Tuesday, December 25, 2007
KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT Passed by Congress and signed by President Franklin Pierce on May 30, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was one of the most ominous developments in the sectional controversy which ultimately resulted in the American Civil War. Authored by Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, the act provided that Kansas and Nebraska be organized as territories and, after fulfilling the usual requirements for statehood, be allowed to enter the Union on the basis, of popular sovereignty (i.e., the doctrine which permitted territories self-government in all matters of domestic importance, including the right to decide whether to become a "free state" or a "slave state" in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants therein). Unfortunately, the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act precipitated a conflict between proslavery and antislavery groups in Kansas, a conflict which earned for the territory the term "Bleeding Kansas." See also: POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY.