When the area was opened to Euro-American settlement in the 1850s, Kansas became the first battlefield in the conflict in the American Civil War. After the war, Kansas was home to Wild West towns servicing the cattle trade. With the railroads came heavy immigration from the East, from Europe, and from Freedmen called "Exodusters". For much of its history, Kansas has had a rural economy based on wheat and other crops, supplemented by oil and railroads. Since 1945 the farm population has sharply declined and manufacturing has become more important, typified by the aircraft industry of Wichita.
The Paleo-Indians and Archaic peoples
According to the best archaeological and geological evidence available, Paleolithic, mammoth-hunting families moved into northwestern North America sometime around the end of the Paleolithic (and, some believe, as late as 10,000 BC) by various means. Around 7000 BC, these Asian immigrants entered into North America reaching Kansas. Once in Kansas, it is believe that these settlers never abandoned Kansas after this initial settlement and these were augmented by other peoples entered Kansas at later times. These bands of newcomers encountered mammoths, camels, ground sloths, and horses. As these species had never faced sophisticated big-game hunters before, the result was the "Pleistocene overkill", the rapid and systematic decimation of nearly all the species of large ice-age mammals in North America by 8000 BC. In a sense, the hunters who pursued the Nero mammoths may have represented the first of north Great plains cycle of boom and bust, relentlessly exploiting the resources until it has been depleted or destroyed.
After the disappearance of big-game hunters, some archaic groups survived by becoming generalists rather than specialists, foraging in seasonal movements across the plains. The groups though did not abandon hunting altogether, but utilized wild plant foods and small game. Their tools became more varied, with grinding and chopping implements becoming more common, a sign that seeds, fruits and greens constituted a greater proportion of their diet. Also, there occurred the emergence of pottery-making societies.
Introduction of agriculture
For most of the Archaic period, people were not able to transform their natural environment in any fundamental way. The groups outside the region, particularly Mesoamerica, introduced major innovations like agriculture throughout the Americas. Some archaic groups transferred from food gatherers to food producers around 3,000 years ago. They also possessed many of the cultural features that accompany semisedentary agricultural life: storage facilities, more permanent dwellings, larger settlements, and even cemeteries. El Quartelejo was the northern most Indian pueblo. This settlement is the only pueblo in Kansas which archaeological evidence has been recovered.
Despite the early advent of farming, late Archaic groups still exercised little control over their natural environment. Furthermore, wild food resources remained important components of their diet even after the invention of pottery and the development of irrigation. The introduction of agriculture never resulted in the complete abandonment of hunting and foraging, even in the largest of Archaic societies.
European visitation and local tribes
In 1541, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the Spanish conquistador, visited Kansas. Coronado's expedition introduced the horse to the Plains Indians, radically altering their lifestyle and range. Following this transformation, the Kansa (sometimes Kaw) and Osage Nation (originally Ouasash) arrived in Kansas in the 1600s. (The Kansa claimed that they occupied the territory since 1673.) By the end of the 18th century, these two tribes were dominant in the eastern part of the state — the Kansa on the Kansas River to the North and the Osage on the Arkansas River to the South. At the same time, the Pawnees (sometimes Paneassa) were dominant on the plains to the west and north of the Kansa and Osage nations, in regions home to massive herds of buffalo. Europeans visited the Northern Pawnees in 1719. The French commander at Fort Orleans, Etienne de Bourgmont, visited the Kansas River in 1724 and established a trading post there, near the main Kansa village at the mouth of the river. Around the same time, the Otoe tribe of the Sioux also inhabited various areas around the northeast corner of Kansas.
Louisiana Purchase and westward trails
Kansas, as part of the Louisiana Purchase, was annexed to the United States in 1803 as unorganized territory. In 1806, Zebulon Pike passed through the region, and labelled it "the Great American Desert" on his maps. This view of Kansas would inform U.S. policy for the next 40 years, prompting the country to set it aside as land for Native Americans.
After a brief period as part of Missouri Territory, Kansas returned to unorganized status in 1821. Also in 1821, the Santa Fe Trail was opened across Kansas as country's transportation route to the Southwest, connecting Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. A section of this trail through Kansas was also used by emigrants on the California Trail and Oregon Trail, which opened in the 1840s.
The westward trails served as vital commercial and military highways until the railroad took over this role in the 1860s. To travellers en route to Utah, California, or Oregon, the future state of Kansas was an important way stop and outfitting location. Wagon Bed Spring (also Lower Spring or Lower Cimarron Spring) was an important watering spot on the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail. Other important locations along the trail were the Point of Rocks and Pawnee Rock.
