Kansas-Nebraska Act

History Moments

Air Date: 04/08/2018

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was introduced by Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Its official purpose was to create the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. However, Senator Douglas used it as a means to ensure a transcontinental railroad route could be built in the North. He also saw it as a way to repeal the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had drawn a line between slave states and free states horizontally across the country. Under the Missouri Compromise, citizens had no say in whether slavery was allowed inside their borders. The Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed people to vote on the issue. This controversial bill enraged pro-slavery groups. So much fighting took place in the Kansas territory, in fact, that 1850s newspapers referred to it as "Bloody Kansas." These skirmishes prefigured the Civil War, and were part of what triggered the establishment of the Republican Party.