From Ohio History Central
The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in 1854 by the United States Congress to deal with the opening of the central Midwest to continuing American settlement.
By 1852, white Americans desired to move into the area that comprises modern-day Kansas. Many white farmers coveted the land along the Kansas and Platte Rivers, believing that it would make profitable farms. Businessmen and farmers alike also desired a transcontinental railroad. Many of these people favored a route passing through Kansas. A railroad across the United States would allow Eastern industrialists a cheaper and faster way to transport their products to the burgeoning population of the West. It would also allow Western farmers an easier means of transporting their crops to the major cities of the East.
The divisions between North and South were widening and would eventually lead to Civil War.