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For two years a state of open warfare existed. Armed bands of border ruffians from Missouri made forays into Kansas and were answered by retaliatory companies of Jayhawkers. Men were called out into the night and shot down for no other reason than that they supported or were suspected of supporting the opposite cause. Women and children, regardless of age or condition, were driven from their homes with only the clothing on their backs. Fields were laid waste and towns were sacked, all in the name of the cause, but more often to gratify personal revenge or avarice. On May 19, 1858, a band of proslavery men, led by Charles A. Hamelton, gathered eleven Free State men of Linn County whom Hamelton wished out of the way, herded them into a ravine near the Marais des Cygnes River in the vicinity of Trading Post, and shot them down. 

Under such conditions the gubernatorial office was a hazardous position. In seven years six governors and five acting governors came and went, the Territorial capital was moved about like a chessman, and three State constitutions were written and rejected. Martial law prevailed intermittently, and Free State leaders were indicted and imprisoned for high treason. 

Eventually the proslavery party was shorn of its power. Although openly approved by the Federal Government under Pierce and again under Buchanan, it was always in the minority and had assumed control only by the highhanded policies of its allies from Missouri. In time the Free State party became too powerful to be bullied. The census of 1860 showed a population of 107,206, of which more than seventy per cent was antislavery. 

An election was held March 28, 1859, to decide whether another constitutional convention should be called; an affirmative vote was polled. Delegates convened at Wyandotte on July 5 to frame a fourth constitution, which declared that, "All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It was ratified by vote of the Territory on October 4, and the bill for admission to the Union was immediately submitted to Congress. The bill was passed by the Senate on January 21, 1861, by the House on January 28, and signed by the President on January 29, making Kansas the thirty-fourth State. 

During this period, Kansas entertained some noted visitors. Horace Greeley came to the Territory in May 1859, and on December i Abraham Lincoln arrived to make campaign speeches in Elwood, Troy, Doniphan, Atchison, and Leavenworth. Four years later, December 22, 1863, John Wilkes Booth appeared at Leavenworth in Richard III. 

In June 1859 a drought set in and continued until November 1860. Crops had been neglected because of guerrilla warfare, and no surplus had been accumulated; the result was famine. Many quit their claims in despair and left the Territory. Those who remained were obliged to look to the East for relief. The New York legislature voted $50,000 for that purpose, and other States were equally generous. 

But despite tumult and calamity the eastern part of Kansas had made some progress. Forty counties had been set up with a generous sprinkling of frontier towns. A weekly mail schedule linked the Territory with the Pacific Coast by means of stagecoach and pony express, while steamboats on the Missouri and Kansas Rivers connected it with the East. There were more than twenty newspapers, a State Historical Society had been formed, churches were numerous, and a State school system had been organized. Tentative provisions had been made for the University of Lawrence, for a penitentiary, and for other State institutions. Tracks for the first railroad, the Elwood and Marysville (now the Union Pacific), had been laid, and industry and agriculture were developing.