The Role Kansas and Nebraska Played in the Civil War

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Crash! Boom! Terrified screams and rifle shots filled the air as Margaret snatched up her baby sister into her arms as she ran around frantically in search of shelter. Finally finding a safe hiding spot behind a large rock, Margaret and her little sister watched in desperation as their small shack was ransacked by John Brown and his raiders. As the sky grew black with smoke, angry tears began streaming down Margaret’s face. Why can’t the anti-slavery settlers just leave us alone? Why are they being so violent? What have we done to them? All we want is land to settle on! Margaret wondered in disheartenment. For settlers who had rushed to claim land in Kansas and Nebraska in the stormy 1850’s, facing violent clashes had become a daily routine. Right on the verge of a national split, the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act led to increased friction between the North and South, led to a national split of the Whig party, and led to violence in Kansas and the Civil War. This significant act resulted in numerous accouterments that left both immediate and progressive effects on America and its political system. The Great Plains area, west of Missouri offered countless opportunities for farming and ranching. In the early 1850’s, settlers and entrepreneurs alike wanted to move into the area we now refer to as present-day Nebraska. However, since Nebraska was organized as a territory, nobody could settle into it as they couldn’t legally claim any land. The southern states' representatives in Congress were reluctant about permitting a Nebraska territory as the land was north of the 36°30' parallel (where slavery had been outlawed by the Missouri Compromise of 1820). The Kansas-Nebraska Act made it possible for the Kansas and Nebraska terri... ... middle of paper ... ... that the worst of her troubles were yet to come. After all, I’m just a lowly settler, climbing the rocky mountain of despair that is life. I will never stop climbing, in hopes of being able to catch a sweet taste of freedom at the top. This view better be worth it. Spawning thoughts of rebellion in the minds of Northerners and Southerners alike, the ratification of the Kansas-Nebraska Act not only fanned the flames of the already smoldering tension in the Union, but it quickly separated the largest political party in America. It resulted in brutal violence in Kansas, portending the beginning of the Civil War. This act left extremely compelling changes to America’s political system, many of which continually affect us today. America changed tremendously with the passage of this act. But did our country transition for better or for worse? It’s up to you to decide.

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