On January 29, 1861 – 150 years ago today – Kansas joined the Union as a free state by vote of Congress. This was a tumulus time – right after Abraham Lincoln had been elected president on Nov 6, but before he took office on March 4th. The news of Kansas becoming the 34th new state was buried by the news that other states were seceding from the Union, and the status of forts in the south – such as Fort Sumter. One of the reasons that Kansas finally entered the Union as a free state was because so many southern congress members were resigning their seats so the no vote did not show up. The Civil War was about to start in April of 1861. The New England Emigrant Aid Society (1854-), in Boston, had talked many men into becoming Kansans so that Kansas would not have slavery in it. 20K of the 30K eligible Kansas men would end up fighting in that terrible war that resulted in the end of slavery.
The Kansa Indians who resided in Kansas were moved to smaller and smaller reservations, and then to Oklahoma, as homesteaders were given 160 acres (there was a $10 filing fee, and an agreement to improve the land for 5 yrs) when the homestead act passed in 1862 – helping to populate the state.
Some of the events to celebrate Kansas Day – a toast to Kansas – at 7 PM EDT – right before the Kansas-K-State basketball game that Kansas is going to win. The Free State Brewery in Lawrence and a facebook event is making this a national event. There is also people making Kansas Day Cakes, which are a lot like birthday cakes, and there are many events of educational nature that are scheduled.
Wandering children of Kansas away,
By mountain, by desert, or sea,
Feasting or fasting, at prayer or at play,
Whatever your fortunes may be,
Open the doors of your hearts to the breeze,
Prairie winds never are still,
Hark to the surf in the cottonwood trees,
The breakers that boom on the hill.
Open your soul’s windows-let in the sun-
The prairie sun gay with delight.
Where’er your wandering pathways have run,
Come home tonight.
“A Song for Kansas Day” by William Allen White