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Primary Documents in American History

Kansas-Nebraska Act

Reynolds's political map of the United States, designed to exhibit the comparative area of the free and slave states and the territory open to slavery or freedom by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
William Reynolds.
Reynolds's political map of the United States, designed to exhibit the comparative area of the free and slave states and the territory open to slavery or freedom by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.
New York: Wm. C. Reynolds, 1856.
Geography and Map Division.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise, allowing slavery in the territory north of the 36° 30´ latitude. Introduced by Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, the Kansas-Nebraska Act stipulated that the issue of slavery would be decided by the residents of each territory, a concept known as popular sovereignty. After the bill passed on May 30, 1854, violence erupted in Kansas between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers, a prelude to the Civil War.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Digital Collections

A Century of Lawmaking for a Nation

This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.

  • May 22, 1854 - The House of Representatives passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act by a vote of 113 to 100.
  • May 25, 1854 - The final Senate debate on the Kansas-Nebraska Act can be found in the appendix of the Congressional Globe, 33rd Congress, 1st Session.
  • May 25, 1854 - The Senate passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act by a vote 35 to 13.
  • May 30, 1854 - President Franklin Pierce signed into law "An Act to Organize the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas".

Search in the 33rd Congress using the phrase "Kansas Nebraska" to find more documents related to the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 20,000 documents

Search Lincoln's Papers using the phrase "Kansas Nebraska" to find additional documents related to the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

This collection documents the life of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) both through writings by and about Lincoln as well as a large body of publications concerning the issues of the times including slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and related topics. It contains eleven items related to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, including newspaper articles and political cartoons.

An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present, including a broadside from Massachusetts printed in 1854 soliciting support for the anti-slavery settlers in Kansas.

Search this collection to locate additional broadsides and printed ephemera related to Kansas in the 1850s.

From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909

This collection presents 396 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics.

America's Library

Jump Back in Time: Kansas Entered the Union as a Free State, January 29, 1861.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1836 to 1922. Search this collection to find newspaper articles about the Kansas Nebraska Act.

A selection of articles on the Kansas Nebraska Act includes:

Today in History

April 23, 1813

U.S. congressman, senator, and presidential candidate Stephen A. Douglas was born in Brandon, Vermont, on April 23, 1813. Douglas sponsored the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854.

January 29, 1861

Kansas entered the Union as a free state on January 29, 1861.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

The Kansas-Nebraska Act, ushistory.org

The Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Rise of the Republican party, 1854-1856, Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project, Northern Illinois University

Our Documents, The Kansas-Nebraska Act, National Archives and Records Administration

Territorial Kansas Online, 1854-1861, Kansas State Historical Society and University of Kansas

Selected Bibliography

Etcheson, Nicole. Bleeding Kansas: Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004. [Catalog Record]

Goodrich, Thomas. War to the Knife: Bleeding Kansas, 1854-1861. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1998. [Catalog Record]

Malin, James C. The Nebraska Question, 1852-1854. Lawrence, Kans., 1953. [Catalog Record]

Wolff, Gerald W. The Kansas-Nebraska Bill: Party, Section, and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: Revisionist Press, 1977. [Catalog Record]

Wunder, John R. and Joann M. Ross. The Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008. [Catalog Record]

Younger Readers

McArthur, Debra. The Kansas-Nebraska Act and "Bleeding Kansas" in American History. Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Enslow, 2003. [Catalog Record]

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  April 15, 2015
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