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Kansas in the 19th century


George Manypenny
George Manypenny

When Kansas became a territory it was illegal to sell any of the land; it belonged to the native peoples, to whom it had been promised when they moved there. Even before Kansas became a territory, U.S. Indian Agent George Manypenny was in Kansas negotiating new treaties with Native Americans. Under these treaties Native Americans in Kansas lost most of their lands and were forced to move to the remaining Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. By the 1870s almost all Native American land in Kansas had been ceded to the United States, and by 1880 all but a very few Native Americans had been forced out of Kansas. In many cases the treaties were not needed. White settlers moved to Kansas, encouraged by federal laws that allowed them to purchase the land they lived on—even if they had occupied the land illegally. The United States also encouraged settlers in Kansas and elsewhere by refusing to expel whites who trespassed on Native American lands. Once settlers were certain that the U.S. government would not remove them, migration increased dramatically. Native Americans resisted as best they could; fighting between whites and Native Americans in western Kansas was especially vicious. Whites, however, continued to settle in Kansas.

Kansas Territory and Statehood


As the demand for land increased in the early 1850s, the Congress of the United States considered plans to open Kansas to white settlement and to create a territorial government. Numerous bills were introduced in Congress to create a Nebraska Territory that would include both the Kansas and Nebraska regions, but each was defeated.

Then, in 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which created separate Kansas and Nebraska territories. It also allowed territorial inhabitants to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery in the territory, thus repealing a provision of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 that had prohibited slavery in the territories north of latitude 36°30’ (except Missouri). The bill was sponsored by U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. By opening up what had been Native American country to white settlement, Douglas and other Northern leaders hoped to encourage construction of a transcontinental railroad through their states rather than through the Southern part of the country.

(The portion of the railroad built in Kansas became the Union Pacific Railroad.) Instead the bill encouraged both the proslavery and antislavery factions to rush to Kansas as fast as possible to prevent the other factions from securing political control of the new state. The Kansas-Nebraska Act greatly increased the tension between North and South in the years before the American Civil War (1861-1865).

On May 30, 1854, President Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act creating the two new territories. Andrew H. Reeder of Pennsylvania was appointed the first governor of Kansas Territory, which included a considerable part of present-day Colorado. In 1855 the governor chose Pawnee, on the present-day Fort Riley Reservation, as the territorial capital. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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