Kansas History - the history of Kansas
   
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Vacation 2 USA   >   Kansas   >   History
Vacation 2 USA   >   History   >   Kansas History

   
 

Kansas History


The first Native American peoples arrived in what is today the state Kansas, approximately 9,000 years ago. Initially these people were hunter-gatherers, but around 3,000 years some converted to a largely settled agricultural lifestyle and developed permanent dwellings in larger settlements.

In 1541, the Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado visited the region. During this expedition, the horse was introduced to the Plains Indian, and this greatly altered their lifestyle and range. The Kansa and Osage peoples arrived in Kansas during the 17th century. Other Native American peoples who inhabited present-day Kansas included the Pawnees and the Otoe tribe of the Sioux.

In 1724, the French visited the Kansas river and established a trading post near the mouth of the river. At this time, the territory was part of the area claimed as New France. Kansas became an unorganized territory of the United States following the 1803 Louisana Purchase from France.

In 1806, the Zebulon Pike explored the area, and labelled it as the "Great American Desert". As a result, in the 1820s, the federal government "permanently" set aside the region as Indian territory and closed it to white settlement. Between the 1820s and 1840s, the federal government moved many Native American tribes into the region. Despite the prohibition on white settlement, the Santa Fe trail passed through Kansas, US Army forts were established inside the territory (starting with Fort Leavenworth in 1827), and by the 1850s, many white Americans were illegally squatting in the area and calling for the entire territory to be opened for settlement.

In the 1850s, white settlers began to push for territorial government, and by 1853, Congress had decided that eastern Kansas should be open to settlement. The treaties with Native Americans were renegotiated, and the U.S. Government regained nearly all the land that it had ceded to them "forever" only a few years before. The Indians were then largely relocated to Oklahoma.

In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act became law, and established the Nebraska and Kansas Territories. A controversial provision of the Act was that settlers in the territories would decide for themselves whether to allow slavery within the borders ("popular sovereignty"), rather than following the earlier Missouri Compromise which banned slavery North of 36°30'. The Kansas-Nebraska Act led to violence and chaos in Kansas with fighting between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers, and four different competing constitutions for Kansas, earning the territory the nickname of "Bleeding Kansas". Eventually, Kansas was admitted as the 34th state of the Union on January 29th, 1861 as a free state.

During the American Civil War (1861 to 1865), most Kansans strongly favored the Union. More than 20,000 men were enlisted from the state, a remarkable number considering the state had only 30,000 men of military age. These forces suffered over 8,500 casualties during the war. During the war, many guerilla raids and atrocities took place in the state, the worst of which occured at Lawrence which destroyed much of the city include the massacre of about 200 men and boys. The biggest battle in the state was the Battle of Mine Creek which involved around 25,000 men.

The 1860s also saw the Indian Wars in Kansas and Nebraska, between Cheyennes and Araphoes on one side, and white settlers and the US Army on the other. The worst incident was the massacre of a band of friendly Indians at Sand Creek near Fort Lyon, who were on their own reservation and had been ordered there as a place of safety.

Following the Civil War, many former slaves, known as "Exodusters", moved to Kansas, which was known as the land of John Brown. These Exodusters founded the town of Nicodemus.

Kansas led the way in the prohibition movement: On February 19th 1881, Kansas was the first US state to ban all alcoholic beverages.

Kansas contributed troops to guard the US-Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution (1916), and over 80,000 troops to the US military after the US entry into World War I in 1917.

After World I, there were several legal battles between the state of Kansas and the Ku Klux Klan, which eventually resulted from their explusion from the state. The region also suffered during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and many farmers left the state as a result.

In 1954, Kansas was at the center of controversy in the court case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka which concerned the Monroe Elementary School, one of four segregated elementary schools in Topeka. The US Supreme Court eventually ruled 9-0 that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" reversing the precedent set by the Court's previous (1899) decision in Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education.


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Hidden History of Kansas

By Adrian Zink

The History Press
Released: 2017-11-06
Paperback (192 pages)

Hidden History of Kansas
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Kansas' storied past is filled with fascinating firsts, humorous coincidences and intriguing characters. A man who had survived a murderous proslavery massacre in 1858 hanged his would-be executioner five years later. A wealthy Frenchman utilized his utopian ideals to create an award-winning silk-producing commune in Franklin County. A young boy's amputated arm led to the rise of Sprint Corporation. The first victim of the doomed Donner Party met her end in Kansas. In 1947, a housewife in Johnson County, indignant at the poor condition of the local school for black children, sparked school desegregation nationwide. Author and historian Adrian Zink digs deep into the Sunflower State's history to reveal these hidden and overlooked stories.

Kansas: The History of the Sunflower State, 1854-2000

By Craig Miner

Brand: University Press of Kansas
Paperback (528 pages)

Kansas: The History of the Sunflower State, 1854-2000
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Kansas is not only the Sunflower State, it's the very heart of America's heartland. It is a place of extremes in politics as well as climate, where ambitious and energetic people have attempted to put ideals into practice-a state that has come a long way since being identified primarily with John Brown and his exploits.

