Definitions

Lecompton

Lecompton

Lecompton, small town, Douglas co., NE Kans., on the Kansas River between Lawrence and Topeka. The pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution was formulated (Sept., 1857) there, and was ratified (Dec., 1857) after an election in which voters were given a choice only between limited or unlimited slavery; free state men refused to cast their ballots. President James Buchanan urged Congress to admit Kansas as a slave state under the Lecompton Constitution, but Stephen A. Douglas and his followers broke with the pro-slavery Democrats, and the bill could not pass the House. At a subsequent election (Aug., 1858), Kansas voters decisively rejected the Lecompton Constitution. Kansas was later (1861) admitted as a free state.
Lecompton is a city in Douglas County, Kansas, United States. It is part of the Lawrence, Kansas Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 608 at the 2000 census. Lecompton played a major historical role in pre-Civil War America as the Territorial capital of Kansas from 1855 to 1861. This time period was known as Bleeding Kansas.

History

Lecompton was founded in 1854 and planted on a bluff on the south bank of the Kansas River. It was originally called "Bald Eagle", but then later changed to Lecompton in honor of Samuel D. Lecompte, the chief justice of the territorial supreme court. In the spring of 1855, the town became the official capital of the Kansas Territory. President James Buchanan appointed a governor and officials to establish government offices in Lecompton, and construction began on an elegant capitol building.

In the fall of 1857 a convention met in Constitution Hall and drafted the famous Lecompton Constitution, which would have admitted Kansas as a slave state. The constitution was rejected after intense national debate and was one of the prime topics of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The controversy contributed to the growing dispute soon to erupt in civil war. The Lecompton Constitution failed, in part, because the antislavery party won control of the territorial legislature in the election of 1857. The new legislature met at Constitution Hall and immediately began to abolish the pro-slavery laws. The victorious free-state leaders chose Topeka as capital when Kansas became a state in 1861.

At one time, Lecompton had six active churches. At present, one church, the United Methodist Church, is still located in a unique building. When the Lane building was sold to the school district, the former United Brethren Church bought the Windsor Hotel. For a comfortable, easily accessible meeting place, they removed part of the second floor making a large, beautiful, high ceiling sanctuary. They also renovated the basement to give them ample class room space. The church is unusual in its appearance both inside and out.

When the frame business buildings on the east side of main street (Elmore) were destroyed by fire in 1916, they were replaced with brick structures that are still in use. A mural depicting the town as it appeared before the fire is located in the local post office building.

In the 1880s there was some dissension in the United Brethren Church concerning secret organizations, causing the congregation to split. One group built another church on adjoining land which they named the Radical United Brethren Church. It burned about 1902 and a lovely limestone church replaced it. Today, the building is used as the City Hall and for many special occasions.

The Bleeding Kansas caused a rupture in the relations of the North and South. There was constant conflict between the pro-slavery and free-state factions. Lecompton was considered the center of the pro-slavery movement, which of course was unsuccessful. Kansas entered the Union on January 29, 1861, as a free state, and the American Civil War began.

In 1998, the Lecompton Historical Society had the good fortune to purchase and begin restoration on the remains of the native limestone Democratic Headquarters Building (circa 1850s). Originally there was a log cabin connected to the west side of this building located on East Second Street. Today, the historic building sits along the south limestone bluff of the Kansas River, overlooking the Kaw Valley basin to the north on a majestic Riverview Park area. This park area is open to visitors.

Geography

Lecompton is located at (39.042927, -95.395039).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.0 square miles (2.5 km²), of which, 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (9.18%) is water.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 608 people, 228 households, and 168 families residing in the city. The population density was 677.9 people per square mile (260.8/km²). There were 233 housing units at an average density of 259.8/sq mi (100.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.59% White, 0.16% African American, 2.96% Native American, 0.66% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 0.16% from other races, and 2.30% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.30% of the population.

There were 228 households out of which 41.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.8% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.3% were non-families. 21.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city the population was spread out with 31.6% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,281, and the median income for a family was $46,111. Males had a median income of $37,813 versus $20,577 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,433. About 4.4% of families and 4.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.

See also

References

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