The Nebraska-Kansas Act relief depicts Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois at the center of a room with 9 other senators discussing the proposed Nebraska-Kansas Act. The bill was introduced by Douglas who proposed splitting land west of Missouri into two separate territories. Douglas favored the notion of popular sovereignty — that the settlers of the two territories would make the decision about whether to allow slavery or not.
The bill was an affront to the previously adopted Missouri Compromise, which stated that slavery should be illegal there since they were above the northern dividing line between free and slave states.
On May 30, 1854, the Nebraska-Kansas Act was passed, and there was a rush of settlers to those areas to determine the status of slavery in the two new territories.
The exterior reliefs of the Capitol depict the history of western civilization. The Nebraska State Capitol is clad in Indiana Limestone.
About Lee Lawrie
Lee Lawrie was born in Germany in 1877 and came to America with his family four years later. As a young boy, he sketched the world around him and it became apparent he had great artistic talent. His first formal job as an artist came at 14 when he was hired in a sculptor’s studio to do odd jobs. It was at this job he taught himself how to model clay in the evenings. He would eventually attend Yale where he earned a bachelor’s of fine arts. He stayed at Yale where he taught until 1919.
Lawrie and Bertram Goodhue met in the late 1800s when the two began collaborating on various projects. Lawrie specialized in architectural sculpture, which was a direct compliment to Goodhue’s appreciation of early Gothic revival designs. The two would achieve a breakthrough in their approach during the construction of the Nebraska State Capitol. They created an approach that fused architecture and sculpture into an integrated and simple design.