The Kansas-Nebraska Bill Moves To The House Of Representatives

The bill next moved to the House of Representatives.

On March 21, 1854, as a delaying tactic, the legislation was referred by a vote of 110 to 95 to the committee of the whole where it would be the last item on the calendar. Realizing from the vote to stall that the act faced an uphill struggle, the Pierce Administration made it clear to all Democrats that passage of the bill was essential to the party and would dictate how federal patronage would be handled. Jefferson Davis and Attorney General Caleb Cushing from Massachusetts, along with Douglas, spearheaded the partisan efforts. By the end of April Douglas believed that there were enough votes to pass the bill. The House leadership then began a series of roll call votes in which legislation ahead of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was called to the floor and tabled without debate.

Thomas Hart Benton was among those speaking forcibly against the measure. On April 25, in a House speech that biographer William Nisbet Chambers called “long, passionate, historical, [and] polemical,” Benton attacked the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, which he “had stood upon ... above thirty years, and intended to stand upon it to the end -- solitary and alone, if need be; but preferring company.” The speech was distributed afterwards as a pamphlet when opposition to the act moved outside the walls of Congress.