This map shows how the United States had become
a nation containing two, rival social and economic systems by 1850.
Although many northern states actively discriminated against African-Americans
in law, they forbade human slavery. Southern states increasingly defined
themselves by their reliance upon such servitude, both terms of economic
systems of production and racial castes. In 1850 the Congress, led by
Stephen Douglas of Illinois, hammered out a convoluted compromise legislation
that promised to ease the mounting political tensions between the two
sections. But Douglas' drive to organize the Kansas and Nebraska territories
west of Iowa and Missouri for statehood only reopened the sections'
competition for political primacy. The question remained: Would the
new states of Kansas and Nebraska allow slavery, or ban it?. This issue
brought Abraham Lincoln from political retirement and helped to organize
the new Republican Party. Both sought to prevent slavery's expansion
into the new territories.