Craig Miner has written a complete and balanced history of Kansas, capturing the state's colorful past and dynamic present as he depicts the persistence of contrasting images of and attitudes toward the state throughout its 150 years. A work combining serious scholarship with great readability, it encompasses everything from the Kansas-Nebraska Act to the evolution-creationism controversy, emphasizing the historical moments that were pivotal in forming the culture of the state and the diverse group of people who have contributed to its history.

Kansas: The History of the Sunflower State is the first new state history to appear in over twenty-five years and the most thoroughly researched ever published. Written to enlighten general readers within and well beyond the state's borders, it offers coverage not found in previous histories: greater attention to its cities-notably Wichita-and to its south central and western regions, accounts of business history, contributions of women and minorities, and environmental concerns. It presents the dark as well as the bright side of Kansas progressivism and is the first Kansas history to deal with the post-World War II era in any significant detail.

Craig Miner has spent almost forty years researching, teaching, and writing Kansas history and has dug deeply into primary sources-especially gubernatorial papers-that shed new light on the state. That research has enabled him to assemble a wider cast of characters and more entertaining collection of quotations than found in earlier histories and to better show how individual initiative and entrepreneurial aspirations have profoundly influenced the creation of present-day Kansas.

Ranging from the days of cattle and railroads to the era of oil and agribusiness, this history situates the state in its own terms rather than as a sidebar to a larger American epic. Miner brings to its pages an identifiable Kansas character to preserve what is distinctive about the state's identity for future generations, echoing what one Kansan said over half a century ago: "Kansas is simply Kansas. May she never be tempted to become anything else."

Stark Mad Abolitionists: Lawrence, Kansas, and the Battle over Slavery in the Civil War Era

By Robert K. Sutton

SKYHORSE
Hardcover (304 pages)

Stark Mad Abolitionists: Lawrence, Kansas, and the Battle over Slavery in the Civil War Era
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A town at the center of the United States becomes the site of an ongoing struggle for freedom and equality.

In May, 1854, Massachusetts was in an uproar. A judge, bound by the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, had just ordered a young African American man who had escaped from slavery in Virginia and settled in Boston to be returned to bondage in the South. An estimated fifty thousand citizens rioted in protest. Observing the scene was Amos Adams Lawrence, a wealthy Bostonian, who “waked up a stark mad Abolitionist.” As quickly as Lawrence waked up, he combined his fortune and his energy with others to create the New England Emigrant Aid Company to encourage abolitionists to emigrate to Kansas to ensure that it would be a free state.

The town that came to bear Lawrence’s name became the battleground for the soul of America, with abolitionists battling pro-slavery Missourians who were determined to make Kansas a slave state. The onset of the Civil War only escalated the violence, leading to the infamous raid of William Clarke Quantrill when he led a band of vicious Confederates (including Frank James, whose brother Jesse would soon join them) into town and killed two hundred men and boys.

Stark Mad Abolitionists shows how John Brown, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, Sam Houston, and Abraham Lincoln all figure into the story of Lawrence and “Bleeding Kansas.” The story of Amos Lawrence’s eponymous town is part of a bigger story of people who were willing to risk their lives and their fortunes in the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality.

It Happened in Kansas: Remarkable Events That Shaped History (It Happened In Series)

By Sarah Smarsh

Brand: Globe Pequot
Released: 2010-08-17
Paperback (160 pages)

It Happened in Kansas: Remarkable Events That Shaped History (It Happened In Series)
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It Happened in Kansas features over 25 chapters in Kansas history.  Lively and entertaining, this book brings the varied and fascinating history of the Sunflower State to life.

The Last Wild Places of Kansas: Journeys into Hidden Landscapes

By George Frazier

University Press of Kansas
Released: 2017-02-10
Paperback (232 pages)

The Last Wild Places of Kansas: Journeys into Hidden Landscapes
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Winner of the Midwest Book Award, Kansas Notable Book Award, Hamlin Garland Prize, and the Ferguson Book Award

Since the last wild bison found refuge on the back of a nickel, the public image of natural Kansas has progressed from Great American Desert to dust bowl to flyover country that has been landscaped, fenced, and farmed. But look a little harder, George Frazier suggests, and you can find the last places where tenacious stretches of prairie, forest, and wetland cheat death and incubate the DNA of lost, wild America. Documenting three years spent roaming the state in search of these hidden treasures, The Last Wild Places of Kansas is Frazier's idiosyncratic and eye-opening travelogue of nature's secret holdouts in the Sunflower State.

These are places where extirpated mammalian species are making comebacks; where flying squirrels leap between centuries-old trees lit by the unearthly green glow of foxfire; where cold springs feed ancient watercress pools; where the ice moon paints the Smoky Hill with memories of the buffalo wolf and the lonesome rattle of false indigo; where the blue lid of the sky forms a vacuum seal over treeless pastel hills, orange in winter; where bluestem rises. Some are impossible to find on maps. Most are magnificently bereft of anything beneficial to 99.9 percent of modern America. True wildernesses they may not be, but at the correct angle of light, when the wind blows pollen carrying biological memories of the glaciers, these places are a crack between the worlds, portals to the lost buffalo wilderness.

