John Brown, Bleeding Kansas

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 really lit the fuse of the Civil War.  The measure allowed citizens in those territories to decide whether or not to allow slavery.

Pro-slavery and abolitionist settlers raced into Kansas, trying to influence the vote.  And instead of civil debate, violence broke out.  Pro-slavery forces ransacked the town of Lawrence in May 1856.  A few days later, John Brown (photo) and his followers massacred five pro-slavery men at Pottawatomie Creek.

In all, an estimated 59 people died in “Bleeding Kansas” between 1854 and 1859.  Of course, even more died starting two years later.

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