After the army sold Fort Scott in 1855, the infantry barracks located here (reconstructed in front of you) became the pro-slavery Western Hotel. The building across the parade ground directly behind you became the anti-slavery Free State Hotel. The two hotels symbolized the strife over slavery that divided Kansas in the late 1850s, an era known as "Bleeding Kansas."
Violence visited Fort Scott often during Bleeding Kansas, and the Western Hotel played a role in several incidents over whether Kansas would be free or slave.
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Hoping to quell the violence of Bleeding Kansas, the territorial governor convened a peace conference at Fort Scott. Though riot nearly broke out (1858 sketch, above), the conference did temporarily halt hostilities. Historians believe the sketch depicts the Western Hotel.
Rumor alleged that pro-slavers met at the Western Hotel to plot the Marais des Cygnes Massacre, which resulted in the murder of several free staters (1858 woodcut, left). Seeking revenge, free-stater James Montgomery led an armed band to Fort Scott three weeks later. They fired shots into homes and tried to burn the hotel.