The Oxford Biblical Studies Online and Oxford Islamic Studies Online have retired. Content you previously purchased on Oxford Biblical Studies Online or Oxford Islamic Studies Online has now moved to Oxford Reference, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, or What Everyone Needs to Know®. For information on how to continue to view articles visit the subscriber services page.

Related Content

Related Overviews

Compromise of 1850

Stephen A. Douglas (1813—1861)

Civil War

James Buchanan (1791—1868) American Democratic statesman, 15th President of the US 1857–61

See all related overviews in Oxford Reference »


More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Social sciences
  • Warfare and Defence


Show Summary Details


Kansas-Nebraska Act

Quick Reference


An Act of the US Congress concerning slavery. Following the Mexican–American War, the Compromise of 1850 had allowed squatters in New Mexico and Utah to decide by referendum whether they would enter the Union as “free” or “slave” states. This was contrary to the earlier Missouri Compromise. The Act of 1854 declared that in Kansas and Nebraska a decision on slavery would also be allowed, by holding a referendum. Tensions erupted between pro-and anti-slavery groups, which in Kansas led to violence (1855–57). Those who deplored the Act formed a new political organization, the Republican Party, pledged to oppose slavery in the Territories. Kansas was to be admitted as a free state in 1861, and Nebraska in 1867.

Reference entries