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State of Kansas

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for the Kansa (or Kaw) Indians, the "people of the south wind."

NICKNAME: The Sunflower State; the Jayhawker State.

CAPITAL: Topeka.

ENTERED UNION: 29 January 1861 (34th).

SONG: "Home on the Range;" "The Kansas March." (march).

MOTTO: Ad astra per aspera (To the stars through difficulties).

FLAG: The flag consists of a dark blue field with the state seal in the center; a sunflower on a bar of twisted gold and blue is above the seal; the word "Kansas" is below it.

OFFICIAL SEAL: A sun rising over mountains in the background symbolizes the east; commerce is represented by a river and a steamboat. In the foreground, agriculture, the basis of the state's prosperity, is represented by a settler's cabin and a man plowing a field. Beyond this is a wagon train heading west and a herd of buffalo fleeing from two Indians. Around the top is the state motto above a cluster of 34 stars; the circle is surrounded by the words "Great Seal of the State of Kansas, January 29, 1861."

BIRD: Western meadowlark.

FLOWER: Wild native sunflower.

TREE: Cottonwood.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., 3rd Monday in January; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 6 AM CST = noon GMT; 5 AM MST = noon GMT.


Located in the western north-central United States, Kansas is the second-largest Midwestern state (following Minnesota) and ranks 14th among the 50 states.

The total area of Kansas is 82,277 sq mi (213,097 sq km), of which 81,778 sq mi (211,805 sq km) are land, and the remaining 499 sq mi (1,292 sq km) inland water. Shaped like a rectangle except for an irregular corner in the ne, the state has a maximum extension e-w of about 411 mi (661 km) and an extreme n-s distance of about 208 mi (335 km).

Kansas is bounded on the n by Nebraska, on the e by Missouri (with the line in the ne following the Missouri River), on the s by Oklahoma, and on the w by Colorado, with a total boundary length of 1,219 mi (1,962 km). The geographic center of Kansas is in Barton County, 15 mi (24 km) ne of Great Bend.


Although the popular image of the state is one of unending flatlands, Kansas has a diverse topography. Three main land regions define the state. The eastern third consists of the Osage Plains, Flint Hills, Dissected Till Plains, and Arkansas River Lowlands. The central third comprises the Smoky Hills (which include the Dakota sandstone formations, Greenhorn limestone formations, and chalk deposits) to the north and several lowland regions to the south. To the west are the Great Plains proper, divided into the Dissected High Plains and the High Plains. Kansas generally slopes eastward from a maximum elevation of 4,039 ft (1,232 m) at Mt. Sunflower (a mountain in name only) on the Colorado border to 679 ft (207 m) by the Verdigris River at the Oklahoma border. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 2,000 ft (610 m). More than 50,000 streams run through the state, and there are hundreds of artificial lakes. Major rivers include the Missouri, which defines the state's northeastern boundary; the Arkansas, which runs through Wichita; and the Kansas (Kaw), which runs through Topeka and joins the Missouri at Kansas City.

The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is located in Smith County, in north-central Kansas, at 39°50n and 98°35w. Forty miles (64 km) south of this point, in Osborne County at 39°1327n and 98°3231w, is the North American geodetic datum, the controlling point for all land surveys in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Extensive beds of prehistoric ocean fossils lie in the chalk beds of two western counties, Logan and Gove.


Kansas's continental climate is highly changeable. The average mean temperature is 55°f (13°c). The record high is 121°f (49°c), recorded near Alton on 24 July 1936, and the record low, 40°f (40°c), was registered at Lebanon on 13 February 1905. The normal annual precipitation ranges from slightly more than 40 in (101.6 cm) in the southeast to as little as 16 in (40.6 cm) in the west; in Wichita, average annual precipitation (19712000) was 30.4 in (77.2 cm). The overall annual precipitation for the state averages 27 in (68.6 cm), although years of drought have not been uncommon. About 70%-77% of the precipitation falls between 1 April and 30 September. The annual mean snowfall ranges from about 36 in (91.4 cm) in the extreme northwest to less than 11 in (27.9 cm) in the far southeast. Tornadoes are a regular fact of life in Kansas. Dodge City is said to be the windiest city in the United States, with an average wind speed of 14 mph (23 km/h).


Native grasses, consisting of 60 different groups subdivided into 194 species, cover one-third of Kansas, which is much overgrazed. Bluestemboth big and littlewhich grows in most parts of the state, has the greatest forage value. Other grasses include buffalo grass, blue and hairy gramas, and alkali sacaton. One native conifer, eastern red cedar, is found generally throughout the state. Hackberry, black walnut, and sycamore grow in the east while box elder and cottonwood predominate in western Kansas. There are no native pines. The wild native sunflower, the state flower, is found throughout the state. Other characteristic wildflowers include wild daisy, ivy-leaved morning glory, and smallflower verbena. The western prairie fringed orchid and Mead's milkweed, listed as threatened species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in April 2006, are protected under federal statutes.

Kansas's indigenous mammals include the common cottontail, black-tailed jackrabbit, black-tailed prairie dog, muskrat, opossum, and raccoon; the white-tailed deer is the state's only big-game animal. There are 12 native species of bat, 2 varieties of shrew and mole, and 3 types of pocket gopher. The western meadowlark is the state bird. Kansas has the largest flock of prairie chickens remaining on the North American continent. The US Fish and Wildlife Service named 12 animal species occurring in the state as threatened or endangered in April 2006. Among these are the Indiana and gray bats, bald eagle, Eskimo curlew, Topeka Shiner, and black-footed ferret.

Cheyenne Bottoms, a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, serves as a habitat for the endangered whooping crane and is also considered to be an important site for over 800,000 migratory birds each year. Nearly 45% of all migratory shorebirds that nest in North America use Cheyenne Bottoms as a staging area. The salt marshes of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (also a Ramsar site) serve as a nesting, migration, and winter habitat for over 311 species of bird, including the endangered peregrine falcon and bald eagle.


No environmental problem is more crucial for Kansas than water quality, and its protection remains a primary focus of the state's environmental efforts, which include active regulatory and remedial programs for both surface and groundwater sources. Maintenance of air quality is also a primary effort, and the state works actively with the business community to promote pollution prevention.

Strip-mining for coal is decreasing in southeast Kansas, and the restoration of resources damaged by previous activities is ongoing.

Kansas is home to two Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance. Cheyenne Bottoms, located in Barton County, was designated in 1988. The site includes a state wildlife area, managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and the Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve, managed by the Nature Conservancy. The site is also considered to be part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. The Quivira National Wildlife Refuge was designated by Ramsar in 2002. It includes freshwater and inland salt marshes. This site has been a National Wildlife Refuge since 1955.

In 2003, 28.9 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state. The state has sufficient capacity for handling solid waste, although the total number of solid waste facilities has decreased in recent years. In 2003, Kansas had 307 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database, 10 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006. Five sites were deleted from the National Priority List in 2006, but another two, the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant and the Tri-County Public Airport, were proposed. In 2005, the EPA spent over $512,000 through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $9.7 million for a wastewater state revolving fund and $4.2 million for additional water quality projects.


Kansas ranked 33rd in population in the United States with an estimated total of 2,744,687 in 2005, an increase of 2.1% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Kansas's population grew from 2,477,574 to 2,688,418, an increase of 8.5%. The population is projected to reach 2.85 million by 2015 and 2.91 million by 2025. The population density in 2004 was 33.4 persons per sq mi.

When it was admitted to the Union in 1861, Kansas's population was 107,206. During the decade that followed, the population grew by 240%, more than 10 times the US growth rate. Steady growth continued through the 1930s, but in the 1940s, the population declined by 4%. Since then, the population has risen, though at a slower pace than the national average.

In 2004, the median age for Kansans was 36.1; 25% of the population was below the age of 18 while 13% was 65 or older.

Whereas the populations of Wichita and Topeka grew 8.6% and 1.0% respectively, the population of Kansas City dropped 7.1% during the 1980s. Estimates for 2004 showed about 353,823 residents for Wichita, 162,728 for Overland Park, and 145,004 for Kansas City. The Wichita metropolitan area had an estimated 584,671 residents.


White settlers began to pour into Kansas in 1854, dispersing the 36 Indian tribes living there and precipitating a struggle over the legal status of slavery. Remnants of six of the original tribes still make their homes in the state. Some Indians live on three reservations covering 30,000 acres (12,140 hectares); others live and work elsewhere, returning to the reservations several times a year for celebrations and observances. There were 24,936 Indians in Kansas as of 2000. In 2004, American Indians made up 1% of the population.

Black Americans in Kansas numbered 154,198, or 5.7% of the population, in 2000, when the state also had 188,252 Hispanics and Latinos. In 2004, 5.9% of the population was black and 8.1% of Hispanic or Latino origin. The 2000 Census recorded 46,806 Asian residents, the largest group being 11,623 Vietnamese (up from 6,001 in 1990), followed by 8,153 Asian Indians and 7,624 Chinese. There were also sizable communities of Laotians and Cambodians. In 2004, 2.1% of the population was Asian, and 0.1% was of Pacific Island origin. That year, 1.6% of the population reported origin of two or more races.

The foreign born numbered 80,271 (2% of the population) in 2000, the most common lands of origin being Mexico, Germany, and Vietnam. Among persons who reported descent from a single ancestry group, the leading nationalities were German (914,955), English (391,542), and Irish (424,133).


Plains Indians of the Macro-Siouan group originally populated what is now Kansas; their speech echoes in such place-names as Kansas, Wichita, Topeka, Chetopa, and Ogallah.

Regional features of Kansas speech are almost entirely those of the Northern and North Midland dialects, reflecting the migration into Kansas in the 1850s of settlers from the East. Kansans typically use fish(ing) worms as bait, play as children on a teetertotter, see a snakefeeder (dragonfly) over a /krik/ (creek), make white bread sandwiches, carry water in a pail, and may designate the time 2:45 as a quarter to, or of, or till three.

The migration by southerners in the mid-19th century is evidenced in southeastern Kansas by such South Midland terms as pullybone (wishbone) and light bread (white bread); the expression wait on (wait for) extends farther westward.

In 2000, 2,281,705 Kansans91.3% of the residents five years old or older (down from 94.3% in 1990)spoke only English at home.

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over.

Population 5 years and over 2,500,360 100.0
  Speak only English 2,281,705 91.3
  Speak a language other than English 218,655 8.7
Speak a language other than English 218,655 8.7
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 137,247 5.5
  German 16,821 0.7
  Vietnamese 10,393 0.4
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 6,591 0.3
  Chinese 6,437 0.3
  Korean 3,666 0.1
  Laotian 3,147 0.1
  Arabic 2,834 0.1
  Tagalog 2,237 0.1
  Russian 1,994 0.1


Protestant missions played an important role in early Kansas history. Isaac McCoy, a Baptist minister, was instrumental in founding the Shawnee Baptist Mission in Johnson County in 1831. Later, Baptist, Methodist, Quaker, Presbyterian, and Jesuit missions became popular stopover points for pioneers traveling along the Oregon and Santa Fe trails. Mennonites were drawn to the state by a law passed in 1874 allowing exemption from military service on religious grounds. Religious freedom is specifically granted in the Kansas constitution, and a wide variety of religious groups are represented in the state.

