The time was in the mid-nineteenth century.
The whole of America was hesitant about ending slavery. The northern states were desperately trying to abolish slavery throughout the United States forever.
Meanwhile, the backward countries of slavery in the south were not willing to give a single concession on the question of the abolition of slavery. There was, of course, a political agreement between the two parties.
As a result, the situation was stable. But a bill raised in Congress in January 1854 suddenly changed the position.
The bill was later passed as a law. The law, which changed the history of the United States, is known as the “Kansas Nebraska Act.” According to historians, the Kansas Nebraska Act is the only regulator that plays a significant role in the bloody civil war in the United States.
The law also played a role in the rise of the legendary President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and the birth of the Republican Party. So this is one of the laws that has probably played the most far-reaching role in US history.
In the discussion of the context of the Nebraska Act, two issues inevitably arise. One of them is the Louisiana Purchase, and the other is Missouri Compromise.
The area between the Mississippi and the Missouri River was known as the Louisiana Territory. The Louisiana Territory was an essential part of the eighteenth-century politics of European colonial power. The Louisiana Territory has changed hands between Spain and France at various times.
The Louisiana Territory was eventually conquered by France in 1803 after the Spanish occupation for a long time. Just two weeks later, France sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States for just over 68 million francs, which has been known as the Louisiana Purchase in history.
As a result of the Louisiana Purchase, the vast area between the Mississippi and the Missouri River was under the United States. The city of the Louisiana Territory was approximately 21 million 40 square kilometers. As a result, France sold only one penny per acre to the United States.
With the Louisiana Purchase, the volume of the United States doubled overnight. Thomas Jefferson was then President of the United States, while Napoleon was in power in France. Historians call the Louisiana Purchase the ‘Deal of the Century.’
The sale of the land to the United States so cheaply was a big deal for the French. Native Americans occupied the vast majority of the Louisiana Territory.
But Native Americans knew nothing about this deal! That is why the Louisiana Purchase is often called the ‘Steal of the Century’ instead of “Deal of the Century”.
The conflict between the northern and southern states did not begin one day after the abolition of slavery. Initially, the United States consisted of 13 countries, but in 1819, the number of land in the United States rose to 22.
Of these, there were 11 northern states against slavery, while the other equal countries in the south were in favor of slavery. Although the United States has been hesitant on the issue of slavery since then, there has been a great balance of political power between the parties and the opposition.
Meanwhile, the US did not buy the Louisiana Territory in 1803, but those regions did not join the United States as a state. This vast area has been gradually organized as a state and has been recognized as an independent state. Also, because of Native Americans lived in the territories, American settlers could not quickly settle.
These areas were called the Organized Territory, whose governance was in the hand of the Center. Before 1803, slavery was recognized in the organized territories, duringa the colonies of Spain and France.
Included in the Louisiana Territory, Missouri applied to join the United States as a state in 1820. The United States was not supposed to have any problem with incorporating Missouri as a state. But the issue was whether slavery would continue or be abolished in Missouri.
Until the joining of the State of Missouri, the United States had a balance between slavery and opposition. But the fear that Missouri’s emergence as a state could shake the balance of power on either side – gave rise to a crisis in US politics.
The Missouri State was very fertile and excellent for cotton cultivation. The role of slavery was linked to the prosperity of Missouri’s agricultural fields. Also, colonial slavery was recognized in France and Spain, and Missouri sought to become a supporter of slavery.
But it would increase the dominance of the slave-holders and enslave slavery across America spread among the North’s anti-slavery groups. To overcome this crisis was born ‘Missouri Compromise’.
Slavery continued to be practiced in Missouri as part of the Missouri Compromise, but to preserve the balance of power, the new Maine State was formed. This increased the number of states on both sides of the slavery side to 12. As a result, the political balance was saved.
Meanwhile, the Missouri Compromage further suggested that slavery could not be recognized in the northern part of the rest of the Louisiana Territory, which was 36 degrees 30 minutes above the latitude line. This boundary is known as the Thirty Six Thirty Line.
Missouri Compromise ensured slavery abolished state as slavery was not returning. Meanwhile, in agricultural-rich Missouri, slavery survived, and the interests of the wealthy landowner were protected.
Again, even with the economically viable state of the nation in the fold, supporters of southern slavery had no cause for dissatisfaction with the Missouri Compromise. As a result, America was saved from an impending conflict.
Historically, the Missouri compromisation helped the Americans to avoid a planned civil war successfully for the next four decades. There is, of course, a lot of criticism about the Missouri Compromise.
Many were skeptical of the integrity of the United States in how the Missouri Compromise divided the whole country into two imaginary borders.
However, the political situation is continually changing. In 1854, The change came as a result of a law threatening Missouri Compromise. That law was the Kansas Nebraska Act.
What was the Kansas Nebraska Act, which destabilized the stable political situation created nearly four decades ago by the Missouri Compromise? We have to go back to the decade of 1850 to figure that out.
The background of the Kansas Nebraska Act.
Before 1850, the supporters of slavery were economically more aggressive than those who opposed slavery. The reason for this was that agricultural US economy.
The slave owners in the south had huge land and sugar cane. After all, agriculture was the main driving force of the American economy. So in the northern states where slavery was abolished shortly after the birth of the United States, the southern states had long been a success.
But in 1850, the US economy started to add new dimensions. The northern states were slowly turning to industrialization. As a result, economic prosperity took a toll on the North. The foundation of opposition to slavery continued to be healthy.
Meanwhile, many foci on the vast western part of the United States acquired from the ‘Louisiana Purchase’ for agricultural land expansion, industrialization, and urbanization.
