Kansas-Nebraska Act for Kids


This page describes the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act


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Causes of the Civil War

Missouri Compromise
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Kansas-Nebraska Act
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Kansas-Nebraska Activities on MrNussbaum.com

Kansas-Nebraska Act and Bleeding Kansas Complete Lesson Plan – This is a complete 90 minute lesson plan for teaching the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Bleeding Kansas. It includes background information, suggestions for discussion, teaching scripts, connections, the maps labeled below (with answer sheet), printable activities and the informational text sheet.
America in 1854 Label-me Map – This activity requires students to label the states and territories as they were in 1854
America in 1854 Blank Outline Map – This is a blank outline map of America in 1854.
Futility versus Immortality – This activity requires students to analyze the qualities of poor leaders such as Pierce and Buchanan and contrast them with a leader such as Abraham Lincoln.
Bleeding Kansas Billboard – This ativity requires students to play the role of a "Jawhawker" and to design a billboard that urges settlers to relocate in Kansas. Students must make the images and persuasive text.
Jawhawkers and Strange College Mascots – This activity explains the genesis of the University of Kansas "Jayhawk" mascot and requires students to author explanations of other strange college mascots such as the Tarheel, Sooner, and Razorback. Actual explanations are provided.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act


In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which organized the remaining territory acquired in the Louisiana Purchase so that such territories could be admitted to the Union as states.

Probably the most important result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was its language concerning the contentious issue of slavery. Proposed by Stephen A. Douglas, and signed by president Franklin Pierce, the bill divided the region into two territories. Territory north of the 40th parallel was called Nebraska Territory, and territory south of the 40th parallel was called Kansas Territory. The most controversial aspect of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was that each territory would decide for itself whether or not to permit slavery. This stipulation repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which stated that slavery was prohibited north of 36° 30′.

As there was more support for slavery in Kansas, both pro-slavery and anti-slavery advocates organized teams of people to settle in the state. Not surprisingly, the area became a battleground for both sides, and the resulting violence caused the territory to be referred to as “Bleeding Kansas,” and was one of the first major causes of the Civil War. Eventually, on January 29, 1861, after much controversy, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state – just months before the first shots of the Civil War were fired.