Roman Catholics constitute the single largest religious group in the state, with 409,906 adherents in 2004. One of the leading Protestant denominations is the United Methodist Church, with 162,202 members in 2004. Others (with 2000 membership data) include the Southern Baptist Convention with 101,696 adherents; the American Baptist Church, 64,312; the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 62,712; and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 56,908. The estimated Jewish population in 2000 was 14,500, which represents an increase of over 5,000 adherents since 1990. There were over 18,000 Mennonites throughout the state and about 3,470 Muslims. About 50.6% of the population (or over 1.3 million people) did not report affiliation with a religious organization.


In the heartland of the nation, Kansas is at the crossroads of US road and railway systems. In 2001, Kansas had 25,638 bridges (third in the nation behind Texas and Ohio). In 2004, the state had 135,017 mi (217,377 km) of public roads. In that same year, there were some 845,000 automobiles, around 1.71 million trucks of all types, and some 1,000 buses registered in Kansas. In 2004, Kansas had 1,979,746 licensed drivers.

In the late 1800s, the two major railroads, the Kansas Pacific (now the Union Pacific) and the Santa Fe (now the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe) acquired more than 10 million acres (4 million hectares) of land in the state and then advertised for immigrants to come and buy it. By 1872, the railroads stretched across the state, creating in their path the towns of Ellsworth, Newton, Caldwell, Wichita, and Dodge City. One of the first "cow towns" was Abilene, the terminal point for all cattle shipped to the East.

In 2003, the state had 6,269 route mi (10,093 km) of railroad track. As of 2006, Amtrak's Southwest Chief passenger train crosses Kansas, serving six stations in the state en route from Chicago to Los Angeles.

In 2005, Kansas had a total of 409 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 370 airports, 38 heliports, and 1 STOLport (Short Take-Off and Landing). The state's busiest airport is Kansas City International. In 2004, the airport had 5,040,595 enplanements, making it the 39th busiest airport in the United States.

River barges move bulk commodities along the Missouri River. The chief river ports are Atchison, Leavenworth, Lansing, and Kansas City. In 2004, Kansas had 120 mi (193 km) of navigable inland waterways. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 1.694 million tons.


Present-day Kansas was first inhabited by Paleo-Indians approximately 10,000 years ago. They were followed by several prehistoric cultures, forerunners of the Plains tribesthe Wichita, Pawnee, Kansa, and Osagethat were living or hunting in Kansas when the earliest Europeans arrived. These tribes were buffalo hunters who also farmed and lived in small permanent communities. Around 1800, they were joined on the Central Plains by the nomadic Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa.

The first European, explorer Francisco Coronado, entered Kansas in 1541, searching for riches in the fabled land of Quivira. He found no gold but was impressed by the land's fertility. A second Spanish expedition to the Plains was led by Juan de Onate in 1601. Between 1682 and 1739, French explorers established trading contacts with the Indians. France ceded its claims to the area to Spain in 1762 but received it back from Spain in 1800.

Most of Kansas was sold to the United States by France as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. (The extreme southwestern corner was gained after the Mexican War.) Lewis and Clark examined the country along the Missouri River in 1804, and expeditions under the command of Zebulon Pike (1806) and Stephen Long (1819) traversed the land from east to west. Pike and Long were not impressed with the territory's dry soil, the latter calling the area "unfit for civilization, and of course uninhabitable by a people depending on agriculture for their subsistence."

Largely because of these negative reports, early settlement of Kansas was sparse, limited to a few thousand eastern Indians who were removed from their lands and relocated in what is now eastern Kansas. Included were such once-powerful tribes as the Shawnee, Delaware, Ojibwa, Wyandot, Ottawa, and Potawatomi. They were joined by a number of Christian missionaries seeking to transform the Indians into Christian farmers.

William Becknell opened the Santa Fe Trail to wagon traffic in 1822, and for 50 years that route, two-thirds of which lay in Kansas, was of commercial importance to the West. During the 1840s and 1850s, thousands of migrants crossed northeastern Kansas on the California-Oregon Trail. In 1827, Ft. Leavenworth was established, followed by Ft. Scott (1842) and Ft. Riley (1853). Today, Ft. Leavenworth and Ft. Riley are the two largest military installations in the state.

The Kansas Territory was created by the Kansas-Nebraska Act (30 May 1854), with its western boundary set at the Rocky Mountains. Almost immediately, disputes arose as to whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state. Both free-staters and proslavery settlers were brought in, and a succession of governors tried to bring order out of the chaos arising from the two groups' differences. Free-staters established an extralegal government at Topeka following the establishment of a territorial capital at Lecompton.

Because of several violent incidents, the territory became known as "Bleeding Kansas." One of the most memorable attacks came in May 1856, when the town of Lawrence was sacked by proslavery forces. John Brown, an abolitionist who had recently arrived from upstate New York, retaliated by murdering five proslavery settlers. Guerrilla skirmishes continued for the next few years along the Kansas-Missouri border. The final act of violence was the Marais des Cygnes massacre in 1858, which resulted in the death of several free-staters. In all, about 50 people were killed in the territorial periodnot an extraordinary number for a frontier community.

After several attempts to write a constitution acceptable to both anti- and proslavery groups, the final document was drafted in 1859. Kansas entered the Union on 29 January 1861 as a free state. Topeka was named the capital, and the western boundary was moved to its present location.

Although Kansas lay west of the major Civil War action, more than two-thirds of its adult males served in the Union Army, giving it the highest military death rate among the northern states. Kansas units saw action in the South and West, most notably at Wilson's Creek, Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, and Chickamauga. The only full-scale battle fought in Kansas was at Mine Creek in 1864, at the end of General Sterling Price's unsuccessful Confederate campaign in the West. The most tragic incident on Kansas soil came on 21 August 1863, when Confederate guerrilla William C. Quantrill raided Lawrence, killing at least 150 persons and burning the town.

Following the Civil War, settlement expanded in Kansas, particularly in the central part of the state. White settlers encroached on the hunting grounds of the Plains tribes, and the Indians retaliated with attacks on white settlements. Treaty councils were held, the largest at Medicine Lodge in 1867, but not until 1878 did conflict cease between Indians and whites. Most of the Indians were eventually removed to the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. Also during this period, buffalo, slaughtered for food and hides, all but disappeared from the state.

By 1872, both the Union Pacific and the Santa Fe railroads crossed Kansas, and other lines were under construction. Rail expansion brought more settlers, who established new communities. It also led to the great Texas cattle drives that meant prosperity to a number of Kansas townsincluding Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Caldwell, and Dodge Cityfrom 1867 to 1885. This was when Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Wild Bill Hickok reigned in Dodge City and Abilenethe now romantic era of the Old West.

A strain of hard winter wheat that proved particularly well suited to the state's soil was brought to Kansas in the 1870s by Russian Mennonites fleeing czarist rule, and Plains agriculture was thereby transformed. There were also political changes: The state adopted limited female suffrage in 1887. Prohibition, made part of the state constitution in 1880, was a source of controversy until its repeal in 1948.

Significant changes in agriculture, industry, transportation, and communications came after 1900. Mechanization became commonplace in farming, and vast areas were opened to wheat production, particularly during World War I. Some automobile manufacturing took place, and the movement for "good roads" began. The so-called agrarian revolt of the late 19th century, characterized politically by populism, evolved into the Progressive movement of the early 1900s, which focused attention on control of monopolies, public health, labor legislation, and more representative politics. Much of the Progressive leadership came from Kansas; Kansan newspaper editor and national Progressive leader William Allen White devoted considerable energy to Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose campaign in 1912.

Kansas suffered through the Great Depression of the 1930s. The state's western region, part of the Dust Bowl, was hardest hit. Improved weather conditions and the demands of World War II revived Kansas agriculture in the 1940s. The World War II era also saw the development of industry, especially in transportation. Wichita had been a major center of the aircraft industry in the 1920s and 1930s, and its plants became vital to the US war effort. Other heavy industry grew, and mineral productionoil, natural gas, salt, coal, and gypsumexpanded greatly. In 1952, a native Kansan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was elected to the first of two terms as president of the United States. Two years later, Topeka became the focal point of a landmark in US historythe US Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case that banned racial segregation in the nation's schools.

After World War II, Kansas grew increasingly urban. Agriculture became highly commercialized and the state became home to dozens of large companies that process and market farm products and supply materials to crop producers. Livestock production, especially in closely controlled feedlots, is a major enterprise. Kansas farmers were hit hard by the recession of the 1980s. Agricultural banks failed and many farms were lost, their owners forced into bankruptcy. As part of a solution, the state government worked to expand international exports of Kansas products, securing, for example, a trade agreement with the St. Petersburg region of Russia in 1993. The late 1980s and early 1990s also saw dramatic extremes of weather. Kansas received less than 25% of its normal average rainfall in 1988. Topsoil erosion damaged 865,000 acres (354,650 hectares) and drought drove up commodity prices and depleted grain stocks. From April through September of 1993, Kansas experienced the worst floods of the century. Some 13,500 people evacuated their homes, and the floods caused $574 million worth of damage.

In the 1990s, in response to the economic problems created by severe weather and a slowdown in industrial growth, the state government implemented a number of measures, including block grants to cities, to bolster economic development. Amid the sustained economic boom of the late 1990s, Kansas generally prospered. Unemployment dropped to just 3%, more than 1 percentage point below the national average, in 1999. The state's poverty rate declined in the period between 1989 (when it was 11.5%) and 1998, when it was 9.6%. But with farmers and ranchers still struggling in 1999, a bipartisan group of rural legislators came together to introduce a plan to address what was by then perceived as a crisis in the state's agricultural economy. Their nine-point plan aimed to shore up the farming sector by restraining the anticompetitive market forces they believed threatened family farmers.

In 1996, native son and US Senate majority leader Robert Dole won the Republican presidential nomination but was defeated by Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton, although Dole carried his home state with 54% of the vote to Clinton's 36%.

In 1999, the Kansas Board of Education voted 6-4 to adopt standards that downplayed the importance of evolution and omitted the Big Bang theory of the universe's origin from the curriculum. Though the standards were not mandatory, they drew national attention, with critics decrying the standards as "backward looking." The decision was later reversed. In 2005, Kansas adopted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and the Kansas Board of Education resumed hearings to determine whether evolution should once again be eliminated from state science standards.

