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Sectionalism

at Battle of Lexington State Historic Site

"There is an intense excitement prevailing throughout our whole community on the alarming state of affairs in Kansas; and daily, almost hourly, rumors are spreading as to an anticipated collision of arms at the town of Laurence (sic). I pray God that it may not come to this. For the first drop of blood shed there, may, for ought of any one can see, be the opening of a fountain which can never be sealed, but must continue to widen and deepen till it becomes a crimson river." --- W.J. Davis, Lexington, Mo., Dec. 5, 1855

Lexington experienced the pangs of sectionalism long before the Civil War erupted. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act introduced the idea of "popular sovereignty" as the means of deciding whether slavery could be extended into the western territories of the United States. The act permitted legal residents to vote on whether they wished to live in a slave or free state; a concept first tested in Kansas, Missouri's neighbor to the west. A contest resulted. Which section of the country, slave or free, could send the greatest number of emigrants to Kansas and control the outcome of the Kansas vote?

Through written histories, personal accounts and newspaper articles, the students will be able to determine why sectionalism developed, explain how Kansas and Missouri warfare influenced national policy, and understand how sectionalism affected Lexington citizens.