North America 1855: Bleeding Kansas
In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act created the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening them up for settlement and granting them the right to choose whether or not to allow slavery through popular vote. The result was an influx of pro- and anti-slavery elements into Kansas in a bid to determine which way the vote would go, with both sides often resorting to violence. The dispute would not be resolved until 1859, when a final referendum confirmed Kansas’ status as a free state.
1 Mar 1854–4 Aug 1855 Ayutla Revolution▲
Starting in Ayutla, Guerrero, Mexican Republic, a liberal revolution forced dictator Santa Anna to resign from office.
31 Mar 1854 Convention of Kanagawa▲
After returning to Japan with ten ships and 1600 men in February 1854, Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States Navy successfully pressured the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan to sign a treaty with the United States. By the terms of this Japanese-US Treaty of Peace and Amity—also known as the Convention of Kanagawa—Japan agreed to open the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade, ending its 220-year-old policy of national seclusion (sakoku). The treaty also ensured the safety of American castaways and established the position of an American consul in Japan.
30 May 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act▲
The Kansas-Nebraska Act breaks up the vast unorganized territory in the western United States, establishing the Kansas and Nebraska Territories, and repeals the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing new settlers to choose whether to introduce slavery
13 Jul 1854 Bombardment of Greytown▲
The United States sloop-of-war USS Cyane, commanded by George H. Hollins, bombarded Greytown, British protectorate of the Miskito Kingdom, in response to attempts by the government of Greytown to charge taxes and duties on ships using it as a port to access the Nicaragua Route to California. The town was bombarded, occupied by marines, and destroyed. Despite the destruction, there were no casualties and the US refused to apologize for the attack.
18 Oct 1854 Ostend Manifesto▲
The United States, under the pro-Southern Democratic administration of President Franklin Pierce, offered to purchase Cuba from Spain, implying that war would be declared should Spain refuse. The demand was withdrawn in response to vocal opposition in both the Northern states and Europe.
4 May–13 Oct 1855 Walker’s Conquest of Nicaragua▲
Filibuster William Walker and some 300 followers intervened in a civil war between the Legitimist Party and the Democratic Party in the Republic of Nicaragua. By supporting the Democrats, Walker gained control of the country, ruling through provisional President Patricio Rivas.
20 Sep 1855–23 Sep 1858 Yakima War▲
Following the influx of prospectors into Washington Territory, United States, war broke out between the US government and tribes of the Northwest Plateau, including the Yakima, Walla Walla, Umatilla, Nez Perce and Cayuse. Ultimately, the US Army prevailed and most of the tribes were forced onto reservations.
21 Nov 1855–29 Jul 1859 Bleeding Kansas▲
Anti-slavery and pro-slavery settlers converged on the newly opened Kansas Territory, United States, engaging in numerous violent confrontations as they rallied to determine whether Kansas would outlaw or allow slavery.