Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854)

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  • The Kansas-Nebraska Act dealt with slavery, western expansion, and the transcontinental railroad. Aside from undoing the Missouri Compromise, it reinforced the Compromise of 1850s establishment of popular sovereignty for New Mexico and Utah. Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, D-Ill., who introduced the act, presumably believed that allowing territorial residents to determine whether or not to accept slavery would be the least disruptive way to organize Kansas and Nebraska, but the Kansas-Nebraska Act provoked sectional animosities, destroyed the political party arrangement, and culminated in civil war.

    The Great American Desert was regarded as unsuitable for settlement, and whites passed over it en route to California and Oregon and other farming territories. Once settlements crossed the Missouri River, though, it became apparent that at least some of the land ...

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