Here in 1855, resident settlers wrote the antislavery Topeka Constitution, organized escapes over the Lane Trail to Freedom, and the first Free State legislature met on the Fourth of July in 1856, but was forcibly dispersed. From 1864-69 it was the first Kansas Statehouse.
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When restored this unique capitol of the Free State Kansas government, first proposed here in 1855, will interpret antislavery and abolitionist leadership. Constitution Hall-Topeka is a partner in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Here in 1855, the Free State Topeka"Constitution declared "There shall be no Slavery in this State." This passed the U.S. House of Representatives but southern leaders held it from a vote in the Senate. Abolitionists formed the Free State government after antislavery residents were shut out of Territorial elections taken over by Missourians in March of 1855.
DISPERSAL OF THE FREE STATE LEGISLATURE
President Franklin Pierce bowed to pro slavery interests by attempting to prevent Free State settlers from proposing a State government in which they could vote under the rights proscribed by the U.S. Constitution. An action of dispersal occurred on the Fourth of July in 1856, when U.S. Army Colonel Edwin V. Sumner marched 400 troops on horseback to Topeka. In front of Constitution Hall, with cannon fuses lit, he broke-up the Free State legislature. Free State governor Charles Robinson and many other free staters were already under arrest by demands of forces sympathetic to the South, based in nearby Lecompton. The free staters were jailed at Camp Sackett, also in in Douglas County.
QUARTERMASTER'S DEPOT ON THE JIM LANE TRAIL
Constitution Hall was the base of operations for this critical free trade and escape route to freedom in the North and Canada. People escaping slavery were escorted to Topeka from Underground Railroad conductors around the Territory, then escorted northward.
The Topeka " Free State" constitution, written in 1855 in Constitution Hall, set Kansas on the path to statehood, achieved six years later in 1861. This frontier building of native stone became part of the Kansas Statehouse from 1863 to 1869. With the assistance of 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 the role of Constitution Hall in events of the Lane Trail to Freedom and Free State resident independence from forces outside Kansas.
National Park Service Report on Constitution Hall-Topeka - Download
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