1954 3¢ Wheat Field and Wagon Train
Kansas Territory Issue
Issue Date: May 31, 1954
City: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
Color: Brown orange
U.S. #1061 highlights the 100-year anniversary of the Kansas Territory. Acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase, Kansas Territory experienced several years of civil unrest, from 1854-56, over whether to be admitted to the Union as a free state or a slave state. In 1861, Kansas finally became the 34th state of the Union, as a free state.
Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act on May 30, 1854, in an attempt to avert civil war. The act divided the former Nebraska Territory into two new territories – Kansas and Nebraska.
The act also allowed residents of Kansas and Nebraska territories to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery within their borders. The act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had banned slavery in most northwestern regions of the country.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act outraged many Northerners. They considered the Missouri Compromise to have been binding. Many in the pro-slavery South supported the new act.
Rather than stem the tide of war, the Kansas-Nebraska Act led to immediate hostilities. As the vote on slavery approached, abolitionists and pro-slavery factions rushed to the territories to influence the outcome.
In the first election, Kansas residents voted to allow slavery within their territory. Anti-slavery settlers alleged the vote was marred by fraud and rejected the results. They held a second election, one in which the pro-slavery faction refused to vote. Each group established their own legislature within the territory, operating in direct opposition to the other.
Violence soon erupted, led by abolitionist John Brown. The death toll rose, leading to the phrase “Bleeding Kansas.” To support the pro-slavery settlers, President Franklin Pierce ordered Federal troops into the area to stop the violence and remove the abolitionist legislature. A third election was held. Pro-slavery supporters prevailed and voter fraud was alleged once again.
As a result, Congress rejected the constitution adopted by the pro-slavery settlers and statehood was denied. In Kansas, anti-slavery settlers eventually outnumbered pro-slavery residents, and statehood was granted shortly before the start of the Civil War. Kansas was admitted as a free state. Nebraska, whose residents chose to ban slavery, was admitted as a state in 1867.