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The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854

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Storyboard Description

1850s America - The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 - In this storyboard, students will research and examine several components of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, an act instrumental in dividing the North and South. Furthermore, by examining this act and its repercussions, students will better understand the violence and political tensions that existed long before the Civil War. Teachers can also expose their students to major figures and characters like Stephan Douglas, and John Brown as well as major political party shifts such as the division of the Whig Party and formation of the Republican Party.

Storyboard Text

  • Northern Whigs & Republicans
  • VS
  • Southern Whigs & Democrats
  • The Kansas-Nebraska Act, supported by Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas, was proposed to bring the Nebraska territory under control. Northern interests sought the territory for a transcontinental railroad, while the South wanted to expand slave territory.
  • The Kansas-Nebraska Act immediately created political divides and rifts. With support of the bill coming from Douglas, a prominent member of the Whig Party, a divide quickly occurred between Northern and Southern Whigs. Northern Whig opposers soon joined the newly formed Republican Party while Southerners found loyalties with the Democrats.
  • 'Bloody Kansas' refers to the violence resulting from immediate attempts to settle the Kansas-Nebraska territory by both Pro-slavers and Free-soilers. By settling the area, each group aimed to influence the law of the land as to whether each state would enter the Union as free or slave. This majority choice of the people is known as popular sovereignty.
  • The Pottawatomie Massacre is one example of the extreme violence that occurred during the attempted settlement of the Kansas-Nebraska territory. John Brown, a devout religious abolitionist, murdered five pro-slavers in revenge for the pro-slave attack on the Free-soiler town of Lawrence, KS.

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