Shared Stories of the Civil War

Men burning a town, the raid on Lawrence Kansas
Battle of Mine Creek

Andy Thomas

Compromise to Conflict: The Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act

Fort Scott National Historic Site presents Compromise to Conflict: The Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a Shared Stories discussion on Saturday, June 27, 2015, beginning at 2:15 p.m. in the site's Grand Hall. Using contemporary documents, the audience will hear the chilling story of compromise and conflict as told by those who participated.

As leading British colonists in American began to wrestle with the issues that would soon unite them in rebellion against the king, they found themselves in a quandary. Boldly professing that "all men are created equal,…with certain unalienable Rights," men such as Washington, Jefferson, and those who followed, had to face the contradiction between such founding principles and the American institution of slavery. Unfortunately, the issue remained unresolved and became increasingly volatile as the new nation began to grow. One compromise after another treated only the symptoms while the underlying cause,slavery, continued to fester.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 put limits on slavery's expansion but new territory gained from Mexico in the late 1840s reignited the debate. The Compromise of1850 sought to avert a crisis between an increasingly sectional nation of North and South, but its Fugitive Slave Law was incendiary, forcing people to take sides. Then, in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act turned the issue on its head,making further compromise impossible. Kansas Territory became Ground Zero for violence over slavery, a small ripple that soon engulfed the nation in civil war –compromise became conflict.

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