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Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 5: A Fatal Contradiction
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Stephen A. Douglas
Segment 6
Building the Transcontinental Railroad A Little Giant and a Big Debate

Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois See It Now - Stephen A. Douglas is known as the "Little Giant." He is just over five feet tall, but so full of energy he is called a ''steam engine in breeches.'' He has made his fortune in land speculation and in that new enterprise: railroads. He can see that railroads are the future and that they will someday stretch from coast to coast. If the dreamed-of transcontinental railroad takes the route from Chicago to San Francisco, through the Indian territory west of Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota, Douglas's property will become even more valuable. And there is a way he can have his railroad. He can write a bill for Congress that will do away with the Missouri Compromise and open the Indian territory to slavery. Then he will have the South's votes and his railroad, too.

Douglas's bill divides the western territory into two regions: Kansas and Nebraska (they are much bigger than today's states) See It Now - A Map of Kansas and Nebraska. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 is repealed; the ban on slavery is ended. Instead it is left up to the free residents of each territory to decide whether or not to introduce slavery Check The Source - The Kansas-Nebraska Act. It is called "popular sovereignty," but not all are pleased by it Check The Source - "Appeal of Democrats". This is what an Illinois lawyer and politician, renowned for his honesty, has to say Hear It Now - Illinois Lawyer: "It is wrong, wrong in its effect, letting slavery into Kansas and Nebraska-and wrong in principle, allowing it to spread to every other part of the world, where men can be found inclined to take it Check The Source - "The Crime Against Kansas"."


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Did You Know?
A few southerners had moved into northern territories and brought their slaves. Other southerners were concerned when they traveled north with their slaves. Did slaves become free when they were in a free state? No one knew the answer to that question.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?



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