1820s to 1840s: Indian territory
Beginning in the 1820s, the area that would become Kansas (by then popularly known as the Great American Desert) was "permanently" set aside as Indian territory by the U.S. government, and was closed to settlement by whites. On May 8, 1827, Cantonment Leavenworth, or Fort Leavenworth, (named in honor of Henry Leavenworth) was built just inside Indian territory to guard travelers on the United States' Western frontier. This was the first permanent settlement of white Americans in the future state of Kansas.
To fully utilize Indian territory, the U.S. government resettled Native American tribes already present in eastern Kansas, principally the Kansa and Osage, opening land to move eastern tribes into the area. By treaty dated June 3, 1825, 20 million acres (81000 km²) of land was ceded by the Kansa Nation to the United States, and the Kansa tribe was thereafter limited to a specific reservation in northeast Kansas. In the same month, the Osage Nation was limited to a reservation in southeast Kansas.
The Missouri Shawanoes (or Shawnees) were the first Native Americans removed to the territory. By treaty made at St. Louis, on November 7, 1825, the United States agreed to provide:
"the Shawanoe tribe of Indians within the State of Missouri, for themselves, and for those of the same nation now residing in Ohio who may hereafter emigrate to the west of the Mississippi, a tract of land equal to fifty miles [80 km] square, situated west of the State of Missouri, and within the purchase lately made from the Osage."
The Delawares came to Kansas by the treaty of September 24, 1829. The treaty described:
"the country in the fork of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, extending up the Kansas River to the Kansas (Indian's) line, and up the Missouri River to Camp Leavenworth, and thence by a line drawn westerly, leaving a space ten miles wide, north of the Kansas boundary line, for an outlet."
After this point, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 expedited the process. By treaty dated August 30, 1831, the Ottawa ceded land to the United States and moved to a small reservation on the Kansas River and its branches. The treaty was ratified April 6, 1832. On October 24, 1832, the U.S. government moved the Kickapoos to a reservation in Kansas. On October 29, 1832, the Piankeshaws and Weas agreed to occupy 250 sections of land, bounded on the north by the Shawanoes; east by the western boundary line of Missouri; and west by the Kaskaskias and Peorias. By treaty made with the United States on September 21, 1833, the Otoe tribe ceded their country south of the Little Nemaha River.
By September 17, 1836 the confederacy of the Sacs and Foxes, by treaty with the United States, moved north of Kickapoos. By treaty of February 11, 1837, the United States agreed to convey to the Pottawatomies an area on the Osage River, southwest of the Missouri River. The tract selected was in the southwest part of what is now Miami County.
In 1842, after a treaty between the United States and the Wyandots, the Wyandots moved to the junction of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers (on land that was shared with the Delaware until 1843). In an unusual provision, 35 Wyandots were given "floats" in the 1842 treaty – ownership of sections of land that could be located anywhere west of the Missouri River. In 1847, the Pottawatomies were moved again, to an area containing 576,000 acres (2,330 km²), being the eastern part of the lands ceded to the United States by the Kansa tribe in 1846. This tract comprised a part of the present counties of Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee, Jackson and Shawnee.
Early 1850s and the territory organization
Despite the extensive plans that were made to settle Native Americans in Kansas, by 1850 white Americans were illegally squatting on their land and clamoring for the entire area to be opened for settlement. Presaging event that were soon to come, several U.S. Army forts, including Fort Riley, were soon established deep in Indian Territory to guard travelers on the various Western trails.
Although the Cheyennes and Arapahoes tribes were still negotiating with the United States for land in western Kansas (the current state of Colorado) – they signed a treaty on September 17, 1851 – momentum was already building to take the land from the Native Americans that they had been promised "permanently."
Realizing that their land and autonomy were in danger, in 1852 and 1853 the Wyandots attempted to establish a Territorial government in their section of Indian territory. In 1853, they convened a convention, composed of thirteen delegates, at which a constitution for their territory was formed. A Wyandot named William Walker was elected provisional governor pursuant to this constitution and a delegate was sent to Congress. However, because Kansas was not an official Territory, the delegate was not received by Congress. (In the long run, this movement by the Wyandots came to little, and much of the tribe later moved to land in the future state of Oklahoma.)
