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."

It Happened in Kansas: Remarkable Events That Shaped History, First Edition (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, First Edition (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.

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 City and How It Grew, 1822-2011

By James R. Shortridge

Brand: Univ Pr of Kansas
Hardcover (262 pages)

Kansas City and How It Grew, 1822-2011
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Think of Kansas City and you'll probably think of barbecue, jazz, or the Chiefs. But for James Shortridge, this heartland city is more than the sum of its cultural beacons.

In Kansas City and How It Grew, 1822-201, a prize-winning geographer traces the historical geography of a place that has developed over 200 years from a cowtown on the bend of the Missouri River into a metropolis straddling two states. He explores the changing character of the community and its component neighborhoods, showing how the city has come to look and function the way it does-and how it has come to be perceived the way it has.

Proximity to Great Plains ranches and farms encouraged early and sustained success for Kansas City meatpackers and millers, and Shortridge shows how local responses to economic realities have molded the city's urban structure. He explores the parallel processes of suburbanization and the restructuring of older areas, and tells what happens when transportation shifts from rivers to railroads, then to superhighways and international airports. He also reveals what historians have missed by tending to focus attention only on one side or the other of the state boundary.

The book is a virtual who's who of KC progress: without selective law enforcement under political boss Thomas Pendergast, Kansas City would not enjoy its legacy of jazz; without the gift of Thomas Swope's namesake park, upscale residential expansion likely would have gone east instead of south; and without J. C. Nichols, Johnson County suburbs would have developed in a less spectacular manner. Its insight into important molders of the city includes nearly forgotten names such as William Dalton, Charles Morse, and Willard Winner, plus important figures from more recent years including Kay Barnes, Charles Garney, and Bonnie Poteet.
,br>With more than 50 photos and dozens of maps specially created for this book, Kansas City and How It Grew is unique in treating the entire metropolitan area instead of just one portion. With coverage ranging from ethnic neighborhoods to development strategies, it's an indispensable touchstone for those who want to try to understand Kansas City as both a city and a place.

Kansas Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries (Legends of the West)

By Diana Lambdin Meyer

TwoDot
Paperback (200 pages)

Kansas Myths and Legends: The True Stories behind History’s Mysteries (Legends of the West)
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Kansas Myths and Legends explores unusual events, unsolved crimes, and legends in Kansas’s history. Each episode included in the book is a story unto itself, and the tone and style of the book is lively and easy to read for a general audience interested in Kansas history. The more than a dozen stories answer questions such as: Is it possible that a family of four living on the Kansas prairie got away with serial murder for more than three years and escaped to another part of the country to continue their killing spree? Are there still remnants of a late widow’s fortune buried throughout her property? Is the well-marked grave of Buffalo Bill Cody indeed his final resting place, or did some loyal friends surreptitiously remove him from Colorado and fulfill his last wish to be buried near his namesake town? From rumors of the Dalton gang’s buried treasures to the disappearance of an entire town, Kansas Myths and Legends makes history fun and pulls back the curtain on some of the state's most fascinating and compelling stories.

Bleeding Kansas (Critical Moments in American History)

By Michael Woods

Routledge
Released: 2016-09-30
Paperback (230 pages)

Bleeding Kansas (Critical Moments in American History)
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Between 1854 and 1861, the struggle between pro-and anti-slavery factions over Kansas Territory captivated Americans nationwide and contributed directly to the Civil War. Combining political, social, and military history, Bleeding Kansas contextualizes and analyzes prewar and wartime clashes in Kansas and Missouri and traces how these conflicts have been remembered ever since. Michael E. Woods’s compelling narrative of the Kansas-Missouri border struggle embraces the diverse perspectives of white northerners and southerners, women, Native Americans, and African Americans. This wide-ranging and engaging text is ideal for undergraduate courses on the Civil War era, westward expansion, Kansas and/or Missouri history, nineteenth-century US history, and other related subjects. Supported by primary source documents and a robust companion website, this text allows readers to engage with and draw their own conclusions about this contentious era in American History.

Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West

By Tom Clavin

St. Martin's Griffin
Released: 2018-02-27
Paperback (480 pages)

Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West
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Now in paperback, the New York Times bestselling story of the taming of the Wild West, set in Dodge City, the most depraved and criminal town in the nation.

The instant New York Times bestseller!

Dodge City, Kansas, is a place of legend. The town that started as a small military site exploded with the coming of the railroad, cattle drives, eager miners, settlers, and various entrepreneurs passing through to populate the expanding West. Before long, Dodge City’s streets were lined with saloons and brothels and its populace was thick with gunmen, horse thieves, and desperadoes of every sort. By the 1870s, Dodge City was known as the most violent and turbulent town in the West.

Enter Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. Young and largely self-trained men, the lawmen led the effort that established frontier justice and the rule of law in the American West, and did it in the wickedest place in the United States. When they moved on, Wyatt to Tombstone and Bat to Colorado, a tamed Dodge was left in the hands of Jim Masterson. But before long Wyatt and Bat, each having had a lawman brother killed, returned to that threatened western Kansas town to team up to restore order again in what became known as the Dodge City War before riding off into the sunset.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Clavin's Dodge City tells the true story of their friendship, romances, gunfights, and adventures, along with the remarkable cast of characters they encountered along the way (including Wild Bill Hickock, Jesse James, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill Cody, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, and Theodore Roosevelt) that has gone largely untold―lost in the haze of Hollywood films and western fiction, until now.

Oceans of Kansas, Second Edition: A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea (Life of the Past)

By Michael J. Everhart

Indiana University Press - Indiana University Press
Hardcover (460 pages)

Oceans of Kansas, Second Edition: A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea (Life of the Past)
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Revised, updated, and expanded with the latest interpretations and fossil discoveries, the second edition of Oceans of Kansas adds new twists to the fascinating story of the vast inland sea that engulfed central North America during the Age of Dinosaurs. Giant sharks, marine reptiles called mosasaurs, pteranodons, and birds with teeth all flourished in and around these shallow waters. Their abundant and well-preserved remains were sources of great excitement in the scientific community when first discovered in the 1860s and continue to yield exciting discoveries 150 years later. Michael J. Everhart vividly captures the history of these startling finds over the decades and re-creates in unforgettable detail these animals from our distant past and the world in which they lived―above, within, and on the shores of America’s ancient inland sea.

The Mafia and the Machine: The Story of the Kansas City Mob

By Frank Hayde

Barricade Books
Paperback (240 pages)

The Mafia and the Machine: The Story of the Kansas City Mob
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The story of the American Mafia is not complete without a chapter on Kansas City. The City of Fountains has appeared in the The Godfather, Casino, and The Sopranos, but many Midwesterners are not aware that Kansas City has affected the fortunes of the entire underworld. In The Mafia and the Machine, author Frank Hayde ties in every major name in organized crime-Luciano, Bugsy, Lansky-as well as the city's corrupt police force.


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