The journey to statehood for Kansas was entwined with slavery, and in particular, the issue of whether new territories and states would allow the practice. The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act established two new territories and called on their citizens to determine whether slavery was legal. The act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which would have outlawed slavery in both the Kansas and Nebraska Territories, and it set the stage for a battle between pro-slavery and anti-slavery advocates.
Beginning in 1855, the Kansas Territory drafted a series of constitutions, some allowing slavery in the new state and others banning it. The fourth and final constitution, which abolished slavery, was approved in October 1859 and forwarded to Congress for consideration. This version of the statehood bill, H.R. 23, passed the House on April 11, 1860, and after amendment by the Senate, Congress approved statehood for Kansas in January 1861.