Kansas History

By | October 28, 2022

First Exploration under France and Spain (1541–1803)

The first European to visit Kansas was the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1541. Kansas was then inhabited by Native Americans. The Coronado left Compostela in 1540 and set out in present-day Kansas in search of the “golden city” of Quivira. By his own account, he also reached Quivira, but gold was nowhere to be found. French explorer René Robert Cavelier de La Salle claimed the area for France as Louisiana in 1682(without visiting the area west of the Mississippi). The French built forts along the Mississippi and Missouri, but had little interest in the area of ​​present-day Kansas. In 1724, 183 years after Coronado, the commander of France’s Fort Orleans (more east in present-day Missouri), Étienne de Bourgmont, visited the Kansas River. In 1726 Fort Orleans was again abandoned by the French and the only European influence disappeared. In 1763 France had to cede the area to Spain. France regained Louisiana at the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800, but sold most of present-day Kansas to the United States in 1803 as a result of the Louisiana Purchase.

Disorganized U.S. Territory (1803–1854) [ edit | edit source text ]

With the exception of eastern Kansas, the area had barely been discovered. In 1804 the area was visited by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Two years later, Zebulon Pike also explored the area and called the area “the Great American Desert”. As a result, the US government would have no interest in the area for the next forty years and set it aside for possible resettlement of Indians. From June 4, 1812 to August 10, 1821, the American portion of what became Kansas was organized as the “Missouri Territory.” However, there was no question of any colonization activities during this period.

According to watchtutorials, from 1821 to 1854, the area again became an unorganized territory of the United States. During this period, white settlers were prohibited from settling in what would later become Kansas. After all, several Native American tribes were resettled in Kansas over the next few decades. These operations began with the relocation of the tribes then inhabiting eastern Kansas (mainly the Kansa and the Osage) to the “Indian Territory” in present-day Oklahoma. This freed up space for the resettlement of Native American tribes from the east.

The famous Sante Fe Trail did pass through Kansas “closed” for settlement. Along this route, traders moved southwest toward New Mexico (Santa Fe) and Mexico (Mexico City). The first permanent white settlement in Kansas came into being (only) in 1827: Fort Leavenworth. This military fortress was to protect merchants along the Sante Fe Trail. Since 1841, the easternmost portion of the Oregon Trail also ran west through northeast Kansas.

Southwestern Kansas was in Spanish hands until the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. In 1848 this portion fell to the United States, but no formal area organization was yet established. By the 1850s there were already several white Americans who had settled illegally on Native American land and who were campaigning for the general admission of settlement throughout the area. In 1853, a military fort was established more to the west than any previous settlement: Fort Riley (Riley County).

Recognition as territory (1854) and state (1861)

The United States Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, granting Nebraska and Kansas territory status and opening the country to colonization. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was also revoked. The (American) residents of both territories were allowed to decide for themselves whether slavery was allowed in the area. From the neighboring slave states of Arkansas and Missouri, residents were encouraged to move to Kansas, in order to have as many proponents of slavery in the territory as possible. Conversely, many abolitionists also moved to Kansas. The two groups regularly clashed between 1854 and 1861. That gave Kansas the nickname Bleeding Kansas op.

Topeka, the later capital, was founded in 1854. Topeka was formed at the intersection of a new military road from Fort Leavenworth to the new Fort Riley to the west with the Kansas River. Salina was founded in 1858, then the westernmost settlement along the Smoky Hill Trail heading west. Even more west, the military Fort Hays was established in 1865/1867 to protect the travelers along this route.

Kansas became a state of the United States on January 29, 1861. The name Kansas comes from the Sioux word kansa, which means “people of the south wind”. Kansas’s nickname is The Sunflower State (“State of the Sunflower “). Three months later, the American Civil War broke out. The violence largely passed through Kansas until Confederate freebooter William Quantrill attacked the town of Lawrence in August 1863.led to the death of nearly 200 people. The attack was condemned by his own party. After the Civil War, many black Americans left the South where they were still discriminated against and settled in Kansas.

After the American Civil War

Lincoln College (now Washburn University) was founded in Topeka in 1865. Construction began on the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka in 1866. Construction would take 37 years. Construction of the Kansas Pacific Railway began in 1867. Originally the only plan was to build the railroad up to Fort Riley, but in 1867 the railroad reached Salina. Founded in 1860, the residents of Denver also championed the construction of a railroad, and the goal was set to build the railroad all the way across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. From 1869 the construction of another railway was started to connect Topeka with Santa Fe. This Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad would hasten the colonization of western Kansas.

By merging with neighboring towns, Kansas City became the state’s largest city in 1886, ahead of Topeka. In the late 1880s, Kansas was the first US state to constitutionally ban alcoholic beverages, under pressure from Methodists and other evangelical groups. This ban was not revoked until 1948.

Twentieth Century

From the 1890s, Kansas City experienced explosive growth as a “streetcar suburb” of core Kansas City on the Missouri side of the river. The ” suburb ” continued to grow strongly until about 1930.

In the early 20th century, in addition to Kansas City, Wichita also experienced very strong growth. Wichita became the second largest city in the state in the first decade, ahead of the capital Topeka and after Kansas City. Wichita was founded thirteen years after Topeka in 1867 as a trading post of merchant Jesse Chisholm. This established several trading posts on a route south (Texas) later known as the Chisholm Trail. During the Second World War, Wichita in particular experienced a population explosion due to employment in the military industry. For example, the Boeing B-29 bomber was made in Wichita. Between 1940 and 1960, Wichita’s population increased from 115,000 to 255,000. Thus, Wichita became by far the largest city in Kansas.

In the second half of the 20th century, cities such as Overland Park and Olathe, as well as Kansas City (Kansas) suburbs of Kansas City (Missouri), also experienced explosive growth. In 2000, Overland Park became the state’s second largest city.

Kansas History