What was the Kansas Nebraska Act?

In December, 1853, a bill was introduced into Congress by Mr. Dodge, a Senator from Iowa, for the organization of the Territory of Nebraska. Mr. Dixon, of Kentucky, proposed, as an amendment to this bill, to abrogate the Missouri Compromise and permit the citizens of the Southern States to take and hold their slaves within any of the new Territories or the States formed there from. On January 23, 1854, the bill was reported back from committee by Mr. Douglas, modified to propose the formation of two Territories, the southern to be called Kansas and the northern Nebraska. It retained the principle of the Dixon amendment, and for four months thereafter a hot debate was maintained in the halls of Congress. Despite the utmost efforts of Northern members, and the numerous petitions from the best element of the Northern people, the bill was carried by the South, the compromise measure which had been accepted as a finality for thirty-five years flung to the winds, and the whole territory from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains thrown open as a new field of battle between the advocates of slavery and freedom.

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