Facts, information and articles about the Kansas-Nebraska Act, an event of Westward Expansion from the Wild West

Kansas-Nebraska Act summary: The US Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act on May 30, 1854 and thereby the territories of Kansas and Nebraska were legally created. The controversial part of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was allowing settlers in those territories to decide for themselves whether they would permit slavery in their respective territories by taking a vote on the question. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was used to repeal the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which was used to prohibit slavery north of 36°30´ latitude. As the North of the US was against slavery and held the Missouri Compromise to be a valid and long-term agreement, this caused quite a tension. The South was inclined to support slavery and so the Act met with nothing but a hearty approval there.

Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois was a man behind the Act. His original intention was to prepare conditions for opening many thousands of farms in the two territories and for building a Transcontinental Railroad through the Midwest. The problem was letting the voters decide whether the slavery would be permitted or not, just because they happened to be there at the time of voting. Those who opposed slavery feared that it would be easy for rich slave owners from the South to buy the best land in Kansas and influence the voting outcome as well.

The crowds of potential voters flooded into Kansas and the result was a bloody conflict between the opponents and supporters of slavery. One new political party emerged from the controversy: the new Republican Party soon assumed a dominant position on the North and in 1860, their member, Abraham Lincoln, was elected president.

 


 

Articles Featuring Kansas-Nebraska Act From History Net Magazines

A Killer’s MetamorphosisFrank James, Jesse James' older brother, renounced the outlaw life after Jesse's death and slipped quietly into old age.
Irreconcilable DifferencesWinston Groom, author of Vicksburg 1863, explores the reasons the North and South found themselves at war.
Battle of Black Jack Battlefield 155th Anniversary Events Planned[PRESS RELEASE] Baldwin City, KS – Four events organized by the Black Jack Battlefield Trust will commemorate the 155th Anniversary of the Battle of Black Jack. On Thursday, June 2nd at 5:00am the actual date and time of the battle, a free guided tour will be given. Also on Thursday, June 2nd Shared Stories of […]
True Causes of the Civil WarIrreconcilable Differences Simmering animosities between North and South signaled an American apocalypse Any man who takes it upon himself to explain the causes of the Civil War deserves whatever grief comes his way, regardless of his good intentions. Having acknowledged that, let me also say I have long believed there is no more concise or […]
Buchanan the Peacemaker?Could Buchanan Have Stopped the Civil War? Either the much-maligned James Buchanan was the unmitigated disaster of legend, or he deserves an apology.
Preston Brooks’ DiplomacyPreston Brooks’ big stick diplomacy: Heated oratory leads to violence in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate With swift, powerful strokes, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks battered the prostrate body in the aisle of the nearly empty U.S. Senate chamber. The merciless blows from his thick gutta-percha cane echoed in the cavernous space, as […]
New Missouri Park to Honor 1st Kansas Colored Infantry: October/November 2009State officials as well as volunteers are working to establish a state park in an area of Bates County, Mo., where the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry skirmished with Confederate guerrillas in October 1862. The encounter is known today as the skirmish of Island Mound. The 250-man 1st Kansas, believed to have been the first African-American […]
What Do We Owe the Indians?Paul VanDevelder writes about the troubled history of the 562 Native American nations, their 371 treaties with the United States, and the emerging importance of natural resources found on Native American lands.
Boston Combusts: The Fugitive Slave Case of Anthony BurnsAn eruption in the nation's abolitionist capital nearly seven years before Fort Sumter foreshadowed the irreconcilable divide between North and South and the fracture to come.

By Chuck Leddy

Firebrand in a Powder Keg: Nathaniel Lyon in St. LouisWhen secession fever threatened Missouri, a hotheaded gesture by a Yankee touched off riots but helped keep the state in the Union.
America’s Civil War: Missouri and KansasFor half a decade before the Civil War, residents of the neighboring states of Missouri and Kansas waged their own civil war. It was a conflict whose scars were a long time in healing.
Bitter Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers – March ’99 America’s Civil War FeatureBitter Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers By Bo Kerrihard For half a decade before the Civil War, residents of the neighboring states of Missouri and Kansas waged their own civil war. It was a conflict whose scars were a long time in healing. The Civil War came early to Missouri and Kansas, stayed late, and was characterized […]