The Lecompton Constitution was one of four proposed Kansas state constitutions. The Lecompton Constitutional Convention was held in September, 1857 in Lecompton, Kansas Territory. The Lecompton Constitution supported the existence of slavery in the proposed state and protected rights of slaveholders.


In addition, the constitution provided for a referendum that allowed voters the choice of allowing more slaves to enter the territory. Boycotted by free-staters, the referendum concerning additional slaves to the Kansas Territory was passed overwhelmingly. Eventually when President Buchanan attempted to steer the Lecompton Constitution through Congress, it reached a deadlock, causing the Democratic party split between Douglas and Breckinridge. A proposal for another referendum gave the people of Kansas the opportunity to either reject or accept the Constitution in its entirety with the proviso that rejection would delay statehood. Despite the proviso, the Constitution was rejected by Kansans, and Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state in 1861. The other proposed state constitutions were the Topeka Constitution, the Leavenworth Constitution and the Wyandotte Constitution. Democrats opposed to the constitution were known as Anti-Lecompton Democrats.

Excerpt from the Lecompton Constitution

SECTION 1. The right of property is before and higher than any constitutional sanction, and the right of the owner of a slave to such slave and its increase is the same and as inviolable as the right of the owner of any property whatever.

SECTION 2. The Legislature shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slave without the consent of the owners, or without paying the owners previous to their emancipation a full equivalent in money for the slaves so emancipated. They shall have no power to prevent immigrants to the State from bringing with them such persons as are deemed slaves by the laws of any one of the United States or Territories, so long as any person of the same age or description shall be continued in slavery by the laws of this State: Provided, That such person or slave be the bona fide property of such immigrants: And provided, also, That laws may be passed to prohibit the introduction into this State of slaves who have committed high crimes in other States or Territories. They shall have power to pass laws to permit the owners of slaves to emancipate them, saving the rights of creditors, and preventing them from becoming a public charge. They shall have power to pass laws to permit the owners of slaves to treat them with humanity, to provide for them necessary food and clothing, to abstain from all injuries to them extending to life or limb; and, in case of their neglect or refusal to comply with the direction of such laws, to have such slave sold for the benefit of the owner or owners.

SECTION 3. In the prosecution of slaves for crimes of higher grade than petit larceny, the Legislature shall have no power to deprive them of an impartial trial by petit jury.

SECTION 4. Any person who shall maliciously dismember, or deprive a slave of life, shall suffer such punishment as would be inflicted in case the like offense had been committed on a free white person, and on the like proof, except in case of insurrection of such slave.

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