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Great Anti-Nebraska Convention
Great Anti-Nebraska Convention

This broadside advertises a large political gathering to be held in Galesburg, Illinois. At this 1854 event Illinois opponents of Stephen Douglas' Kansas-Nebraska Act came together to vent their spleen and plot strategies for reversing a policy they saw as disastrous. Douglas' act reversed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had stipulated that human slavery would not be tolerated north of Missouri's main southern border. This policy recognized the Union's effective division into two geographical blocks, one slave and one free. In its place Douglas inserted a policy that he called popular sovereignty, which would enable the people of any territory seeking to become a state to decide for themselves if their new constitution would condone slavery. While the established Whig Party desperately tried to sidestep the slavery issue and keep its southern members, antislavery Whigs and irate northern Democrats came together in their opposition to Douglas' measure. A growing, if still small, number of white northerners were coming to oppose slavery on moral grounds. Others looked forward to emigrating to the West and making it a "white man's country." Still other northerners resented southern Democrats' seeming ability to turn national policy to their own best interest again and again. In any case, the Kansas-Nebraska Act threatened to introduce slavery into the American West, and it mobilized a powerful opposition that eventually became the Republican Party. This opposition included the Springfield attorney Abraham Lincoln, called from a brief political retirement by his ardent opposition to American slavery's expansion.

Image source: Knox College
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project