The Topeka Constitution
One-hundred and fifty three years ago on this day in people’s history, delegates gathered for the Topeka Constitutional Convention in Kansas. On October 23rd, 1855, the first attempt to draft a constitution to establish the then-territory as a state took place in the political context of the struggle for free vs. slave states. The convention was convened in direct response to the pro-slavery territorial legislature which came to power through questionable elections the spring before. The newly drafted Topeka Constitution, approved in December 1855, contained provisions such as Article one, section 6 which declared that “there shall be no slavery in this state, nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime.” However, it also contained language that limited suffrage to “every white male person and every civilized male Indian who has adopted the habits of the white man.”
Seriously, what was the matter with Kansas?