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Kansas(kăn`zəs), midwestern state occupying the center of the coterminous United States. It is bordered by Missouri (E), Oklahoma (S), Colorado (W), and Nebraska (N).
Facts and Figures
Area, 82,264 sq mi (213,064 sq km). Pop. (2010) 2,853,118, a 6.1% increase since the 2000 census. Capital, Topeka. Largest city, Wichita. Statehood, Jan. 29, 1861 (34th state). Highest pt., Mt. Sunflower, 4,039 ft (1,232 m); lowest pt., Verdigris River, 680 ft (207 m). Nickname, Sunflower State. Motto, Ad Astra per Aspera [To the stars through difficulties]. State bird, Western meadowlark. State flower, native sunflower. State tree, cottonwood. Abbr., Kans.; KS
Almost rectangular in shape and mostly part of the Great PlainsGreat Plains,
extensive grassland region on the continental slope of central North America. They extend from the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba south through W central United States into W Texas.
..... Click the link for more information. , Kansas is famous for its seemingly endless fields of ripe golden wheat. The land rises more than 3,000 ft (914 m) from the eastern alluvial prairies of Kansas to its western semiarid high plains, which stretch toward the foothills of the Rocky Mts. The rise is so gradual, however, that it is imperceptible, although the terrains of the east and the west are markedly different. The state is drained by the Kansas and Arkansas rivers, both of which generally run from west to east.
The average annual rainfall of 27 in. (69 cm) is not evenly distributed: the eastern prairies receive up to 40 in. (102 cm) of rain, while the western plains average 17 in. (43 cm). Occasional dust storms plague farmers and ranchers in the west. The climate is continental, with wide extremes—cold winters with blizzards and hot summers with tornadoes. Floods also wreak havoc in the state; hence, flood-control projects, such as dams, reservoirs, and levees, are a major undertaking.
, city (1990 pop. 119,883), state capital and seat of Shawnee co., NE Kans., on the Kansas River; inc. 1857. In a rich agricultural region, it is an important shipping point for cattle and wheat and a wholesaling, marketing, and processing center for farm products.
..... Click the link for more information. is the capital; other important cities are WichitaWichita
, city (1990 pop. 304,011), seat of Sedgwick co., S central Kans., at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers; inc. 1870. It is the chief commercial and industrial center of S Kansas and the largest city in the state.
..... Click the link for more information. (the state's largest city), LawrenceLawrence.
1 City (1990 pop. 26,763), Marion co., central Ind., a residential suburb of Indianapolis, on the West Fork of the White River. It has light manufacturing.
2 City (1990 pop. 65,608), seat of Douglas co., NE Kans., on the Kansas River; inc. 1858.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Kansas CityKansas City,
two adjacent cities of the same name, one (1990 pop. 149,767), seat of Wyandotte co., NE Kansas (inc. 1859), the other (1990 pop. 435,146), Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties, NW Mo. (inc. 1850).
..... Click the link for more information. (adjoining Kansas City, Mo.). Points of historical interest include the boyhood home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Eisenhower Library in Abilene. Medicine Lodge has the home of Carry NationNation, Carry Moore,
1846–1911, American temperance advocate, b. Garrard co., Ky. During her childhood her family moved a great deal, finally settling at Belton, Mo., where she married (1867) Charles Gloyd, a physician.
..... Click the link for more information. , who, at the turn of the 20th cent., waged war on the saloons. Fort Leavenworth is the site of a large federal penitentiary. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is one of the few large tracts of virgin prairie in the United States.
Kansas is historically an agricultural state. Manufacturing and services have surpassed agriculture as income producers, but farming is still important to the state's economy, and Kansas follows only Texas and Montana in total agricultural acreage. The nation's top wheat grower, Kansas is also a leading producer of grain sorghum and corn. Hay, soybeans, and sunflowers are also major crops. Cattle and calves, however, constitute the single most valuable agricultural item. Meatpacking and dairy industries are major economic activities, and the Kansas City stockyards are among the nation's largest. Food processing ranked as the state's third largest industry in the 1990s.
The two leading industries are the manufacture of transportation equipment and industrial and computer machinery. Wichita is a center of the aircraft industry, producing chiefly private planes. Other important manufactures are petroleum and coal products and nonelectrical machinery. The state is a major producer of crude petroleum and has large reserves of natural gas and helium. Kansas was once part of a great shallow sea and has commercially valuable salt deposits.
