Here in 1855 in the new town of Topeka, Free State delegates banned slavery in the Topeka Constitution. Their actions opposed the Territorial government and challenged the balance of power in Washington.
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Constitution Hall is in the National Register of Historic Places for its "well-documented and highly important events of national significance that focused the nationwide attention of slavery proponents and abolitionists on the issue of Kansas sovereignty and territorial law. The issue became one of the nation's leading and most widely debated political crises in the years prior to the Civil War, and this property alone represents the important events related to the free state movement and the drafting of the first antislavery constitution took place in Topeka between 1855-1860."
Yet to be restored, the building interprets the Free State Topeka Movement, the Underground Railroad on the Jim Lane Trail, Dispersal of the Free State Legislature and represents its role as the first stone building and convention hall in what became the Kansas capital city.
Constitution Hall-Topeka is a partner in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, which recognizes the building for the Topeka Constitution banning slavery and for its role as the quartermaster's depot in protection of the Jim Lane trail to freedom in the north.
The Free State Topeka Constitution declared "There shall be no Slavery in this State." This narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives while pro slavery leaders held it back in the Senate. Abolitionists formed the Free State government after antislavery residents were shut out of the March 1855 Territorial elections.
DISPERSAL OF THE FREE STATE LEGISLATURE
Proclamations by President Franklin Pierce attempted to prevent Free State settlers in their federal right to vote freely in elections. Pierce effected the Dispersal of the Topeka Legislature on the Fourth of July in 1856 when U.S. Army Colonel Edwin Vose Sumner marched 400 troops to Constitution Hall and, with cannon fuses lit, broke-up the meeting.
QUARTERMASTER'S DEPOT ON THE JIM LANE TRAIL
Constitution Hall was base of operations for this critical free trade and escape route to freedom in the North and Canada.
The frontier-era building of native stone became part of the first Kansas Statehouse from 1863 to 1869. With assistance by the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, the City of Topeka and private citizens, the west and south walls were restored in 2012. An adjoining green space will interpret Topeka's history of freedom events.
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