Kansas Nebraska Act/ The Act To Organize The Territories Of Nebraska And Kansas [1854] - History

Kansas Nebraska Act/ The Act To Organize The Territories Of Nebraska And Kansas [1854] - History


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Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all that part of the territory of the United States included within the following limits, except such portions thereof as are hereinafter expressly exempted from the operations of this act, to wit: beginning at a point in the Missouri River where the fortieth parallel of north latitude crosses the same; then west on said parallel to the east boundary of the Territory of Utah, the summit of the Rocky Mountains; thence on said summit northwest to the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude; thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the territory of Minnesota; thence southward on said boundary to the Missouri River; thence down the main channel of said river to the place of beginning, be, and the same is hereby, created into a temporary government by the name of the Territory Nebraska; and when admitted as a State or States, the said Territory or any portion of the same, shall be received into the Union with without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of the admission: Provided, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to inhibit the government of the United States from dividing said Territory into two or more Territories, in such manner and at such time as Congress shall deem convenient and proper, or from attaching a portion of said Territory to any other State or Territory of the United States: Provided further, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to impair the rights of person or property now pertaining the Indians in said Territory' so long as such rights shall remain unextinguished by treaty between the United States and such Indians, or include any territory which, by treaty with any Indian tribe, is not, without the consent of said tribe, to be included within the territorial line or jurisdiction of any State or Territory; but all such territory shall excepted out of the boundaries, and constitute no part of the Territory of Nebraska, until said tribe shall signify their assent to the President of the United States to be included within the said Territory of Nebraska or to affect the authority of the government of the United States make any regulations respecting such Indians, their lands, property, or other rights, by treaty, law, or otherwise, which it would have been competent to the government to make if this act had never passed.

SEC. 2. And Be it further enacted, That the executive power and authority in and over said Territory of Nebraska shall be vested in a Governor who shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the President of the United States. The Governor shall reside within said Territory, and shall be commander-in-chief of the militia thereof. He may grant pardons and respites for offences against the laws of said Territory, and reprieves for offences against the laws of the United States, until the decision of the President can be made known thereon; he shall commission all officers who shall be appointed to office under the laws of the aid Territory, and shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

SEC. 3. And Be it further enacted, That there shall be a Secretary of said Territory, who shall reside therein, and hold his office for five years, unless sooner removed by the President of the United States; he shall record and preserve all the laws and proceedings of the Legislative Assembly hereinafter constituted, and all the acts and proceedings of the Governor in his executive department; he shall transmit one copy of the laws and journals of the Legislative Assembly within thirty days after the end of each session, and one copy of the executive proceedings and official correspondence semi-annually, on the first days of January and July in each year to the President of the United States, and two copies of the laws to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to be deposited in the libraries of Congress, and in or case of the death, removal, resignation, or absence of the Governor from the Territory, the Secretary shall be, and he is hereby, authorized and required to execute and perform all the powers and duties of the Governor during such vacancy or absence, or until another Governor shall be duly appointed and qualified to fill such vacancy.

SEC 4. And be it further enacted, That the legislative power and authority of said Territory shall be vested in the Governor and a Legislative Assembly. The Legislative Assembly shall consist of a Council and House of Representatives. The Council shall consist of thirteen members, having the qualifications of voters, as hereinafter prescribed, whose term of service shall continue two years. The House of Representatives shall, at its first session, consist of twenty-six members, possessing the same qualifications as prescribed for members of the Council, and whose term of service shall continue one year. The number of representatives may be increased by the Legislative Assembly, from time to time, in proportion to the increase of qualified voters: Provided, That the whole number shall never exceed thirty-nine. An apportionment shall be made, as nearly equal as practicable, among the several counties or districts, for the election of the council and representatives, giving to each section of the Territory representation in the ratio of its qualified voters as nearly as may be. And the members of the Council and of the House of Representatives shall reside in, and be inhabitants of, the district or county, or counties for which they may be elected, respectively. Previous to the first election, the Governor shall cause a census, or enumeration of the inhabitants and qualified voters of the several counties and districts of the Territory, to be taken by such persons and in such mode as the Governor shall designate and appoint; and the persons so appointed shall receive a reasonable compensation therefor. And the first election shall be held at such time and places, and be conducted in such manner, both as to the persons who shall superintend such election and the returns thereof, as the Governor shall appoint and direct; and he shall at the same time declare the number of members of the Council and House of Representatives to which each of the counties or districts shall be entitled under this act. The persons having the highest number of legal votes in each of said council districts for members of the Council, shall be declared by the Governor to be duly elected to the Council; and the persons having the highest number of legal votes for the House of Representatives, shall be declared by the Governor to be duly elected members of said house: Provided, That in case two or more persons voted for shall have an equal number of votes, and in case a vacancy shall otherwise occur in either branch of the Legislative Assembly, the Governor shall order a new election; and the persons thus elected to the Legislative Assembly shall meet at such place and on such day as the Governor shall appoint; but thereafter, the time, place, and manner of holding and conducting all elections by the people, and the apportioning the representation in the several counties or districts to the Council and House of Representatives, according to the number of qualified voters, shall be prescribed by law, as well as the day of the commencement of the regular sessions of the Legislative Assembly: Provided, That no session in any one year shall exceed the term of forty days, except the first session, which may continue sixty days.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That every free white male inhabitant above the age of twenty-one years who shall be an actual resident of said Territory, and shall possess the qualifications hereinafter prescribed, shall be entitled to vote at the first election, and shall be eligible to any office within the said Territory; but the qualifications of voters, and of holding office, at all subsequent elections, shall be such as shall be prescribed by the Legislative Assembly: Provided, That the right of suffrage and of holding office shall be exercised only by citizens of the United States and those who shall have declared on oath their intention to become such, and shall have taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act: And provided further, That no officer, soldier, seaman, or marine, or other person in the army or navy of the United States, or attached to troops in the service of the United States, shall be allowed to vote or hold office in said Territory, by reason of being on service therein.

SEC. 6. And Be it further enacted, That the legislative power of the Territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act; but no law shall be passed interfering with the primary disposal of the soil; no tax shall be imposed upon the property of the United States; nor shall the lands or other property of non-residents be taxed higher than the lands or other property of residents. Every bill which shall have passed the Council and House of Representatives of the said Territory shall, before it become a law, be presented to the Governor of the Territory; if he approve, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it with his objections to the house in which it originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration two thirds of that house shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other house, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that house, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, to be entered on the journal of each house respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the Governor within three days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Assembly, by adjournment, prevents its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That all township, district, and county officers, not herein otherwise provided for, shall be appointed or elected, as the case may be, in such manner as shall be provided by the Governor and Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Nebraska. The Governor shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council, appoint all officers not herein otherwise provided for; and in the first instance the Governor alone may appoint all said officers, who shall hold their offices until the end of the first session of the Legislative Assembly; and shall lay off the necessary districts for members of the Council and House of Representatives, and all other officers.

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That no member of the Legislative Assembly shall hold, or be appointed to, any office which shall have been created, or the salary or emoluments of which shall have been increased, while he was a member, during the term for which he was elected, and for one year after the expiration of such term; but this restriction shall not be applicable to members of the first Legislative Assembly; and no person holding a commission or appointment under the United States, except Postmasters, shall be a member of the Legislative Assembly, or hold any office under the government of said Territory.

