• Section 8 Introduction

     |  Crisis of Constitutionalism

    Section 8 Introduction The political contest between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas encompassed far more than a seat in the United States Senate or even the presidency itself. At stake in the 1850s was the very character of American self-government. In 1854, Congress enacted the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the brainchild of Douglas, then-chairman of the Senate's Committee on the Territories. The Act organized these vast territories, a necessary prelude to settlement (and railroad development, which was Douglas's original motivation), but did so in a way that placed the slavery issue in a state of permanent agitation that would persist until the Civil War. This land had been made forever free as part of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, but under Kansas-Nebraska the people ...
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