National Debate About KansasNational Debate About Kansas > Politics > Kansas - Nebraska Act
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Author: United States. Congress
Date: March 1, 1820
This legislation admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a non-slave state at the same time, so as not to upset the balance between slave and free states in the nation. It also outlawed slavery above the 36 degrees 30 minutes latitude line in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory. With the purchase of the Louisiana Territory and the application of Missouri for statehood, the long-standing balance between the number of slave states and the number of free states would be changed. Controversy arose within Congress over the issue of slavery. Congress adopted this legislation and admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a non-slave state at the same time, so that the balance between slave and free states in the nation would remain equal. The Missouri compromise also proposed that slavery be prohibited above the 36 degrees 30 minutes latitude line in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory. This provision held for 34 years, until it was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The document featured here is the conference committee's report on the Missouri Compromise. Images, transcription, and document description courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, Our Documents web site, http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=22.
Keywords: Kansas Nebraska Act; Missouri compromise; United States. Congress
Author: United States. Congress
Date: May 30, 1854
Officially titled "An Act to Organize the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas," this act repealed the Missouri Compromise, which had outlawed slavery above the 36 degrees 30 minutes latitude in the Louisiana Territory and reopened the national struggle over slavery in the western territories. In January 1854, Senator Stephen Douglas introduced a bill that divided the land west of Missouri into two territories, Kansas and Nebraska. He argued for popular sovereignty, which would allow the settlers of the new territories to decide if slavery would be legal there. Antislavery supporters were outraged because, under the terms of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, slavery would have been outlawed in both territories. After months of debate, the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed on May 30, 1854. Images and document description courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, Our Documents web site, http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=28. Transcription courtesy of the Avalon Project at Yale Law School, http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/avalon.htm.
Keywords: Kansas Nebraska Act; Missouri compromise; Slavery; United States. Congress; Westward expansion
Portrait, Stephen Douglas
Author: Lussier, Louis
Portrait of Stephen Douglas by Louis Lussier. Douglas helped write the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which called for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Kansas and Nebraska were opened up for settlement but the people living there, not the national government, would determine whether these states would be free or slave. Douglas had been a member of Congress and a United States Senator from Illinois from 1847 until his death in 1861. He ran for President, unsuccessfully, against Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
Keywords: Art; Artist; Douglas, Stephen Arnold, 1813-1861; Kansas Nebraska Act; Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865; Lussier, Louis; Objects; Popular sovereignty
Photograph, Stephen A. Douglas
Author: No authors specified.
Stephen A. Douglas introduced a bill which created the two territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The bill specifically repealed the Missouri compromise of 1820. The Kansas-Nebraska bill called for the use of "popular sovereignty" which allowed voters to decide for themselves whether or not slavery would be allowed in the territories.
Keywords: Douglas, Stephen Arnold, 1813-1861; Kansas Nebraska Act; Popular sovereignty
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