Kansas-Nebraska Act

By: A.J. Makinen

What was it?

It was an 1854 law that established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska and gave the residents the right to decide whether to allow slavery through popular sovereignty. A Democratic Senator, Stephen A. Douglas, designed this idea.

Why was it enacted?

  • Stephen A. Douglas wanted a for sure northern transcontinental railroad that would help his home state, Illinois.
  • He wanted to bring the Nebraska territory under control.
  • It served to appeal the Missouri Compromise, which didn't allow slavery above the latitude 36 degrees 30' mark.

Stephen A. Douglas

Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861) was the leader of the Democratic Party. He helped settle some disputes over land through the idea of popular sovereignty. In 1858, he was elected Senator of Illinois, and was involved in a series of debates with Abraham Lincoln. Then, in 1860, he lost the election for president to Lincoln.

What happened after the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed and what did it lead to?

The North was mad at this act and South liked it. Antislavery and Proslavery supporters quickly settled into the territories of Kansas. The Proslavery group won the first political election, but was charged with fraud. Violence broke out after a boycott of the next election and was soon called "Bleeding Kansas" as the death numbers rose. Then-president, Franklin Pierce, sent in troops to stop the violence. A third election broke out and proslavery settlers won, but they were charged with fraud, again. Congress didn't know the constitution of Kansas, and therefore, they weren't admitted as a state.

Kansas-Nebraska Act

My Reaction

My Reaction to this topic was Stephen A. Douglas had some reasons to present this law. While reading this section in class, I wasn't able to get a whole grasp on this topic and I wanted to strengthen my understanding. One of the reasons that Stephen A. Douglas wanted this Act was to help the state he was Senator in, Illinois. Also, the Kansas-Nebraska Act lead to many violent deaths in the territory which was known as "Bleeding Kansas" and it eventually led to the American Civil War.