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Kansas Territory - Timeline


1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860 1861


May 26

Kansas-Nebraska Act passes Congress; effective with president’s signature, May 30.

July 6

Republican Party born, Jackson, Michigan.

July 28

First organized band of Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company settlers arrives in Kansas Territory and soon founds the city of Lawrence.

October 7

First territorial governor, Andrew Reeder, arrives at Fort Leavenworth.

November 29

Governor Reeder calls the first election in Kansas Territory; vote to elect delegate to Congress--John W. Whitfield.


March 30

Election for members of territorial legislature.

July 1

So-called "Bogus Legislature" meets at Pawnee.

August 14

First convention of free-staters gather in Lawrence and call for election of delegates to free-state constitutional convention.

August 16

Territorial Governor Reeder replaced by Wilson Shannon.

September 5

Free-staters meeting in Big Springs to form Free State Party.

October 23

Free-state delegates assemble in Topeka to draft “Topeka Constitution” prohibiting slavery in
Kansas Territory; Charles Robinson “elected” governor.

November 21

Free-stater Charles Dow killed by proslavery supporter Franklin Coleman; beginning of “Wakarusa War,” which lasts about two weeks.

December 6

Thomas W. Barber shot and killed by a proslavery supporter four miles southwest of Lawrence.

December 15

Election on the adoption of the Topeka Constitution; document ratified 1,731 to 46, as was a separate “exclusionary clause,” 1,287 to 453 (“Exclusion of Negroes and Mulattoes”).


May 10

Free-state “Governor” Charles Robinson arrested in Lexington, Missouri (released on bail, Sept. 10)

May 21

Sack of Lawrence by Sheriff Samuel Jones and proslavery posse.

May 22

Senator Charles Sumner from Massachusetts beaten on U.S. Senate floor after “Crime Against Kansas” speech.

May 24

Pottawatomie Massacre in Franklin County.

June 2

Battle of Black Jack, near Baldwin, Douglas County.

July 4

Dispersal of Topeka legislature by U.S. Army troops under command of Col. Edwin V. Sumner.

June 4-5

Battle of Franklin, near Lawrence.

August 11

David Starr Hoyt, a free state supporter, killed near Fort Saunders, twelve miles southwest of Lawrence.

August 16

Battle of Fort Titus, near Lecompton, Douglas County.

August 30

Battle at Osawatomie, Miami County; Frederick Brown, the son of John Brown, among the dead.

September 13

Battle of Hickory Point, north of Oskaloosa, Jefferson County.

November 4

Democrat James Buchanan defeats John C. Fremont, the Republican Party's very first presidential candidate.


January 12

Legislature meets in Lecompton; Democratic Party formed in Kansas.

March 6

Dred Scott decision handed down by U.S. Supreme Court.

August 24

Panic of 1857 precipitated by failure of a New York financial institutions.

September 7

Lecompton Constitutional Convention convenes with John Calhoun presiding; reconvened to draft instrument, October 19.

October 5-6

Free-state victory in the election for territorial legislature.

December 7

Special session of new free-state controlled legislature calls for popular vote on Lecompton Constitution.

December 21

With free-staters refusing to participate in election, Lecompton Constitution is approved. The vote was “for the constitution with slavery” or “for the constitution without slavery,” only, and “constitution with slavery” won 6,226 to 569.


January 4

Lecompton Constitution rejected in second vote in which free-staters participate; final rejection comes on August 2, 1858.

March 25

Leavenworth Constitutional Convention convenes and document approved, April 3.

May 18

Leavenworth Constitution ratified by Kansas voters; rejected by U.S. Congress.

May 19

Marais des Cygnes Massacre in Linn County.

June 3

James Lane shoots and kills neighbor and fellow freestater, Gaius Jenkins, at Lawrence over boundary dispute.

August 2

The third vote on the Lecompton Constitution, this one as a result of the English bill, is held; a decisive majority of 9,512 against (actual vote: 1,788 for, 11,300 against).

August 21

Lincoln-Douglas debates begin, Ottawa, Ill.; series of seven debates, end October 15.


January 25

Dr. John Doy and his son Charles arrested in Kansas with thirteen fugitives and taken to Weston, Missouri, for trial.

January 31

Battle of the Spurs, near Holton.

March 4

Trial of Dr. John Doy of Lawrence. Although the first jury cannot agree on a verdict, he is convicted of “negro stealing” at a second trial in June and sentenced to five years in prison.

July 5

Fourth constitutional convention convenes at Wyandotte.

July 23

Doy is “rescued” from a St. Joseph jail by a group of Kansas men.

July 29

Wyandotte Constitutional Convention adopts Wyandotte Constitution, which would be the instrument under which Kansas was admitted to the Union.

October 4

Kansas voters ratify Wyandotte Constitution by nearly a 2 to 1 margin--10,421 to 5,530.

December 1

Abraham Lincoln comes to Kansas; visits several towns in northeast, including Leavenworth and Atchison during a week-long sojourn.

December 2

John Brown hanged for treason at Charlestown, Va.; charges steam from Harper’s Ferry raid.

December 6, 1859

Election for state officer and legislature under the Wyandotte Constitution; Dr. Charles Robinson of Lawrence defeated the incumbent territorial governor, Samuel Medary. Republicans also win 86 of 100 seats in the legislature.


February 12

Kansas admission bill introduced in U.S. House of Representatives.

April 3

Pony Express begins operation out of St. Joseph.

April 20

John Ritchie of Topeka shoots and kills Deputy U.S. Marshal Leonard Arms.

November 6

Lincoln wins plurality in four-way presidential contest.


Morgan Walker raid


January 29

President James Buchanan signed Kansas admission bill.

March 26

First state legislature convenes in Topeka.

April 12

Secessionist troops fire on Fort Sumter, S.C.

Entry: Kansas Territory - Timeline

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: April 2010

Date Modified: October 2015

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.