Soon after the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed, the Massachusetts (New England) Emigrant Aid Society sent 200 “Free-Staters” (anti-slavery) to counteract the influences of southern states and neighboring Missouri who were strongly pro-slavery. The Massachusetts group was joined by similar organizations and responsible for the creation of the towns of Lawrence and Manhattan, Kansas. Lawrence would eventually become the center of the anti-slavery movement.
Missouri counties bordering Kansas were strongly in favor of slavery – so strong was the pro-slavery sentiment that Senator David Atchison sent 1,700 men from Missouri to Kansas to vote in the Kansas 1854 election. These were the so-called “Border Ruffians” who helped (illegally) elect a pro-slavery Kansas territorial delegate to Congress. Their votes were later ruled invalid, but that didn’t stop them from sending up 5,000 for the next election in 1855 which would elect the Kansas Territorial Legislature.