Congress began the process of creating Kansas Territory in 1852. That year, petitions were presented at the first session of the Thirty-second Congress for a territorial organization of the region lying west of Missouri and Iowa. No action was at that time taken. However, during the next session, on December 13, 1852, a Representative from Missouri submitted to the House a bill organizing the Territory of Platte: all the tract lying west of Iowa and Missouri, and extending west to the Rocky Mountains. The bill was referred to the United States House Committee on Territories, and passed by the full U.S. House of Representatives on February 10, 1853. However, Southern Senators stalled the progression of the bill in the Senate, while the implications of the bill on slavery and the Missouri Compromise were debated. Heated debate over the bill and other competing proposals would continue for a year, before eventually resulting in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which became law on May 30, 1854, establishing the Nebraska Territory and Kansas Territory.
Native American territory ceded
Meanwhile, by the summer of 1853, it was clear that eastern Kansas would soon be opened to white American settlers. Accordingly, Congress sent George W. Manypenny, Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to negotiate new treaties with the Native Americans that would return to the U.S. Government all but a fraction of the land that, less than a quarter-century before, had been assigned to them "forever." Nearly all the tribes in the eastern part of the Territory ceded the greater part of their lands prior to the passage of the Kansas territorial act in 1854, and were eventually moved south to the future state of Oklahoma.
In the three months immediately preceding the passage of the bill, treaties were quietly made at Washington with the Delawares, Otoes, Kickapoos, Kaskaskias, Shawnees, Sacs, Foxes and other tribes, whereby the greater part of eastern Kansas, lying within one or two hundred miles of the Missouri border, was suddenly opened to white settlement. (The Kansa reservation had already been reduced by treaty in 1846.) On March 15, 1854, Otoe and Missouri Indians ceded to the United States all their lands west of the Mississippi, except a small strip on the Big Blue River. On May 6 and May 10, 1854, the Shawnees ceded 6,100,000 acres (25,000 km²), reserving only 200,000 acres (809 km²) for homes. Also on May 6, 1854, the Delawares ceded all their lands to the United States, except a reservation defined in the treaty. On May 17, the Iowas similarly ceded their lands, retaining only a small reservation. On May 18, 1854, the Kickapoos too ceded their lands, except 150,000 acres (607 km²) in the western part of the Territory. Lands were also ceded by the Kaskaskias, Peorias, Piankeshaw and Weas on March 30, 1854, and by the Sacs and Foxes on May 18.
The final step in reducing Native American land in Kansas Territory soon followed – taking all land from the tribes and giving small parcels instead to individual Indians or families (in "severalty"). For example, in 1854, the Chippewas (Swan Creek and Black River bands) inhabited 8,320 acres (34 km²) in Franklin County, but in 1859 the tract was transferred to individual Chippewa families.
Upon the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act on May 30, 1854, the borders of Kansas Territory were set from the Missouri border to the summit of the Rocky Mountain range; the southern boundary was the 37th parallel, the northern was the 40th parallel. North of the 40th parallel was Nebraska Territory. When Congress set the southern border of the Kansas Territory as the 37th parallel, it was thought that the Osage southern border was also the 37th parallel. The Cherokees immediately complained, saying that it was not the true boundary and that the border of Kansas should be moved north to accommodate the actual border of the Cherokee land. This became known as the Cherokee Strip controversy.
An invitation to violence
The most controversial provision in the Kansas-Nebraska Act was the stipulation that settlers in Kansas Territory would decide whether to allow slavery within its borders. This provision repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had prohibited slavery in any new states created north of latitude 36°30'. Predictably, it also led to violence between the Northerners and Southerners that rushed to settle there.
Within a few days after the passage of the Act, hundreds of pro-slavery Missourians crossed into the adjacent territory, selected an area of land, and then united with other Missourians in a meeting or meetings, intending to establish a pro-slavery preemption upon the entire region. As early as June 10, 1854, the Missourians held a meeting at Salt Creek Valley, a trading post three miles west of Fort Leavenworth, at which a "Squatter's Claim Association" was organized. They said they were in favor of making Kansas a slave state, if it should require half the citizens of Missouri, musket in hand, to emigrate there, and even to sacrifice their lives in accomplishing this end.
To counter this action, the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company (and other smaller organizations) quickly arranged to send anti-slavery settlers (known as "Free-Staters") into Kansas in 1854 and 1855. The principal towns founded by the New Englanders were Topeka, Manhattan, and Lawrence. Several Free-State men also came to Kansas Territory from Ohio, Iowa, Illinois and other Midwestern states.
