Senator Douglas created the Kansas and Nebraska territories as a way to appease both sides of the slavery issue, but this action resulted in increased tensions and hostility. Do you think the problems that resulted from creating these territories could have been prevented? If so, how? If not, why not?
The problems that resulted from the creation of the Kansas and Nebraska territories could not have been prevented because by 1854, the nation was already divided by the slavery question and tensions were high. There was more at stake than merely the question of whether or not blacks should be free and in fact for most people, on either side of the debate, personal and business interests were what really mattered, not the morality of making slaves out of fellow human beings.
As the United States expanded westward, controversy swirled as citizens debated whether new territories should be slave or free. Some argued that allowing slavery would populate the west with rich plantation owners, whereas if slavery were prohibited, average farmers (who could not afford slaves) would have an opportunity to benefit from westward expansion. Southerners wanted the opportunity to move westward and to bring their slaves with them so they could perpetuate the economy and lifestyle under which the wealthiest among them had prospered. Slavery itself was not the only issue. As historian Kevin M. Schultz (2011) has pointed out, northern Democrats were opposed to slavery, although "they shared the racist beliefs of the day and had no desire to live amid a large African-American population" (p. 224).
The federal government, in an effort to distance itself from the controversy, allowed the locals to make the decision. There was a race to populate the Kansas territory since voters would be able to decide for themselves. Missouri, a slave state, encouraged slaveholding families to migrate to Kansas, while abolitionists sent northern settlers to take up residence. As tensions mounted, people on both sides of the question increasingly resorted to violence to drive away those on the opposing side. It…
Sources Used in Document:
Kennedy, D.M., Cohen, L., & Bailey, T.A. (2010). The American Pageant. AP Edition.
Schultz, K. (2011). HIST: Volume 2. Independence, KY: Cengage