May 21, 1856
Things are heating up as pro-slavers raid Lawrence, Kansas, killing one man. This initial raid on Lawrence occurred on May 21, 1856, even before the Civil War started, when pro-slavery activists attacked and ransacked the town of Lawrence, Kansas, which had been founded by anti-slavery settlers to help ensure that Kansas would become a “free state”. The incident only made worse the guerrilla war in Kansas Territory that became known as Bleeding Kansas.
The trouble began on April 23, 1856, when Douglas County Sheriff Samuel J. Jones was shot while trying to arrest free-state settlers in
Lawrence. Jones belonged to the pro-slavery faction and was using the law to try and drive out the free-state settlers to control the voting that was to determine whether Kansas would become a slave state or a free state. After wounding Sheriff Jones, the residents drove him out of town. Three weeks later, on May 11, Federal Marshal J. B. Donaldson made the decision their act had interfered with the execution of a legal judicial process against the extra-legal Free-State legislature, which had been set up in opposition to the official pro-slavery territorial government. Based on this proclamation, as well the finding by a grand jury that Lawrence’s Free State Hotel was actually built to use as a fort, Sheriff Jones assembled a posse of about 800 southern settlers to enter Lawrence, disarm the citizens, destroy the anti-slavery presses, and dismantle the Free State Hotel.
This raid is often confused with the Lawrence Massacre, led by William Clarke Quantrill, but that massacre took place seven years later on August 21, 1863.
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