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National Debate About Kansas

      Kansas Territory was officially established in 1854 with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Congressional debate on the act continued discussion of the question of whether or not slavery would be allowed to expand into newly opened territories. The act provided that each territory would decide the issue through the constitution under which it would enter the union. Kansas Territory, because of its proximity to Missouri, a slave state, became a political and literal battleground for pro- and antislavery forces. Contested elections, armed conflict, and recruitment of and support for settlers from both the North and the South contributed to the label of “Bleeding Kansas.” But just as importantly, the battle for Kansas was waged in the halls of Congress, the national press, and just about anywhere in the country where people gathered to discuss or debate the issues of the day. All of this increased the tensions between the North and the South, which eventually led to the outbreak of the Civil War.      [More]

       Issues and Ideas
              Anti-slavery perspective
              Pro-slavery perspective
              Popular (squatter) sovereignty
              Westward expansion

              Kansas - Nebraska Act
              Political parties
                     Republican Party
                     Democratic Party
                     Free Soil Party
              Presidential campaigns

      Federal Government
              Congressional actions
              Presidential administrations
                     Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
                     James Buchanan (1857-1861)
                     Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
              Judicial actions

      Responses to Activities in Kansas
              Press coverage
              Poetry, music, political cartoons


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