The Kansas economy was improving in 2003, after the 2001 US recession. Unemployment in Kansas stood at 5% in July 2003. The national unemployment rate in July 2003 was 6.2%. In 2003, Kansas had a $230 million budget deficit for 2004, and Governor Kathleen Sebelius in April called for bond sales, expanded gambling, and more rapid tax collection to cover the shortfall. Her plans were met with opposition from the Republican-controlled legislature, however. In 2003, Sebelius focused on education, health care, transportation, and the economy. She also set forth plans to streamline state government and encourage citizen involvement in local communities. Sebelius in 2005 continued to stress goals of improving education, health care, and creating jobs. From 2003 to 2005, Wichita's aircraft industry was shored up, business development in small Kansas towns was increasing, and heavy investments were made in bioscience research at universities and medical centers.

Kansas Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election.
1948 8 Dewey (R) 351,902 423,039 4,603 2,807 6,468
1952 8 *Eisenhower (R) 273,296 616,302 6,038 530 6,038
1956 8 *Eisenhower (R) 296,317 566,878 3,048
1960 8 Nixon (R) 363,213 561,474 4,138
1964 7 *Johnson (D) 464,028 386,579 1,901 5,393
1968 7 *Nixon (R) 302,996 478,674 88,921 2,192
1972 7 *Nixon (R) 270,287 619,812 21,808 4,188
1976 7 Ford (R) 430,421 502,752 4,724 3,242 1,403
1980 7 *Reagan (R) 326,150 566,812 7,555 14,470
1984 7 *Reagan (R) 333,149 677,296 3,329
1988 7 *Bush (R) 422,636 554,049 3,806 12,553
IND. (Perot)
1992 6 Bush (R) 390,434 449,951 312,358 4,314
1996 6 Dole (R) 387,659 583,245 92,639 4,557
(Nader) REFORM
2000 6 *Bush, G. W. (R) 399,276 622,332 36,086 4,525 7,370
2004 6 *Bush, G. W. (R) 434,993 736,456 9,348 4,013 2,899


The form of Kansas's constitution was a matter of great national concern, for the question of whether Kansas would be a free or slave state was in doubt throughout the 1850s. After three draft constitutions failed to win popular support or congressional approval, a fourth version, banning slavery, was drafted in July 1859 and ratified by Kansas voters that October. Signed by President James Buchanan on 29 January 1861, this constitution (with 92 subsequent amendments as of 2005, one of which was subsequently nullified by the state supreme court) governs Kansas to the present day.

The Kansas legislature consists of a 40-member Senate and a 125-member House of Representatives. Senators serve four-year terms and House members serve for two years; elections are held in even-numbered years. Legislative sessions, which begin the second Monday of January each year, are limited to 90 calendar days in even-numbered years but are unlimited in odd-numbered years. Legislators may call a special session by petition to the governor of two-thirds the membership of each house. Length of special sessions is not limited. Legislators must be at least 18 years old, state citizens, residents of their districts, and qualified voters. In 2004, legislators received a per diem salary of $78.75 during regular sessions.

Constitutional amendments are proposed by the legislature, where they must be approved by two-thirds of the members before being sent to the voters for ratification. A maximum of five proposed amendments may be submitted to the state's voters at any one time.

Officials elected statewide are the governor and lieutenant governor (elected jointly), secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and commissioner of insurance. Members of the state Board of Education are elected by districts. All elected state officials serve four-year terms. The governor cannot serve more than two consecutive terms. Every office in the executive branch is controlled by either the governor or another elected official. There are no formal age, citizenship, or residency provisions for a gubernatorial candidate's qualifications for office. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $98,331.

A bill becomes law when it has been approved by 21 senators and 63 representatives and signed by the governor. A veto can be overridden by two-thirds of the elected members of both houses. If the governor neither vetoes nor signs a bill, it becomes law after 10 days (whether or not the legislature is in session).

To vote in the state, a person must be a US citizen, 18 years old at the time of the election, a resident of Kansas, and not able to claim the right to vote elsewhere. Restrictions apply to those convicted of certain crimes and to those judged by the court to be mentally incompetent to vote.


Kansas was dominated by the Republican Party for the first three decades of statehood (1860s1880s). Although the Republicans remain the dominant force in state politics, the Democrats controlled the governorship in the early 2000s.

The Republican Party of early Kansas espoused the abolitionist ideals of the New England settlers who sought to ban slavery from the state. After the Civil War, the railroads played a major role in Republican politics and won favorable tax advantages from the elected officials. The party's ranks swelled with the arrival of immigrants from Scandinavia and Germany, who tended to side with the party's strongly conservative beliefs.

The Republicans' hold over state life was shaken by the Populist revolt toward the end of the 19th century. The high point of Populist Party power came in 1892, when the insurgents won all statewide elective offices and also took control of the Senate. When electoral irregularities denied them control of the House, they temporarily seized the House chambers. The two parties then set up separate houses of representatives, the Populists meeting one day and the Republicans the next. This continued for six weeks, until the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the Republicans constituted the rightful legal body. After a Republican sweep in 1894, the Populists returned to office in 1896, but the party declined rapidly thereafter.

The Democrats rose to power in the state as a result of a split between the conservative and progressive wings of the Republican Party in 1912. Nevertheless, the Democrats were very much a minority party until after World War II. Democratic Kathleen Sebelius was elected governor in 2002. Republicans have regularly controlled the legislature. In 2004, there were 1,694,000 registered voters. In 1998, 29% of registered voters were Democratic, 45% Republican, and 26% unaffiliated or members of other parties.

In 1988 and 1992, Kansans voted for George H. W. Bush in the presidential elections. In the 1996 election, native Kansan Bob Dole won 54% of the vote; Bill Clinton received 36%; and Independent Ross Perot garnered 9%. In the 2000 and 2004 elections, Republican George W. Bush won 58% and 62% of the vote, respectively, to Democrat Al Gore's 37% (in 2000) and Democrat John Kerry's 36% (in 2004). The state had six electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.

Bob Dole, first elected to the US Senate in 1968 and elected Senate majority leader in 1984, reclaimed the post of majority leader when the Republicans gained control of the Senate in the elections of 1994. In a surprise move in May 1996, Dole announced his retirement from the Senate to concentrate on his presidential campaign. In November, the race to fill his remaining term was won by Republican Sam Brownback. Completing the term, Brownback won his first full term in November 1998; he was reelected in 2004. Kansas's other Republican senator, Nancy Landon Kassebaum, also vacated her seat in 1996; it was won by Republican congressman Pat Roberts, who was reelected in 2002. In the 2004 elections, Kansas voters sent three Republicans and one Democrat to the US House. In the state legislature in mid-2005, there were 30 Republicans and 10 Democrats in the state Senate and 83 Republicans and 42 Democrats in the state House.


As of 2005, Kansas had 105 counties, 627 municipal governments, 304 public school districts, and 1,533 special districts. As of 2002, there were 1,299 townships.

By law, no county can be less than 432 sq mi (1,119 sq km). Each county government is headed by elected county commissioners. Other county officials include the county clerk, treasurer, register of deeds, attorney, sheriff, clerk of district court, and appraiser. Most cities are run by mayor-council systems.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 137,278 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Kansas operates under the authority of the governor; the adjutant general is designated as the state homeland security adviser.

All education services, including community colleges, are handled by the state Board of Education; the state university system lies within the jurisdiction of the Board of Regents. The Department of Human Resources administers employment and worker benefit programs. The Kansas Housing Resources Corporation creates housing opportunities for Kansans. Social, vocational, and children's and youth programs are run by the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. The Department of Health and Environment supervises health, environment, and laboratory services. Other departments focus on agriculture, corrections, revenue, transportation, wildlife and parks, aging, and information systems and communication.

A "Sunset Law" automatically abolishes specified state agencies at certain times unless they receive renewed statutory authority.


The Kansas Supreme Court, the highest court in the state, is composed of a chief justice and six other justices. All justices are appointed by the governor but after one year must run for election in the next general election. They are then elected for six-year terms. In case of rejection by the voters, the vacancy is filled by appointment. An intermediate-level court of appeals consists of a chief judge and six other judges appointed by the governor; like supreme court justices, they must be elected to full terms, in this case for four years.

In January 1977, probate, juvenile, and county courts, as well as magistrate courts of countywide jurisdiction, were replaced by district courts. The 31 district courts are presided over by 156 district and associate district judges and 69 district magistrate judges.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 8,966 prisoners were held in state and federal prisons in Kansas, a decrease (from 9,132) of 1.8% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 620 inmates were female, down from 629 or 1.4% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (includes some sentenced to one year or less), Kansas had an incarceration rate of 327 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kansas in 2004, had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 374.5 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 10,245 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 108,694 reported incidents or 3,973.5 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Kansas had a death penalty until 17 December 2004 when the state's death penalty statutes were declared unconstitutional. However, as of 1 January 2006, eight inmates remained on death row.

In 2003, Kansas spent $56,896,421 on homeland security, an average of $21 per state resident.


The US Army's First Infantry Division, known as the Big Red One, was located at Ft. Riley in Junction City until 1996, when the colors of the First Infantry Division moved to Würzburg, Germany. Founded in 1827, Ft. Leavenworth is the oldest continuously active military fort west of the Mississippi. The Army's Combined Arms Center Command (CAC) and General Staff College is housed there. McConnell Air Force Base is located in Wichita. A total of 20,039 active-duty federal military personnel, along with 3,762 civilian personnel, were stationed in Kansas in 2004. In 2004, $1.4 billion in defense contracts was awarded to state firms, up from $762 million in 199596 and down from $2.4 billion in 198384. In addition, another $1.5 billion in defense payroll spending, including retired military pay, came to the state.

There were 246,359 veterans of US military service in Kansas as of 2003, of whom 36,042 served in World War II; 26,804 in the Korean conflict; 76,710 during the Vietnam era; and 38,422 in the Gulf War. During fiscal year 2004, expenditures on veterans were $592 million.

As of 31 October 2004, the Kansas Highway Patrol employed 535 full-time sworn officers.


By the 1770s, Kansas was inhabited by a few thousand Indians, mainly from five tribes: the Kansa (Kaw) and the Osage, both of whom had migrated from the East, the Pawnee from the North, and the Wichita and Comanche, who had come from the Southwest. In 1825, the US government signed a treaty with the Kansa and Osage that allowed eastern Indians to settle in the state.

The first wave of white migration came during the 1850s with the arrival of New England abolitionists who settled in Lawrence, Topeka, and Manhattan. They were followed by a much larger wave of emigrants from the eastern Missouri and the upper Mississippi Valley, drawn by the lure of wide-open spaces and abundant economic opportunity.