As a result, organizing rapidly organized western states as a state gradually became a demand for time. Although southern senators have taken steps many times to expand farming in the fertile land of Nebraska, those steps did not see much success in the face of opposition from northern senators who could not reach a consensus on the abolition of slavery.
When the development of the West did not see the light due to the stagnant position of the two parties, a zealous Democrat senator appeared with a very ambitious proposal. His name was Stephen A. Douglas.
The Illinois senator introduced his proposal to bill the American West in January 1854 in the form of a bill. The bill, known as the Kansas Nebraska Bill, was one of the most controversial debates.
Douglas suggested that the West needed a railroad for infrastructure development. Unobstructed areas required to be adjusted before the railway was installed.
To that end, he proposed to create two separate states – Kansas and Nebraska – in the Louisiana Territory.
Naturally, the question came, how would these two states play a role in the issue of slavery? Senator Douglas had his own real estate business in Chicago. Many historians think that the success of the railroad’s plan may have involved a matter of personal interest.
Again, many believe the Kansas Nebraska bill was a strategy to protect the United States from the immediate controversy over continuing polarization.
Whatever the case, it was crucial for Douglas to get the support of the southern senators.
So he took a very strategic position on the question of the abolition of slavery. He argued that people in Kansas and Nebraska would decide whether slavery would exist. The federal government would have no role in this regard.
This idea was popularly known as the popular sovereign. The debate over the Kansas Nebraska bill began. Senators of the law and the opposition started to attack each other in contradictory statements and a set of arguments.
The bill was passed in the Senate by 37/14 votes and the House by a vote of 113/100 but created a permanent split. Because 91% of the lawmakers opposed to the bill were representatives of the northern states.
Northern provinces have burst into raging protests. President Franklin Pierce approved the bill in the face of intense resistance to the North. The incidental Kansas Nebraska Act was passed.
If the new state had the power to make the final decision on slavery through populist sovereignty, then why did the Kansas Nebraska bill enrich the northern states so much?
If the answer to the question is not discussed in detail, then this story will remain incomplete.
Why did the popular sovereign enrage the opposition of slavery?
Through the Missouri Compromise, the provision that restricts slavery under the Thirty Thirty line was likely to be abolished by populist sovereignty. Because the newly formed Nebraska Territory was above this line and according to the Missouri Compromise, there was no opportunity for slavery in the area.
But through populist sovereignty, opportunities for slavery were re-legalized in this area. So to the opposition of slavery in the North, this law was a violation of the Missouri Compromise. After the Kansas Nebraska Act was passed, the Missouri Compromise became worthless.
In this case, we need to keep in mind that even half a century after the Louisiana Purchase, the vast territory of Kansas and Nebraska was governed by the Federal Territory.
Due to a lack of proper administration, the area was unfrequented. So the number of permanent residents in these lands was minimal. With the implementation of the Kansas Nebraska Act, the large numbers of immigrants coming from the surrounding states to the region were easily conceivable.
As a result, the future of slavery depended solely on the wishes of these immigrants. Thousands of people from the North and south began to march to the newly formed kingdom to heal their party.
But in the meantime, some bloody events occurred, which changed the situation in the other way.
Kansas was bloodied.
People from Missouri started coming to Kansas from the squad. The northern states were not quite. This competition for immigration turned into conflict. Kansas was bloodied by anti-slavery and its supporters, which known as “bleeding Kansas” in American history.
From slavery to pro-slavery, hundreds of people were killed from 1853 to 1861. However, the most tragic incident inside these incidents took place on the night of May 25, 1856.
That day, John Brown, an anti-slavery man, and auxiliary killed five South Settlers with a sword. This tragic event is known as the “Potawatomi Massacre.”
Kansas Nebraska Act and the Republican Party.
Even before the Kansas Nebraska Act was passed, there was a North-South divide in US politics. But that division never became mainstream by surrounding events. The two main parties in US politics at that time were the Whig Party and the Democratic Party.
In the issue of slavery, the United States split into two camps in the North and South. Still, in other matters the two political parties formed a bond between the two fields because there were both slavery supporters and terminating senators within both parties.
There was polarization within the two groups on the question of abolishing slavery. As a result, the United States did not break the system even though the issue of slavery was divided.
But after the passage of the Kansas Nebraska Act, politicians from the North left the Whig party and the Democratic Party and formed a new anti-slavery political party. This party is currently the ruling Republican Party in the United States.
Abraham Lincoln was instrumental in increasing the popularity of the Republican Party. In 1856, Abraham Lincoln officially joined the Republican Party. John C. Fremont competed for Republicans in the US presidential election that same year. Fremont was against anti-slavery. Although he lost to Democrat candidate James Buchanan, yet his 33 percent of the vote boosted Republican morale.
Lincoln vs. Douglas
Abraham Lincoln and the Kansas Nebraska Bill Raised Senator Stephen A. Douglas were both elected senators from Illion. In the Senate election of 1858, Abraham Lincoln decided to run against Stephen Douglas in the Senate election.
During this time, there was a dispute between Lincoln and Douglas in the seven cities of the Ilion. These debates have been memorable in history. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was nominated as the presidential candidate from the Republican party.
Interestingly, that time Douglas stood as a candidate against Lincoln. Douglas was nominated by the Democratic Party. But this time, he could not stop Lincoln. Finally, as an American president, he wrote an oath against slavery.
Although Abraham Lincoln did not want to abolish slavery overnight. The southern states understood that their political existence was under threat. As a result, the southern states that supported slavery decided to leave the United States.
Although the seemingly simple balance seems balanced, the Kansas Nebraska Act overturned US politics. As a result, the balance of power was lost forever. So, the Kansas Nebraska Act was not just a law but an event that would forever change American history.