Despite the proximity and opposite aims of the settlers, the lid was largely kept on the violence until the election of the Kansas Territorial legislature on March 30, 1855. On that date, Missourians who had streamed across the border (known as "Border Ruffians") filled the ballot boxes in favor of proslavery candidates. As a result, proslavery candidates prevailed at every polling district except one (the future Riley County), and the first official legislature was overwhelmingly composed of proslavery delegates.
From 1855 to 1858, Kansas Territory experienced a multitude of violence and some open battles. This period, known as "Bleeding Kansas" or "the Border Wars," directly presaged the American Civil War. The major incidents of Bleeding Kansas include the Wakarusa War, the Sacking of Lawrence, the Pottawatomie Massacre, the Battle of Black Jack, the Battle of Osawatomie, and the Marais des Cygnes massacre.
On December 1, 1855, a small army of Missourians, acting under the command of Douglas County, Kansas Sheriff Samuel J. Jones, laid siege to the Free-State stronghold of Lawrence in what would later become known as "The Wakarusa War." Under the influences and appliances of pro-slavery opponents, all Western Missouri was stirred to its very depths, and vomited forth an army for the subjugation of the Abolitionists of Lawrence. A treaty of peace negotiation was announced amid much disorder and cries for the reading of the treaty shortly afterwards. It quelled the disorder and its provisions were generally accepted.
Sacking of Lawrence
On May 21, 1856, proslavery forces led by Sheriff Jones again attacked Lawrence, killing two men, burning the Free-State Hotel to the ground, destroying two printing presses, and robbing homes.
The Pottawatomie Massacre occurred during the night of May 24 to the morning of May 25, 1856. In what appears to be a reaction to the Sacking of Lawrence, John Brown and a band of abolitionists (some of them members of the Pottawatomie Rifles) killed with broadswords five settlers, thought to be proslavery, north of Pottawatomie Creek in Franklin County, Kansas. Brown later said that he had not participated in the killings during the Pottawatomie Massacre, but that he did approve of them. He went into hiding after the killings, and two of his sons, John Jr. and Jason, were arrested. During their confinement, they were allegedly mistreated, which left John Jr. mentally scarred. On June 2, Brown led a successful attack on a band of Missourians led by Captain Henry Pate in the Battle of Black Jack. Pate and his men had entered Kansas to capture Brown and others. That autumn, Brown went back into hiding and engaged in other guerrilla activities.
Reflecting the deep divisions within Kansas Territory, four constitutions were framed as the organic law before the state was admitted to the Union. Each charter reflected different views of the treatment of African Americans in the future Kansas.
The Topeka Constitution, which was the first in order, was adopted by a convention of Free-Staters on November 11, 1855. It contained the Free-State principles of barring slavery in the future state of Kansas and excluding all free African-Americans from Kansas. The convention was unauthorized by the territorial or federal government, and although the constitution was approved by the people of the Territory at an election held on December 15, 1855, it was never accepted as a legal document.
The Lecompton Constitution was adopted by a Convention convened by the official pro-slavery government on November 7, 1857. The constitution would have allowed slavery in Kansas as drafted, but the slavery provision was put to a vote. After a series of votes on the provision and the constitution itself were boycotted alternatively by pro-slavery settlers and Free-State settlers, the Lecompton Constitution was eventually presented to the U.S. Congress for approval. In the end, because it was never clear if the constitution represented the will of the people, it was rejected.
While the Lecompton Constitution was being debated, a new Free-State legislature was elected and seated in Kansas Territory. The new legislature convened a new convention, which framed the Leavenworth Constitution. This constitution was the most radically progressive of the four proposed, outlawing slavery and providing a framework for women's rights. The constitution was adopted by the convention at Leavenworth on April 3, 1858, and by the people at an election held May 18, 1858 (all while the Lecompton Constitution was still under consideration). The U.S. Congress refused to ratify it.
Following the failure of the Lecompton and Leavenworth charters, a fourth constitution was drafted; the Wyandotte Constitution was adopted by the convention which framed it on July 29, 1859. It was adopted by the people at an election held October 4, 1859. It outlawed slavery but was far less progressive than the Leavenworth Constitution. Kansas was admitted into the Union as a free state under this constitution on January 29, 1861.
End of hostilities
By the time the Wyandotte Constitution was framed, it was clear that the pro-slavery forces had lost in their bid to control Kansas. With this dawning realization and the departure of John Brown from the state, Bleeding Kansas violence virtually ceased by 1859.
