Lane, James Henry

Lane, James Henry, 1814–66, American politician, called the “liberator of Kansas.” He was probably born in Lawrenceburg, Ind., where he practiced law. Lane commanded an Indiana regiment in the Mexican War and was lieutenant governor (1849–53) and Congressman (1853–55). Having voted for the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), he moved to Kansas, where he soon joined the free-state forces and united their several factions. He was president of the convention at Topeka (1855) that framed a free-state constitution and set up a state government, with himself as Senator-elect. After the Senate refused to admit Kansas under this constitution, Lane traveled throughout the Old Northwest, encouraging antislavery men to emigrate to Kansas. He led the free-state militia in subsequent armed clashes with proslavery troops and directed the campaign by which his party won control of the territorial legislature. When Kansas was granted statehood (1861), Lane was chosen one of its first Senators. A friend and supporter of Abraham Lincoln, he aided the Union cause both in the Senate and in the army. Lane supported President Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction policy, thus losing political support in Kansas. Depressed by this and other events, he shot himself.

See biographical study by K. E. Bailes (1962).

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