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File:Bleeding Kansas Poster.jpg

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Image from "Kansas State Board of Agriculture First Biennial Report" (Rand, McNally & Co., Printers and Engravers, Chicago: 1878) -- protest against the actions of the Kansas territorial legislature, 1855. Text of document reads as follows:

The Day of Our Enslavement!! — To-day, September 15, 1855, is the day on which the iniquitous enactment of the illegitimate, illegal and fraudulent Legislature has declared commences the prostration of the right of speech and the curtailment of the liberty of the press. To-day commences an era in Kansas which, unless the sturdy voice of the people, backed, if necessary, by 'strong arms and the sure eye,' shall teach the tyrants who attempt to enthrall us, the lesson which our fathers taught the kingly tyrants of old, shall prostrate us in the dust, and make us the slave of an oligarchy worse than the veriest despotism on earth.

To-day commences the operation of a law which declares:

'SEC.12, If any free person, by speaking or by writing, assert or maintain that persons have not the right to hold slaves in this Territory, or shall introduce into this Territory, print, publish, write, circulate or cause to be introduced into this Territory, written, printed, published or circulated in this Territory any book, paper, magazine, pamphlet or circular, containing any denial of the right of persons to hold slaves in this Territory, such person shall be deemed guilty of felony and punished by imprisonment at hard labor for a term of not less than two years.'

Now we do assert and declare, despite all the bolts and bars of the iniquitous Legislature of Kansas, 'that persons have not the right to hold slaves in this Territory,' and we will emblazon it upon our banner in letters so large and in language so plain that the infatuated invaders who elected the Kansas Legislature, as well as that corrupt and ignorant Legislature itself, may understand it, so that, if they cannot read they may spell it out, and meditate and deliberate upon it; and we hold that the man who fails to utter this self-evident truth, on account of the insolent enactment alluded to, is a poltroon and a slave — worse than the black slaves of our persecutors and oppressors.

The Constitution of the United States — the great Magna Carta of American liberties — guarantees to every citizen the liberty of speech and the freedom of the press. And this is the first time in the history of America that a body claiming legislative powers has dared to attempt to wrest them from the people. And it is not only the right, but bounden duty of every freeman to spurn with contempt and trample underfoot any enactment which thus basely violates the rights of freemen. For our part we do, and shall continue to, utter this truth so long as we have the power of utterance, and nothing but the brute force of an overbearing tyranny can prevent us.

Will any citizen — any free American — brook the insult of an insolent gag law, the work of a legislature enacted by bullying ruffians who invaded Kansas with arms, and whose drunken revelry and insults to our peaceable, unoffending and comparatively unarmed citizens were a disgrace to manhood, and a burlesque upon popular Republican government? If they do, they are slaves already, and with them freedom is but a mockery.
Source Kansas State Board of Agriculture First Biennial Report
Author Rand, McNally & Co., Printers and Engravers, Chicago


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