Happy Birthday, Kansas!
The Path to Statehood
Kansas became the 34th state on January 29, 1861. The journey to become a state was long and bloody. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened the two territories to settlement and allowed the new settlers to determine whether the states would be admitted to the union as “free” or “slave.”
The North and South competed to send the most settlers into the region. This quickly led to violence according to the History Channel, and the territory became known as “Bleeding Kansas.” Here’s the link to all the stories about Kansas from the History Channel.
The Kansas Historical Society
The Kansas Historical Society was established by Kansas newspaper editors and publishers who wanted to record the state’s founding as well as its historic fight again slavery. A committee met on December 13, 1875, and formed the Kansas Historical Society. The group began collecting newspapers and manuscripts from the territorial period. They also established the practice of donating copies of every newspaper published in Kansas to the Society. The agency’s vision is to enrich people’s lives by connecting them to the past.
The Historical Society is a treasure chest of resources. Here are just a few gems from the Historical Society to help you celebrate Kansas Day:
- Podcasts. You can listen to the stories of Kansans—some famous, some infamous, and some just everyday, average folks.
- Kids Kansas Activity Book. You can download pages so your kids can learn all about Kansas, or buy the entire book.
- Kansas Day at the Capitol. A run down of activities celebrating statehood. Part of the celebration is the unveiling of the capitol renovation. Part of the project is a 10-panel Kansas mural by Hays artist, Dennis Schiel. The work is located outside the attorney general’s office.
If Western Kansas miners hadn’t been frustrated with distant officials and the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention hadn’t happened Kansas would be much different. The “what if” story from KMUW can be found here.
- Kansas is home to the major military installation Fort Leavenworth.
- With the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the Supreme Court ended the doctrine of “separate but equal” in public schools.
- Kansas is the setting of L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz
- State flower: wild native sunflower
- State tree: cottonwood
- State bird: Western Meadowlark
- State song: Home on the Range
- State Motto: Ad astra per aspera (“To the stars through difficulties”)
- Kansas comes from the Sioux word for “south wind people.”
- Topography: Hilly Osage plains in the east; central region is level prairie and hills; and the west is high plains.
- The geographic center is Barton, located 15 miles northeast of Great Bend.
- Kansas produces the most wheat in the United States. It’s called, “The Wheat Capital of the World.”
- Kansas had the highest rate of fatal casualties of any Union state during the Civil War.