James A. Banks, et al., eds., United States: Adventures in Time and Place (New York: McGraw-Hill School Division, 1999), 463.
In 1854 Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This law allowed the Kansas and Nebraska territories to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery. Both territories were north of the Missouri Compromise Line. Slave oweners were pleased because the new law opened Kansas and Nebraska to slavery. Many Northern farmers and workers who wanted to move west opposed the law. They worried that rich Southern planters would grab the best land in these territories and use slave labor to farm it. They demanded that the western lands be "free soil". Many "free soilers" joined with abolitionists to form the Republican Party. The Republicans believed that no person should own another and that all new states should be free states. One of the members of the new party was Abraham Lincoln, a lawyer from Illinois. Lincoln opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and warned that "the contest will come to blows and bloodshed." As Lincoln predicted, violence soon broke out between free soilers and slave owners in Kansas. Buildings were burned and people were killed. The newspapers referred to the territory as "Bleeding Kansas."