Kansas-Nebraska Act Teacher Resources

The Civil War Era (1830-1880) in United States History was marked by contentious conflicts that split families, split political parties, and split the nation. The Louisiana Purchase, which made new lands available for western expansion, gave rise to the question about whether slavery would be permitted in these territories. Passed by Congress on May 30, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed settlers in the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide the question for themselves.

Lesson Planet has a full range of resources that provide background information on the pressures that led to the legislation (check out this lesson or this primary source activity), the key players in the drafting process (like this handout on abolitionist John Brown or this lesson on the act’s author Stephen Douglas), and the consequences of passing the act, including how the act lead to the Civil War.

The Kansas Nebraska Act stands as one of they key pieces of legislation in the long history of Civil Rights Movement in the United States. No matter the subject area, no matter the grade level, you’ll find a wealth of resources in our collection.

Showing 1 - 24 of 53 resources
Lesson Planet

Day 6: Kansas-Nebraska Act

For Students 6th - 8th Standards
Why is the Kansas-Nebraska Act considered a leading cause of the American Civil War? Class members examine the actions of Presidents James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce, the repeal of the 1880 Missouri Compromise, the passing of the...
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1850-1874 The Kansas-Nebraska Act

For Teachers 4th - 12th Standards
How the Kansas-Nebraska Act created Bleeding Kansas is complicated—until scholars research and examine documents from the time. After completing activities that include mapping, photo, document analysis, and discussion, learners...
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The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854: Popular Sovereignty and the Political Polarization over Slavery

For Teachers 9th - 12th
Why did Stephen Douglas support the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854? Why did Abraham Lincoln oppose it? Young historians examine how the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 affected the political balance between free and slave states and explore how...
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Popular Sovereignty Under the Kansas-Nebraska Act

For Teachers 7th
Seventh graders examine the implications of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. In this slavery lesson plan, 7th graders examine a map of 1820 America and discuss the balance of power implied by the map. Students then read Stephen Douglas's speech...
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Causes of the Civil War: Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850 and Kansas Nebraska Act

For Teachers 8th - 10th Standards
How did the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act contribute to the growing tensions that led to the Civil war? To better understand the events that led to the Civil War, young historians engage in a...
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Eli Thayer and the Kansas-Nebraska Act

For Teachers 9th - 12th
Young scholars determine how states were identified as slave states or free states. In this Kansas-Nebraska Act lesson, students explore the work of Eli Thayer as well as the work of Thayer's supporters in Massachusetts.
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Sectionalism and the Kansas-Nebraska Act

For Teachers 6th - 12th
Students define and discuss sectionalism and popular sovereignty, analyze impact of popular sovereignty in creation of state of Kansas, compare issues in territorial Kansas to current politically divisive topic, and evaluate primary...
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1850-1874 Native Americans and Settlers

For Teachers 4th - 12th Standards
Did Western settlers receiving free land from the Homestead Act realize it wasn't really free at all? Scholars investigate the impact Western expansion had on Native American culture in the mid-1800s. They use documents, timelines, and...
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1850-1874 African American Settlers

For Teachers 4th - 12th Standards
Go West, young man! Scholars investigate the impact of African American settlers moving to the Nebraska territory, following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in the mid 1800s. Using primary sources, timelines, maps, and...
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1850-1874 Homestead Act Signed: Who were the Settlers?

For Teachers 3rd - 12th Standards
Life in the great, wide-open spaces of the West! Scholars analyze the reasons behind the vast movement to the Great Plains after the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Homestead Act. Using photographic, document, map, video, and...
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1850-1874 Notable Nebraskan: J. Sterling Morton

For Teachers 3rd - 12th Standards
What are the characteristics of an outstanding citizen? Nebraskan J. Sterling Morton contributed to the formation of societal and family values in his state. Learners gather information on Morton's life accomplishments from primary...
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1850-1874 Railroads and Settlement

For Teachers 3rd - 12th Standards
Have you ever wondered how your town was placed where it is? Scholars research the impact the advancement of the railroad due to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act had on the formation of civilization in the Great Plains. Map...
Lesson Planet

Sectionalism, Popular Sovereignty and Secession

For Teachers 6th - 12th
Students read and discuss background material on several key decisions that played a role in the Civil War including the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dredd Scott Decision. They create a timeline and write an essay.
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The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854: Popular Sovereignty and the Political Polarization over Slavery

For Teachers 9th - 12th
Students read selections from the Declaration of Independence, Northwest Ordinance of 1787, and the Wilmot Proviso of 1846. They contrast the maps of 1820 and 1854 to analyze developments in the national debate over slavery. They...
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Seeking Historical Detectives to Discover Who Was John Brown?

For Teachers 8th - 11th Standards
Young historians act as detectives in order to examine the characteristics of controversial abolitionist John Brown in the 1850s, working to identify his ultimate mission regarding slavery and the larger impact he had on the Civil War.
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Popular Sovereignty and the Lecompton Constitution

For Teachers 6th - 8th
Students explore the purpose of the Lecompton Constitution.  In this United States History lesson, students read several articles then complete several activities to reinforce their reading, such as a cause and effect worksheet,...
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1850-1874 Beef Moves to Nebraska

For Teachers 3rd - 12th Standards
Just how long was the Long Drive? Learners investigate the movement of cattle in the Great Plains during the mid-1800s. They incorporate photographic, newspaper, video, and primary source evidence into their posters, artwork, and written...
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1850-1874 Homestead Act Signed: The Challenges of The Plains

For Teachers 4th - 12th Standards
Start a whole new life in a land known as the Wild Wild West! Learners analyze maps, personal accounts, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, songs, and video clips to uncover life under the Homestead Act. Using their new skills, class members role...
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Lesson Planet

The Election of 1860 & the Road to Disunion

For Students 9th - 12th Standards
From the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law and construction of a transcontinental railroad to the conflicts that arose as a result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott decision, this video will take your young historians through...
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Popular Sovereignty and the Lecompton Constitution

For Teachers 6th - 8th
Students analyze the issues of popular sovereignty and slavery as these issues related to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1857. They research the Lecompton Constitution and roleplay the parts of U.S. Congress members as they argue for or...
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How We Got to Kansas-Nebraska

For Teachers 8th - 12th
Students explore the causes of the Civil War. In this lesson on slavery students use primary sources to examine the evolution of the issue of  slavery and in the American political system. Students will then write a follow-up essay that...
Lesson Planet

Abraham Lincoln's Crossroads

For Students 3rd - 8th Standards
History enthusiasts participate in an interactive website that brings Abraham Lincoln to life as he shares his personal experiences between 1854-1864. Scholars listen and read carefully to form their own opinions and discover if they...
Lesson Planet

Sectionalism Review Packet

For Students 8th - 10th Standards
What factors led to the Civil War? History classes use a word bank with key figures, important events, and relevant vocabulary from a unit on the mid-19th century in the United States to fill in the blank in a passage on sectionalism.
Lesson Planet

The Settlement of the American West

For Teachers 6th - 8th Standards
What do Abraham Lincoln and the Transcontinental Railroad have in common? Using a set of primary source documents, including pictures, maps, and treaties, class members link together the common themes of expansion into the American West....

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Kansas-Nebraska Act