The population swelled as a result of the Homestead Act of 1862, which offered land to anyone who would improve it and live on it for five years. The railroads promoted the virtues of Kansas overseas and helped sponsor immigrant settlers. By 1870, 11% of the population was European. More than 30,000 blacks, mostly from the South, arrived during 187880. Crop failures caused by drought in the late 1890s led to extensive out-migration from the western half of the state. Another period of out-migration occurred in the early 1930s, when massive dust storms drove people off the land. Steady migration from farms to cities has been a feature of Kansas since the early 20th century, with urban population surpassing farm population after World War II. From 1980 to 1990, the urban population increased from 66.7% to 69.1% of the state's total. Also from 1980 to 1990, Kansas had a net loss of 63,411 from migration. Only 10 of Kansas's 105 counties recorded a net gain from migration in the 1980s. Between 1990 and 1998, the state had a net loss of 13,000 in domestic migration and a gain of 24,000 in international migration. In 1998, 3,184 foreign immigrants arrived in the state. Between 1990 and 1998, Kansas's overall population increased 6.1%. In the period 200005, net international migration was 38,222 and net internal migration was 57,763, for a net loss of 19,541 people.


Kansas is a member of the Arkansas River Compact of 1949, Arkansas River Compact of 1965, Central Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact, Kansas-Nebraska Big Blue River Compact, Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Kansas-Missouri Boundary Compact and Culture District Compact, Missouri River Toll Bridge Compact, Republican River Compact, and other interstate bodies. The Interstate Cooperation Commission assists state officials and employees in maintaining contact with governmental units in other states. In fiscal year 2001, Kansas received over $2.7 billion in federal grants. Following a national trend, that amount dropped to $2.561 billion in fiscal year 2005, before gradually recovering to an estimated $2.663 billion in fiscal year 2006 and an estimated $2.755 billion in fiscal year 2007.


Although wheat production has long been the mainstay of the Kansas economy, efforts to bring other industries into the state began as early as the 1870s, when the railroads linked Kansas to eastern markets. By 2000, agricultural products and meat-packing industries were rivaled by the large aircraft industry centered in Wichita. Four Kansas companies, all located in Wichita, manufacture 70% of the world's general aviation aircraft. The Kansas City metropolitan area is a center of automobile production and printing. Metal fabrication, printing, and mineral products industries predominate in the nine southeastern counties. Kansas continues to lead all states in wheat production. The national recession of 2001 had a relatively mild impact on the Kansas economy. The annual economic growth rate, which had averaged 5% from 1998 to 2000, dipped to 3.2% in 2001. Net job creation, though sharply slowed by layoffs in 2001 and 2002, including several rounds of layoffs in the Wichita aircraft manufacturing industry, remained positive, in contrast to the nation as whole, in which job creation turned to net layoffs in the second half of 2001 and stayed negative throughout 2002. In December 2002, however, unemployment in Kansas was at the relatively high level of 4.6%. The farm sector was also afflicted by drought conditions, which persisted into the winter of 200203. In 2002, on a year-by-year basis, wheat production was down 19%, corn production down 26%, and soybean production down 29%. Kansas's rural population continues its long-term decline as people migrate to urban areas seeking better employment opportunities. Since 1970, 67 of the state's 105 counties have lost population, and in 19 of these, the rate of decrease accelerated during the 1990s. From 1997 to 2001, Kansas farm output experienced a net decrease of 34.5%, from $2.7 billion to $1.8 billion.

The state's gross state product (GSP) in 2004 totaled $98.946 billion, of which manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) accounted for the largest portion at $14.897 billion or 15% of GSP, followed by real estate at $8.790 billion (8.8% of GSP) and health care and social services at $6.930 billion (7% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 229,776 small businesses in Kansas. Of the 69,241 businesses that had employees, a total of 67,120 or 96.9% were small companies. An estimated 6,742 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, down 11.6% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 7,250, down 13.6% from 2003. There were 268 business bankruptcies in 2004, down 11.6% from the previous year. In 2005, the state's personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 585 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Kansas as the 21st highest in the nation.


In 2005, Kansas had a gross state product (GSP) of $105 billion, which accounted for 0.9% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 32 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004, Kansas had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $31,078. This ranked 27th in the United States and was 94% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.0%. Kansas had a total personal income (TPI) of $84,957,195,000, which ranked 31st in the United States and reflected an increase of 5.0% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 4.6%. Earnings of persons employed in Kansas increased from $61,785,883,000 in 2003 to $65,176,017,000 in 2004, an increase of 5.5%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 200204 in 2004 dollars was $43,725 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period, 10.7% of the population was below the poverty line, compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006, the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Kansas numbered 1,481,300. Approximately 67,400 workers were unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 4.6%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 1,345,900. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Kansas was 7.4% in September 1982. The historical low was 2.9% in October 1978. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 4.9% of the labor force was employed in construction; 19.3% in manufacturing; 19.3% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 9.8% in professional and business services; 12.4% in education and health services; 8.4% in leisure and hospitality services; and 18.9% in government. Data were unavailable for financial services.

The BLS reported that in 2005, a total of 85,000 of Kansas's 1,210,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 7% of those so employed, down from 8.4% in 2004 and below the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 115,000 workers (9.5%) in Kansas were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation. Kansas is one of 22 states with a right-to-work law, which is a part of the state's constitution.

As of 1 March 2006, Kansas had a state-mandated minimum wage rate of $2.65 per hour. However, that rate does not apply to employment covered by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 46% of the employed civilian labor force.


Known as the Wheat State and the breadbasket of the nation, Kansas typically produces more wheat than any other state. It ranked fifth in total farm income in 2005, with cash receipts of $9.7 billion.

Because of fluctuating prices, Kansas farmers have always risked economic disaster. During the 1920s, depressed farm prices forced many new farmers out of business. By World War II, Kansas farmers were prospering again, as record prices coincided with record yields. Since then, improved technology has favored corporate farms at the expense of small landholders. Between 1940 and 2002, the number of farms declined from 159,000 to 64,500, while the average size of farms more than doubled (to 732 acres/296 hectares). Income from crops in 2005 totaled $3.1 billion.

Other leading crops are alfalfa, hay, oats, barley, popcorn, rye, dry edible beans, corn and sorghums for silage, wild hay, red clover, and sugar beets.


In 2001, Kansas dairy farmers had an estimated 111,000 milk cows that produced 2.11 billion lb (0.96 billion kg) of milk.

In 2005, Kansas farmers had an estimated 6.65 million cattle and calves (second in the United States) worth $5.51 billion. Kan-sas farmers had an estimated 1.72 million hogs and pigs worth around $160 million in 2004. An estimated 6.9 million lb (3.1 million kg) of sheep and lambs were produced by Kansas farmers in 2003 and sold for $6.1 million. The wool clip in 2004 totaled 485,000 lb (220,000 kg).


There is little commercial fishing in Kansas. Sport fishermen can find bass, crappie, catfish, perch, and pike in the state's reservoirs and artificial lakes. In 2004, there were 265,238 fishing licenses issued by the state. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' objectives for fisheries include provision of 11.7 million angler trips annually on Kansas reservoirs, lakes, streams, and private waters, while maintaining the quantity and quality of the catch. There are four state hatcheries.


Kansas was at one time so barren of trees that early settlers were offered 160 acres (65 hectares) free if they would plant trees on their land. This program was rarely implemented, however, and today much of Kansas is still treeless.

Kansas has 1,545,000 acres (625,000 hectares) of forestland, 2.9% of the total state area. There are 1,491,000 acres (491,000 hectares) of commercial timberland, of which 96% are privately owned.


According to data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the value of nonfuel mineral production by Kansas in 2004 was $754 million, an increase from 2003 of 8.3%. The USGS data ranked Kansas as 23rd among the 50 states by the total value of its nonfuel mineral production, accounting for almost 1.7% of total US output.

Portland cement, Grade-A helium, salt, and crushed stone were the leading nonfuel mineral commodities produced by the state, accounting for around 28%, 25%, 17%, and 14%, respectively, of all nonfuel mineral production by value in 2004 and about 84% of all output collectively. Nationally, Kansas continued to rank first out of only two states in the production of Grade-A and crude helium. In addition, the state was fifth in the production of salt and eighth in the production of gypsum.

Portland cement production in 2004 totaled 2.69 million metric tons and was valued at an estimated $212 million. Grade-A helium output that same year totaled 82 million cu m and was valued at $189 million, while salt production totaled 2.89 million metric tons, with a value of $127 million. The production of crushed stone totaled 19.8 million metric tons and was valued at $109 million. Kansas was also a producer of common clays and dimension stone in 2004.

A total of 7,041 people were employed in Kansas in all aspects of mining during 2004.


As of 2003, Kansas had 154 electrical power service providers, of which 119 were publicly owned and 29 were cooperatives. The remaining, six were investor owned. As of that same year, there were 1,400,945 retail customers. Of that total, 952,229 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 212,001 customers, while publicly owned providers had 236,715 customers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 10.887 million kW, with total production that same year at 46.567 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 99.1% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 35.109 billion kWh (75.4%), came from coal-fired plants, with nuclear plants in second place at 8.889 billion kWh (19.1%). Other renewable power sources accounted for 0.8%% of all power generated, with petroleum and natural gas-fired plants at 2.1% and 2.6%, respectively.

As of 2006, Kansas had one single-unit nuclear plant, the Wolf Creek plant in Burlington.

As of 2004, Kansas had proven crude oil reserves of 245 million barrels, or 1% of all proven US reserves, while output that same year averaged 92,000 barrels per day. Including federal offshore domains, the state that year ranked 11th (10th excluding federal offshore) in proven reserves and ninth (eighth excluding federal offshore) in production among the 31 producing states. In 2004, Kansas had 40,474 producing oil wells. As of 2005, the state's three refineries had a combined crude oil distillation capacity of 296,200 barrels per day.

In 2004, Kansas had 18,120 producing natural gas and gas condensate wells. In that same year, marketed gas production (all gas produced excluding gas used for repressuring, vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed) totaled 397.121 billion cu ft (11.2 billion cu m). As of 31 December 2004, proven reserves of dry or consumer-grade natural gas totaled 4,652 billion cu ft (132.1 billion cu m).

Kansas in 2004, had only one producing coal mine, a surface operation. Coal production that year totaled 71,000 short tons, down from 154,000 short tons in 2003. One short ton equals 2,000 lb (0.907 metric tons).


Kansas is a world leader in aviation, claiming a large share of both US and world production and sales of commercial aircraft. Wichita is a manufacturing center for Boeing, Cessna, Learjet, and Raytheon, which combined manufacture approximately 70% of the world's general aviation aircraft.

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Kansas's manufacturing sector covered some 17 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $56.464 billion. Of that total, transportation equipment manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $15.553 billion. It was followed by food manufacturing at $14.704 billion; machinery manufacturing at $4.413 billion; petroleum and coal products manufacturing at $4.286 billion; and chemical manufacturing at $3.654 billion.

In 2004, a total of 167,982 people in Kansas were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 117,307 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the transportation equipment manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 40,982 with 24,250 actual production workers. It was followed by food manufacturing at 30,574 employees (24,828 actual pro-duction workers); machinery manufacturing at 17,677 employees (11,786 actual production workers); fabricated metal product manufacturing at 13,598 employees (9,941 actual production workers); and plastics and rubber products manufacturing with 11,632 employees (9,782 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Kansas's manufacturing sector paid $6.937 billion in wages. Of that amount, the transportation equipment manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $2.239 billion. It was followed by food manufacturing at $918.509 million; machinery manufacturing at $710.873 billion; fabricated metal product manufacturing at $483.794 million; and plastics and rubber products manufacturing at $435.765 million.


