Kansas-Nebraska Act


Kansas-Nebraska Act
/kan"zeuhs neuh bras"keuh/, U.S. Hist.
the act of Congress in 1854 annulling the Missouri Compromise, providing for the organization of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, and permitting these territories self-determination on the question of slavery.

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(1854) Legislation that organized the territories of Kansas and Nebraska according to the doctrine of popular sovereignty.

Introduced by Sen. Stephen A. Douglas to stop the sectional division over slavery, the act was criticized by antislavery groups as a capitulation to proslavery advocates. Groups on both sides rushed to settle Kansas Territory with their adherents, leading to the chaotic Bleeding Kansas period. Passage of the act led to the formation of the Republican Party as a political organization opposed to the expansion of slavery to any U.S. territory.

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United States [1854]
 (May 30, 1854), in the antebellum period of U.S. history, critical national policy change concerning the expansion of slavery into the territories, affirming the concept of popular sovereignty over congressional edict. In 1820 the Missouri Compromise had excluded slavery from that part of the Louisiana Purchase (except Missouri) north of the 36°30′ parallel. The Kansas-Nebraska Act, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, provided for the territorial organization of Kansas and Nebraska under the principle of popular sovereignty, which had been applied to New Mexico and Utah in the Compromise of 1850.

      Written in an effort to arrest the escalating sectional controversy over the extension of slavery, the Kansas-Nebraska Act ironically fanned the flame of national division. It was attacked by free-soil and antislavery factions as a capitulation to the proponents of slavery. Passage of the act was followed by the establishment of the Republican Party as a viable political organization opposed to the expansion of slavery into the territories. In the Kansas Territory a migration of proslavery and antislavery factions, seeking to win control for their respective institutions, resulted in a period of political chaos and bloodshed. See Bleeding Kansas.

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Universalium. 2010.

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