Kansas became the 34th state admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861. Three months thereafter, the Civil War would officially commence, although the fight between North and South had started in Kansas Territory years before.
The 1860s saw several important developments in the history of Kansas, including participation in the Civil War, the beginning of the cattle drives, the roots of Prohibition in Kansas (which would fully take hold in the 1880s), and the start of the Indian Wars on the western plains. James Lane was elected to the Senate from the state of Kansas in 1861, and reelected in 1865. Lane was despised throughout the entire Confederacy.
Seal and motto of Kansas
Great Seal of the State of Kansas was established by a joint resolution adopted by the Kansas Legislature May 25, 1861. The design for the Great Seal of Kansas was submitted by John James Ingalls, a state senator from Atchison. Ingalls also proposed the state motto, "Ad astra per aspera."
At the commencement of the Civil War, the Kansas government had no well-organized militia, no arms, accoutrements or supplies, nothing with which to meet the demands, except the united will of officials and citizens. During the years 1859 to 1860, the military organizations had fallen into disuse or been entirely broken up.
The first Kansas regiment was called on June 3, 1861, and the seventeenth, the last raised during the Civil War, July 28, 1864. The entire quota assigned to the Kansas was 16,654, and the number raised was 20,097, leaving a surplus of 3,443 to the credit of Kansas. Statistics indicated that losses of Kansas regiments in killed in battle and from disease are greater per thousand than those of any other State.
The Battle of Baxter Springs, sometimes called the Baxter Springs Massacre, was a minor battle in the War, fought on October 6, 1863, near the modern-day town of Baxter Springs, Kansas. The Battle of Mine Creek, also known as the Battle of the Osage was a cavalry battle that occurred in Kansas during the war.
On October 25, 1864, the Battle of Marais des Cygnes occurred in Linn County, Kansas. This Battle of Trading Post was between Major General Sterling Price leading a Missouri expedition against Union forces under Major General Alfred Pleasonton. Price, after going south from Kansas City, was met by Pleasonton at Marais des Cygnes. The Confederates were forced to withdraw after an assault by Union forces.
Battle of Lawrence
After Union Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, Jr. ordered the imprisonment of women who had provided aid to Confederate guerillas, tragically the jail's roof collapsed, killing five. These deaths enraged all of Missouri. On August 21, 1863, William Quantrill led Quantrill's Raid into Lawrence destroying much of the city and killing over a hundred people. The Confederate partisans in Missouri rode to Lawrence (a town long hated by Quantrill and many Southerners) in response to the deaths of women and children. Quantrill also rationalized, an attack on this citadel of abolition would bring revenge for any wrongs, real or imagined that the Southerners had suffered. By the time the raid was over, Quantrill and his men had killed approximately 150-200 men, both young and old.
Indian Wars in Kansas
Fort Larned was established in 1859 as a base of military operations against hostile Indians of the Central Plains, to protect traffic along the Santa Fe Trail and as an agency for the administration of the Central Plains Indians by the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the terms of the Fort Wise Treaty of 1861.
The time of the discovery of the precious metals in the mountains of Colorado, and the consequent crowding of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes toward the valleys of the Republican and Smoky Hill, may be considered the commencement of a series of aggressions and counter-aggressions between the native Americans and the miners and military of Colorado, which eventuated in April, 1864, in a war kept up for many months by the Indians upon frontier settlers in Kansas and Nebraska, upon travelers, ranch men end train men, culminating in November of the same year, in a wholesale slaughter of a band of Indians - mostly friendly Indians - who were encamped on Sand Creek near Fort Lyon in Colorado, on their own reservation, to which they had been ordered as a place of safety. This event is now known as the Sand Creek Massacre.
Era of Peace
The sweet assuring smile of peace fell on Kansas for the first time in her existence when the war of the rebellions, known as the American Civil War, ended. Twelve years of turmoil and bloody strife - twelve years of constant effort where danger was ever rife, had trained the inhabitants to know now rest save in motion and no safety save in incessant vigilance. Under such discipline the character of the whole people had become as peculiar as the experiences through which they had passed.
A restless energy was the controlling characteristic - to take one's ease had ceased to be a thing to be desired; obstacles to be overcome were the desire objects, and to overcome them the grand aim of a typical Kansan's life. The war being ended, they turned to the most vigorous pursuit of the peaceful arts; they had conquered the right to the free soil they trod; henceforth their energies should be devoted to the development of its highest possibilities through every means which ingenuity could devise, patience endure, or energy execute.
