Kansas–Nebraska Act 1854

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Map Code: Ax00783

Democrat Senator Stephen Douglas drafted the Kansas-Nebraska Act with President Franklin Pierce. It borrowed from the Compromise of 1850, whereby the Utah and New Mexico territories were granted popular sovereignty on the issue of slavery, and extended this principle to the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. In so doing, it flouted the core tenet of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which decreed territories north of a line of demarcation (Nebraska and all but the southern edge of Kansas were so situated) would be ‘free’. Pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers rushed to Kansas, seeking to sway the decision. The contending factions descended to open warfare, which earned the description ‘Bleeding Kansas’. Two votes were held, both won by the pro-slavers, both annulled by reason of electoral fraud. Kansas would not be incorporated until 1861, by then with an anti-slavery majority, as a ‘free’ state.

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