The Sacking of Lawrence

Sacking of Lawrence
Date May 21, 1856
Location Douglas County, Kansas
Victor Pro-slavery victory
Abolitionists (Free State) Slave States
Military Leaders
No leaders Samuel Jones
Casualties and Deaths
Total: Total:
1 Wounded 1 Dead
Part of the American Civil War

In 1854, the town of Lawrence was founded in the state of Kansas. Explicitly established for anti-slavery proponents, a group of settlers migrated here to create a life without the horrific practice of slavery. The migration did not go as planned, as these settlers found themselves in the middle of a bidding war. Their dreams of Kansas being a free state were challenged by that of a group of radicals known as the “Border Ruffians.”

A Battle Ensues

As the center of an anti-slavery movement, Lawrence was an easy target for those with a different stance. The Border Ruffians wished to claim the state for Missouri and further expand the slave trade out west. As the disagreeing sides of the anti-slavery citizens of Lawrence and the almost 800 men of the Border Ruffians continued to go back and forth on the issue of slavery, a storm was brewing. In the summer of 1856, the almost 2,000 citizens of Lawrence experienced an attack by a posse of nearly 800 men.

The men specifically targeted the town’s newspaper offices, the Herald of Freedom and the Kansas Free State. As the posse stormed the town, they proceeded to ruin the presses and the typewriters of the newspaper offices. Despite the firing of cannons, fires set ablaze, and robberies, there was only one fatality during the whole ordeal. The sacking of Lawrence was enough however to set the stage for what would later become the Civil War.

The Sacking of Lawrence on May 21, 1856 was one of many attacks on the small anti-slavery town. It was also the beginning of many battles over the Kansas territory as politicians made cases as to why they should take the territory into possession. The sacking energized both sides, especially the northern states, and ignited a flame that would last for many years to come.

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