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That the judicial power of said Territory shall be vested in a Supreme Court, District Courts, Probate Courts, and in Justices of the Peace. The Supreme Court shall consist of a chief justice and two associate justices, any two of whom shall constitute a quorum, and who shall hold a term at the seat of government of said Territory annually, and they shall hold their offices during the period of four years, and until their successor shall be appointed and qualified. The said Territory shall be divided into three judicial districts, and a d district court shall be held in each of said districts by one of the justices of the Supreme Court, at such times and places as may be prescribed by of law; and the said judges shall, after their appointments, respectively, reside in the districts which shall be assigned them. The jurisdiction of the several courts herein provided for, both appellate and original, and that of the probate courts and of justices of the peace, shall be as limited by law: Provided, That justices of the peace shall not have jurisdiction of any matter in controversy when the title or boundaries of land may be in dispute, or where the debt or sum claimed shall exceed one hundred dollars; and the said supreme and districts courts, respectively, shall possess chancery as well as common law jurisdiction. Each District Court, or the judge thereof, shall appoint its clerk, who shall also be the register in chancery, and shall keep his office at the place where the court may be held. Writs of error, bills of exception, and appeals, shall be allowed in all cases from the final decisions of said district courts to the Supreme Court, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law; but in no case removed to the Supreme Court shall trial by jury be allowed in said court. The Supreme Court, or the justices thereof, shall appoint its own clerk, and every clerk shall hold his office at the pleasure of the court for which he shall have been appointed. Writs of error, and appeals from the final decisions of said Supreme Court, shall be allowed, and may be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States, in the same manner and under the same regulations as from the circuit courts of the United States, where the value of the property, or the amount in controversy, to be ascertained by the oath or affirmation of either party, or other competent witness, shall exceed one thousand dollars; except only that in all cases involving title to slaves, the said writs of error, or appeals shall be allowed and decided by the said Supreme Court, without regard to the value of the matter, property, or title in controversy; and except also that a writ of error or appeal shall also be allowed to the Supreme Court of the United States, from the decision of the said Supreme Court created by this act, or of any judge thereof, or of the district courts created by this act, or of any judge thereof, upon any writ of habeas corpus, involving the question of personal freedom: Provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to apply to or affect the provisions to the " act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters," approved February twelfth, seventeen hundred and ninety-three, and the " act to amend and supplementary to the aforesaid act," approved September eighteen, eighteen hundred and fifty; and each of the said district courts shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction in all cases arising under the Constitution and Laws of the United States as is vested in the Circuit and District Courts of the United States; and the said Supreme and District Courts of the said Territory, and the respective judges thereof, shall and may grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases in which the same are granted by the judges of the United States in the District of Columbia; and the first six days of every term of said courts, or so much thereof as shall be necessary, shall be appropriated to the trial of causes arising under the said constitution and laws, and writs of error and appeal in all such cases shall be made to the Supreme Court of said Territory, the same as in other cases. The said clerk shall receive in all such cases the same fees which the clerks of the district courts of Utah Territory now receive for similar services.

SEC. 10. And Be it further enacted, That the provisions of an act entitled "An act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters," approved February twelve, seventeen hundred and ninety-three, and the provisions of the act entitled " An act to amend, and supplementary to, the aforesaid act," approved September eighteen, eighteen hundred and fifty, be, and the same are hereby, declared to extend to and be in full force within the limits of said Territory of Nebraska.

SEC. 11. And be it further enacted, That there shall be appointed an Attorney for said Territory, who shall continue in office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the President, and who shall receive the same fees and salary I as the Attorney of the United States for the present Territory of Utah. There shall also be a Marshal for the Territory appointed, who shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the President, and who shall execute all processes issuing from the said courts when exercising their jurisdiction as Circuit and District Courts of the United States; he shall perform the duties, be subject to the same regulation and penalties, and be entitled to the same fees, as the Marshal of the District Court of the United States for the present Territory of Utah, and shall, in addition, be paid two hundred dollars annually as a compensation for extra services.

SEC. 12. And be it further enacted, That the Governor, Secretary, Chief Justice, and Associate Justices, Attorney and Marshal, shall be nominated, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appointed by the President of the United States. The Governor and a Secretary to be appointed as aforesaid, shall, before they act as such, respectively take an oath or affirmation before the District Judge or some Justice of the Peace in the limits of said Territory, duly authorized to administer oaths and affirmations by the laws now in force therein, or & before the Chief Justice, or some Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to support the Constitution of the United States, and faithfully to discharge the duties of their respective offices, which said oaths, when so taken, shall be certified by the person by whom the same shall have been taken; and such certificates shall be received and recorded by the said Secretary among the Executive proceedings; and the Chief Justice and Associate Justices, and all other civil officers in said Territory, before they act as such, shall take a like oath or affirmation before the said Governor or Secretary, or some Judge or Justice of the Peace of the Territory, who may be duly commissioned and qualified, which said oath or affirmation shall be certified and transmitted by the person taking the same to the Secretary, to be by him recorded as aforesaid; and, afterwards, the like oath or affirmation shall be taken, certified, and recorded, in such manner and form as may be prescribed by law. The Governor shall receive an annual salary of two thousand five hundred dollars. The Chief Justice and Associate Justices shall each receive an annual salary of two thousand dollars. The Secretary shall receive an annual salary of two thousand dollars. The said salaries shall be paid quarter-yearly, from the dates of the respective appointments, at the Treasury of the United States; but no such payment shall be made until said officers shall have entered upon the duties of their respective appointments. The members of the Legislative Assembly shall be entitled to receive three dollars each per day during their attendance at the sessions thereof, and three dollars each for every twenty miles' travel in going to and returning from the said sessions, estimated according to the nearest usually travelled route; and an additional allowance of three dollars shall be paid to the presiding officer of each house for each day he shall so preside. And a chief clerk, one assistant clerk, a sergeant-at-arms, and doorkeeper, may be chosen for each house; and the chief clerk shall receive four dollars per day, and the said other officers three dollars per day, during the session of the Legislative Assembly; but no other officers shall be paid by the United States: Provided, That there shall be but one session of the legislature annually, unless, on an extraordinary occasion, the Governor shall think proper to call the legislature together. There shall be appropriated, annually, the usual sum, to be expended by the Governor, to defray the contingent expenses of the Territory, including the salary of a clerk of the Executive Department; and there shall also be appropriated, annually, a sufficient sum, to be expended by the Secretary of the Territory, and upon an estimate to be made by the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, to defray the expenses of the Legislative Assembly, the printing of the laws, and other incidental expenses; and the Governor and Secretary of the Territory shall, in the disbursement of all moneys intrusted to them, be governed solely by the instructions of the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and shall, semi-annually, account to the said Secretary for the manner in which the aforesaid moneys shall have been expended; and no expenditure shall be made by said Legislative Assembly for objects not specially authorized by the acts of Congress, making the appropriations, nor beyond the sums thus appropriated for such objects.

SEC. 13. And be it further enacted, That the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Nebraska shall hold its first session at such time and place in said Territory as the Governor thereof shall appoint and direct; and at said first session, or as soon thereafter as they shall deem expedient, the Governor and Legislative Assembly shall proceed to locate and establish the seat of government for said Territory at such place as they may deem eligible; which place, however, shall thereafter be subject to be changed by the said Governor and Legislative Assembly.

SEC. 14. And be it further enacted, That a delegate to the House of Representatives of the United States, to serve for the term of two years, who shall be a citizen of the United States, may be elected by the voters qualified to elect members of the Legislative Assembly, who shall be entitled to the same rights and privileges as are exercised and enjoyed by the delegates from the several other Territories of the United States to the said House of Representatives, but the delegate first elected shall hold his seat only during the term of the Congress to which he shall be elected. The first election shall be held at such time and places, and be conducted in such manner, as the Governor shall appoint and direct; and at all subsequent elections the times, places, and manner of holding the elections, shall be prescribed by law. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be declared by the Governor to be duly elected; and a certificate thereof shall be given accordingly. That the Constitution, and all Laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force and effect within the said Territory of Nebraska as elsewhere within the United States, except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union approved March sixth, eighteen hundred and twenty, which, being inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention by Congress with slaves in the States and Territories, as recognized by the legislation of eighteen hundred and fifty, commonly called the Compromise Measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void; it being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to revive or put in force any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the act of sixth March, eighteen hundred and twenty, either protecting, establishing, prohibiting, or abolishing slavery.

SEC. 15. And Be it further enacted, That there shall hereafter be appropriated, as has been customary for the Territorial governments, sufficient amount, to be expended under the direction of the said Governor of the Territory of Nebraska, not exceeding the sums heretofore appropriated for similar objects, for the erection of suitable public buildings at the seat of government, and for the purchase of a library, to be kept at the seat of government for the use of the Governor, Legislative Assembly, Judges of the Supreme Court, Secretary, Marshal, and Attorney of said Territory, and such other persons, and under such regulations as shall be prescribed by law.

SEC. 16. And be it further enacted, That when the lands in the said Territory shall be surveyed under the direction of the government of the United States, preparatory to bringing the same into market, section; numbered sixteen and thirty-six in each township in said Territory shall be, and the same are hereby, reserved for the purpose of being applied to schools in said Territory, and in the States and Territories hereafter to be erected out of the same.

SEC. 17. And be it further enacted, That, until otherwise provided by law, the Governor of said Territory may define the Judicial Districts of said Territory, and assign the judges who may be appointed for said Territory to the several districts; and also appoint the times and places for holding courts in the several counties or subdivisions in each of said Judicial Districts by proclamation, to be issued by him; but the Legislative Assembly, at their first or any subsequent session, may organize, alter, or modify such Judicial Districts, and assign the judges, and alter the times and places of holding the courts, as to them shall seem proper and convenient.