Domestically, Kansas is not a major commercial state. According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Kansas's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $44.1 billion from 4,705 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 2,535 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 1,741 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 429 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $18.1 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $21.9 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $4.03 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Kansas was listed as having 11,890 retail establishments with sales of $26.5 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (1,612); gasoline stations (1,464); miscellaneous store retailers (1,382); and food and beverage stores (1,379). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $6.8 billion, followed by general merchandise stores $4.7 billion; food and beverage stores at $3.8 billion; gasoline stations $2.6 billion; and building material/garden equipment and supplies dealers $2.3 billion. A total of 144,874 people were employed by the retail sector in Kansas that year.

Exporters located in Kansas exported $6.7 billion in merchandise during 2005.


The attorney general's Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division enforces the Kansas Consumer Protection Act, which protects consumers against fraud and false advertising. The consumer credit commissioner is responsible for administering the state's investment and common credit codes.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office (through its Consumer Protection Division) can initiate civil and criminal proceedings; represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies; administer consumer protection and education programs; handle formal consumer complaints; and exercise broad subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's Office can act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own and can initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts. However, the office cannot commence criminal proceedings, nor can it represent counties, cities, and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.

The attorney general's Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division is located in Topeka. County government-based consumer protection offices are located in the cities of Olathe and Wichita.


As of June 2005, Kansas had 371 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 94 state-chartered and 26 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Kansas City (Missouri and Kansas) market area had the most financial institutions in the state with 152 and deposits at $32.593 billion, followed by Wichita at 58 and $8.453 billion, respectively. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 5% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $3.082 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 95% or $58.460 billion in assets held.

Regulation of Kansas's state-chartered financial institutions is handled by the Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner. In 1993, the state savings and loan commissioner's office was merged into the state bank commissioner's office.

In 2005, the state's insured financial institutions reported a median return on assets (ROA) of 1.02%, up slightly from 2004, which stood at 1%. The improvement in ROA resulted from lower loan losses and improved net interest margins.


In 2004 there were over 1.6 million individual life insurance policies in force with a total value of over $129 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was about $195 billion. The average coverage amount was $76,800 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $570 million.

In 2003, 12 life and health and 27 property and casualty insurance companies were domiciled in Kansas. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled $4.4 billion. That year, there were 9,933 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $1 billion. About $290 million of coverage was offered through FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance) Plans, which are designed to offer coverage for some natural circumstances, such as wind and hail, in high risk areas.

In 2004, 59% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 6% held individual policies, and 21% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 11% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 23% for single coverage and 29% for family coverage. The state offers a six-month health benefits expansion program for small-firm employees in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 2.2 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $25,000 per individual and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $10,000. Personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage are also required. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $610.29.


There are no stock exchanges in Kansas. In 2005, there were 800 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 1,480 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 46 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 26 NASDAQ companies, 4 NYSE listings, and 2 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state had one Fortune 500 company; YRC Worldwide (on NASDAQ) ranked 263rd in the nation with revenues of over $8.7 million. Seaboard (AMEX), Payless Shoesource (NYSE), Ferrellgas Partners (NYSE), and Westar Energy (NYSE) all made the Fortune 1,000 list.


The state budget is prepared by the Division of the Budget and submitted by the governor to the legislature for approval. The fiscal year (FY) runs from 1 July to 30 June. Generally, according to state law, no Kansas governmental unit may issue revenue bonds to finance current activities. These must operate on a cash basis. Bonds may be issued for such capital improvements as roads and buildings.

In fiscal year 2006, general funds were estimated at $5.6 billion for resources and $5.1 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Kansas were $3.4 billion.

In the fiscal year 2007 federal budget, Kansas was slated to receive $33.9 million in State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds to help the state provide health coverage to low-income, uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid. This funding is a 23% increase over fiscal year 2006. The state was also scheduled to receive $14.5 million for the HOME Investment Partnership Program to help Kansas fund a wide range of activities that build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership, or provide direct rental assistance to low-income people. This funding is a 13% increase over fiscal year 2006.


In 2005, Kansas collected $5,599 million in tax revenues or $2,040 per capita, which placed it 32nd among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 1.1% of the total, sales taxes 35.6%, selective sales taxes 14.1%, individual income taxes 36.6%, corporate income taxes 4.4%, and other taxes 8.2%.

As of 1 January 2006, Kansas had three individual income tax brackets ranging from 3.5% to 6.45%. The state taxes corporations at a flat rate of 4.0%.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $3,246,616,000 or $1,187 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 14th nationally. Local governments collected $3,189,062,000 of the total and the state government $57,554,000.

Kansas taxes retail sales at a rate of 5.30%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 3%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 8.30%. Food purchased for consumption off premises is taxable, although an income tax credit is allowed to off set sales tax on food. The tax on cigarettes is 79 cents per pack, which ranks 27th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Kansas taxes gasoline at 24 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Kansas citizens received $1.12 in federal spending.


The first state commission to promote industrial development was formed in 1939. In 1986, this commission was reorganized into the Kansas Department of Commerce, and in 1992 it became the Department of Commerce and Housing. The department later renamed itself the Department of Commerce (KDOC) once again. The department in 2006 consisted of five divisions: Agriculture

KansasState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols: - zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 11,044,146 4,039.56
  General revenue 9,868,956 3,609.71
    Intergovernmental revenue 3,000,037 1,097.31
    Taxes 5,283,676 1,932.58
      General sales 1,932,927 707.00
      Selective sales 790,225 289.04
      License taxes 274,619 100.45
      Individual income tax 1,915,530 700.63
      Corporate income tax 166,609 60.94
      Other taxes 203,766 74.53
    Current charges 897,814 328.39
    Miscellaneous general revenue 687,429 251.44
  Utility revenue - -
  Liquor store revenue - -
  Insurance trust revenue 1,175,190 429.84
Total expenditure 11,207,121 4,099.17
  Intergovernmental expenditure 2,878,801 1,502.96
  Direct expenditure 8,328,320 3,046.20
      Current operation 5,736,524 2,098.22
      Capital outlay 1,032,362 377.60
      Insurance benefits and repayments 1,104,320 403.96
      Assistance and subsidies 288,708 105.60
      Interest on debt 166,406 60.87
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 1,639,641 599.72
Total expenditure 11,207,121 4,099.17
  General expenditure 10,102,801 3,695.25
    Intergovenmental expenditure 2,878,801 1,052.96
    Direct expenditure 7,224,000 2,642,28
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 4,444,689 1,625.71
    Public welfare 2,475,046 905.28
    Hospitals 107.780 39.42
    Health 287,430 105.13
    Highways 1,225,504 448,25
    Police protection 74,193 27.14
    Correction 316,669 115.83
    Natural resources 185,658 67.91
    Parks and recreation 7,466 2.73
    Government adminsitration 420,302 153.73
    Interest on general debt 166,406 60.87
    Other and unallocable 391,658 143.25
  Utility expenditure - -
  Liquor store expenditure - -
  Insurance trust expenditure 1,104,320 403.92
Debt at end of fiscal year 4,571,408 1,672.06
Cash and security holdings 14,077,579 5,149.08

Marketing Development; Community Development; Travel and Tourism; Business Development; and Trade Development. In the 21st century, the KDOC has recommended investments in the fields of aviation, plastics, value-added agriculture, call centers, administrative service centers, and wholesale, packaging, and distribution. Events sponsored by the KDOC include training in downtown revitalization, conferences on finding new markets though international trade and, for leaders, facilitating international business, and workshops on applying for community development block grants (CDBGs).

Kansas provides tax-exempt bonds to help finance business and industry. Specific tax incentives include job expansion and investment tax credits; tax exemptions or moratoriums on land, capital improvements, and specific machinery; and certain corporate income tax exemptions.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 6.3 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 14.5 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 21.4 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 87.8% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 78% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 9 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were as follows: heart disease, 246; cancer, 197.4; cerebrovascular diseases, 67.9; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 50.3; and diabetes, 28.2. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 1.4 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 4.2 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 57.5% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 19.8% of state residents were smokers.

In 2003, Kansas had 134 community hospitals with about 10,600 beds. There were about 331,000 patient admissions that year and 6 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 5,900 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $952. Also in 2003, there were about 374 certified nursing facilities in the state with 27,045 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 78%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 74.5% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Kansas had 235 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 923 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 1,360 dentists in the state.

About 21% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 11% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $2.7 million.

The University of Kansas has the state's only medical and pharmacology schools. The university's Mid-America Cancer Center and Radiation Therapy Center are the major cancer research and treatment facilities in the state. The Menninger Foundation has a research and treatment center for mental health.


Public assistance and social programs are coordinated through the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. In 2004, about 68,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $272. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 177,782 persons (78,165 households); the average monthly benefit was about $84.37 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $179.9 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. Kansas's TANF program is called Kansas Works. In 2004, the state program had 44,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $83 million fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 447,140 Kansas residents. This number included 291,570 retired workers, 45,770 widows and widowers, 51,520 disabled workers, 24,660 spouses, and 33,620 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 16.4% of the total state population and 93.7% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $979; widows and widowers, $956; disabled workers, $866; and spouses, $497. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $497 per month; children of deceased workers, $628; and children of disabled workers, $253. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments went to 38,476 Kansas residents in December 2004, averaging $384 a month.


Kansas has relatively old housing stock. According to a 2004 survey, about 20% of all housing units were built in 1939 or earlier and 49.6% were built between 1940 and 1979. The overwhelming majority (73.8%) were one-unit, detached structures and 69.5% were owner occupied. The total number of housing units in 2004 was estimated at 1,185,114, of which 1,076,366 were occupied. Most units relied on utility gas and electricity for heating. It was estimated that 46,269 units lacked telephone service, 3,554 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 5,093 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.47 members.

In 2004, 13,300 privately owned units were authorized for construction. The median home value was $102,458. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,013. Renters paid a median of $567 per month. In 2006, the state received over $17.2 million in community development block grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


In 2004, 89.6% of those age 25 and older were high school graduates, compared to the national average of 84%. Some 30% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher.

In 1954, Kansas was the focal point of a US Supreme Court decision that had enormous implications for US public education. The court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that Topeka's "separate but equal" elementary schools for black and white students were inherently unequal, and it ordered the school system to integrate.

