To the editor:
The Lawrence Journal-World reported (May 20) Gov. Sam Brownback as saying “the Lecompton Constitution galvanized average Kansans to reject ‘an institution that was an abomination. We started the fight to end slavery.’”
Let’s not forget some relevant details. The constitution, written in 1857, was an openly pro-slavery document that was actually intended to galvanize Kansans in favor of slavery, not against it. It included statements such as, “The Legislature shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves without the consent of the owners” (from Article VII. — Slavery). It was written by Kansans who sought to enshrine slavery and protect the rights of slaveholders even though the majority of settlers in the territory were abolitionists who had been galvanized against slavery before they ever arrived here.
In remembering the Lecompton Constitution, let’s not forget that, like the Board of Education of Topeka in the historic Brown v. Board decision almost 100 years later, it represented the side that lost. The people who supported it were in the wrong. What we celebrate is the Lecompton Constitution’s democratic defeat.