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Kansas Nebraska Act. Essay

1015 words - 4 pages

The Kansas-Nebraska Act, of 1854, created and destroyed American political parties and lead to the sectional differences in our nation that resulted in violence. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a plan introduced by Stephen Douglas that would divide the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase, of 1803, into two separate territories- Kansas and Nebraska. In each territory popular sovereignty would allow voters to determine whether the state was to be a slave state or a free state. If Stephen's Act was passed, a railroad could be built from Chicago to the pacific, an idea that outraged northerners. They believed it was a terrible plot to turn Free states into a "dreary region...inhabited by masters and slaves." All across the antislavery North, citizens held protest meetings and sent anti-Nebraska petitions to Congress. But with the South's strong support along with President Pierce persuading fellow democrats to vote for it, Douglas's plan for turning Chicago into a rich city filled with California's new found wealth, was full steam ahead. But Congress did not approve the construction of the railroad until 1862.On July 6th, 1854 in the town of Jackson, Michigan, hundreds of people who were against the recently passed Kansas-Nebraska Act came together to form the Republican party. Douglas felt the Act would "raise a storm" and it did just that. Under pressure from Douglas and President Pierce, nearly 60 northern Democrats had voted for the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and suffered the consequences for their support. Only 7 of the northern Democrats who voted for the bill retained their seats. The others had left because of the controversy caused by the Kansas-Nebraska act. The party was hurt further by the Ostend Manifesto. In this document, three U.S. diplomats laid out a plan to buy Cuba, which allowed slavery. If Spain refused, they would take the island by force. The Whig party was also in trouble; stunned by their defeat in the presidential election, by 1852 the party completely fell apart. Every northern Whig voted against Douglas's bill, while most southern Whigs voted for it. Since none of the Whigs would work together the party became polar opposites.The compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 gave new states and territories the right to vote on whether to allow slavery. Soon both the South and North realized that that a contest for power and slavery has begun. Antislavery and pro-slavery groups scrambled to get people to Kansas as quickly as possible. By early 1856 Kansas had two governments and a hostile population that was divided into two armed camps. Many of the pro-slavery settlers had brought guns with them. But abolitionist groups were shipping everything from handguns to small cannons. Violence was bound to break out. In May, 1856 a pro-slavery grand jury indicted the leaders of the free-soil government for treason. An 800-member posse rode to Lawrence to arrest them, only to find that the members had fled. Outraged, they began to...

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