The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in western territories north of the 36°30’ latitude. Missouri was admitted as a slave state, but paired with the new free state of Maine.
Nat Turner led a slave rebellion, killing approximately 60 white people in Southampton County, Virginia. Approximately 175 African Americans, many of them who had not been involved in the uprising, were murdered by white militias or executed by the state in retaliation.
The American Anti-Slavery Society was founded. Abolitionists sought an immediate end to slavery nationwide.
Compromise of 1850: California was admitted as a free state, voters in Utah and New Mexico territories were empowered to choose to allow or prohibit slavery, and the fugitive slave law was strengthened, making it more difficult for escaped slaves to find refuge in Northern states.
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s antislavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published. The book became a best-seller, and helped to popularize a moral critique of slavery.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise, allowing territorial residents on both sides of the 36°30’ latitude to decide whether to admit slavery.
In the first election for territorial representatives in Kansas, illegally voting “border ruffians” from Missouri helped to elect a proslavery majority.
Antislavery “free-state” settlers approved the Topeka Constitution, and elected a free-state legislature which began meeting in Topeka. Proslavery Kansans boycotted these elections, and continued to support the official proslavery legislature.
South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks attacked Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, beating him with a cane on the senate floor. Sumner had given an antislavery speech on the subject of Kansas which Brooks believed insulted the personal honor of one of his family members.
An abolitionist posse led by John Brown attacked proslavery settlers in the Pottawatomie massacre, killing five.
A congressional committee, which had been appointed to investigate “the troubles in Kansas,” delivered its report discrediting the proslavery territorial legislature.
Federal troops disbanded the free-state Topeka legislature by force.
Democrat James Buchanan was inaugurated as President of the United States.
The Supreme Court issued its decision in the case Dred Scott v. Sandford, declaring that African Americans were not entitled to citizenship rights, and that the already-repealed Missouri Compromise had been an unconstitutional federal regulation of slavery.
A proslavery convention authored the Lecompton constitution, which would preserve slavery in Kansas. Rather than provide for a full territory-wide ratification vote on Lecompton, the proslavery convention scheduled only a vote on the proposed constitution’s slavery clause.