support from Southern Democrats.Backlash Against the Kansas-Nebraska ActBecause popular sovereignty had worked in the Compromise of 1850, Douglas assumed that the doctrine would work in the unorganized territories as well. Privately, he believed that slavery would never take hold in Kansas and Nebraska because the terrain was unsuitable for producing cotton.
Popular sovereignty, then, was merely a carrot to appease the South. Douglas thus figured the act would please both the abolitionists in the North and slave owners in the South, bring development to Chicago, and increase his chances for the party’s nomination in 1856without really changing anything.But Douglas’s plan backfired. Southerners—Democrats and Whigs alike—jumped at the opportunity to open Northern territories to slavery, but Northerners recoiled, outraged that the Missouri Compromise had been violated. Riots and protests against the Kansas-Nebraska Act erupted in Northern cities.Growing Antislavery Sentiments in the NorthWhat Douglas had failed to realize was that most Northerners regarded the Missouri Compromise to be almost sacred. The publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabinand the brutal enforcement of the FugitiveSlave Act had by this time awakened hundreds of thousands in the North to the horrors of slavery. Even those who benefited from Southern slavery, such as textile manufacturers, did not wish to see slavery expand further west or north. The Kansas-Nebraska Act succeeded only in shifting Northern public opinion even further away from reconciliation with the South.