Total public school enrollment for fall 2002 stood at 471,000. Of these, 322,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 149,000 attended high school. Approximately 76.4% of the students were white, 8.9% were black, 11% were Hispanic, 2.3% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1.4% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 465,000 in fall 2003 and was estimated to be 471,000 by fall 2014, an increase of 0.1% during the period 200214. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $3.96 billion. There were 41,762 students enrolled in 229 private schools in fall 2003. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005, eighth graders in Kansas scored 284 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 188,049 students enrolled in institutions of higher education; minority students comprised 13.3% of total postsecondary enrollment. In 2005 Kansas had 63 degree-granting institutions. There are 9 four-year public institutions, 27 public two-year schools, and 21 private nonprofit four-year institutions. In addition, Kansas has a state technical institute, a municipal university (Washburn University, Topeka), and an American Indian university. Kansas State University was the nation's first land-grant university. Washburn University and the University of Kansas have the state's two law schools. The oldest higher-education institution in Kansas is Highland Community College, which was chartered in 1857. The oldest four-year institution is Baker University, a United Methodist institution, which received its charter just three days after Highland's was issued. The Kansas Board of Regents offers scholarships and tuition grants to Kansas students in need.


The Kansas Arts Commission is a state arts agency governed by a 12-member panel of commissioners appointed for four-year rotating terms by the governor. The commission's annual budget is made up of funds appropriated by the Kansas legislature and grants awarded to the agency by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2005, the Kansas Arts Commission and other Kansas arts organizations received 12 grants totaling $767,470 from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Arts Commission is also in partnership with the regional Mid-America Arts Alliance. The Kansas Humanities Council, founded in 1972, sponsors programs involving over 500,000 people each year. In 2005, the state received $864,264 in the form of 13 grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The largest and most active arts organization in the state is the Wichita Symphony Orchestra; established in 1944, it is one of the oldest arts organizations in the state. The Koch Industries Twilight Pops Concert has become the largest event of the annual Wichita River Festival. Attracting some 100,000 people, the Wichita Symphony performs a wide range of music at this outdoor concert, including favorite patriotic pieces and rock choices. The Topeka Performing Arts Center presents concerts and shows of a variety of music. Topeka also hosts the Topeka Symphony, established in 1946. The 2005/06 season marked the Topeka Symphony's 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee celebration.

The Wichita Art Museum, established in 1915, is noted for its emphasis on American art and American artistic heritage. Its permanent Roland P. Murdock Collection boasts works by Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, and Edward Hopper.


In 2001, Kansas had 321 public library systems, with a total of 373 libraries, of which 53 were branches. In that same year, the state's public library system had 10,438,000 volumes of books and serial publications on its shelves and a total circulation of 21,488,000. The system also had 339,000 audio and 411,000 video items, 21,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and five bookmobiles. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Library in Abilene houses a collection of papers and memorabilia from the 34th president. There is also a museum. The Menninger Foundation Museum and Archives in Topeka maintains various collections pertaining to psychiatry. The Kansas State Historical Society Library (Topeka) contains the state's archives. Volumes of books and documents on the Old West are found in the Cultural Heritage and Arts Center Library in Dodge City. with 10,207,000 volumes and a circulation of 20,808,000. In 2001, operating income for the state's public library system totaled $770,029,000, which included $607,000 in federal grants and $1,870,000 in state grants.

Almost 188 museums, historical societies, and art galleries were scattered across the state in 2000. The Dyche Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, draws many visitors. The Kansas State Historical Society maintains an extensive collection of ethnological and archaeological materials in Topeka.

Among the art museums are the Mulvane Art Center in Topeka, the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas, and the Wichita Art Museum. The Dalton Museum in Coffeyville displays memorabilia from the famed Dalton family of desperadoes. La Crosse is the home of the Barbed Wire Museum, displaying more than 500 varieties of barbed wire. The Emmett Kelly Historical Museum in Sedan honors the world-famous clown born there. The US Cavalry Museum is on the grounds of Ft. Riley. The Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita and the Topeka Zoo are the largest of seven zoological gardens in Kansas.

The entire town of Nicodemus, where many blacks settled after the Civil War, was made a national historic landmark in 1975. The chalk formations of Monument Rocks in western Kansas constitute the state's only national natural landmark. Ft. Scott and Ft. Larned are national historic parks.


About 94.8% of all households had telephone service in 2004. Additionally, by June of that same year, there were 1,345,160 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 63.8% of Kansas households had a computer and 54.3% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 419,938 high-speed lines in Kansas, 385,369 residential and 34,569 for business.

The state had 15 major AM and 54 major FM radio stations, 14 major commercial television stations, and 4 public television stations in 2005. In 2000, Kansas had registered a total of 42,009 Internet domain names.


Starting with the Shawnee Sun, a Shawnee-language newspaper founded by missionary Jotham Meeker in 1833, the press has played an important role in Kansas history. The most famous Kansas newspaperman was William Allen White, whose Emporia Gazette was a leading voice of Progressive Republicanism around the turn of the century. Earlier, John J. Ingalls launched his political career by editing the Atchison Freedom's Champion. Captain Henry King came from Illinois to found the State Record and Daily Capital in Topeka.

In 2005, Kansas had 43 daily newspapers (9 morning and 34 evening) and 14 Sunday papers.

Leading newspapers and their circulations in 2005 were as follows:

Topeka Capitalu-Journal (m,S) 89,469 64,585
Wichita Eagle (m,S) 96,506 146,727

The Kansas City (Missouri) Star (275,747 daily; 388,425 Sundays) is widely read in the Kansas as well as in the Missouri part of the metropolitan area.


In 2006, there were over 3,790 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 2,440 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. Among the national organizations headquartered in Kansas are the American Association for Public Opinion Research, American Institute of Baking, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, International Association for Jazz Education, and Lefthanders International.

State and regional cultural and educational organizations include the Association of Community Arts Agencies of Kansas and the Kansas State Historical Society, as well as a number of county historical societies and regional arts groups. The national offices of Mennonite Women USA and Mennonite Voluntary services are in Newton.


Kansas has 23 state parks, 2 national historic sites, 24 federal reservoirs, 48 state fishing lakes, more than 100 privately owned campsites, and more than 304,000 acres (123,000 hectares) of public hunting and game management lands. The two major national historic sites are Ft. Larned and Ft. Scott, both 19th-century Army bases on the Indian frontier. In 2002, the top five parks (based on number of visitors) were Hillsdale State Park (1.6 million), El Dorado State Park (1 million), Clinton Lake, Perry Lake, and Tuttle Creek Lake.

The most popular tourist attraction, with over 2.4 million visitors in 2002, is Cabela's (Kansas City), a 190,000 square-foot showroom and shopping center featuring a mule deer museum, a 65,000 gallon aquarium, a gun library, and Yukon base camp grill. The next-ranking visitor sites in 2002 were Harrah's Prairie Band Casino (Mayetta), the Kansas City Speedway, Sedgwick County Zoo (Wichita), Woodlands Race Tracks (Kansas City), New Theatre Restaurant (Overland Park), Exploration Place (Wichita) and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center (Hutchinson).

Topeka features a number of tourist attractions, including the state capitol, state historical museum, and Menninger Foundation. Dodge City offers a reproduction of Old Front Street as it was when the town was the "cowboy capital of the world." Historic Wichita Cowtown is another frontier-town reproduction. In Hanover stands the only remaining original and unaltered Pony Express station. A recreated "Little House on the Prairie," near the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, is 13 mi (21 km) southwest of Independence. The Eisenhower Center in Abilene contains the 34th president's family home, library, and museum. The state fair is held in Hutchinson.

Kansas has six national parks including the site of the famous school desgregation lawsuit Brown v. the Board of Education (in Shawnee County). Carrie Nation (of Medicine Lodge) founded the Temperance Movement leading to the Prohibition Act, which outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol. The University of Kansas (at Lawrence) is home to the Dole Institute of Politics, founded by former vice president Robert Dole. Famous aviator Amelia Earhart hails from Abilene, as does President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Each April, the city of Flint Hills hosts the Prairie Fire Festival, when there is a controlled burn of dead prairie material.


There are no major professional sports teams in Kansas. The minor league Wichita Wranglers play in the Double-A Texas League and the Kansas City T-Bones play in the Northern League. There is also a minor league hockey team in Wichita. During spring, summer, and early fall, horses are raced at Eureka Downs. The national Greyhound Association Meet is held in Abilene.

The University of Kansas and Kansas State both play collegiate football in the Big Twelve Conference. Kansas went to the Orange Bowl in 1948 and 1969, losing both times. The Jayhawks won the Aloha Bowl in 1992 and 1995. Kansas State played in the Cotton Bowl in 1996 and 1997, winning in 1996, and they won the Fiesta Bowl in 1998. In basketball, Kansas won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship in 1952 and 1988 and has appeared in 12 Final Four Tournaments. The National Junior College Basketball Tournament is held in Hutchinson each March. The Kansas Relays take place at Lawrence in April. The Flint Hills Rodeo in Strong City is one of many rodeos held statewide. The Kansas Speedway hosts the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch series event.

A US sporting event unique to Kansas is the International Pancake Race, held in Liberal each Shrove Tuesday. Women wearing housedresses, aprons, and scarves run along an S-shaped course carrying skillets and flipping pancakes as they go.

Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson was born in Humboldt, NFL great Barry Sanders in Wichita, and basketball legend Adolph Rupp in Halstead.


Kansas claims only one US president and one US vice president. Dwight D. Eisenhower (b.Texas, 18901969) as elected the 34th president in 1952 and reelected in 1956; he had served as the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War II. He is buried in Abilene, his boyhood home. Charles Curtis (18601936) was vice president during the Herbert Hoover administration.

Two Kansans have been associate justices of the US Supreme Court: David J. Brewer (18371910) and Charles E. Whittaker (190173). Other federal officeholders from Kansas include William Jardine (18791955), secretary of agriculture; Harry Woodring (18901967), secretary of war; and Georgia Neese Clark Gray (190095), treasurer of the Unites States. Prominent US sen-ators include Edmund G. Ross (18261907), who cast a crucial acquittal vote at the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson; John J. Ingalls (18331900), who was also a noted literary figure; Joseph L. Bristow (18611944), a leader in the Progressive movement; Arthur Caper (18651951), a former publisher and governor; Robert Dole (b.1923), who was the Republican candidate for vice president in 1976, twice served as Senate majority leader, and was his party's presidential candidate in 1996; and Nancy Landon Kassebaum (b.1932), elected to the US Senate in 1978. Among the state's important US representatives were Jeremiah Simpson (18421905), a leading Populist, and Clifford R. Hope (18931970), important in the farm bloc. Gary Hart, a senator and a presidential candidate in 1984 and 1988, was born in Ottowa, Kansas, on 28 November 1936.

Notable Kansas governors include George W. Glick (18271911); Walter R. Stubbs (18581929); Alfred M. Landon (18871984), who ran for US president on the Republican ticket in 1936; and Frank Carlson (18931984). Other prominent political figures were David L. Payne (183684), who helped open Oklahoma to settlement; Carry Nation (18461911), the colorful prohibitionist; and Frederick Funston (18651917), hero of the Philippine campaign of 1898 and a leader of San Francisco's recovery after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

Earl Sutherland (191574) won the Nobel Prize in 1971 for physiology or medicine. Other leaders in medicine and science include Samuel J. Crumbine (18621954), a public health pioneer; the doctors MenningerC. F. (18621953), William (18991966), and Karl (18931990)who established the Menninger Foundation, a leading center for mental health; Arthur Hertzler (18701946), a surgeon and author; and Clyde Tombaugh (190697), who discovered the planet Pluto.

