Kansas Entered the Union as a Free State
There's no place like home! There's no place
like home! Dorothy from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is not the
only person to express these feelings about Kansas. So would
some 2.6 million Kansans living there today and many more
throughout the state's history. Sometimes called the "Sunflower
State," "Wheat State," "Jayhawker State," and "Midway, USA,"
Kansas entered the Union as the 34th state, a free state, on
January 29, 1861. Why is it "free"?
Kansas entered the
union as a "free state," because of the Kansas-Nebraska Act that
allowed the residents to decide if their state would allow
slavery. Settlers came from the North and the South with strong
opinions about slavery, giving rise to "Bleeding Kansas." Acts
of violence erupted due to the conflict before the majority made
the territory free from slavery in 1859.
The U.S. bought
the land that makes up present-day Kansas from France as part of
the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Native American tribes had long
called the land home; the state is named after the Native
Americans that the Sioux called the Konza, meaning "people of
the south wind." Some Native Americans lived in Kansas against
their will in the territory's early days, when tribes were
relocated there by the federal government.
Those who know
Kansas as home are used to its wide plains. As a matter of fact,
the whole state is a fairly continuous plain. Laura Ingalls
wrote about life there in Little House on the Prairie.
Who else has called the plains of Kansas home besides pioneers
and cowboys? George Washington Carver, Wilt Chamberlain,
Langston Hughes, William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Amelia Earhart,
and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, to name a few. Dorothy has
good company in the free state of Kansas!