SEC. 18. And be it further enacted, That all officers to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, for the Territory of Nebraska, who, by virtue of the provisions of any law now existing, or which may be enacted during the present Congress, are required to give security for moneys that may be intrusted with them for disbursement, shall give such security, at such time and place, and in such manner, as the Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe.

SEC. 19. And be it further enacted, That al1 that part of the Territory of the United States included within the following limits, except such portions thereof as are hereinafter expressly exempted from the operations of this act, to wit, beginning at a point on the western boundary of the State of Missouri, where the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude crosses the same; thence west on said parallel to the eastern boundary of New Mexico; thence north on said boundary to latitude thirty-eight; thence following said boundary westward to the east boundary of the Territory of Utah, on the summit of the Rocky Mountains; thence northward on said summit to the fortieth parallel of latitude, thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the State of Missouri; thence south with the western boundary of said State to the place of beginning, be, and the same is hereby, created into a temporary government by the name of the Territory of Kansas; and when admitted as a State or States, the said Territory, or any portion of the same, shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their Constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission: Provided, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to inhibit the government of the United States from dividing said Territory into two or more Territories, in such manner and at such times as Congress shall deem convenient and proper, or from attaching any portion of said Territory to any other State or Territory of the United States: Provided further, That nothing in this act contained shall be construed to impair the rights of person or property now pertaining to the Indians in said Territory, so long as such rights shall remain unextinguished by treaty between the United States and such Indians, or to include any territory which, by treaty with any Indian tribe, is not, without the consent of said tribe, to be included within the territorial limits or jurisdiction of any State or Territory; but all such territory shall be excepted out of the boundaries, and constitute no part of the Territory of Kansas, until said tribe shall signify their assent to the President of the United States to be included within the said Territory of Kansas, or to affect the authority of the government of the United States to make any regulation respecting such Indians, their lands, property, or other rights, by treaty, law, or otherwise, which it would have been competent to the government to make if this act had never passed.

SEC. 20. And be it further enacted, That the executive power and chin authority in and over said Territory of Kansas shall be vested in a Governor, who shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the President of the United States. He may grant pardons and respites for offences against the laws of said Territory, and reprieves for offences against the laws of the United States, until the decision of the President can be made known thereon; he shall commission all officers who shall be appointed to office under the laws of the said Territory, and shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

SEC. 21. And be it further enacted, That there shall be a Secretary of said Territory, who shall reside therein, and hold his office for five years, unless sooner removed by the President of the United States; he shall record and preserve all the laws and proceedings of the Legislative Assembly hereinafter constituted, and all the acts and proceedings of the Governor in his Executive Department; he shall transmit one copy of the laws and journals of the Legislative Assembly within thirty days after the end of each session, and one copy of the executive proceedings and official correspondence semi-annually, on the first days of January and July in each year, to the President of the United States, and two copies of the laws to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to be deposited in the libraries of Congress; and, in case of the death, removal, resignation, or absence of the Governor from the Territory, the Secretary shall be, and he is hereby, authorized and required to execute and perform all the powers and duties of the Governor during such vacancy or absence, or until another Governor shall be duly appointed and qualified to fill such vacancy.

SEC. 22. The House of Representatives shall, at its first session, consist of twenty-six members possessing the same qualifications as prescribed for members of the Council, and whose term of service shall continue one year. An apportionment shall be made, as nearly equal as practicable, among the several counties or districts, for the election of the Council and Representatives, giving to each section of the Territory representation in the ratio of its qualified voters as nearly as may be. And the members of the Council and of the House of Representatives shall reside in, and be inhabitants of, the district or county, or counties, for which they may be elected, respectively. The persons having the highest number of legal votes in each of said Council Districts for members of the Council, shall be declared by the Governor to be duly elected to the Council; and the persons having the highest number of legal votes for the House of Representatives, shall be declared by the Governor to be duly elected members of said house: Provided, That in case two or more persons voted for shall have an equal number of votes, and in case of a vacancy shall otherwise occur in either branch of the Legislative Assembly, the Governor shall order a new election; and the persons thus elected to the Legislative Assembly shall meet at such place and on such day as the Governor shall appoint; but thereafter, the time, place, and manner of holding and conducting all elections by the people, and the apportioning the representation in the several counties or districts to the Council and House of Representatives, according to the number of qualified t voters, shall be prescribed by law, as well as the day of the commencement of the regular sessions of the Legislative Assembly: Provided, That no session in any one year shall exceed the term of forty days, except the first session, which may continue sixty days.

SEC. 23. And be it further enacted, That every free white male inhabitant above the age of twenty-one years, who shall be an actual resident of said Territory, and shall possess the qualifications hereinafter prescribed, shall be entitled to vote at the first election, and shall be eligible to any office within the said Territory; but the qualifications of voters, and of holding office, at all subsequent elections, shall be such as shall be prescribed by the Legislative Assembly: Provided, That the right of suffrage and of holding office shall be exercised only by citizens of the United States, and those who shall have declared, on oath, their intention to become such, and shall have taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act: And, provided further, That no officer, soldier, seaman, or marine, or other person in the army or navy of the United States, or attached to troops in the service of the United States, shall be allowed to vote or hold office in said Territory by reason of being on service therein.

SEC. 24. And be it further enacted, That the legislative power of the Territory shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation consistent with the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of this act; but no law shall be passed interfering with the primary disposa1 of the soil; no tax shall be imposed upon the property of the United States; nor shall the lands or other property of non-residents be taxed higher than the lands or other properly of residents. If, after such reconsideration, two thirds of that house shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other house, by which, it shall likewise be reconsidered, and, if approved by two thirds of that house, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, to be entered on the journal of each house, respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the Governor within three days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Assembly, by adjournment, prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

SEC. 25. And be it further enacted, That all township, district, and; county officers, not herein otherwise provided for, shall be appointed or elected as the case may be, in such manner as shall be provided by the Governor and Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Kansas. The Governor shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council, appoint all officers not herein otherwise provided for; and, in the first instance, the Governor alone may appoint all said officers, who shall hold their offices until the end of the first session of the Legislative Assembly; and shall lay off the necessary districts for members of the Council and House of Representatives, and all other officers.

SEC. 26. And be it further enacted, That no member of the Legislative Assembly shall hold, or be appointed to, any office which shall have been created, or the salary or emoluments of which shall have been increased, while he was a member, during the term for which he was elected, and for one year after the expiration of such term; but this restriction shall not be applicable to members of the first Legislative Assembly; and no person holding a commission or appointment under the United States, except postmasters, shall be a member of the Legislative Assembly, or shall hold any office under the government of said Territory.

SEC. 27. And be it further enacted, That the judicial power of said Territory shall be vested in a supreme court, district courts, probate courts, and in justices of the peace. The Supreme Court shall Consist of chief justice and two associate justices, any two of whom shall constitute a quorum, and who shall hold a term at the seat of government of said Territory annually; and they shall hold their offices during the period of four years, and until their successors shall be appointed and qualified. The said Territory shall be divided into three judicial districts, and a district court shall be held in each of said districts by one of the justices of the Supreme Court, at such times and places as may be prescribed by law; and the said judges shall, after their appointments, respectively, reside in the districts which shall be assigned them. The jurisdiction of the several courts herein provided for, both appellate and original, and that of the probate courts and of justices of the peace, shall be as limited by law: Provided, That justices of the peace shall not have jurisdiction of any matter in controversy when the title or boundaries of land may be in dispute, or where the debt or sum claimed shall exceed one hundred dollars; and the said supreme and district courts, respectively, shall possess chancery as well as common law jurisdiction. Said District Court, or the judge thereof, shall appoint its clerk, who shall also be the register in chancery, and shall keep his office at the place where the court may be held. Writs of error, bills of exception, and appeals shall be allowed in all cases from the final decisions of said district courts to the Supreme Court, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law; but in no case removed to the Supreme Court shall trial by jury be allowed in said court. Writs of error, and appeals from the final decisions of said supreme court, shall be allowed, and may be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States, in the same manner and under the same regulations as from the Circuit Courts of the United States, where the value of the property, or the amount in controversy, to be ascertained by the oath or affirmation of either party, or other competent witness, shall exceed one thousand dollars; except only that in all cases involving title to slaves, the said writ of error or appeals shall be allowed and decided by said supreme court, without regard to the value of the matter, property, or title in controversy; and except also that a writ of error or appeal shall also be allowed to the Supreme Court of the United States, from the decision of the said supreme court created by this act, or of any judge thereof, or of the district courts created by this act, or of any judge thereof, upon any writ of habeas corpus, involving the question of personal freedom: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to apply to or affect the provisions of the " act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from the service of their masters," approved February twelfth, - seventeen hundred and ninety-three, and the " act to amend and supplementary to the aforesaid act," approved September eighteenth, eighteen hundred and fifty; and each of the said district courts shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction in all cases arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States as is vested in the Circuit and District Courts of the United States; and the said supreme and district courts of the said Territory, and the respective judges thereof, shall and may grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases in which the same are granted by the judges of the United States in the District of Columbia; and the first six days of every term of said courts, or so much thereof as may be necessary, shall be appropriated to the trial of causes arising under the said Constitution and laws, and writs of error and appeal in all such cases shall-be made to the Supreme Court of said Territory, the same as in other cases. The said clerk shall receive the same fees in all such cases, which the clerks of the district courts of Utah Territory now receive for similar services.

