Congress adopted a policy of “termination” toward American Indians with the intention of “as rapidly as possible mak[ing] Indians within the territorial limits of the United States subject to the same laws and entitled to the same privileges and responsibilities as are applicable to other citizens of the United States.”
Congress adopted the Compromise of 1850, which admitted California to the Union as a free state without forbidding slavery in other territories acquired from Mexico. The law prohibited the sale of slaves in Washington, DC, but included a strict law requiring the return of runaway slaves to slaveholders.
Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden introduced his Crittenden Compromise in Congress. The compromise would have protected slavery in the South through a series of constitutional amendments but the proposal was narrowly defeated in the Senate.
Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which overturned the Missouri Compromise. This opened Kansas and Nebraska to white settlement and allowed popular sovereignty to determine slave- or free-state status in territories seeking statehood. The act destroyed the Whig Party, divided the Democratic Party, and prompted the creation the Republican Party. The author of this legislation was Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who had pushed the Compromise of 1850 through Congress. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories, Douglas had proposed...