The Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854 / Edition 1

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Overview

The Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854 turns upside down the traditional way of thinking about one of the most important laws ever passed in American history. The act that created Nebraska and Kansas also, in effect, abolished the Missouri Compromise, which had prohibited slavery in the region since 1820. This bow to local control outraged the nation and led to vicious confrontations, including Kansas’s subsequent mini-civil war. The essays in this volume shift the focus from the violent and influential reaction of “Bleeding Kansas” to the role that Nebraska played in this decisive moment. Essays from both established and new scholars examine the historical context and significance of this statute. They treat American political culture of the 1850s; American territorial history; the roles of Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and Frederick Douglass in the creation and implementation of the law; the reactions of African Americans to the act; and the comparative impact on Nebraskans and Kansans. At the 150th anniversary of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, as it came to be known, these scholars reexamine the political, social, and personal contexts of this act and its effect on the course of American history.
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Editorial Reviews

Civil War Book Review

"This is a well-balanced book with innovative essays by outstanding scholars. It might seem specialized, but the essays, deeply researched as they are, are eminently readable. And there is no question about the enormous importance of the topic. Of all the candidates for the moment at which the United States began the steep slide toward Civil War, the Kansas-Nebraska debate of 1854 ranks high."—Craig Miner, Civil War Book Review

— Craig Miner

Great Plains Quarterly

"The Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854 offers a unique perspective on both the national impact of the bill and the history of the Great Plains."—Gary L. Cheatham, Great Plains Quarterly

— Gary L. Cheatham

Civil War Book Review - Craig Miner
"This is a well-balanced book with innovative essays by outstanding scholars. It might seem specialized, but the essays, deeply researched as they are, are eminently readable. And there is no question about the enormous importance of the topic. Of all the candidates for the moment at which the United States began the steep slide toward Civil War, the Kansas-Nebraska debate of 1854 ranks high."—Craig Miner, Civil War Book Review
Great Plains Quarterly - Gary L. Cheatham
"The Nebraska-Kansas Act of 1854 offers a unique perspective on both the national impact of the bill and the history of the Great Plains."—Gary L. Cheatham, Great Plains Quarterly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803248229
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Series: Law in the American West Series , #10
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John R. Wunder is a professor of history and journalism at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is the author of numerous books, including “Retained by the People”: A History of American Indians and the Bill of Rights, and the coauthor of Americans View Their Dust Bowl Experience. Joann M. Ross has a JD from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She is currently a history instructor at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts and is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Contributors include: Nicole Etcheson, Tekla Ali Johnson, Mark E. Neely Jr., Phillip S. Paludan, James A. Rawley, Brenden Rensink, Joann M. Ross, Walter C. Rucker, and John R. Wunder.
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Table of Contents

List of Maps

1 "An Eclipse of the Sun": The Nebraska-Kansas Act in Historical Perspective John R. Wunder Wunder, John R. Joann M. Ross Ross, Joann M. 1

2 The Kansas-Nebraska Act in American Political Culture: The Road to Bladensburg and the Appeal of the Independent Democrats Mark E. Neely, Jr. Neely, Mark E., Jr. 13

3 Nebraska and Kansas Territories in American Legal Culture: Territorial Statutory Context Brenden Rensink Rensink, Brenden 47

4 Stephen A. Douglas and the Kansas-Nebraska Act James A. Rawley Rawley, James A. 67

5 Lincoln's Firebell: The Kansas-Nebraska Act Phillip S. Paludan Paludan, Phillip S. 93

6 Frederick Douglass and the Kansas-Nebraska Act: From Reformer to Revolutionary Tekla Ali Johnson Johnson, Tekla Ali 113

7 Unpopular Sovereignty: African American Resistance and Reactions to the Kansas-Nebraska Act Walter C. Rucker Rucker, Walter C. 129

8 Where Popular Sovereignty Worked: Nebraska Territory and the Kansas-Nebraska Act Nicole Etcheson Etcheson, Nicole 159

App The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 183

Contributors 209

Index 213

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