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President Thomas Jefferson


Zebulon Montgomery Pike
Zebulon Montgomery Pike

In 1803 U.S. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the new acquisition west of the Mississippi River. The Lewis and Clark Expedition started from St. Louis, Missouri, in 1804 and reached the junction of the Kansas and Missouri rivers on June 26. They explored the surrounding area for three days, then continued up the Missouri River on their way to the Pacific Ocean.

Indian Territory


Because U.S. leaders believed the Kansas region to be unfit for white settlement, Congress passed legislation in 1830 and 1834 allowing the federal government to use large sections of eastern Kansas—part of a much larger resettlement area west of the Mississippi River that whites called Indian Territory—to resettle Native American peoples who were relocated from east of the Mississippi River. In total, between 1825 and 1840 the U.S. government moved about 11,000 Native Americans to the Kansas area. In 1834 and 1835 some of the Shawnee were moved; the Iowa people were relocated to northeastern Kansas in 1837; in the 1830s and 1840s groups of Potawatomis and Ottawas were moved to reservations in Kansas; in 1842 the Wyandot were forced to leave their Michigan and Ohio lands and move to Kansas;

in 1846 most of the Miami people were relocated to Kansas; and in 1846 the Kansa were moved from their lands along the lower Kansas River to a reservation at Council Grove; in 1873 they were moved once more, this time to Oklahoma, where they have since remained. Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries moved to Kansas in the 1830s to work among the Native Americans.

In the early 19th century, white settlers began crossing the Great Plains to reach the West, and trails like the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail crossed Kansas. Only a small number of whites (fewer than 1000) settled in Kansas. As part of Indian Territory, Kansas remained forbidden to white settlers, except for missionaries. The Santa Fe Trail, which was a regular trade route between western Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico, as early as 1821, was used almost continuously until 1880, when a railroad reached Santa Fe. The trail crossed Kansas from the northeast to the southwest corner.

Several military forts were built along these trails to protect travelers, especially from the Comanche. The first of these was Fort Leavenworth, built in 1827 under the direction of Colonel Henry Leavenworth. The first permanent white settlement in the Kansas region grew up around this post. The U.S. Army also built Fort Scott (1842), Fort Riley (1853), and Fort Larned (1859). "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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