Government and Higher Education
Government in Kansas is based on the constitution of 1859, adopted just before Kansas attained statehood. An elected governor serves a term of four years. The legislature has a senate with 40 members and a house of representatives with 125 members. Kansas is represented in the U.S. Congress by four representatives and two senators and has six electoral votes in presidential elections. The state has long been a Republican stronghold but has had some Democratic governors. Republican Bill P. Graves, elected in 1994 and reelected in 1998, was succeeded by Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, who also won (2002, 2006) two terms. Sebelius resigned in 2009 to become U.S. secretary of health and human services and was succeeded by Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, also a Democrat. Republican Sam Brownback was elected to the post in 2010 and reelected in 2014. He resigned in 2018, and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer succeeded him. Later in 2018, Laura Kelly, a Democrat, was elected governor.
Institutions of higher learning include the Univ. of Kansas, at Lawrence; Kansas State Univ., at Manhattan; Wichita State Univ., at Wichita; and Washburn Univ. of Topeka, at Topeka.
Early Inhabitants, Exploration, and Relocations
When the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado visited (1541) the Kansas area in his search for Quivira, a fabled kingdom of riches, the area was occupied by various Native American groups of the Plains descent, notably the Kansa, the Wichita and the Pawnee. Another Spanish explorer, Juan de Oñate, penetrated the region in 1601. A result of Spanish entry into the region was the introduction of the horse, which revolutionized the life of the Native Americans. While not actually exploring the Kansas area, Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, claimed (c.1682) for France all territory drained by the Mississippi River, including Kansas.
French traders and Native Americans had a great deal of contact during most of the 18th cent. By the Treaty of Paris of 1763 ending the French and Indian WarsFrench and Indian Wars,
1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. , France ceded the territory of W Louisiana (including Kansas) to Spain. In 1800, Spain secretly retroceded the territory to France, from whom the United States acquired it in the Louisiana PurchaseLouisiana Purchase,
1803, American acquisition from France of the formerly Spanish region of Louisiana. Reasons for the Purchase
The revelation in 1801 of the secret agreement of 1800, whereby Spain retroceded Louisiana to France, aroused uneasiness in the United
..... Click the link for more information. in 1803. The region was little known, however, and subsequent explorations to include Kansas were the Lewis and Clark expedition (1803–6), the Arkansas River journey of Zebulon M. PikePike, Zebulon Montgomery,
1779–1813, American explorer, an army officer, b. Lamberton (now part of Trenton), N.J. He joined the army (c.1793) and was commissioned second lieutenant in 1799.
..... Click the link for more information. in 1806, and the scientific expedition of Stephen H. LongLong, Stephen Harriman,
1784–1864, American explorer, b. Hopkinton, N.H. As an army engineer, Long was sent on several exploring and surveying expeditions. The first in 1817 was to the region of the upper Mississippi and the Fox-Wisconsin portage; it is recorded in his
..... Click the link for more information. in 1819.
Most of the territory that eventually became Kansas was in an area known as the "Great American Desert," considered unsuitable for U.S. settlement because of its apparent barrenness. In the 1830s the region was designated a permanent home for Native Americans, and northern and eastern tribes were relocated there. Forts were constructed for frontier defense and for the protection of the growing trade along the Santa Fe TrailSanta Fe Trail,
important caravan route of the W United States, extending c.780 mi (1,260 km) from Independence, Mo., SW to Santa Fe, N.Mex. Independence and Westport, Mo., were the chief points where wagons, teams, and supplies were obtained.
..... Click the link for more information. , which crossed Kansas. Fort LeavenworthFort Leavenworth
, U.S. military post, 6,000 acres (2,430 hectares), on the Missouri River, NE Kans., NW of Leavenworth; est. 1827 by Col. Henry Leavenworth to protect travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. The oldest U.S. military prison (est. 1874), and the U.S.
..... Click the link for more information. was established in 1827, Fort Scott in 1842, and Fort RileyFort Riley,
U.S. military post, 5,760 acres (2,331 hectares), NE Kans., on the Kansas River; est. 1852 to protect travelers on the Santa Fe Trail from attack by Native Americans.
..... Click the link for more information. in 1853.
Pro- and Antislavery Factions
Kansas, at this time mainly a region to be crossed on the way to California and Oregon, was organized as a territory in 1854. Its settlement, however, was spurred not so much by natural westward expansion as by the determination of both proslavery and antislavery factions to achieve a majority population in the territory. The struggle between the factions was further complicated by conflict over the location of a transcontinental railroad, with proponents of a central route (rather than a southern route) eager to resolve the slavery issue in the area and promote settlement.
