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Constitution Making

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Cheatham, Gary L. “‘Slavery All the Time or Not At All’: The Wyandotte Constitution Debate, 1859-1861.” Kansas History 21 (Autumn 1998): 168-187. The overwhelming electoral success of the Wyandotte Constitution in October 1859 changed the nature of the political debate in Kansas Territory but did not, as Cheatham demonstrates, mean an end to the “opposition,” which continued until the eve of the Civil War to oppose key provisions of the constitution and espouse a pro-Southern ideology.

Connelley, William E. “The First Provisional Constitution of Kansas.” Kansas Historical Collections, 1897-1900 6 (1900): 97-113. Connelly offers some background on the constitution of “Nebraska” prepared by Wyandot Indians in 1853.

Crawford, George A. “The Candle-box Under the Woodpile.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1907-1908 10 (1908): 196-204. The discovery of fraudulent ballots and revelations regarding John Calhoun’s role in the January 1858 affair caused Governor Robert J. Walker to oppose pro-slave efforts to gain Kansas’s admission under the Lecompton Constitution.

Elbert, E. Duane. “The English Bill: An Attempt to Compromise the Lecompton Dilemma.” Kansas History 1 (Winter 1978): 219-234. Introduced by Illinois congressman William H. English, this bill provided for the August 1858 referendum on the constitution and, according to Elbert, managed to “soft pedal Kansas as a national issue, and thus it helped delay the national holocaust for a few more years.”

Elliott, R. G. “The Big Springs Convention.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1903-1904 8 (1904): 362-377. First significant free-state assembly, September 1855, called to counter actions of “bogus” legislature and led to the founding of the Topeka Movement.

Gaeddert, G. Raymond. The Birth of Kansas. Lawrence: University of Kansas Publications, 1940. This detailed and reliable account of political events leading to Kansas statehood emphasizes the Wyandotte convention and constitution of 1859.

Gower, Calvin W. “Kansas Territory and Its Boundary Question: `Big Kansas' or `Little Kansas'.” Kansas Historical Quarterly 33 (Spring 1967): 1-12. Gower examines the pros and cons of this issue; the former would have retained the Continental Divide as the state’s western border and extend its northern boundary line to the Platte River.

Johannsen, Robert W. “The Lecompton Constitutional Convention: An Analysis of its Membership.” Kansas Historical Quarterly 23 (Autumn 1957): 225-243. Delegates to this 1857 pro-slave gathering, that sparked a major national debate and split the national Democratic Party, were denounced by free-staters at the time and “have been generally condemned by subsequent generations of historians,” but the author’s analysis here reveals a very different convention, far removed from its “Border Ruffian” image.

Kansas Constitutional Convention: A Reprint of the Proceedings and Debates of the Convention which Framed the Constitution of Kansas at Wyandotte in July, 1859. Topeka: Kansas State Printing Plant, 1920. This version of the 1859 proceedings, provides convenient access to most of the documents along with a variety of historical sketches.

Martin, George W. “The Boundary Lines of Kansas.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1909-1910 11 (1910): 53-74. Martin examines the background and delegate discussions that led to the establishment of the state’s present borders at the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention of 1859.

"Papers Relating to the Constitutions of Kansas, 1855-1861.” Kansas Historical Collections, 1897-1900 6 (1900): 384-393. An elaborate, useful name index of sources for all four conventions and their constitution: Topeka, Lecompton, Leavenworth, and Wyandotte.

Perdue, Rose M. “The Sources of the Constitutions of Kansas.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1901-1902 7 (1902): 130-151. Perdue’s remains an important work, evaluating as it does the role of various delegates at the Wyandotte Convention and their ties to earlier states of residence and comparing earlier constitutions with the one adopted for Kansas, July 1859.

Price, David H. “Sectionalism in Nebraska: When Kansas Considered Annexing Southern Nebraska, 1856-1860.” Nebraska History 53 (Winter 1972): 446-462. The movement to make Nebraska south of the Platte River a part of Kansas Territory began as early as 1856 under the leadership of Sterling Morton, and was championed by the twelve-member honorary delegation from the region that attended the Wyandotte Convention in July 1859.

Robinson, Charles. “Topeka and her Constitution.” Kansas Historical Collections, 1897-1900 6 (1900): 291-305. Personal remembrance of a principal reflecting on Kansas’s first free-state constitution, drafted by a Topeka convention in October 1855.

Simpson, Benjamin F. “The Wyandotte Constitution.” Kansas Historical Collections 1875-1878 1-2 (1881): 236-247. At age 23 years, Simpson was the youngest delegate to the 1859 convention; these are his reflections on some of his fellow constitution makers. An address by Simpson, “The Wyandotte Convention,” can be found in the Kansas Historical Collections 3 (1883-1885): 385-389.

Stampp, Kenneth M. America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Giving considerable attention given to the Lecompton movement and its nationwide influence, Stampp illuminated President Buchanan’s belief if the Kansas question could be resolved “harmony between the sections” would be restored.

Thacher, T. Dwight. “The Leavenworth Constitutional Convention.” Kansas Historical Collections, 1883-1885 3 (1886): 5-15. Thacher, a convention delegate from Lawrence, explains the rationale for this 1858 convention, Kansas' third; see also his “The Rejected Constitutions,” 436-448.

Waters, Joseph G. “Fifty Years of the Wyandotte Constitution.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1909-1910 11 (1910): 47-52. Waters holds that “conservatism of other states” was reflected in this document despite Kansas’s extraordinary beginnings and, although generally a good instrument, “It was a mistake not to include woman suffrage.”

"What Might Have Happened had Lecompton Prevailed.” Kansas Historical Collection, 1907-1908 10 (1908): 216-223. Includes reprints of Thomas Ewing, Jr., and Charles Robinson letters from December 1857 -May 1858.


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