History of Kansas

The history of Kansas has documented beginnings similar to some of its neighbors, including Oklahoma and Arkansas. First discovered and explored by Spain's Francisco de Coronado during the year of 1541, there were many land claims for entitlement to the region following initial discovery. The first successful claim on what was to be known as Kansas was in the later seventeenth century when France took over many vast areas of land. Eventually these land parcels were given back to the Spain more than eighty years later.

Among the facts about Kansas is that less than forty years after the land re-acquirement by Spain, France once again took over the territory in the nineteenth century through the Treaty of Madrid. It was then sold it to the United States in 1809 as a component of the famous Louisiana Purchase. These were the major events concerning land ownership in Kansas history but there are many other happenings that helped to shape the state into what it is today.

Preceding the discovery of Kansas by Francisco de Coronado in 1541, originally Kansas land was settled by major Native Indian tribes, a common occurrence in this area of the United States during this period. The Osage, Pawnee and Kansas tribes were mainstays of the eight tribes that first settled the land. In the written history of Kansas, the tribes lived peacefully among each other, hunting buffalo, raising simple crops and living in small villages. Once the French arrived, they traded with the tribes and erected Fort Orleans near the head of the Osage River. The United States had amassed the land through the Louisiana Purchase, but it wasn't until 1850 that the southwestern corner of Kansas was procured from Texas.

There are many intriguing facts about Kansas between 1812 and 1854. Neighboring Missouri became an official state and in 1825 Kansas was officially made Indian Territory. Between 1825 and 1840 more than thirty Indian tribes relinquished land and relocated to the allotted Indian Territory in Kansas. Some of these tribes include Iowa, Chippewa, Shawnee, Kickapoo and Delaware. Kansas history reveals the state was right on main trail to California and Utah during the settlers rush which brought even more pioneers to Kansas because of the agricultural benefits. With treaties continuously made and broken in the history of Kansas, there were numerous uprisings and raids initiated by enraged tribes. This unrest lasted up until 1878.

The official Kansas Territory was created when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was signed by President Pierce in 1854. One of the surprising facts about Kansas during this period is that regional colonists, not the government, were given the ability to determine if the immediate area would be slave or free. This brought about many acrimonious battles between the dueling groups. The slaves were sided with in 1855 after an election beneficial to their cause. In Topeka the "Free Staters" tried to rival the government with one of their own creation but failed in their attempt at reclaiming rights. In 1859 in Kansas history, slavery was officially abolished.

January of 1861 was a momentous date that saw Kansas became the 34th state. The next hundred years in the history of Kansas saw many important changes. Much of Lawrence was devastated by fragments of Civil War strife, farmers experienced one of the worst droughts ever, prohibition was initiated in 1890 and women received the right to vote in 1912. The economy experienced a massive boom in the 1930s and 1940s which then receded to difficult times with the severe droughts in the 1950s and 1960s. Eisenhower, born and raised in Abilene, was president from 1953 to 1961, a proud time in Kansas history.

Propelling forward from long-ago history of Kansas, modern day Kansas is a major player in wheat crops and distribution and also raises potatoes, corn and soybeans. A leader in aircraft manufacturing and petroleum production, Kansas also mines lead, zinc, coal and salt. Some of the major attractions featuring important parts of Kansas history include the Presidential Library at Abilene and Eisenhower Memorial Museum, the Front Street recreation in Dodge City, historical Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth.

Compare Travel Sites and Save!

Garden City

Garden City Kansas is located in the High Plains, north of the Arkansas River...

Cosmosphere and Space Center


There are a lot of great attractions that you can enjoy on a Kansas vacati...

Latest Topics

Kansas ATV trails

If you are looking for places to ride off-road in Kansas, head somewhere near a lake to find trai...

More Forum Posts »