The Kansas-Nebraska ActKansas-Nebraska Act,
bill that became law on May 30, 1854, by which the U.S. Congress established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. By 1854 the organization of the vast Platte and Kansas river countries W of Iowa and Missouri was overdue.
..... Click the link for more information. (1854), an attempted compromise on the extension of slavery, repealed the Missouri CompromiseMissouri Compromise,
1820–21, measures passed by the U.S. Congress to end the first of a series of crises concerning the extension of slavery.
By 1818, Missouri Territory had gained sufficient population to warrant its admission into the Union as a state.
..... Click the link for more information. and reopened the issue of extending slavery north of lat. 36°30' by providing for popular sovereigntypopular sovereignty,
in U.S. history, doctrine under which the status of slavery in the territories was to be determined by the settlers themselves. Although the doctrine won wide support as a means of avoiding sectional conflict over the slavery issue, its meaning remained
..... Click the link for more information. in Kansas and Nebraska, allowing settlers of territories to decide the matter themselves. Meanwhile, the Emigrant Aid CompanyEmigrant Aid Company,
organization formed in 1854 to promote organized antislavery immigration to the Kansas territory from the Northeast. Eli Thayer conceived the plan as early as Feb.
..... Click the link for more information. was organized in Massachusetts to foster antislavery immigration to Kansas, and proslavery interests in Missouri and throughout the South took counteraction. Towns were established by each faction—Lawrence and Topeka by the free-staters and Leavenworth and Atchison by the proslavery settlers.
Soon all the problems attendant upon organizing a territory for statehood became subsidiary to the single issue of slavery. The first elections in 1854 and 1855 were won by the proslavery group; armed Missourians intimidated voters and election officials and stuffed the ballot boxes. Andrew H. Reeder was appointed the first territorial governor in 1854. The first territorial legislature ousted (1855) all free-state members, secured the removal of Gov. Reeder, established the capital in Lecompton, and adopted proslavery statutes. In retaliation the abolitionists set up a rival government at Topeka in Oct., 1855.
The Wakarusa War and Bleeding Kansas
Violence soon came to the territory. The murder of a free-state man in Nov., 1855, led to the so-called Wakarusa War, a bloodless series of encounters along the Wakarusa River. The intervention of the new governor, Wilson Shannon, kept proslavery men from attacking Lawrence. However, civil war ultimately turned the territory into "bleeding Kansas." On May 21, 1856, proslavery groups and armed Missourians known as "Border Ruffians" raided Lawrence. A few days later a band led by the abolitionist crusader John BrownBrown, John,
1800–1859, American abolitionist, b. Torrington, Conn. He spent his boyhood in Ohio. Before he became prominent in the 1850s, his life had been a succession of business failures in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York.
..... Click the link for more information. murdered five proslavery men in the Pottawatamie massacre. Guerrilla warfare between free-state men called Jayhawkers and proslavery bands—both sides abetted by desperadoes and opportunists—terrorized the land. After a new governor, John W. Geary, persuaded a large group of "Border Ruffians" to return to Missouri, the violence subsided.
The Lecompton legislature met in 1857 to make preparations for convening a constitutional convention. Gov. Geary resigned after it became clear that free elections would not be held to approve a new constitution. Robert J. Walker was appointed governor, and a convention held at Lecompton drafted a constitution. Only that part of the resulting proslavery constitution dealing with slavery was submitted to the electorate, and the question was drafted to favor the proslavery group. Free-state men refused to participate in the election with the result that the constitution was overwhelmingly approved.
Despite the dubious validity of the Lecompton constitution, President James Buchanan recommended (1858) that Congress accept it and approve statehood for the territory. Instead, Congress returned it for another territorial vote. The proslavery group boycotted the election, and the constitution was rejected. Lawrence became de facto capital of the troubled territory until after the Wyandotte constitution (framed in 1859 and totally forbidding slavery) was accepted by Congress. The Kansas conflict and the question of statehood for the territory became a national issue and figured in the 1860 Republican party platform.
Kansas became a state in 1861, with the capital at Topeka. Charles Robinson was the first governor and James H. Lane, an active free-stater during the 1850s, one of the U.S. Senators. In the Civil War, Kansas fought with the North and suffered the highest rate of fatal casualties of any state in the Union. Confederate William C. QuantrillQuantrill, William Clarke
, 1837–65, Confederate guerrilla leader, b. Canal Dover (now Dover), Ohio. In the Civil War his band of guerrillas was active in Missouri and Kansas. He was given the rank of captain in the Confederate army. On Aug.
..... Click the link for more information. and his guerrilla band burned Lawrence in 1863.
