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Kansas History: 8 Events That Shaped the State

Image: Kansas History: 8 Events That Shaped the State
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado found the Pacific Southwest exploring for Spain. On the 400th anniversary a 3-cent stamp was issued May 29, 1935.

By    |   Monday, 23 Feb 2015 11:32 PM

Kansas is known as the windswept state that transformed from a land viewed as uninhabitable to one that became the bread basket of the world. Before humans ever set foot in Kansas, a primordial sea covered the land and left behind a rich fossil record, shaping Kansas history.

Here are eight events that shaped the modern history of the state:

1. The Spanish Search for Gold: In the 1540s,  Francisco Vasquez de Coronado traveled to Kansas in  search for the cities of gold.. He did not find it there, but a priest accompanying him on the march was murdered by the Native Americans in the area. Father Juan de Padilla became the first Christian martyr in America.

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2. Zebulon Pike sees the state: While Louis and Clark traveled along the eastern edge of the area that would become Kansas during their exploration up the Missouri River; it was the expedition of Zebulon Pike that gave Kansas a bad reputation. Pike labeled Kansas "The Great American Desert" on his maps following an 1806 expedition through the area.

3.
Indian Territory: Since the land of Kansas was considered "The Great American Desert," U.S. government officials believed it would not be good for white settlers and designated it as Indian Territory in the 1820s. Many missions to the Native Americans were established during this period, when Kansas was officially closed to white settlement. Native Americans were pushed into decreasing land areas as the white settlers changed their minds.

4. Kansas-Nebraska Act: In 1954, Kansas was officially opened for settlement by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The act organized the land as a territory and provided that the contentious slave issue of the day would be settled by the people in the territory, rather than Washington lawmakers. This notion of "popular sovereignty" led to a violent period of dispute.

5. Bloody Kansas Period: Pro and anti-slavery groups fought along the border between the slave-state of Missouri and the territory of Kansas in the years leading up to Kansas Statehood and the Civil War. Pro-slavery Missourians flooded the state to prevent their own area from being surrounded by free-states. Eastern interests sent companies of anti-slavery settlers to vote for a free-state constitution in the state.

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6. Arrival of the Volga Germans: Germans by way of Russia moved to Kansas in the 1870s in attempts to avoid conscription. The arrival of this ethic group is very significant due to the wheat this group brought with them. They began to very successfully sew on the Kansas prairie.

7. Plains Indian Wars: Hostility between Plains Indians and the U.S. government raged in Kansas during the years following the Civil War. The destruction of the buffalo, which were killed off to make traveling by railroad more convenient was a huge issue in these wars. Americans killed off millions of buffalo between 1860 and 1885.

8. Cattle Drives: Kansas is where the west went wild. Several Kansas towns were, at one point, the end of the tracks for the railroad. These towns provided a point for the round-up of cattle from Texas that were driven to where they could be loaded onto rail cars and shipped back to eastern markets where there was a shortage of beef. The most famous of these towns was Dodge City which became the primary cattle-drive destination between 1875 and 1885.

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Kansas is the wind-swept state that transformed from a land viewed as uninhabitable to one that became the bread basket of the world. Before humans ever set-foot in Kansas a primordial sea covered the land and left behind a rich fossil record, shaping Kansas history.
Kansas History, Windswept State, Dodge City
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2015-32-23
Monday, 23 Feb 2015 11:32 PM
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