Kansas also had several pioneers in aviation, including Clyde Cessna (18801954), Glenn Martin (18861955), Walter Beech (18911950), Amelia Earhart (18981937), and Lloyd Stearman (18981975). Cyrus K. Holliday (18261900) founded the Santa Fe Railroad; William Coleman (18701957) was an innovator in lighting; and Walter Chrysler (18751940) was a prominent automotive developer.

Most famous of Kansas writers was William Allen White (18681944), whose son, William L. White (190073), also had a distinguished literary career; Damon Runyon (18841946) was a popular journalist and storyteller. Novelists include Edgar Watson Howe (18531937), Margaret Hill McCarter (18601938), Dorothy Canfield Fisher (18791958), Paul Wellman (18981966), and Frederic Wakeman (b.1909). Gordon Parks (19122006) has made his mark in literature, photography, and music. William Inge (191373) was a prize-winning playwright who contributed to the Broadway stage. Notable painters are Sven Birger Sandzen (18711954), John Noble (18741934), and John Steuart Curry (18971946). Sculptors include Robert M. Gage (18921981), Bruce Moore (190580), and Bernard Frazier (190676). Among composers and conductors are Thurlow Lieurance (b.Iowa 18781963), Joseph Maddy (18911966), and Kirke L. Mechem (b.1926). Jazz great Charlie "Bird" Parker (Charles Christopher Parker Jr., 192055) was born in Kansas City.

Stage and screen notables include Fred Stone (18731959), Joseph "Buster" Keaton (18951966), Milburn Stone (190480), Charles "Buddy" Rogers (190499), Vivian Vance (191279), Edward Asner (b.1929), and Shirley Knight (b.1937). The clown Emmett Kelly (18981979) was a Kansan. Operatic performers include Marion Talley (190683) and Kathleen Kersting (190965).

Glenn Cunningham (190988) and Jim Ryun (b.1947) both set running records for the mile. Also prominent in sports history were James Naismith (18611939), the inventor of basketball; baseball pitcher Walter Johnson (18871946); and Gale Sayers (b.1943), a football running back.


Bair, Julene. One Degree West: Reflections of a Plainsdaughter. Minneapolis, Minn.: Mid-List Press, 2000.

Council of State Governments. The Book of the States, 2006 Edition. Lexington, Ky.: Council of State Governments, 2006.

Dean, Virgil W. (ed.). John Brown to Bob Dole: Movers and Shakers in Kansas History. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006.

Everhart, Michael J. Oceans of Kansas: A Natural History of the Western Interior Sea. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

Frederickson, H. George (ed.). Public Policy and the Two States of Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992.

Hoard, Robert J., and William E. Banks (eds.). Kansas Archaeology. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas in Association with the Kansas State Historical Society, 2006.

Mobil Travel Guide. Great Plains 2006: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma. Lincolnwood, Ill.: ExxonMobil Travel Publications, 2006.

Preston, Thomas. Great Plains: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Vol. 4, The Double Eagle Guide to 1,000 Great Western Recreation Destinations. Billings, Mont.: Discovery Publications, 2003.

Richmond, Robert W. Kansas, a Land of Contrasts. Wheeling, Ill.: Harland Davidson, 1999.

Shortridge, James R. Peopling the Plains: Who Settled Where in Frontier Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

Socolofsky, Homer, and Virgil W. Dean. Kansas History: An Annotated Bibliography. New York: Greenwood, 1992.

US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau. Kansas, 2000. Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics: 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2003.

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KANSAS. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states of the United States is in Kansas, one mile north of the city of Lebanon. The geodetic center (which takes into account the curvature of the earth) of North America is in Osborne County in north-central Kansas. The state is rectangular, approximately 408 miles east to west, and 206 miles north to south. Kansas is bordered to the east by Missouri, to the south by Oklahoma, to the west by Colorado, and to the north by Nebraska. Because of its geographic center and because of its agricultural prominence, Kansas is often referred to as "the heartland of America."

The state is customarily divided into four different geologic regions. The northeastern part of Kansas is the Dissected Till Plains, so-called because the retreating glaciers of the last ice age left the land looking as though it had been divided and plowed. It has forests and an abundance of water. The southeastern part of Kansas, known as the Southeastern Plains, is marked by limestone hills, the Osage Plains, and grass. To the west of these two regions is the Plains Border, so called because its western edge borders the eastern edge of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This region is plagued by severe droughts and tornadoes. Also prone to drought are the High Plains, which occupy the western part of Kansas and rise westward up into the Rockies. It is a dry area whose people rely on an underground aquifer for irrigation of their crops.

The most historically important of Kansas's rivers are the Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Cimarron. The Missouri River forms part of the northeastern border and has been important for shipping. The Kansas River begins in north central Kansas at the confluence of the Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers and flows eastward to the Missouri. It formed a natural boundary between the Native American tribes, in the northeast, and the rest of the state. The Arkansas River enters Kansas a third of the way north on Kansas's western border, meanders east, then northeast, then crosses the border into Oklahoma. The Santa Fe Trail, used by hundreds of thousands of migrants and traders, followed the Kansas River, then turned southwest to the Arkansas River and followed it to the west. Some people chose a quicker but more hazardous route by crossing south over the Arkansas River and heading southwest to cross the Cimarron River, which originates in the High Plains and flows southeastward to Oklahoma.


It is not known when humans first arrived in what is now Kansas. Archaeologists and paleoanthropologists have continued to push backward in time the era when the first people arrived in North America, probably more than 100,000 years ago. During the last ice age, a glacier extended southward into northeastern Kansas and would have obliterated evidence of habitation earlier than 11,000 b.c.

There is much evidence of humans south of the glacier in 11,000 b.c., including long sharpened stone points for spears. These Paleo-Indians, a term meaning people who predate the Native American cultures that existed after 7000 b.c., were nomads who hunted mammoths and giant bison, as well as other big game. By 7000 b.c., the glacier had retreated far to the north, leaving the gouged landscape of the Dissected Till Plains; as the climate of Kansas warmed, new cultures were introduced. The archaic Indians of 7000 b.c. were not the wanderers their predecessors had been. With the extermination of large game, they became focused on small animals and on plants as sources for food. During the period between 5000 b.c. and 3500 b.c., people formed small settlements, and they often hunted with atlatls, slotted spear throwers that added greater power than was possible when throwing a spear by hand alone. These people also developed techniques for making ceramics.

By a.d. 1, the people in Kansas lived off of the wildlife of Kansas's forest. They still used stone tools, but they were making great strides in their pottery making. During this era, bows and arrows began to supplant spears and atlatls, with spear points becoming smaller and sharper. Maize, first grown in Mexico and Central America, appeared in Kansas, perhaps between a.d. 800 and 1000, probably coming from an ancient trade route that extended southwestward into what is now Mexico. Settlements became larger, and in eastern Kansas large burial mounds were built, suggesting evolution of complex societies.

After a.d. 1000, Native Americans in Kansas grew not only maize, but squash and beans as well. They used the bow and arrow to hunt bison and small game. The

Native Americans of northern Kansas and southern Nebraska lived in large communal lodges built of sod. Those to the south made thatched-roofed, plaster-covered houses. These people likely traded with the Pueblo Indians to the southwest, and at least one habitation within what is now Kansas was built by the Pueblo.

By the time of the arrival of the first European explorers in 1541, the settled cultures probably had already been driven out by numerous invasions of warlike nomadic cultures such as the Apache. The Pawnees inhabited northwestern Kansas, the Kiowas the high western plains, the Comanches the central part of Kansas, and the Wichita the southern plains. The Kansas, "the people of the south wind," for whom the state is named, and the Osages had yet to migrate into eastern Kansas; they would arrive in the 1650s. There were frequent wars among these tribes, and they often fought the nomadic Apaches, who tended to follow the herds of bison.


The first recorded European explorer of the Kansas region was Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his followers, who were looking for riches. In Kansas, he found a land rich in farms and diverse Native American cultures. Some of the tribes he encountered resented Roman Catholic priests for trying to convert them, and one priest was killed. Pieces of Spanish chain mail have been uncovered in central Kansas, indicating that a few Spanish soldiers also may have died there.

France claimed the region of Kansas in 1682, but it was not until 1724 that explorers from Europe and European American colonies began coming to Kansas on a regular basis. The first was Étienne Veniard de Bourgmont, who traveled through Kansas as a trader, while exploring the land for the French government. In 1739, Paul and Pierre Mallet led several traders through Kansas to the southwest, blazing a trail for other traders. The French built Fort Cavagnial, near what would become Leavenworth, to aid French travelers and to provide a meeting place for Native Americans and French traders; the fort was closed in 1764. In 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana territory, which included Kansas, from France.

Kansas was still a frontier when the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through it in 1804. In 1806, Zebulon M. Pike led an expedition through Kansas, helping to blaze trails from east to west that Americans would follow. In 1819, Major Stephen H. Long explored part of Kansas and the Great Plains, calling the region the Great American Desert, probably because of a drought and the seemingly endless dry, brown grass. Perhaps he missed or dismissed the large forest that still covered much of Kansas.

Early Settlements

Irrigation had been introduced to Kansas along Beaver Creek in western Kansas in 1650 by the Taos Indians, setting the stage for year-round settlements in the dry High Plains. The explorer William Becknell established the Santa Fe Trail in 1821, beginning the busy travel of traders through Kansas to the American southwest. In 1827, Fort Leavenworth was established by Colonel Henry Leavenworth to provide a place for settling disputes among the Native American tribal factions. That same year, Daniel Morgan Boone, son of Daniel Boone, became the first American farmer in Kansas. In 1839, Native Americans imported wheat from the east and became the first wheat farmers in Kansas, clearing and farming plots of land along rivers. Treaties with the American government supposedly protected the Native American farmers in what was called "Indian Country." In 1852, the Native American Mathias Splitlog established Kansas's first flour mill just west of the Missouri River in what is now Wyandotte County.

Bleeding Kansas

In 1854, in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the U.S. Congress established Kansas as an official territory, but in so doing, Congress violated a compromise between slave states and free states that was supposed to make both Kansas and Nebraska free states. Instead, Congress said that the people of Kansas and Nebraska would vote on whether to make the territories free or slave states when they applied for statehood.

In 1855, Kansas tried to elect a legislature that would write a state constitution to present to Congress as part of its application for statehood. Most of the settlers in Kansas, such as Mennonites and Quakers, were antislavery (known as "free staters"), but proslavery men from outside Kansas were imported to vote in the election, and through intimidation of antislavery voters and ballot-box stuffing, they "won" the election. The new legislature quickly wrote a proslavery constitution, which Congress rejected because the state legislature was not recognized as legitimate. In 1855, the Topeka Movement favoring a free state was begun, and its followers wrote their own state constitution; this, too, was rejected by Congress because the authors had not been properly elected.

