Constitution Hall


Lecompton Constitution Hall, also known as Constitution Hall, is a building in Lecompton, Kansas that played a role in the long-running Bleeding Kansas crisis. It is operated by the Kansas Historical Society as Constitution Hall State Historic Site.HistoryDuring 1857 this building was one of the busiest and most important in Kansas Territory. Thousands of settlers and speculators filed claims in the United States land office on the first floor. They sometimes fought hand-to-hand for their share of the rich lands that were opening for settlement. The government was removing the Native Americans from Kansas to make their lands available to whites.Upstairs the district court periodically met to try to enforce the territorial laws. Most free-state people refused to obey these laws because they had been passed by the proslavery territorial legislature. This resistance made law enforcement nearly impossible for territorial officials. Time after time the territorial governors called out federal troops from Fort Leavenworth or Fort Riley to maintain order.In January 1857 the second territorial legislative assembly met on the upper floor. Although still firmly proslavery, this group removed some of the earlier laws that their antislavery neighbors opposed.The Lecompton Constitutional Convention met that fall in this same second-floor assembly room. The purpose of the convention was to draft a constitution to gain statehood for Kansas. Newspaper correspondents from across the country gathered to report on the meetings. Many Americans feared a national civil war if the convention could not satisfy both proslavery and antislavery forces. Regrettably, compromise proved impossible because proslavery men dominated the convention. They created a document that protected slavery no matter how the people of Kansas Territory voted. This was intolerable for their antislavery opponents, who refused to participate in what they considered to be an illegal government. Eventually the Lecompton Constitution was defeated at the national level. It never went into effect.


319 Elmore St
Lecompton, KS


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