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        Popular Sovereignty: Kansas-Nebraska Act Activity

        In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act created two territories: Kansas and Nebraska. It also replaced the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had prohibited slavery in new territories north of the 36°30′ line of latitude. Instead, according to the act, white male settlers would determine whether they would permit slavery in their territory through popular sovereignty. As a result, pro-slavery settlers (“Freesoilers”) and anti-slavery settlers (“Border Ruffians”) began moving to Kansas in high numbers. They intended to influence the vote of whether slavery was in or out. The violent armed conflicts that followed between these two groups became known as “Bleeding Kansas.” This set of resources provides background information, including primary sources, on this conflict. Students should consider these resources when analyzing the positives and negatives of using popular sovereignty to permit or ban slavery in new territories.

        Political Map of the United States, 1856

        This map from 1856 shows the comparative area of the free and slave states as well as the territory open to slavery or freedom by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.

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        "Forcing Slavery Down the Throat of a Freesoiler" Political Cartoon, 1856

        In this 1856 political cartoon, a "freesoiler" man is tied down to the "Democratic Platform" and held there by two individuals, presidential nominee James Buchanan and Democratic senator Lewis Cass.

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        The Abolitionists: Will Kansas Be a Free Soil State?

        <p>By 1856, the debate over whether Kansas would be a free or slave state reached a fevered pitch. Blood flowed from Lawrence, KS to Washington, DC. Video from, American Experience: "Abolitionists."</p>

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