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The Kansas-Nebraska Act
This act permitted the people of each territory to decide the slave issue for themselves. Kansas became a battleground between pro- and anti- slave forces that rushed to the state. Proslavery forces from Missouri managed to pass the Lecompton Constitution, which made slavery legal in the territory. Abolitionists came to Kansas to stem the influence of proslavery advocates, and many of those used the chaos in the territory to mask Underground Railroad efforts.
Source: National Park Service
Read a transcript of the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Source: NARA - Our Documents
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