En route Frazier takes us from the unexpected wilds of the Kansas City suburbs to the Cimarron National Grassland in the far southwestern corner of the state. He visits ancient springs, shares a beer with prairie dog hunters, and fails in his mission to canoe the upper Marais des Cygnes--a trip that requires permission from every landowner on the route. Along the way we encounter a host of curious characters--ranchers, farmers, Native Americans, explorers, wildlife experts, and outdoor enthusiasts--all fellow travelers in a quest to know, preserve, and share the last wild places of Kansas.

Kansas: A Pictorial History

By Robert W. Richmond

Brand: University Press of Kansas
Hardcover (288 pages)

Kansas: A Pictorial History
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Updated and completely redesigned ""Kansas: A Pictorial History"" aims to bring the state's past to life in more than 600 photographs, drawings, and paintings. They are designed to take the reader across the hills and prairies, past the thatched houses in a Kansas village, by the abolitionist ""Beecher Bible and Rifle"" Church, down the Santa Fe Trail, up the Chisholm Trail, and across a river on a rope ferry for a nickel (five cents more if you bring your horse). On the way, the reader visits hundreds of other places and meets the people - both famous and infamous - who helped shape the state's history.

Kansas History: An Annotated Bibliography (Bibliographies of the States of the United States)

Brand: Greenwood
Hardcover (616 pages)

Kansas History: An Annotated Bibliography (Bibliographies of the States of the United States)
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The first volume in the series State Bibliographies, this book provides comprehensive coverage of secondary materials on Kansas history and also includes useful references to major archival and manuscript collections. Although excellent specialized bibliographies have been published, this volume is the most complete compilation of historical and related materials for the state. Its broad and diverse scope ranges from standard political and economic studies to social and environmental histories, to local studies, and to regional studies with special significance to the state.

The volume is divided into sections on prehistory; indigenous population; early exploration; territorial period; statehood; Kansas since 1898; agriculture; economic life; transportation; cultural life; education; science and medicine; social history; general histories and reference guides; local and county history; historiography materials; and historic sites. Entries include informative annotations designed to aid the novice and the scholar. The volume is thoroughly indexed by author and subject and includes the only existing index for all the major articles appearing over the past 125 years in the Kansas State Historical Society's major publications.

True Tales of Old-Time Kansas: Revised Edition

By David Dary

Univ Pr of Kansas
Paperback (336 pages)

True Tales of Old-Time Kansas: Revised Edition
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"Authentic history, delightfully told" is the way Ray A. Billington, renowned historian of the Old West, described this collection. David Dary, award-winning chronicler of life on the frontier plains, is at his entertaining best in these thirty-nine episodes, sagas, and tales from Kansas's vigorous, free-spirited past. Many of the stories appeared in Dary's True Tales of the Old-Time Plains, but that book, out of print for several years, focused on the Great Plains in general. This new edition, revised and with additional stories and a new title, pulls together tales about people, animals and events in what is today Kansas, including the old territory of Kansas (1854-1861) that stretched from the Missouri River westward to the summit of the Rocky Mountains.

Many of the tales capture the romance, excitement, and adventure of the Old West, while others have the tempo of a quiet life surrounded by the immensity of the plains and prairies. There are well-known characters: Bill Cody, the Dalton gang, the Bloody Benders, William Clarke Quantrill, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederic Remington, who once owned a Kansas sheep ranch and later was a silent partner in a Kansas City saloon before he became a well-known artist.

And there are stories, too, about little-known characters such as Prairie Dog Dave Morrow, who made his living capturing live prairie dogs. Dary relates tales of lost treasure and sudden riches, of outlaws and "jayhawk" raiders, of massacres and heroics. A generous number of illustrations help bring the tales to life.

West of Wichita: Settling the High Plains of Kansas, 1865-1890

By Craig Miner

University Press of Kansas
Paperback (312 pages)

West of Wichita: Settling the High Plains of Kansas, 1865-1890
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This volume, which presents a "slice-of-life" on the Plains during its early settlement, adds rich detail to our understanding of the struggle for survival in a harsh landscape that tested the hardiest pioneer. Miner concentrates not only on the major economic events of the period—railroad building, Indian raids, the grasshopper invasion of 1874, the blizzard of 1886—but also on the more personal experiences equally important: building sod houses, choosing crops, filing of claims, fighting varmints, and dealing with the deaths of children on the prairie.

Kansas: A History (The States and the Nation)

By Kenneth S. Davis

W. W. Norton & Company
Paperback (260 pages)

Kansas: A History (The States and the Nation)
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No state's creation was more dramatic, more at the center of national attention, more involved in fundamental moral conflict, than that of Kansas. In a sense, the state's history began with the arrival of the first Puritans of New England and the first slaves of Virginia. The States And The Nation Series, of which this volume is a part, is designed to assist the American people in a serious look at the ideals they have espoused and the experiences they have undergone in the history of the nation.


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