SEC. 28. And be it further enacted, That the provisions of the act entitled " An act respecting fugitives from justice, and persons escaping from, the service of their masters," approved February twelfth, seventeen hundred and ninety-three, and the provisions of the act entitled "An act to amend, and supplementary to, the aforesaid act," approved September eighteenth, eighteen hundred and fifty, be, and the same are hereby, declared to extend to and be in full force within the limits of the said Territory of Kansas.

SEC. 29. And be it further enacted, That there shall be appointed an attorney for said Territory, who shall continue in office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the President, and who shall receive the same fees and salary as the Attorney of the United States for the present Territory of Utah. There shall also be a marshal for the Territory appointed, who shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor shall be appointed and qualified, unless sooner removed by the President, and who shall execute all processes issuing from the said courts where exercising their jurisdiction as Circuit and District Courts of the United States; he shall perform the duties, be subject to the same regulations and penalties, and be entitled to the same fees, as the Marshal of the District Court of the United States for the present Territory of Utah, and shall, in addition, be paid two hundred dollars annually as a compensation for extra services.

SEC. 30. And be it further enacted, That the Governor, Secretary, Chief Justice, and Associate Justices, Attorney, and Marshal, shall be nominated, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appointed by the President of the United States. The Governor and Secretary to be appointed as aforesaid shall, before they act as such, respectively take an oath or affirmation before the district judge or some justice of the peace in the limits of said Territory, duly authorized to administer oaths and affirmations by the laws now in force therein, or before the Chief Justice or some Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to support the Constitution of the United States, and faithfully to discharge the duties of their respective offices, which said oaths, when so taken, shall be certified by the person by whom the same shall have been taken; and such certificates shall be received and recorded by the said secretary among the executive proceedings; and the Chief Justice and Associate Justices, and all other civil officers in said Territory, before they act as such, shall take a like oath or affirmation before the said Governor or Secretary, or some Judge or Justice of the Peace of the Territory who may be duly commissioned and qualified, which said oath or affirmation shall be certified and transmitted by the person taking the same to the Secretary, to be by him recorded as aforesaid; and, afterwards, the like oath or affirmation shall be taken, certified, and recorded, in such manner and form as may be prescribed by law. The Chief Justice and Associate Justices shall receive as an annual salary of two thousand dollars. And a chief clerk, one assistant clerk, a sergeant at-arms, and door-keeper, may be chosen for each house; and the chief clerk shall receive four dollars per day, and the said other officers three dollars per day, during the session of the Legislative Assembly; but no to other officers shall be paid by the United States: Provided, That there shall be but one session of the Legislature annually, unless, on an extraordinary occasion, the Governor shall think proper to call the Legislature together. There shall be appropriated, annually, the usual sum, to be expended by the Governor, to defray the contingent expenses of the Territory, including the salary of a clerk of the Executive Department and there shall also be appropriated, annually, a sufficient sum, to be expended by the Secretary of the Territory, and upon an estimate to be made by the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, to defray the expenses of the Legislative Assembly, the printing of the laws, and other incidental expenses; and the Governor and Secretary of the Territory shall, in the disbursement of all moneys intrusted to them, be governed solely by the instructions of the secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and shall, semi-annually, account to the said secretary for lit the manner in which the aforesaid moneys shall have been expended; and no expenditure shall be made by said Legislative Assembly for objects not specially authorized by the acts of Congress making the appropriations, nor beyond the sums thus appropriated for such objects.

SEC. 31. And be it further enacted, That the seat of government of said Territory is hereby located temporarily at Fort Leavenworth; and that such portions of the public buildings as may not be actually used and needed for military purposes, may be occupied and used, under the direction of the Governor and Legislative Assembly, for such public purposes as may be required under the provisions of this act.

SEC. 32. The first election shall be held at such time and places, and be conducted in such manner, as the Governor shall appoint and direct; and at all subsequent elections, the times, places, and manner of holding the elections shall be prescribed by law. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be declared by the Governor to be duly elected, and a certificate thereof shall be given accordingly. That the Constitution, and all laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable, shall have the same force and effect within the said Territory of Kansas as elsewhere within the United States, except the eighth section of the act preparatory to the admission of Missouri into the Union, approved March sixth, eighteen hundred and twenty, which, being inconsistent with the principle of non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the States and Territories, as recognized by the legislation of eighteen hundred and fifty, commonly called the Compromise Measures, is hereby declared inoperative and void; it being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to revive or put in force any law or regulation which may have existed prior to the act of sixth of March, eighteen hundred and twenty, either protecting, establishing, prohibiting, or abolishing slavery.

SEC. 33. And be it further enacted; That there shall hereafter be appropriated, as has been customary for the territorial governments, a sufficient amount, to be expended under the direction of the said Governor of the Territory of Kansas, not exceeding the sums heretofore appropriated for similar objects, for the erection of suitable public buildings at the seat of government, and for the purchase of a library, to be kept at the seat of government for the use of the Governor, Legislative Assembly, Judges of the Supreme Court, Secretary, Marshal, and Attorney of said Territory, and such other persons, and under such regulations, as shall be prescribed by law.

SEC. 34. And be it further enacted, That when the lands in the said Territory shall be surveyed under the direction of the government of the United States, preparatory to bringing the same into market, sections numbered sixteen and thirty-six in each township in said Territory shall be, and the same are hereby, reserved for the purpose of being applied to schools in said Territory, and in the States and Territories hereafter to be erected out of the same.

SEC. 35. And be it further enacted, That, until otherwise provided by law, the Governor of said Territory may define the Judicial Districts of said Territory, and assign the judges who may be appointed for said Territory to the several districts; and also appoint the times and places for holding courts in the several counties or subdivisions in each of said judicial districts by proclamation, to be issued by him; but the Legislative Assembly, at their first or any subsequent session, may organize, alter, or modify such judicial districts, and assign the judges, and alter the times and places of holding the courts as to them shall seem proper and convenient.

SEC. 36. And be it further enacted, That all officers to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, for the Territory of Kansas, who, by virtue of the provisions of any law now existing, or which may be enacted during the present Congress, are required to give security for moneys that may be intrusted with them for disbursement, shall give such security, at such time and place, and in such manner as the Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe.

SEC. 37. And be it further enacted, That all treaties, laws, and other, engagements made by the government of the United States with the Indian tribes inhabiting the territories embraced within this act, shall be faithfully and rigidly observed, notwithstanding any thing contained in this act; and that the existing agencies and superintendencies of said Indians be continued with the same powers and duties which are now prescribed by law, except that the President of the United States may, at his discretion, change the location of the office of superintendent.

Approved, May 30, 1854.


Kansas–Nebraska Act

The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 (10 Stat. 277) was a territorial organic act that created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. It was drafted by Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas, passed by the 33rd United States Congress, and signed into law by President Franklin Pierce. Douglas introduced the bill intending to open up new lands to development and facilitate the construction of a transcontinental railroad, but the Kansas–Nebraska Act is most notable for effectively repealing the Missouri Compromise, stoking national tensions over slavery, and contributing to a series of armed conflicts known as "Bleeding Kansas".

