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View of Constitution Hall in Lecompton, Kansas - Page

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A photograph of Constitution Hall in Lecompton, Kansas. In January 1857 the second territorial legislative assembly met on the upper floor of this building. Although still firmly proslavery, this group removed some of the earlier laws that their antislavery neighbors opposed. The Lecompton Constitutional Convention met that fall in this same second-floor assembly room. The purpose of the convention was to draft a constitution to gain statehood for Kansas. A compromise proved impossible because proslavery men dominated the convention. They created a document that protected slavery no matter how the people of Kansas Territory voted. This was intolerable for their antislavery opponents, who refused to participate in what they considered to be an illegal government. Eventually the Lecompton Constitution was defeated at the national level. It never went into effect.
Instead, free-state forces rallied their supporters. They gained control of the territorial legislature in the October 1857 election. Two months later this new legislature was called into special session to deal with critical territorial problems. They met in the same Lecompton assembly hall that their political enemies had controlled only a few weeks before. Here they began to reform the laws of Kansas Territory according to their own beliefs. That work continued during later legislative sessions. In 1858 the assembly was moved from the proslavery capital of Lecompton to the free-state town of Lawrence. The Kansas Legislature approved the state to operate Constitution Hall State Historic Site in 1986. The site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1974.

Date: 1953

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Item Number: 228993
Call Number: FK2.D4 Le.79 *11
KSHS Identifier: DaRT ID: 228993

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