Popular Sovereignty and the Lecompton Constitution
7th - 8th
This lesson deals with the issue of popular sovereignty and the Lecompton
Constitution. The Kansas-Nebraska Act created Kansas Territory. It also stated that the state constitution would decide the issue of slavery in the state of Kansas. Slavery would be allowed or prohibited depending upon the constitution territorial voters approved. Both sides in the struggle, free-state and proslavery, were determined to have the state constitution reflect their point of view.
The Lecompton Constitution is a confusing issue set in an even more confusing time. period, that of Kansas Territory. The Lecompton Constitution is easiest to understand when examined through the series of steps needed to create a state constitution.
That is how this lesson explores the constitution. It is also important to remember that in regard to the Lecompton Constitution the issue is popular sovereignty even though the controversy is over slavery. The popular sovereignty process (people deciding) is what will bring about the solution to the controversy (slavery). The Kansas-Nebraska Act gave this power to the people of Kansas Territory, and makes the Lecompton Constitution an important document in the history of both Kansas and the United States.
Kansas social studies:
KH7B2I1: Explains the concept of popular
sovereignty under the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
- 8S1B4I8: Explains cause-effect relationships in appropriate-level expository texts.
- The Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed popular sovereignty to determine the issue of slavery for the state of Kansas.
- cause and effect
- reading comprehension (organize and analyze information)
- problem solving
- How was the issue of slavery to be decided in Kansas?
- What threatened the success of popular sovereignty in Kansas Territory?
- Cause and effect graphic organizer
- Compare, contrast, and analyze graphic organizer
- Quickly review the Kansas-Nebraska Act, popular sovereignty, and the steps in developing a constitution in Kansas Territory (see the Teaching Instructions section of this lesson).
- Use the Student Reading and the cause & effect worksheet, “Making Sense of the Lecompton Constitution,”to explore the creation of the Lecompton Constitution.
- Assign groups of students to use the 1858 Congressional Debate cards and the worksheet “Congress Must Act!” to analyze the Lecompton Constitution in terms of popular sovereignty.
- Have students share possible solutions they believe Congress should have considered.
- Tell the class what Congress actually decided and the final outcome for the Lecompton Constitution using information in the teaching background portion of this lesson.
This lesson plan was originally prepared by the Education and Outreach Division, Kansas State Historical Society for Territorial Kansas Online. The standards cited in the pdf form of the lesson plan were those from the 1999 Kansas State Standards. On this preview of the lesson we have made every attempt to match them to the current 2004-05 State Standards.