fugitive slave law

john brown

bleeding kansas

Assessment Plan

Curriculum Goals


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Bleeding Kansas

"Bleeding Kansas" is a term that is used to refer to the conflict between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers in the state of Kansas in the 1850's. Activists from both sides rushed to Kansas to help decide the state's view on slavery. Please read the following excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on the topic to refresh your memory before continuing.

Bleeding Kansas, sometimes referred to in history as Bloody Kansas or the Border War, was a sequence of violent events involving Free-Staters (anti-slavery) and pro-slavery "Border Ruffians" elements that took place in Kansas Territory and the western frontier towns of the U.S. state of Missouri between roughly 1854 and 1858 attempting to influence whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state. The term "Bleeding Kansas" was coined by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune. The events in Bleeding Kansas directly presaged the American Civil War.

Your task during this activity is to write a letter to the editor of a national newspaper from the perspective of a pro-slavery or anti-slavery settler in Kansas trying to convince the public to share your view. You will complete this task using the accompanying wiki site for this course.

1. Begin by reading the following articles about Bleeding Kansas:

Africans in America - Bleeding Kansas

Fort Scott National Historic Site - Bleeding Kansas

Bleeding Kansas - A Narrative Guide to the Sources

James Horton on Bleeding Kansas

Keep the following questions in mind while reading the articles:

2. Use the following RAFT format to make a draft of your letter to the editor:

Role- Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery Kansas settler

Audience- national newspaper audience

Format- letter to the editor

Topic- Should slavery be allowed in Kansas?

Be sure to write accurately as your chosen role!

3. Access the companion wiki for this website.

4. Click on either the "Pro-Slavery Letters" or "Anti-Slavery Letters" link on the left of the page.

5. Click on "Edit This Page" near the top of the page and scroll down to the bottom of the text box.

6. Type your letter to the editor (be sure to identify yourself as well), and click on "Save" in the lower right corner.

You can use the rubric below to help you complete this activity.




Students create a document that includes:

  • Clearly stated position appropriate to the role chosen.
  • Explanation of an applicable Core Democratic Value.
  • Appropriately formatted letter.
  • At least one example that backs the writer’s opinion.


Students create a document that includes:

  • Clearly stated position on the issue.
  • 2 of the 3 remaining elements.


Students create a document that includes:

  • Clearly stated position on the issue.
  • 1 of the 3 remaining elements.


Students create a document that includes:

  • Clearly stated position on the issue.
  • 0 of the 3 remaining elements.

Continue on to the Assessment Plan page