Life on the Prairie
With peace came the development of the prairie lands. The construction of railroads made cow towns such as AbileneAbilene
. 1 City (1990 pop. 6,242), seat of Dickinson co., central Kans., on the Smoky Hill River; inc. 1869. It was (1867–71) a railhead for a large cattle-raising region extending SW into Texas.
..... Click the link for more information. and Dodge CityDodge City,
city (1990 pop. 21,129), seat of Ford co., SW Kans., on the Arkansas River; inc. 1875. The distribution center for a wheat and livestock producing area, it also packs meat and makes agricultural implements.
..... Click the link for more information. , with their cowboys, saloons, and frontier marshals, the shipping point for large herds of cattle driven overland from Texas. The buffalo herds disappeared (some buffalo still roam in state parks and game preserves), and cattle took their place. Pioneer homesteaders, adjusting to life on the timberless prairie and living in sod houses, suffered privation. In 1874, Mennonite emigrants from Russia brought the Turkey Red variety of winter wheat to Kansas. This wheat was instrumental in making Kansas the Wheat State as winter wheat replaced spring wheat on an ever-increasing scale. Corn, too, soon became a major cash crop.
Agricultural production was periodically disrupted by national depressions and natural disasters. Repeated and prolonged droughts accompanied by dust storms, occasional grasshopper invasions, and floods all caused severe economic dislocation. Mortgages often weighed heavily on farmers, and discontent was expressed in farmer support of radical farm organizations and third-party movements, such as the Granger movementGranger movement,
American agrarian movement taking its name from the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, an organization founded in 1867 by Oliver H. Kelley and six associates. Its local units were called granges and its members grangers.
..... Click the link for more information. , Greenback partyGreenback party,
in U.S. history, political organization formed in the years 1874–76 to promote currency expansion. The members were principally farmers of the West and the South; stricken by the Panic of 1873, they saw salvation in an inflated currency that would wipe out
..... Click the link for more information. , and Populist partyPopulist party,
in U.S. history, political party formed primarily to express the agrarian protest of the late 19th cent. In some states the party was known as the People's party.
..... Click the link for more information. . Tax relief, better regulation of interest rates, and curbs on the power of railroads were sought by these organizations. Twice in the 1890s, Populist-Democrats were elected to the governorship.
As conditions improved, Kansas returned largely to its allegiance to the Republican party and gained a reputation as a conservative stronghold with a bent for moral reform, indicated in the state's strong support of prohibition; laws against the sale of liquor remained on the books in Kansas from 1880 to 1949. Over the years the use of improved agricultural methods and machines increased crop yield. Irrigation proved practicable in some areas, and winter wheat and alfalfa could be cultivated in dry regions.
Wars and Depression
Wheat production greatly expanded during World War I, but the end of the war brought financial difficulties. During the 1920s and 30s, Kansas was faced with labor unrest and the economic hardships of the depression. As part of the Dust Bowl, Kansas sustained serious land erosion during the long drought of the 1930s. Erosion led to the implementation of conservation and reclamation projects, particularly in the northern and western parts of the state. In 1924 an effort of the Ku Klux Klan to gain political control was fought by William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette, who supported many liberal causes. Alfred M. Landon, elected governor in 1932, was one of the few Republican candidates in the country to win election in the midst of the sweeping Democratic victory that year. He was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate in 1936.
During World War II agriculture thrived and industry expanded rapidly. The food-processing industry grew substantially, the cement industry enjoyed a major revival, and the aircraft industry boomed. After the war agricultural prosperity once again declined when the state was hit by a severe drought and grasshopper invasion in 1948. Prosperity returned briefly during the Korean War, but afterward farm surpluses and insufficient world markets combined to make the state's tremendous agricultural ability part of the national "farm problem."
Kansas has become increasingly industrialized and urbanized, and industrial production has surpassed farm production in economic importance. Flood damage in the state, especially after a major flood in 1951, spurred the construction of dams (such as the Tuttle Creek, Milford, and Wilson dams) on major Kansas rivers, and their reservoirs have vastly increased water recreational facilities for Kansans. Since the 1970s, Kansas has become increasingly more urban and suburban. Accordingly, the economy has shifted its emphasis to finance and service industries located in and around the major urban centers.
See P. Gates, Fifty Million Acres: Conflicts over Kansas Land Policy, 1854–1890 (1954); R. S. Brownlee, Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy (1960); W. T. Nugent, The Tolerant Populists (1963); J. R. Cook, The Border and the Buffalo (1967); C. C. Howes, This Place Called Kansas (1984); H. E. Socolofsky and H. Self, Historical Atlas of Kansas (2d rev. ed. 1989); R. Richmond, Kansas: A Land of Contrasts (3d ed. 1989).