  • Introduced in the SenatebyStephen A. Douglas (D–IL)
  • Passed the Senate on March 4, 1854 (37–14)
  • Passed the House on May 22, 1854 (113–100)
  • Signed into law by PresidentFranklin Pierceon May 30, 1854

The United States had acquired vast amounts of sparsely settled land in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, and since the 1840s Douglas had sought to establish a territorial government in a portion of the Louisiana Purchase that was still unorganized. Douglas's efforts were stymied by Senator David Rice Atchison and other Southern leaders who refused to allow the creation of territories that banned slavery slavery would have been banned because the Missouri Compromise outlawed slavery in the territory north of latitude 36°30' north. To win the support of Southerners like Atchison, Pierce and Douglas agreed to back the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, with the status of slavery instead decided based on "popular sovereignty". Under popular sovereignty, the citizens of each territory, rather than Congress, would determine whether or not slavery would be allowed. [1]

Douglas's bill to repeal the Missouri Compromise and organize Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory won approval by a wide margin in the Senate, but faced stronger opposition in the House of Representatives. Though Northern Whigs strongly opposed the bill, the bill passed the House with the support of almost all Southerners and some Northern Democrats. After the passage of the act, pro- and anti-slavery elements flooded into Kansas to establish a population that would vote for or against slavery, resulting in a series of armed conflicts known as "Bleeding Kansas". [2] Douglas and Pierce hoped that popular sovereignty would help bring an end to the national debate over slavery, but the Kansas–Nebraska Act outraged many Northerners, giving rise to the anti-slavery Republican Party. Ongoing tensions over slavery would eventually lead to the American Civil War.


Where is the Nebraska Territory?

The Kansas-Nebraska Act created a territory that stretched all the way north from the southern boundary of present-day Nebraska to include all of the remaining lands of the Louisiana Purchase. Over the years, changes were made that left the territory in roughly the same shape and with roughly the same boundaries as Nebraska has today.

But even this final territory was almost torn into two parts as a conflict developed between the settlers living north of the Platte and those living south of the Platte. The issue that angered the people was the location of the territorial capital and the political power that would go with it. The area south of the Platte River, which had more people, wanted the capital to be located south of the river. They bitterly complained about the choice of Omaha City (north of the Platte) as the first capital. A South Platte convention was held at Brownville in 1859, and a formal request was sent to Congress asking them to allow the South Platte area to be annexed by Kansas. They argued that the soil and climate in Kansas and the South Platte area of Nebraska were similar, and that the Platte River was impassable and formed a natural boundary between Nebraska and Kansas. Eventually a compromise made Lincoln the new capital and reunited the state.

Discussion Questions:

Did Native Americans live in Nebraska during this time period?

How were their lives influenced by the Kansas-Nebraska Act?

How did the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Acts affect the settlement of the Nebraska area?


The Law that Ripped America in Two

Abolitionist John Brown—failed businessman, sometime farmer and fulltime agent, he believed, of a God more disposed to retribution than mercy— rode into the PottawatomieValley in the new territory of Kansas on May 24, 1856, intent on imposing “a restraining fear” on his proslavery neighbors. With him were seven men, including four of his sons. An hour before midnight, Brown came to the cabin of a Tennessee emigrant named James Doyle, took him prisoner despite the pleadings of Doyle’s desperate wife, and shot him dead. After butchering Doyle and two of his sons with broadswords, the party moved on to kill two other men, leaving one with his skull crushed, a hand severed and his body in Pottawatomie Creek.

In a sense, the five proslavery settlers were casualties not merely of Brown’s bloody-mindedness but also of a law described by historians William and Bruce Catton as possibly “the most fateful single piece of legislation in American history.” Ironically, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, passed by Congress 150 years ago this month (100 years to the week before the landmark Supreme Court decision—Brown v. Board of Education—barring school segregation), was meant to quiet the furious national argument over slavery by letting the new Western territories decide whether to accept the practice, without the intrusion of the federal government. Yet by repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had outlawed slavery everywhere in the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri’s southern border (except for Missouri itself), the new law inflamed the emotions it was intended to calm and wrenched the country apart.

As a result of the legislation’s passage, resentments became bloody hostilities, the Democratic Party lay shattered, a new Republican Party was created and an Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln embarked on the road to the presidency. Had the law made civil war unavoidable? “I’d put it this way,” says historian George B. Forgie of the University of Texas. “Whatever the chances of avoiding disunion before Kansas-Nebraska, they fell dramatically as a result of it.”

The author of the bill—officially called “An Act to Organize the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas”—was Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, eclipsed in history by his rival Lincoln, but for most of his lifetime a figure of far greater national consequence. Short-legged and barrelchested, with a head disproportionately large for his body, the 5-foot-4 Democrat, known to admirers as the Little Giant, was a gifted, dynamic, rough-mannered man who seemed destined to be president. Ferocious in debate (the author Harriet Beecher Stowe likened his forensic style to “a bomb . . . [that] bursts and sends red-hot nails in every direction”), he first ran for Congress at age 25 against Lincoln’s law partner, John T. Stuart. (Douglas lost by 36 votes.) Douglas biographer Robert W. Johannsen reports that Stuart once became so incensed at Douglas’ language that he “tucked him under his arm, and carried him around the Springfield markethouse. Douglas, in return, gave Stuart’s thumb such a bite that Stuart carried the scar for many years afterward.”

Douglas was equally combative in Congress. An avid backer of the Mexican War of 1846-48, he looked forward, if not to an American empire, at least to a republic spanning the continent. But his ambitions could hardly be realized by a nation at war with itself. The problem, as always, was slavery. As the boundaries of the nation moved westward, threatening the tenuous balance of power between slaveholding states and free states, Congress had struck the bargains needed to keep the Union intact without confronting the issue of slavery head-on. One accommodation had followed another, but time was not on the side of evasion. Observes historian Paul Finkelman of the University of Tulsa: “As Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, ‘all knew that this interest’—slavery— ‘was somehow the cause of the war.’ That ‘interest’ was not likely to go away peacefully. Sooner or later the American people had to come to terms with it.”

Mildly opposed to slavery in principle, Douglas regarded the issue as more a dangerous distraction than a fundamental obstacle to the Republic’s survival. White America’s destiny, in his view, was to extend its domain from the Atlantic to the Pacific, not to agonize over the dubious rights of those he considered his racial inferiors. With that perspective in mind, he had helped arrange the historic Compromise of 1850, which admitted California to the Union as a free state while placing no restrictions on slavery in the new territories of Utah and New Mexico. Voters there would decide for themselves whether or not to permit slavery, and the principle would be known as popular sovereignty. But four years later Douglas had a different agenda. Early in 1854, hoping to open the way for a railroad linking California with Illinois and the East, he wanted Congress to approve the establishment of the NebraskaTerritory in the vast wilderness west of Missouri and Iowa. Douglas had sought such approval before, but lacked the Southern votes to get it. Further bargaining would now be necessary, and the stakes this time would include the Missouri Compromise, for more than 30 years the foundation of federal policy regarding the expansion of slavery. If Nebraska were organized with the compromise in place, it would be slave-free and slave-state Missouri would be bordered on three sides by free states and territories. Missouri’s influential—and rabidly proslavery—senator, David Atchison, had a problem with that he wanted Nebraska opened to slavery, and vowed to see it “sink in hell” if it were not.

Thus began a delicate negotiation in which Douglas, who had once described the Missouri Compromise as “a sacred thing, which no ruthless hand would ever be reckless enough to disturb,” searched for a politic way of disturbing it—something short of outright repeal. But his would-be Southern allies, fearing that any ambiguity about the compromise’s survival would discourage slaveholders from moving to Nebraska, wanted it struck down unequivocally. Douglas was reluctant, but finally agreed. “By God, sir,” he is said to have exclaimed to Kentucky senator Archibald Dixon, “you are right. I will incorporate it into my bill, though I know it will raise a hell of a storm.”

He was right about that. Even as he saw his bill through the Senate (it now called for the division of Nebraska into two territories, one of them Kansas) and an uneasy House of Representatives, vilification rained from the pulpit, the press and a Congressional vanguard of outraged Free-Soilers, as those who opposed slavery’s extension were known. At one point the Senate received a petition 250 feet long and signed by more than 3,000 New England clergymen urging the bill’s defeat “in the name of Almighty God.” Douglas detested abolitionists and sought in vain to cast the protests as the work of extremists.

There was, in fact, a growing antipathy in the North toward slavery. Moreover, observes Forgie, “the upending of a permanent deal naturally antagonizes people disadvantaged by it, and [Kansas-Nebraska] fed existing worries that the slaveholding class was bent on extending its power nationally, with the goal of ultimately destroying republican institutions. Also, the law seemed to promise the movement of blacks into areas Northern whites had assumed were to be reserved for them.”

Though Douglas later observed that he could have made his way from Boston to Chicago “by the light of my own effigy,” he was not about to be intimidated. He was, after all, a practical man, and he saw Kansas-Nebraska as a practical bill. By transferring authority over slavery from Congress to the territories themselves, he believed he was removing a threat to the Union. Nor did he think it likely that slavery would spread from the 15 states where it existed to the areas being opened for settlement. But when it came to judging public feeling on the issue, the senator was, unhappily, tone-deaf.

