President Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act on May 30, 1854, creating the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. The act allowed residents of the new territories to decide whether or not to permit slavery, thus reversing the limits on slavery set by the Missouri Compromise in 1820. Proponents of the act thought it provided a peaceable means by which the slavery issue could be addressed in the new territories; however shortly after its passage pro and anti-slavery factions in Kansas fought violently for control. “Bleeding Kansas” became the focus of the slavery debate and a major factor leading to the Civil War.
H.R. 236, 5/9/1854, Records of the U.S House of Representatives