May 30, 1854

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 that the area west of Iowa and Missouri—which had been set aside as a permanent Indian reservation—be opened to white settlement. Southern members of Congress demanded that Douglas add a clause that specifically repealed the Missouri Compromise. Instead, the status of slavery in the region was decided by a vote of the region’s settlers. In its final form, Douglas’s bill created two territories (Kansas and Nebraska) and declared the Missouri Compromise “inoperative and void.”

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to get free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Related Site Content