Bleeding Kansas, 150th anniversary of the dispersion of the Free State Legislature, Topeka, July 3, 1856

Constitution Hall: The Mural

Mural depicts the front of Constitution Hall at the time the Free State Legislature was meeting, July 1856. The southern portion of the building known as Constitution Hall depicts the dispersion of the Free State Legislature by federal troops, led by Col. Edwin V. Sumner, hismelf an abolutionist. The Legislature disbanded when cannons were pointed at the building and slow fuses were lit. John Brown as a painted cut-out reproduction is displayed across the street from Constitution Hall, in front of the main Topeka post office.
visualization of the dispersion three current store fronts comprise the State Row space

From the brochure:
The Free State Capitol:

Constitutuion Hall

   Free-soilers organized the Topeka Movement in 1855. Meeting at Constitution Hall, located in the 400 block of South Kansas Aveune in Topeka, their constitution banned salvery. Intent on winning Kansas, the proslavery members of Congress were provoked and asked President Franklin Pierce to intervene. Federal troops were called to disperse the Topeka legislature at point of bayonet and cannon on July 4, 1856.
   The Topeka Constitution gave form to the abolitionist cause, and its laws and provisions against slavery were incorporated into the Wyandotte Constitution, under which Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861.

State Row

    The state government organized and in 1863 a temporary Capitol was built around Constitution Hall. Known as State Row, the building complex was used until 1869 when state offices were moved to the east wing of the present State Capitol. Significant legislation enacted at State Row includes that of railroad expansion and suffrage.

[Note: When streets to the west of Topeka Boulevard were named for U.S. presidents, the name of Franklin Pierce was purposefully omitted. There is no "Pierce St." in Topeka.]

Topeka & Shawnee Co. Public Library: The Dedication

current family members of the Topekan who helped build Contitution Hall Display material that will appear on-site concerning Topeka's Constitution Hall Stuart Yoho, library employee, entertains those gathering for the dedication with some period banjo music
observing activities in the rotunda from above those who gathered, seen from the winding staircase to the library's second floor

Richard Forester, Director, Visit Topeka, Inc.

The Constitution Hall mural was dedicated at the Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library on Monday, July 3, 2006.

rotunda at time of the dedication of Constitution Hall mural

Gina Millsap, Director, Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library Mayor Bill Bunten welcomes all James Hill, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Porgram, National Park Service
Honorable, Terry Bullock, State District Court Judge remarks on the events of July 4, 1856 Lewellyn Crane, Director of Kansas Arts Commission, reads a proclaimation from Governor Kathleen Sebelius Susan Marchant, TSCPL Topeka Room, speaks of her ancestor who came early to settle in Topeka and was involved with Constitution Hall
Don Lambert did introductions and Dedicated the mural at Constitution Hall site Her ancestor helped build Constitution Hall Reverend DAvid Watson, Susannah Wesley United Methodist Church provided invocation as Michelle Lassiter plays Battle Hymn of the Republic on violin

crowds mingled with speakers after the event

library staff, includes reenactor


All photos © 2006 by Carol Yoho
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