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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - questions 1
Questions for Classroom Discussion
Prepared by Jack Bareilles
History Teacher, McKinleyville High School, McKinleyville, CA

Two Letters Regarding Bleeding Kansas
1.
For what reason in the spring of 1855 did five of John Brown's sons move to
Osawatomie, Kansas on the banks of Pottawatomie Creek?
2.
What can we speculate about John Brown's motives when we read that upon learning that
the anti-slavery cause was in trouble and in need of weapons, Brown loaded a wagon
with rifles and broadswords and headed for Osawatomie?
3.
The proslavery territorial legislature (Kansas wasn't yet a state and wouldn't become one
until 1861) passed a series of laws forbidding what two things?
4.
How would you have reacted to the two laws passed by the Kansas territorial legislature
if you had been an abolitionist?
5.
What amendment to the U.S. Constitution did one of the laws violate?
6.
Because they were so angry at the pro-slavery territorial legislature, what "unsanctioned"
organization did the anti-slavery and free-state settlers organize?
7.
As both free and slave state supporters started to fight, the violence escalated, until what
happened on May 21, 1856 (supposedly in response to the beating of a pro-slavery
sheriff)?
8.
Why do you think the pro-slavery forces chose Lawrence, Kansas as their target?
9.
What was John Brown's motive for launching his attack on pro-slavery settlers in the
aftermath of the attack on and burning of Lawrence, Kansas?
10.
What happened the night of May 24, 1856?

The Letters

A Son's Praise of His Father's Plight
11.
What happened to John Brown Jr. after pro-slavery forces captured him?

12.
What does the author mean when he states, "By now Kansas had descended into all out
guerrilla war"?
13.
What commonly held belief or sentiment does John Brown Jr. express about the only way
to end the fighting?

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