Kansas Pacific railroad
In 1863, the Union Pacific Eastern Division (renamed the Kansas Pacific in 1869) was authorized by the United States Congress's Pacific Railway Act to create the southerly branch of the transcontinental railroad alongside the Union Pacific. Pacific Railway Act also authorized large land grants to the railroad along its mainline. The company began construction on its main line westward from Kansas City in September 1863.
In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy built stockyards in Abilene, Kansas and helped develop the Chisholm Trail, encouraging Texas cattlemen to undertake cattle drives to his stockyards from 1867 to 1887. The stockyards became the largest west of Kansas City. Once the cattle was drove north, they were shipped eastward from the railhead of the Kansas Pacific Railway.
In 1871, Wild Bill Hickok became marshal of Abilene, Kansas. His encounter there with John Wesley Hardin resulted in the latter fleeing the town after Wild Bill managed to disarm him. Hickok was also a deputy marshal at Fort Riley and a marshal at Hays in the wild west. In Greensburg, Kansas, the Big Well was built to provide water for the Santa Fe and Rock Island railroads. It is 109 feet deep and 32 feet in diameter. This 1880s attraction is the world's largest hand-dug well, being 109 feet deep and 32 feet in diameter. Coronado, Kansas, was established in 1885. Is was involved in one of the bloodiest county seat fights in the history of the American West. The shoot-out on February 27, 1887, with boosters — some would say hired gunmen — from nearby Leoti left several people dead and wounded.
In 1879, upon the termination of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era in the South, a large number of former slaves moved from Southern states to Kansas. Known as the Exodusters, they were lured by the prospect of good, cheap land and better treatment. The town of Nicodemus, Kansas, which was founded in 1877, was an organized settlement that predates the Exodusters but is often associated with them.
On February 19, 1881, Kansas became the first U.S. state to adopt a Constitutional amendment prohibiting all alcoholic beverages. This action was part of the Temperance movement, and was enforced by the ax-totting Carrie Nation.
World War I to World War II
In 1916, Kansas troops served on the U.S.-Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution. 80,000 Kansans enlisted in the United States military after April, 1917 when the United States declared war on Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey. They were attached mostly to the 35th, the 42nd, the 89th, and the 92nd infantry divisions.
Between 1922 and 1927, there were several legal battles Kansas against the KKK, resulting in their expulsion from the state.
The flag of Kansas was designed in 1925. It was officially adopted by the Kansas State Legislature in 1927 and modified in 1961 (the word "Kansas" was added below the seal in gold block lettering). It was first flown at Fort Riley by Governor Ben S. Paulen in 1927 for the troops at Fort Riley and for the Kansas National Guard.
The Dust Bowl was a series of dust storms caused by a massive drought that began in 1930 and lasted until 1941. The effect of the drought combined with the effects of the Great Depression, forced many farmers off the land throughout the Great Plains. This ecological disaster caused a journey by a large group of residents to escape from the hostile environment of Kansas.
Cold War era
During the Cold War, Kansas participated in the deterrent weapons system that for years defended America from nuclear attack. In the 1950s, Kansas received unusually high doses of radioactive nuclear fallout from 1950s nuclear weapons tests in Nevada.
In May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education unanimously declared that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" and, as such, violate the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees all citizens "equal protection of the laws." Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka explicitly outlawed de jure racial segregation of public education facilities (legal establishment of separate government-run schools for blacks and whites). The site consists of the Monroe Elementary School, one of the four segregated elementary schools for African American children in Topeka, Kansas (and the adjacent grounds).
During the 1950s and 1960s, intercontinental ballistic missiles (designed to carry a single nuclear warhead) were stationed throughout Kansas facilities. They were stored (to be launched from) hardened underground silos. The Kansas facilities were deactivated in the early 1980s.
On June 8th, 1966, Topeka, Kansas was struck by an F5 rated tornado, according to the Fujita scale. The "Topeka Tornado of 1966" started on the southwest side of town, moving northeast, hitting various landmarks (including Washburn University). Total dollar cost was put at $100 million.
Kansas was home to President Eisenhower, presidential candidates Bob Dole and Alf Landon, and the aviator Amelia Earhart. Famous athletes from Kansas include Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers, Jim Ryun, Walter Johnson, Maurice Greene, and Lynette Woodard.