“He was a Northern man who was Southern in his views on race,” explains Finkelman. “He said he didn’t care whether slavery was voted up or down, but most Northerners did care. He may have been the only person in America who didn’t. Many Northerners, and Lincoln is a great example, thought the Missouri Compromise was just a notch below the Constitution as a fundamental part of the American political framework. They saw it as putting slavery on the road to extinction, and that was for them a sacred goal. Kansas-Nebraska betrayed this.” And so, the battle lines were drawn.

Douglas seemed unfazed at first, confident he could undo the damage. He soon discovered otherwise. Speaking in Chicago on behalf of his party to kick off the 1854 Congressional election campaign in Illinois—though he wasn’t on the ballot himself—Douglas was interrupted by “an uproar of shouts, groans and hisses,” reports Johannsen. “Missiles” were thrown, and “to the delight of the crowd, Douglas lost his temper, denouncing the assemblage as a mob and replying to their taunts by shaking his fist, which only intensified the din. . . . ” Douglas put up with the heckling for more than two hours, then angrily strode from the platform. “It is now Sunday morning,” he was said to have shouted back at his tormentors (though some historians doubt that he did). “I’ll go to church, and you may go to hell!”

The ensuing election confirmed the devastating impact of Douglas’ bill on his Democratic party. Opponents of the Kansas-Nebraska Act carried both houses of the Illinois legislature, which at that time still elected U.S. senators, and free-state Democrats lost 66 of their 91 seats in the House of Representatives. Suddenly, the Democrats found themselves a Southern party, one that would be able after 1856 to elect only one president in the remainder of the century.

Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln, a former one-term congressman nearly five years out of office, had joined the fray. Stumping for Richard Yates, a candidate for Congress in the 1854 election, Lincoln tore into Kansas-Nebraska, calling it “covert real zeal for the spread of slavery.” In so doing, he was directly challenging Douglas, setting the stage for the crucial debates between them four years later that would make Lincoln a national figure. “I was losing interest in politics,” he wrote in a letter in 1859, “when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again.” Lincoln was capable of raising the slavery debate to a level at which Douglas seems profoundly disadvantaged, in retrospect (as he wasn’t then), by his obvious disdain for blacks, slave or free. “I care more for the great principle of self-government,” Douglas would one day declare, “. . . than I do for all the negroes in Christendom.” According to his biographer William Lee Miller, Lincoln quoted Douglas as saying that in all contests between the Negro and the crocodile, Douglas was for the Negro, but that in all questions between the Negro and the white man, he was for the white man.

While Douglas viewed popular sovereignty as a bedrock democratic value, Lincoln saw its application to slavery as a callous statement of moral indifference. And he equated revoking the Missouri Compromise with repudiating the Declaration of Independence itself. “Near eighty years ago,” he observed, “we began by declaring that all men are created equal but now . . . we have run down to the other declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a ‘sacred right of self-government.’”

Though Lincoln’s feelings about what he called “the monstrous injustice of slavery” were sincere, he was no abolitionist, and he felt bound to accept slavery where it existed. He was, like Douglas, a practical man, with whom the Union always came first. He endorsed the spirit of compromise on which it depended, and which he believed Kansas-Nebraska subverted. “And what shall we have in lieu of [this spirit]?” he asked. “The South flushed with triumph and tempted to excesses the North, betrayed, as they believe, brooding on wrong and burning for revenge. One side will provoke the other resent. The one will taunt, the other defy one aggresses, the other retaliates.”

That is precisely what happened. “Any plausible explanation of the failure to find another sectional compromise in 1860-61 would have to include the fact that [trust in such agreements] took a deadly hit with Kansas-Nebraska,” says Forgie. “Why would anyone sign on to a compromise again?” And once awakened, the South’s hope that Kansas might become the 16th slave state took on a tenacious life of its own. When the North proved equally determined to keep Kansas free, the territory turned into a battlefield.

Events quickly took an ominous turn. When New England abolitionists formed the Emigrant Aid Company to seed Kansas with antislavery settlers, proslavery Missourians sensed an invasion. “We are threatened,” an acquaintance complained in a letter to Senator Atchison, “with being made the unwilling receptacle of the filth, scum and offscourings of the East . . . to preach abolition and dig underground Railroads.”

In fact, most emigrants did not go to Kansas to preach anything, much less to dig. As likely to be antiblack as they were antislavery, they went for land, not a cause. Likewise, most proslavery settlers had neither slaves nor the prospect of having any. Yet these distinctions didn’t much matter. Kansas became part of the larger American drama, and the few thousand settlers who made their home in the territory found themselves surrogates, reluctant or not, of the inexorable issues that threatened the Union. “Kansas,” says Forgie, “much like Korea or Berlin in the Cold War, readily took form as the arena in which a battle was being waged for much larger stakes. Which section’s institutions would shape the future of the continent?”

What happened in Kansas has been called a bushwhackers’ war, and it began with a bushwhacked election. Defending themselves against what they saw as Yankee fanatics and slave stealers, thousands of Missourians, led by Senator Atchison himself, crossed the border into Kansas in March 1855 to elect, illegally, a proslavery territorial legislature. “There are eleven hundred coming over from PlatteCounty to vote,” Atchison shouted at one point, “and if that ain’t enough we can send five thousand—enough to kill every God-damned abolitionist in the territory!” When the new legislature promptly expelled its few antislavery members, the disenfranchised Free-Soilers set up their own shadow government.

The territory was soon awash with secret societies and informal militias, formed ostensibly for self-defense, but capable of deadly mischief on both sides. Kansas was a powder keg awaiting a match, and it found one in the shooting of DouglasCounty sheriff Samuel Jones, an unrestrained proslavery man, by an unknown assailant, as he sat in his tent outside the Free- Soil stronghold of Lawrence. Soon afterward, the Douglas County grand jury, instructed by a judge angered by what he regarded as Free-Soilers’ treasonous resistance to the territorial government, returned sedition indictments against the Free- Soil “governor,” Charles Robinson, two Lawrence newspapers and the town’s Free State Hotel, supposedly being used as a fortress. Soon a posse descended on Lawrence, led by a federal marshal who made several arrests before dismissing the troops. It was then that Sheriff Jones, recovered from his wound (but not, in the view of historian Allan Nevins, from being “a vindictive, blundering fool”), took over the posse, which looted the town, wrecked the newspapers’ presses, set fire to Robinson’s house and burned the hotel after failing to destroy it with cannon fire.

It was a bad day for Lawrence, but a better one for the nation’s antislavery press, which made the sack of Lawrence, as it was called, sound like the reduction of Carthage. “Lawrence in Ruins,” announced Horace Greeley’s New YorkTribune. “Several Persons Slaughtered—Freedom Bloodily Subdued.” (In fact, the only fatality in Lawrence was a slave-stater struck by falling masonry.)

As exaggerated as the “sack” may have been, in the climate of the day it was bound to have consequences. John Brown quickly set them in motion. He had been on his way to help defend Lawrence with a group called the Pottawatomie Rifles when he learned he was too late and turned his attention to the unfortunate Doyles and their neighbors. (Three years later, on October 16, 1859, Brown and his followers would stage a bloody attack on a federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Cornered by U.S. Marines under the command of Col. Robert E. Lee, a wounded Brown would be taken prisoner, convicted and hanged.)

Reaction in Kansas to Brown’s Pottawatomie killing spree was swift. Proslavery settlers were furious, fearful and primed for revenge, and many Free-Soilers were horrified— as well they might have been, since the incident was followed by an outbreak of shootings, burnings and general mayhem. Yet the larger Eastern audience hardly knew what had happened. Like the sack of Lawrence, the Pottawatomie murders were transformed in the telling. Either they hadn’t happened at all, had been committed by Indians or had occurred in the heat of battle. In the great propaganda war being waged in the Northern press, slave-state Kansans were invariably cast as the villains, and it was a role they were not to escape.

Sometimes they seemed not to be trying, as when the tainted proslavery legislature made even questioning the right to hold slaves in Kansas a felony and made aiding a fugitive slave a capital offense. Neither law was enforced, but that was probably not the point. Unable to match the flood of Free- Soil emigrants pouring in from the OhioValley and elsewhere, slave-staters seemed more determined than ever to make the territory inhospitable to those opposed to slavery.