Kaw,river, 170 mi (274 km) long, formed by the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers in NE Kansas and flowing E to the Missouri River at Kansas City; the system drains parts of Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. Heavy floods (especially in 1951 and 1977) on the Kansas and its tributaries caused great damage to the surrounding farms and Kansas City area. Numerous dams, reservoirs, and levees have since been built to prevent flooding.
Kansas State Information
Area (sq mi):: 82276.84 (land 81814.88; water 461.96) Population per square mile: 33.50
Population 2005: 2,744,687 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 2.10%; 1990-2000 8.50% Population 2000: 2,688,418 (White 83.10%; Black or African American 5.70%; Hispanic or Latino 7.00%; Asian 1.70%; Other 6.40%). Foreign born: 5.00%. Median age: 35.20
Income 2000: per capita $20,506; median household $40,624; Population below poverty level: 9.90% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $27,694-$29,438
Unemployment (2004): 5.60% Unemployment change (from 2000): 1.80% Median travel time to work: 19.00 minutes Working outside county of residence: 22.60%
List of Kansas counties:
- US National Parks
- Urban Parks
- State Parks
- Parks and Conservation-Related Organizations - US
- National Wildlife Refuges
- National Trails
- National Scenic Byways
- National Grasslands
a state in the central part of the USA. Area, 213, 100 sq km; population, 2. 2 million (1970), of which 66 percent is urban. The administrative center is Topeka, and Wichita and Kansas City are its most important cities. Its surface is an undulating plain, sloping gently from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (altitude, 1, 231 m) to the valley of the Missouri River. In the central part of the state are the Smoky Hills and Blue Hills (maximum altitude, 862 m). The climate is moderately continental, with the mean monthly temperatures ranging from -3°C to 26°C. Annual precipitation is 550–950 mm. In the summer there are frequent droughts. The Kansas and Arkansas rivers have little flow for most of the year.
Kansas is one of the most important agricultural states of the USA; it is first in the harvest of wheat and second in sorghum and is fourth in the number of cattle. Its most important crop is winter wheat. Nearly two-thirds of the commodity output of agriculture is provided by livestock, with meat production predominating. As of 1970 there were 6. 0 million head of cattle (including 224, 000 dairy cows) and 1. 6 million pigs. Farms occupy 20. 4 million hectares, 95 percent of the state’s territory, of which 400, 000 hectares are irrigated. Large mechanized farms producing grain and meat provide the bulk of the output. The number of farms diminished from 120, 000 in 1954 to 87, 000 in 1969.
In 1969, 12, 000 workers were employed in the extraction industry and 146, 000 in processing. Oil (nearly 12 million tons), natural gas, and helium (of which Kansas is the leading US producer) are the most important raw materials. In value of output, processing is increasingly overtaking agriculture. The most important products are those of the food industry (canned meat, flour, concentrated fodder). The aviation (Wichita), automobile assembly (Kansas City), oil refining, chemical, and agricultural machine industries are developed.
V. M. GOKHMAN
Prior to its occupation by Europeans, the territory of Kansas was inhabited by Indian tribes. Europeans visited the area for the first time in 1541. In 1803 it became a possession of the USA, which purchased it from France as part of the vast territories of Louisiana. In 1854 it was given the status of a territory of the USA; adoption of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 led to civil war in Kansas between the supporters and opponents of slavery. It has been one of the states of the USA since 1861.
Thirty-fourth state; admitted on January 29, 1861
Kansas Day has been observed since 1877, most often in school programs about the state. The Kansas State Historical Society sponsors celebrations at the Kansas History Center in Topeka.
State capital: Topeka
Nicknames: Sunflower State; Wheat State; Jayhawk State
State motto: Ad Astra per Aspera (Latin “To the Stars Through Difficulties”)
State amphibian: Barred tiger salamander
State animal: American buffalo or bison (Bison bison)
State bird: Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
State flower: Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
State insect: Honeybee (Apis mellifera)
State march: “The Kansas March”
State reptile: Ornate box turtle
State song: “Home on the Range”
State tree: Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
More about state symbols at:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 95 AnnivHol-2000, p. 16
Kansas State Historical Society
6425 SW Sixth Ave.
State web site:
Office of the Governor
State Capitol Bldg
Topeka, KS 66612
Secretary of State
120 SW 10th Ave
Topeka, KS 66612
Kansas State Library
300 SW 10th Ave
Capitol Bldg Rm 343N
Topeka, KS 66612
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