In United States history, the events of the 1850’s proved to be the staging ground for disastrous Civil War of 1861-1865. Two examples were the Fugitive Slave Act and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. These events greatly affected the country at the time and in the long run.
Of all the bills that made up the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1854 was the most controversial. It required citizens to assist in the recovery of fugitive slaves. It denied a fugitive’s right to a jury trial. The act called for changes in filing for a claim, making the process easier for slaveowners. Also, according to the act, there would be more federal officials responsible for enforcing the law. For slaves attempting to build lives in the North, the new law was disaster. Bounty hunters often brought back slaves for the money. Free blacks, as well as escaped slaves, were captured and sent to the South. With no legal right to plead their cases, they were completely defensless. Passage of the Fugitive Slave Act made Northern abolitionists all the more resolved to put an end to slavery. The Underground Railroad became more active, reaching its peak between 1850 and 1860. The act also brought the subject of slavery before the nation. Many who had previously been neutral about slavery now took a definitive stance against the institution. Overall, the Fugitive Slave Act created yet another reason for secession from the South, and tested the survival of the Union to an enormous extent.
Senator Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which made Kansas and Nebraska an organized territory. The bill stated that slavery was prohibited north of the 36 degrees, 30 minutes latitude except in Missouri. The bill also stated that Kansas and Nebraska would determine to be free or slave by using popular sovereignty. The bill gave the railroads the right to build a railroad system from Chicago to the Pacific Coast. Many abolitionists settled in Kansas to vote against slavery. The debate was long and bitter in Congress, but president Franklin Pierce supported the bill and it became a law. Kansas and Nebraska became free choosing States. This put a great strain on the country’s opposing sides, as many believed that this act went against the Missouri Compromise. Therefore, with the argument eventually being settled on one side, those who disagreed, particularly in the South, were left unsatisfied. This was one factor of many which would eventually cause civil war.
When two sides have completely different views, especially within one country, it is impossible to compromise and make everyone happy. After the civil war it would be seen that these two acts were done away with. However, in the 1850’s when times were different, these two events helped spark the flame of conflict which, when over, would lead to a solution.