The Kansas Portal

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Kansas (/ˈkænzəs/ (listen)) is a state in the Midwestern United States. Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita. Kansas is a landlocked state bordered by Nebraska to the north; Missouri to the east; Oklahoma to the south; and Colorado to the west. Kansas is named after the Kansas River, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native Americans who lived along its banks. The tribe's name (natively kką:ze) is often said to mean "people of the (south) wind" although this was probably not the term's original meaning. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Tribes in the eastern part of the state generally lived in villages along the river valleys. Tribes in the western part of the state were semi-nomadic and hunted large herds of bison.

The first Euro-American settlement in Kansas occurred in 1827 at Fort Leavenworth. The pace of settlement accelerated in the 1850s, in the midst of political wars over the slavery debate. When it was officially opened to settlement by the U.S. government in 1854 with the Kansas–Nebraska Act, abolitionist Free-Staters from New England and pro-slavery settlers from neighboring Missouri rushed to the territory to determine whether Kansas would become a free state or a slave state. Thus, the area was a hotbed of violence and chaos in its early days as these forces collided, and was known as Bleeding Kansas. The abolitionists prevailed, and on January 29, 1861, Kansas entered the Union as a free state, hence the unofficial nickname "The Free State".

By 2015, Kansas was one of the most productive agricultural states, producing high yields of wheat, corn, sorghum, and soybeans. Kansas, which has an area of 82,278 square miles (213,100 square kilometers) is the 15th-largest state by area and is the 34th most-populous of the 50 states, with a population of 2,940,865 according to the 2020 census. Residents of Kansas are called Kansans. Mount Sunflower is Kansas's highest point at 4,039 feet (1,231 meters). (Full article...)

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Satellite perspective of the tornadic supercells over the Great Plains on the evening of May 5
Satellite perspective of the tornadic supercells over the Great Plains on the evening of May 5

From May 4–6, 2007, a major and damaging tornado outbreak significantly affected portions of the Central United States. The most destructive tornado in the outbreak occurred on the evening of May 4 in western Kansas, where about 95% of the city of Greensburg in Kiowa County was destroyed by an EF5 tornado, the first of such intensity since the 1999 Bridge Creek–Moore tornado. The supercell killed 13 people, including 11 in Greensburg and two from separate tornadoes. At least 60 people were injured in Greensburg alone. It was the strongest tornado of an outbreak which included several other tornadoes reported across Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and South Dakota that occurred on the same night.

Although one of the most damaging tornadoes of the outbreak sequence occurred in Greensburg on May 4, 25 tornadoes were confirmed that day. That number exploded to 92 the following day (May 5), with many tornadoes near the affected area from the previous night. Most were in open country, but there were injuries in at least two spots in Kansas, and one death reported near a county lake in Ottawa County. Fifteen more tornadoes were confirmed on May 6 in the region before the outbreak finally ended. (Full article...)

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Riley (Kansas) County Courthouse 1.jpg
Credit: Kevin Zollman
Riley County Courthouse in Manhattan, Kansas.

Important dates in Kansas' history

July–August 1541
Coronado explores Kansas
April 30, 1803
Louisiana Purchase Treaty signed
May 30, 1854
Kansas Territory organized
July 29, 1859
Constitution adopted by convention
January 29, 1861
Kansas becomes 34th state
August 21, 1863
Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence
Spring 1879
Exodusters
February 19, 1881
First state to Constitutionally prohibit alcohol
1890s
Populist Revolt
July 1951
Great Flood of 1951
May 17, 1954
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

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State facts


State symbols:

The American Bison, Kansas' state mammal.
The American Bison, Kansas' state mammal.

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Kansas State Guard insignia.
Kansas State Guard insignia.
The Kansas State Guard was the official state defense force of the state of Kansas during each of the world wars. The unit was first created during World War I, and was later reactivated during World War II. When the Kansas National Guard was federalized and deployed during each of the world wars, the state of Kansas was forced to raise and maintain its own military force in order to protect against saboteurs, quell riots, and perform other duties which would normally fall to the National Guard. Unlike the National Guard, which could be federalized and deployed abroad, the State Guard was funded and equipped solely by the state and as such was immune to deployment. The Kansas State Guard is authorized under Kansas law. In 2007, the Kansas Legislature considered a bill which would create a modern Kansas State Defense Force. The bill did not pass. (Full article...)
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