert, E. Duane. "The English Bill: An Attempt to Compromise the Lecompton Dilemma." Kansas History 1, no. 4 (1978): 219-234. View Record
Freehling, William W. The Road to Disunion. Vol. 2, Secessionists Triumphant, 1854-1861. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. View Record
Harmon, George D. “An Indictment of the Administration of President James Buchanan and His Kansas Policy.” Historian 3 (Autumn 1940): 52-68. View Record
Howard, William Alanson. Kansas-Lecompton Constitution. Washington, DC: Printed at the Congressional Globe Office, 1858. View Record
Johannsen, Robert W. "Stephen A. Douglas, ‘Harper's Magazine,’ and Popular Sovereignty." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 45, no. 4 (March 1959): 606-631. View Record
Luthin, Reinhard H. "The Democratic Split during Buchanan’s Administration." Pennsylvania History 11 (1944): 13-35. View Record
Meerse, David E. "Buchanan, the Patronage, and the Lecompton Constitution: A Case Study." Civil War History 41, no. 4 (1995): 291-312. View Record
Meerse, David E. "Origins of the Buchanan-Douglas Feud Reconsidered." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 67, no. 2 (1974): 154-174. View Record
Miner, Craig. Seeding Civil War: Kansas in the National News, 1854-1858. Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, 2008. View Record
Morrison, Michael A. Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997. View Record
Ponce, Pearl T. "Pledges and Principles: Buchanan, Walker, and Kansas in 1857." Kansas History 27, no. 1-2 (2004): 86-99. View Record
Porter, Lorle A. "The Lecompton Issue in Knox County Politics: Division of the Democracy, 1858." Ohio History 81, no. 3 (1972): 157-192. View Record
Stegmaier, Mark J. "Intensifying the Sectional Conflict: William Seward Versus James Hammond in the Lecompton Debate of 1858." Civil War History 31, no. 3 (1985): 197-221. View Record
Washburn, Israel. Kansas and the Lecompton Constitution. Washington, DC: Buell & Blanchard, 1858. View Record
How to Cite This Page: "Lecompton," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/9601.