By: Griselda Gonzalez
Kansas Nebraska Act
The Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing white male settlers in those territories to determine through popular sovereignty whether they would allow slavery within each territory. The act was designed by Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas of lllinois. The initial purpose of the Kansas Nebraska Act was to open up many thousands of new farms and make feasible a Midwestern Transcontinental Railroad. It became a problem when popular sovereignty was written into the proposal so that the voters of the moment would decide whether slavery would be allowed or not. The result was that pro- and anti-slavery elements flooded into Kansas with the goal of voting slavery up or down, leading to Bleeding Kansas.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.
Having concentrated his army around the small town Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Gen. Robert E. Lee awaited the approach of Union Gen. George G. Meade's forces. On July 1, early Union success faltered as Confederates pushed back against the Iron Brigade and exploited a weak Federal line at Barlow's Knoll. The following day saw Lee strike the Union flanks, leading to heavy battle at Devil's Den, Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Peach Orchard, Culp's Hill and East Cemetery Hill.
On this day in 1863, the Battle of Chancellorsville begins in Virginia. Earlier in the years, General Joseph Hooker led the Army of the Potomac into Virginia to confront Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Hooker had recently replaced Ambrose Burnside, who presided over the Army of the potomac for one calamitous campaign the previous December: the Battle of Fredericksburg. At that conflict, the Yankees amassed over 14,000 casualties while the Rebels suffered some 5,000 casualties.