And they did not lack for allies. “The admission of Kansas into the Union as a slave state is now a point of honor with the South,” wrote South Carolina congressman Preston Brooks in March 1856. “It is my deliberate conviction that the fate of the South is to be decided with the Kansas issue.” Thus freighted with national consequence, resolution of the Kansas question would hardly be left to Kansans alone. Under the circumstances, it seems unsurprising that presidents Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, Northern men of pronounced Southern sympathies, both endorsed the legitimacy of the illegitimate legislature over the objections of a succession of territorial governors.

Among them was Robert J. Walker, a former Treasury secretary and a Douglas ally. Meeting with President Buchanan before leaving Washington in the spring of 1857, he spelled out his understanding, with which Buchanan agreed, that Kansas would be admitted to statehood only after residents were able to vote freely and fairly on a state constitution.

It sounded simple enough. But the difficulty of its execution was made clear when, at a welcoming banquet in Kansas, the diminutive Walker was upbraided by one of his proslavery hosts: “And do you come here to rule us? You, a miserable pigmy like you?. . . Walker, we have unmade governors before and by God, I tell you, sir, we can unmake them again!” Certainly they were ready to try. After Free-Soilers refused to participate in what they believed, with reason, would be a rigged election for constitutional convention delegates, the proslavery convention, meeting in the town of Lecompton, made a crucial decision.

Rather than being allowed to vote up or down on a proposed constitution, Kansans would be given a choice between a constitution with slavery and a constitution without it. But the constitution without it contained a clause allowing slaveholders already in the territory to retain not only their slaves but the slaves’ offspring. Free-Soilers, naturally, saw their choice as being not between slavery and its absence, but between a little bit of slavery and a lot of it—or, as one Kansan put it, between taking arsenic with bread and butter and taking it straight. When the options were put to a vote, Free-Soilers once again declined to take part.

By this time, the battle had been joined in Washington. Over the objections of Governor Walker, Buchanan had decided to accept the verdict of the Lecompton convention and the inevitable approval of its slave-state constitution. The president’s decision led him to an angry confrontation with Douglas, who saw it as a betrayal of the very popular sovereignty on which the senator had staked his career.

Now, as always, Douglas saw himself as the defender of the sane middle ground, where the Union might be saved from extremists. But when the House of Representatives, at Douglas’ urging, refused to accept the slave-state constitution submitted by Kansas, Southerners who had supported Douglas’ notion of popular sovereignty when it suited their purposes now abandoned both it and Douglas. And Buchanan, who had boldly proclaimed Kansas “as much a slave state as Georgia or South Carolina,” became Douglas’ implacable enemy. The South had elected Buchanan, and he was desperately afraid of secession he couldn’t bring himself to back down on Lecompton.

Yet neither could Douglas. Whatever a compromise might have gained him in the South would have been lost in the North and the West, where the Democrats were already in disarray. And though Douglas had made his reputation as a canny politician, he was also, at bottom, a patriot. He believed a national Democratic Party was needed to hold the Union together, and he believed he was needed to lead it. Douglas had never been a man of moderate habits, and his health in recent years had been suspect. But when, in 1860, he was at last nominated for the presidency, and found the party irretrievably damaged—Southern Democrats promptly chose a candidate of their own, John C. Breckinridge, to oppose him—he turned his remaining energy into a campaign that was as much for the Union as it was for himself. Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln had been nominated as the presidential candidate of the new Republican Party, created in 1854 to oppose the spread of slavery.

In October, accepting the inevitability of Lincoln’s election, and knowing that secession was no idle threat, Douglas courageously decided on a final tour of the South, hoping to rally sentiment to keep the nation whole. But though his reception was generally civil, the time for persuasion had passed. As if a symbol of the failure of his mission, the deck of an Alabama riverboat on which he and his wife were traveling collapsed, injuring them both and forcing Douglas to continue with the aid of a crutch. He received news of his defeat in Mobile, realized it augured a country divided and likely a war, and retired to his hotel “more hopeless,” reported his secretary, “than I had ever before seen him.” The following June, exhausted in body and spirit, Douglas died at age 48, just seven weeks after the fall of Fort Sumter in the opening salvo of the Civil War.


Kansas-Nebraska Act

The Kansas-Nebraska Act, signed into law on May 30, 1854, by President Franklin Pierce, was closely related to national and sectional politics in the 1850s. The incentive for the organization of the territory came from the need for a transcontinental railroad. Northerners wanted the road to follow a northern route. The Platte Valley, over which thousands of covered wagon emigrants had traveled to the far West, offered an excellent road bed. No one was interested in building a railroad through unorganized Indian country. If the Platte Valley were to be used for the transcontinental railroad, the territory would have to be organized.

To help make the dream of the Platte Valley railroad come true, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, an ardent supporter, repeatedly introduced bills in Congress providing for the organization of Nebraska Territory. In doing so, he ran afoul of southern ambitions to build the railroad west from some city of the South. No one believed there would be more than one transcontinental railroad.

Douglas also ran into a complication regarding the extension of slavery. By the terms of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, slavery was prohibited in the area where Nebraska would be formed. Southern politicians, cool about the organization of Nebraska for railroad purposes, were hostile to the admission of another free state into the union. This worsened the South's already dangerous position in the sectional struggle for power.

In his enthusiasm for Nebraska, Douglas agreed to the creation of two territories instead of one. He also agreed to the doctrine of "popular sovereignty," in which the citizens of each territory would decide for themselves whether they would tolerate slavery.

Many Northerners were highly critical of this concession to the institution of slavery. "Anti-Nebraska" meetings took place all over the North, particularly in the states of the Old Northwest. From these meetings the Republican Party developed. The controversy of the Kansas-Nebraska Act later played an important part in the beginning of the Civil War.


The controversy over the Kansas Nebraska Act proved too much for the ramshackle Whig Party, which was torn apart by sectional antagonism. Filling the political vacuum left by the self-destruction of the Whig Party was the Republican Party, created in 1854 as a sectional party—just what so many American statesmen had tried to avoid. The Republicans attracted a variety of supporters with their free-soil position and their support for high protective tariffs.

As free-soilers, they opposed slavery in the territories, though the racialist motivation of such exclusion of slavery is clear from the party’s 1856 platform, which read, in part, that “all unoccupied territory of the United States, and such as they may hereafter acquire, shall be reserved for the white Caucasian race—a thing that cannot be except by the exclusion of slavery.” Their economic program, of which the protective tariff formed an important plank, could not have been better devised to attract Southern antipathy. Abraham Lincoln, who would be elected in 1860 as the first Republican president, had been a supporter of the protective tariff for several decades by the time he reached the White House.

Power over what?

For the more radical Republicans, the free-soil position was only the opening salvo in what they hoped would be the ultimate extinction of slavery. Conservative Republicans, no friends of slavery either, recognized that what was going on between the sections was a struggle for power, plain and simple. According to historian Eric Foner:

The idea of combating Southern political power and its economic consequences was the key to conservative support for the Republican party. Such measures as a Pacific railroad, a homestead act, a protective tariff, and government aid to internal improvements had been blocked time and again by the Democratic party, at the dictation, it seemed, of the South. The conservatives hoped to use the Republican party to wrest control of the federal government away from the slaveholders, and they viewed the sectional struggle as primarily a contest for political power.

The protective tariff was perhaps the most controversial economic issue of the antebellum period. High tariffs, intended to protect Northern industry from foreign competition, were a terrible burden to the agricultural South, which had little industry to protect. To Southerners, the tariffs meant higher prices for manufactured goods because they bought them abroad and paid the tariff or because they bought them from Northerners at the inflated prices that tariff protection made possible. Although certain sectors of the Southern economy, like Louisiana sugar growers, favored protective tariffs, in general the South opposed the tariff. (Tariff protection would have done little good for Southern products, since the South sold most of its goods on a world market.)

Likewise, federal land policy divided the sections. Northerners favored land giveaways by the federal government, while Southerners believed the federal lands should be sold. Southerners feared that without the revenue the federal government took in from land sales, there would be added pressure to raise the tariff to make up the loss. They also believed that a policy of free land, by increasing the overall amount of agricultural land in use, would tend to lower Southern land values. These were some of the economic issues that divided the sections, and they, as Foner observes, were never far from the surface in the debates of the 1840s and 1850s.


President Pierce signed this bill into law on May 30, 1854 and the massive political fallout that ensured had immediate and enduring consequences. Many northerners view the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act as evidence of the slave power’s hostility to the North and the damaging effects it had on northern interests.

Why did northerners dislike the Kansas-Nebraska Act? Northerners opposed the act because they thought it was a plan to turn this land into slave states. Two opposing state legislatures were formed – one a pro-slavery legislature and the other an antislavery legislature.


