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In this paper I will point out some events leading to Bleeding Kansas, one of the cruelest wars in history. I would also like to include some facts about John Brown, an abolitionist who led his men to the Border Wars, which caused $400,000 worth of damage. I will also explain several wars that occurred leading up to the American Civil War. After reading my research paper readers will have a better understanding of the violence that occurred during these crucial times in Kansas.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 set the scene by allowing the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide by popular sovereignty, an idea advocated by US Senator Stephan A. Douglas, if they would be free or slave states. The government assumed that few slave owners would attempt to settle in Kansas and make it a slave state, because it was thought to be too far north for profitable exploitation of slaves. Instead, it resulted in immigration to Kansas by activists from both sides, which began the bloody wars of slavery which lasted from 1854 to 1858.
In October 1855, John Brown traveled to Kansas territory to fight slavery. November 21, 1855 the “Wakarusa War” began when Charles Dow, a free-stater, was shot by a pro-slavery settler. May 21, 1856 a group of Border Ruffians entered the Free-State town of Lawrence, where they burned the Free-State Hotel, destroyed homes, stores, two newspaper offices, and their printing presses in an effort to wipe out this “hotbed of abolitionism. ” The next day Republican Senator Charles Sumner was brutally attacked by Democratic Congressman Preston Brooks as a result from Sumner’s fiery speech called “The Crime Against Kansas. These acts inspired John Brown to lead a group of men into the Kansas Territory on an attack at a pro-slavery settlement at Pottawatomie Creek. Here, John Brown and his men dragged five pro-slavers out of their homes and hacked them to death.
John Brown had the opportunity to kill as many as nine men but he settled at five, the same number of antislavery men who had recently died at the hands of southern settlers. In August, thousands of proslavery Southerners formed into armies and marched into Kansas. Brown and several of his followers engaged 400 pro-slavery soldiers in the “Battle of Osawatomie. The last major outbreak of violence was the “Marais des Cygnes massacre” in 1858, where Border Ruffians killed five Free-State men. Brown fought off all attempts to apprehend him and maintained publicity that his acts were ordered and justified by God. Brown then led and armed his men to raid the US Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. By doing so Brown had hoped to arm slaves and spark an uprising attack on the slaveholders. The abolitionists were overpowered by a company of US Marines under the command of Robert E. Lee. Ten of Brown’s group including two of his sons was killed.
Five of them escaped and seven including Brown himself were captured. Brown and the others were tried by the state of Virginia shortly after. Brown was convicted of murder, conspiring in a slave rebellion, and treason. On December 2, 1859 John Brown was executed by hanging in Charleston. Brown believed that the only way to overthrow slavery was by violence. On January 29, 1861 Kansas was admitted into the Union as a free state, as a result from the Wyandotte Constitution, a document presenting the abolitionist view. The four-year Civil War Began in April of 1861 which took more than 600,000 lives and abolished slavery.