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English Bill
Civil War Encyclopedia >> Politics
February 2, 1858 President Buchanan reiterates his support of the Lecompton Constitution to the Senate, which accepts the document 32-25 over the objections of Stephen Douglas Kansas
  James Buchanan
  Lecompton Constitution
  Stephen A. Douglas
March 23, 1858 Rather than rubber-stamp James Buchanan's desire to pass the Lecompton Constitution, the U. S. House votes to require resubmission after a vote.
April 23, 1858 In an attempt to force the acceptance of the Lecompton Constitution, a joint committee of Congress drafts the English Bill. Kansas
  Alexander Stephens
  William Seward
  Lecompton Constitution
April 30, 1858 The English Bill passes both houses of Congress
May 4, 1858 James Buchanan signs the English Bill
  Kansas becomes a state
  James Buchanan
August 2, 1858 In a straight up or down vote required by the U. S. Congress for admission, the Lecomption Constitution as modified by the English Bill is overwhelmingly defeated. It is so bad that both pro-slave and freestate factions vote against it. The state must approve a different constitution. Kansas
  Lecompton Constitution
  Kansas becomes a state


English Bill

The English Bill, named for Indiana Senator William English who chaired the joint committee that wrote the bill, represented the last ditch effort by Democrats to get Kansas in the United States under the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution. Among the notables who sat on the committee were Alexander Stephens, William Seward, and RMT Hunter.

To get admitted, Kansas would have to reduce its demand for 23.5 million acres of grant land (in the Lecompton Constitution) to a more normal 4 million acres. In exchange, the U. S. Government would lift the 90,000 person requirement for constitutional representation. The land grants that would not be guarrenteed if Kansas waited to approve a later constitution.

Democrats thought they had come up with a solution to the simmering issues Lecompton had raised. Stephen A. Douglas and James Buchanan had split over Lecompton, and the resulting mess in Washington had become ugly. This resubmitted Lecompton making the issue acreage and not slavery. The bill breezed through the Senate even without Douglas' support, but it had a tougher time in the House.

At the time the bill was viewed in a derogatory manner by both pro-slavery and pro-abolition factions in Kansas, making it one of the few things they agreed on. The Lecompton Constitution, as resubmitted by the English Bill was defeated.

Later Congressional investigations found the process was rigged by the Buchanan Administration and accused members of Congress of taking bribes to pass the bill.



Links appearing on this page:

Alexander Stephens
James Buchanan
Kansas
Stephen A. Douglas
William Seward

Civil War Encyclopedia >> Politics

English Bill was last changed on - December 2, 2006
English Bill was added on - November 26, 2006




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