- Wyandotte Constitution
The present Constitution of the State of Kansas was originally known as the Wyandotte Constitution to distinguish it from three proposed constitutions that preceded it. The Wyandotte Constitution was drawn up at Wyandotte (now part of Kansas City) in July 1859, and was the fourth constitution voted on by the people of Kansas Territory, as the battle between proslavery and antislavery forces during the Bleeding Kansas era spread to the debate over the terms of the new state's charter.
The Wyandotte Constitution was approved in a referendum by a vote of 10,421 to 5,530 on October 4, 1859. In April, 1860, the United States House of Representatives voted 134 to 73 to admit Kansas under the Wyandotte Constitution; however, there was resistance in the United States Senate. As slave states seceded from the Union, their senators left their seats and on January 21, 1861, the Senate passed the Kansas bill.
The admission of Kansas as a free state became effective January 29, 1861.
The constitution settled the terms of Kansas' admission to the United States, particularly establishing that it would be a free state rather than a slave state. The constitution represented a pragmatic compromise over hotly-contested issues: it rejected slavery and affirmed property rights for women and their right to participate in school elections, but also denied universal suffrage for women, blacks, and Indians. The previous proposed state constitutions were the Topeka Constitution of 1855, the Lecompton Constitution of 1857 and the Leavenworth Constitution of 1858.
Slavery is directly prohibited;
SEC. 6. There shall be no slavery in this State, and no involuntary servitude, except for the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
“ We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges, in order to insure the full enjoyment of our rights as American citizens, do ordain and establish the Constitution of the State of Kansas, with the following boundaries, to wit: Beginning at a point on the western boundary of the State of Missouri, where the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude crosses the same; thence running west on said parallel to the twenty-fifth meridian of longitude west from Washington; thence north on said meridian to the fortieth parallel of north latitude; thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the State of Missouri; thence south with the western boundary of said State to the place of beginning ”
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