The national political crisis was one of the major events that occurred in Kansas in the 1850s. After Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska bill, two regions were open for settlement (Coakley 145). Kansas and Nebraska were governed by the Missouri Compromise, which necessitated the use of popular sovereignty to determine whether the territory would be a pro-slavery or a free state. After the pro-slavery legislature was passed in March 1855, ideological conflicts arose between pro-slavery and free-state partisans (Coakley 146). The key players in this historical event were political leaders, abolitionists, and free partisans. The state was eventually dubbed “Bleeding Kansas” due to violent civil confrontations which occurred in the territory concerning matters of the pro-slavery and antislavery legislature. During this period, multiple deaths were reported as the abolitionists and proponents of slavery launched attacks against each other. Consequently, the major cause of the confrontational events of the 1850s was the adoption of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed people’s vote to choose between pro-slavery and the antislavery legislature for the state and led to an eruption of civil conflicts and massive deaths in the region.
A raid led by John Browns took place in Harpers Ferry, a town that was initially a federal armory. However, in 1859, Browns and a group of abolitionists seized the arsenal and freed some of the hostages (Coakley 189). News of the attack reached Floyd, the secretary of war, who authorized the use of military reinforcement to regain control of Harpers Ferry. The night after the raid, Brown’s men were surrounded by militia from various parts of Kansas, and some of his men and sons were killed (Coakley 191). Although Brown managed to escape, he was later captured and hanged. People involved in the raid against Harpers Ferry hoped to abolish slavery. However, the abolitionists’ threats were resolved through the use of the militia, which acted under the control of the state and local authorities to bring peace to the town (Coakley 193). Floyd, the secretary of war, authorized the militia.
Historically, Robert Harper initially settled in Harper’s Ferry. Six decades later, the federal government sold the site and made an armory arsenal. The change of ownership resulted in modifying the town’s name from Harper’s Ferry to Harpers Ferry. Similar to Bleeding Kansas, Harpers Ferry was raided by pro-slavery abolitionists, an event that resulted in numerous deaths.
The 1860 presidential elections proved to be the turning point in the U.S. history. To such reformers as Frederick Douglass, the election results were the main determinant of the future state of slavery in the country (Blassingame 376). Four parties were involved in the process: Democrats, New Republican, Constitutional Union, and Republican National Convention. The respective nominated presidential candidates included Douglas, Lincoln, John Bell, and Breckinridge, who received support from their running mates. The U.S. citizens cast their votes and elected Abraham Lincoln as the sixteenth president. However, before Lincoln was inaugurated, some of the Southern states decided to become an independent country by the name Confederate States of America to uphold their rights to slavery. To prevent such division and repel the secessionists’ first attack on Fort Sumter, Abraham Lincoln authorized military intervention, which marked the start of the Civil War.
Benedict Anderson was a historian and an anthropologist. He defined the nation as “an imagined political community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (Anderson 6). Based on this definition, the Confederate States of America (CSA) qualifies as a nation. First, it was formed by the southern states, which chose to be an independent country. CSA was limited by its finite boundaries, which separated it from northern states. The region also qualifies as a nation because it was formed during an era of revolution. Finally, CSA is a community in the sense that it was considered a comradeship against the United States.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Verso Publishers, 2006.
Blassingame, John. The Federick Douglass Papers, Series 1, Speeches, Debates, and Interviews. Vol. 3. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985.
Robert, Coakley. Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1789–1878. Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1988.