Kansas-Nebraska Act

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Kansas-Nebraska Act, officially An Act to Organize the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas, in the antebellum period of U.S. history, critical national policy change concerning the expansion of slavery into the territories, affirming the concept of popular sovereignty over congressional edict. In 1820 the Missouri Compromise had excluded slavery from that part of the Louisiana Purchase (except Missouri) north of the 36°30′ parallel. The Kansas-Nebraska Act, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, provided for the territorial organization of Kansas and Nebraska under the principle of popular sovereignty, which had been applied to New Mexico and Utah in the Compromise of 1850. Pres. Franklin Pierce signed An Act to Organize the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas into law on May 30, 1854.

Written in an effort to arrest the escalating sectional controversy over the extension of slavery, the Kansas-Nebraska Act ironically fanned the flame of national division. It was attacked by free-soil and antislavery factions as a capitulation to the proponents of slavery. Passage of the act was followed by the establishment of the Republican Party as a viable political organization opposed to the expansion of slavery into the territories. In the Kansas Territory a migration of proslavery and antislavery factions, seeking to win control for their respective institutions, resulted in a period of political chaos and bloodshed. See Bleeding Kansas.


A result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was the formation of the Republican Party. the implementation of the Fugitive Slave Act. the elimination of popular sovereignty. the enforcement of the Missouri Compromise.

A result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was the formation of the Republican Party.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was enacted in the United States in 1854, for the creation of the states of Nebraska and Kansas, in territories of the old French Louisiana, but in which they remained some tribes of Indians.

The situation of the two states north of the line defined in the Missouri Compromise meant that both should be states in which slavery was not allowed. However, the contiguity of Kansas with the slave state of Missouri and Senator Douglas's search for southern support for a railroad in his state caused the law to include the provision that, in order to decide on the question of slaves, citizens could exercise the "popular sovereignty" and, therefore, be able to decide whether to be a slave state.

The discussion of the law and subsequent voting provoked strong conflicts between anti-slavery and pro-slavery sides, especially in Kansas, and the disappearance of the Whig Party (divided between supporters of the Law in the south and those opposed to it in the north), and the creation of the Republican Party.


Contents

From June 4, 1812 until August 10, 1821 the area that would become Kansas Territory 33 years later was part of the Missouri Territory. When Missouri was granted statehood in 1821 the area became unorganized territory and contained little to no permanent white settlement with the exception of Fort Leavenworth. The Fort was established in 1827 by Henry Leavenworth with the 3rd U.S Infantry from St. Louis, Missouri it is the first permanent European settlement in Kansas. [2] The fort was established as the westernmost outpost of the American military to protect trade along the Santa Fe Trail from Native Americans. The trade came from the East, by land using the Boone's Lick Road, or by water via the Missouri River. [3] This area, called the Boonslick, was located due east in west-central Missouri and was settled by Upland Southerners from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee as early as 1812. [4] Its slave-holding population would contrast with settlers from New England who would eventually arrive in the 1850s.

The land that would become Kansas Territory was considered to be infertile by 19th century American pioneers. [5] It was called the Great American Desert, for it lacked trees and was dryer than land eastward. Technically, it was part of the vast grasslands that make up the North American Great Plains and supported giant herds of American bison. After the invention of the steel plow and more sophisticated irrigation methods the thick prairie soil would be broken for agriculture. [6] By the 1850s immigration pressure was increasing and organization into a Territory was desired.

Kansas Territory was established on May 30, 1854 by the Kansas–Nebraska Act. This act established both the Nebraska Territory and Kansas Territory. The most momentous provision of the Act in effect repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and allowed the settlers of Kansas Territory to determine by popular sovereignty whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state.

The Act contained thirty-seven sections. The provisions relating to Kansas Territory were embodied in the last eighteen sections. Some of the more notable sections were:

Section 19 Defines the boundaries of the Territory, gives it the name of Kansas, and prescribes that "when admitted as a State or States, the said Territory, or any portion of the same, shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission." It further provides for its future division into two or more Territories, and the attaching of any portion thereof to any other State or Territory and for the holding inviolable the rights of all Indian tribes until such time as they shall be extinguished by treaty. Section 28 Declares the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 to be in full force in the Territory. Section 31 Locates the seat of government of the Territory, temporarily at Fort Leavenworth, and authorizes the use for public purposes of the government buildings.

Pro-slavery settlers Edit

Within a few days after the passage of the Kansas–Nebraska Act, hundreds of Missourians crossed into the adjacent territory, selected a section of land, and then united with fellow-adventurers in a meeting or meetings, intending to establish a pro-slavery preemption upon all this region.

As early as June 10, 1854, the Missourians held a meeting at Salt Creek Valley, a trading post 3 miles (5 km) west from Fort Leavenworth, at which a "Squatter's Claim Association" was organized. They said they were in favor of making Kansas a slave state if it should require half the citizens of Missouri, musket in hand, to emigrate there. According to these emigrants, abolitionists would do well not to stop in Kansas Territory, but keep on up the Missouri River until they reach Nebraska Territory, which was anticipated to be a free state. Before the first arrival of Free-State emigrants from the northern and eastern States, nearly every desirable location along the Missouri River had been claimed by men from western Missouri, by virtue of the preemption laws.

Free staters Edit

During the long debate that preceded the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, it had become the settled opinion at the North that the only remaining means whereby the territory might yet be rescued from the grasp of the slave power, was in its immediate occupancy and settlement by anti-slavery emigrants from the free states in sufficient numbers to establish free institutions within its borders. The desire to facilitate the colonization of the Territory took practical shape while the bill was still under debate in the United States Congress. The largest organization created for this purpose was the New England Emigrant Aid Company, organized by Eli Thayer. [7]

Emigration from the free states (including Iowa, Ohio, and other Midwestern and New England states), flowed into the territory beginning in 1854. These emigrants were known as Free-Staters. Because Missourians had claimed much of the land closest to the border, the Free-Staters were forced to establish settlements further into Kansas Territory. Among these were Lawrence, Topeka, and Manhattan.

To protect themselves against the encroachments of non-residents, the "Actual Settlers' Association of Kansas Territory" was formed. This association held a meeting on August 12, 1854, the object being the adoption of some regulations that should afford protection to the Free-State settlers, under laws not unlike those adopted by the pro-slavery squatters in the border region east.

The first territorial appointments, looking to the inauguration of a local government, under the provisions of the organic law, were made in June and July 1854. The officers appointed by President Pierce, whose appointments were confirmed by the United States Senate, and who entered upon the duties of their officer. The first governor was Andrew Horatio Reeder (of Easton, Pennsylvania) was appointed June 29, 1854 and removed July 28, 1858.

On March 30, 1855 "Border Ruffians" from Missouri entered Kansas during the territory's first legislative election and voted in a pro-slavery Territorial Legislature. Antislavery candidates prevailed in one election district, the future Riley County.

The first session of the legislature was held in Pawnee, Kansas (within the boundary of modern-day Fort Riley) at the request of Governor Reeder. The two-story stone building still stands and is open to the public as the First Territorial Capitol of Kansas. The building remained as the seat of the legislature for five days from July 2–6, 1855, then moved nearer Missouri to the Shawnee Methodist Mission. [8]

In the election of 1857, free-staters out-voted the pro-slavery settlers in the territory, which meant that the territorial legislature fell into free-state hands. [9] Then, on October 4, 1859, the Wyandotte Constitution was approved in a referendum by a vote of 10,421 to 5,530, and after its approval by the U.S. Congress, Kansas was admitted as a free state on January 29, 1861, [10] shortly after the Southern legislators, who would never have permitted a new free state, had walked out. The last legislative act of the Territorial Legislature was the approval of the charter for the College of the Sisters of Bethany. This was February 2, 1861—four days after James Buchanan signed the act of Congress that officially brought Kansas into the Union. [11]

James H. Lane joined the Free-State movement in 1855 and became president of the Topeka Constitutional Convention, which met from October 23 to November 11, 1855. He was later a leader of "Jayhawkers." The first Free-state mass-meeting was in Lawrence on the evening of June 8, 1855 it was stated that persons from Missouri had invaded and had stolen elections to the legislature of the territory.

It was claimed that some Missourians had used violence toward the persons and property of the inhabitants of the Kansas Territory. It was agreed that Kansas should be a free State and that the stolen election was a gross outrage on the elective franchise and rights of freemen and a violation of the principles of popular sovereignty. Those attending did not feel bound to obey any law of illegitimate legislature enacted and opposed the establishment of slavery. The convention reserved the right to invoke the aid of the Federal government against the lawless course of the slavery propaganda in the territory.


Watch the video: The Kansas Nebraska Act Explained


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