The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the U.S. Congress on May 30, 1854. The act repealed the Missouri Compromise which had created an imaginary line across the former Louisiana Territory that established a boundary of free and slave regions. The Kansas-Nebraska Act made it possible for settlers of a territory to decide whether to have slavery or not have slavery within the borders of a new state. As a result of this act, conflicts between pro-slavery settlers and anti-slavery settlers contributed to a violent period of time called Bleeding Kansas in the Kansas Territory and its neighboring state of Missouri. This led to the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.
The following page of a letter is from the Historical Kansas Collection within the Special Collections. It was written by Henry Shaw to his cousin Thomas Shaw on November 22, 1857. Henry was a resident of Lawrence, Kansas and Thomas lived in Norwich, New York. Most of the letter gives details about living in Kansas because Henry was trying to get his cousin to come here to farm. There is mention on one of the pages about Lawrence and how it had burned once. It appears that Henry was a free stater.
“Lawrence is a nice town for one so young & so much to contend with being burned once & trouble the most of the time for here has been the centre of all their black damning deeds if I may be allowed the expression. But it is peaceable times here now & we or free state men carried the election without trouble & she is bound to be free or the soil of Kansas will drink the blood of thousands of free men for the majority will hardly submit to a minority so trivial as this Terr. presents. You can buy at the stores here all the comforts that you could in Norw. I belive there is four churches & over than twenty stores & filled to the roof (More at the top of the page)- Now you don’t put off writing & never answer this. My best regards to your wife and the best wishes of your cousin Henry B. Shaw.”