By 1856, proslavery terrorists were killing free-state farmers. On 21 August 1856, an out-of-state proslavery gang invaded Lawrence, Kansas, an overwhelmingly free-state community, and murdered over 150 people and burned down most of the town. The antislavery fanatic John Brown gathered some of his followers and invaded farms along Pottawatomie Creek, south of Kansas City, Kansas, murdering five proslavery men; this became known as the Pottawatomie Massacre. A proslavery militia later attacked John Brown and some of his followers, only to be captured by those they tried to kill. This made John Brown a hero among many antislavery people. These events inspired the nickname "Bleeding Kansas," and the violence and murders continued even after the conclusion of the Civil War (1861–1865).


Beginning in 1860 and lasting until telegraph lines were established between America's West and East, the Pony Express passed through Kansas. By 1861, Kansas had managed to have an election that Congress recognized as valid, and the resulting territorial legislature wrote a state constitution forbidding slavery that Congress also recognized as valid. On 29 January 1861, Kansas was admitted as the thirty-fourth state in the Union, although a large chunk of its western territory was ceded to what eventually would become the state of Colorado. Topeka was declared the state capital. On 12 April 1861, the Civil War began, pitting proslavery Southern states, the Confederacy, against the rest of the country, the Union.

Over 20,000 Kansans, out of only 30,000 eligible men, enlisted in the Union army; at the war's end, 8,500 (28.33 percent) of the Kansas soldiers had been killed, the highest mortality rate of any Union state. The first skirmishes against Confederate regulars occurred in 1861 along the Missouri River, with the first significant combat for Kansan troops occurring near Springfield, Missouri, in the Battle of Wilson's Creek, with the First Kansas Volunteer Infantry suffering heavy losses. Kansan historians claim that the first African Americans to see significant combat in the Civil War were the First Kansas Colored Infantry, who were formed into a regiment in August 1862, and who fought Confederate troops at Butler, Missouri, on 29 October 1862 in the Battle of Toothman's Mound. Under Colonel James M. Williams, white and black Union troops fought together as a unit for the first time in a battle at Cabin Creek on 2 July 1863 in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), against Confederate troops who had raided a train.

The most significant battle in Kansas during the Civil War occurred when Union forces under the command of Major General James G. Blunt and Confederate forces under General Douglas Cooper met in a series of clashes involving more than 25,000 troops, concluding in the Battle of Mine Creek, in which 10,000 troops fought. The First Kansas Colored Infantry underwent a forced march northeastward through Kansas to the battle and was stationed in the Union line's center. The regiment advanced to within thirty yards of the Confederate center, enduring heavy losses until the Confederate line broke and fled, ending the major Confederate threat to Kansas.

During the war, Confederate guerrilla units raided Kansan settlements. Under the command of Captain William Clarke Quantrill, "Quantrill's Raiders" executed farm families and burned villages and towns. On 21 August 1863, Quantrill led 450 of his troops into Lawrence, Kansas; with most of the men of Lawrence off to war, Quantrill's Raiders killed nearly 200, few of them men. Quantrill remains despised in Kansas.

Building a State

From 1867 to 1869, a fierce war between the United States and Native Americans was fought in western Kansas. The Pawnees and others had objected to violations of treaties that guaranteed them the right of ownership of some of the land in Kansas. In 1868, General Phil Sheridan led an offensive against the warring tribes, and in 1869 the tribes were forced to settle in the Indian Territory, southwest of Kansas.

The 1870s and 1880s saw an influx of over 300,000 people into Kansas. Many were guided there by the New England Emigrant Aid Society (NEEAS) of Massachusetts. Among the people the NEEAS guided to Kansas were Mennonites from Russia, who in 1874 brought with them a hardy, drought-resistant, cold-resistant strain of dwarf wheat called "Turkey red wheat." This soon became the favorite winter wheat of Kansas, and it helped advance the growing of wheat throughout the United States.

One of the first actions of the new state legislature in 1861 was to grant women the right to vote in school board elections. It was a small advance for voting rights, but it was considered progressive at the time. Even so, some women activists scorned it, making enemies where they once had friends. During the 1870s and 1880s (known as the sodbuster decades for the sod houses that were built), many women activists were sidetracked by the prohibitionist movement, which was seen as a woman's issue because of the severe social problem of drunken husbands beating their wives. In 1880, Kansas voters approved the prohibition of sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages in the state. The law was ignored throughout Kansas; saloons operated openly in many towns.

In 1874, locusts invaded Kansas and much of the Midwest, denuding farmlands. It was an era of drought, and an adequate irrigation system did not yet exist. Over 30,000 people fled the drought. Once the rains returned in the late 1870s, the influx of settlers renewed. During 1879–1880, 30,000 "Exodusters" (a play on "sodbuster" and "exodus"), African Americans fleeing Southern states, migrated into Kansas.

Kansas was proud of its progressive image, and in 1887, women at last received the right to vote in municipal elections. Within a few weeks, the first female mayor elected in America, Susanna Madora Salter, became mayor of the town of Argonia. The next year, five towns had female mayors and city councils consisting entirely of women. The Populist Party (a.k.a. the People's Party) was founded in Topeka in 1890, and Populist Kansas governors, beginning with Lorenzo Lewelling in 1892, were supported by women. By 1911, over 2,000 women held public office in Kansas. In 1912, Kansas voted to give women full suffrage, the same voting rights as men had. In 1932, Kansas elected its first female member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kathryn O'Loughlin McCarthy.

In 1900, Kansas had an official population of 1,470,495 people. Before 1907, maize was the state's principal crop, but it was replaced in 1907 by wheat, much of it descended from the Turkey red wheat brought by Russian immigrants. The land still suffered from drought, about once every twenty years, but it was not until 1920 that farmers began to extensively irrigate their farmland. The irrigation system created a boom that made Kansas the world's leader in wheat production. In 1923, a motorized combine was introduced to Kansas, allowing a couple of men to do what had been the work of several horses and a score of men in 1900. In 1930, portable irrigation sprinkler systems were introduced, and the state became an example of prosperity.

Dust Bowl

Drought hit Kansas again during the 1930s. Most of the state's forest had been converted to farmland; its native grasses and other plants had been supplanted by sweeping farms, rich in wheat, maize, sorghum, and other cultivated grains. When streams dried up, and when the irrigation system could not find enough water for the central and western parts of the state, the soil dried. The topsoil had become powder. Kansas had always had high winds, and in the 1930s, the winds blew the powdery soil high into the air, often making day as dark as night. During 1934, the region became known as the "dust bowl."

Many farmers abandoned their farms. Some found work in Kansas's factories. Oil and natural gas strikes in southern Kansas and zinc mining in the western hills helped provide Kansas with income. By 1937, the prohibition law was seen as oppressive. Kansas changed the law to allow 3.2 percent beer to be produced and taxed; it also instituted a sales tax.

World War II and the 1950s

During World War II, Fort Riley, established in 1853 to protect travelers on the Santa Fe Trail, became a major military training base. In 1942, a prisoner of war camp was built near Concordia. The factories of Kansas became important parts of the production for war, and the oil and natural gas suppliers gained in importance. In 1943, Dwight David Eisenhower, who had been raised in Abilene, became Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, and he helped the growth of the military industry in Kansas.

The "progressive" state of Kansas had long had a dirty secret: racial segregation. On 28 February 1951, the father of eleven-year-old Linda Brown, an African American, filed suit in the United States District Court against Topeka's Board of Education, asking that she be allowed to attend a whites-only school and alleging that segregation violated Amendment XIV of the U.S. Constitution. On 17 May 1954, a team of attorneys led by Thurgood Marshall won a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that racial segregation was inherently unequal and therefore a violation of the Constitution. Brown v. Board of Education became the landmark court decision that would change the course of American society during the next fifty years.

The Modern Era

By 1960, the population of Kansas had increased to over 2,000,000 people. In 1969, part of the Kansas National Guard was called to duty and sent to serve in Vietnam. In 1970, the student union at Kansas University was set afire, probably as part of protests against the war.

In 1972, the state's constitution was amended, reducing the number of elected officials in the executive branch and extending to four years from two the terms of the elected officials of the executive branch. During that year, the Kansas legislature ratified the ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment that would have added a statement to the United States Constitution that women and men were to have the same civil rights. In 1973, the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant was begun; it would not come on line until 1985. In 1978, Nancy Landon Kassebaum, daughter of Alf Landon, Republican nominee for president in 1936, was elected to the United States Senate. She was the first woman who was not a widow of a senator to be elected to the Senate.

In 1980, Kansas established and funded programs to prevent child abuse. In 1986, Kansas changed its alcoholic beverage laws to allow serving liquor "by the drink." It also approved a state lottery. Its population was just under 2,500,000 in 1990. In 1991, Joan Finney became Kansas's first woman governor. Former Governor Mike Hayden was placed in charge of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service. During the 1990s, the elaborate irrigation system for the High Plains and Plains Border regions became severely strained because the underground aquifer, consisting of sand mixed with water, was being seriously diminished, creating sinkholes and threatening an end to the underground water supply. In 2000, nearly 3,000,000 people lived in Kansas, mostly in cities.


Anderson, George L., Terry H. Harmon, and Virgil W. Dean, eds. History of Kansas: Selected Readings. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1987.

Bader, Robert Smith. Hayseeds, Moralizers, and Methodists: The Twentieth-Century Image of Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988.

Davis, Kenneth S. Kansas: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1976.

Masters, Nancy Robinson. Kansas. New York: Grolier, 1998.

Napier, Rita, ed. A History of the Peoples of Kansas. Lawrence: Independent Study, Division of Continuing Education, University of Kansas, 1985.

Shortridge, James R. Peopling the Plains: Who Settled Where in Frontier Kansas. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995.

Wedel, Waldo R. Central Plains Prehistory: Holocene Environments and Culture Change in the Republican River Basin. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

Kirk H.Beetz

See alsoMidwest ; Tribes: Great Plains .

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Kansas (state, United States)

Kansas (kăn´zəs), midwestern state occupying the center of the coterminous United States. It is bordered by Missouri (E), Oklahoma (S), Colorado (W), and Nebraska (N).

Facts and Figures

Area, 82,264 sq mi (213,064 sq km). Pop. (2010) 2,853,118, a 6.1% increase since the 2000 census. Capital, Topeka. Largest city, Wichita. Statehood, Jan. 29, 1861 (34th state). Highest pt., Mt. Sunflower, 4,039 ft (1,232 m); lowest pt., Verdigris River, 680 ft (207 m). Nickname, Sunflower State. Motto,Ad Astra per Aspera [To the stars through difficulties]. State bird, Western meadowlark. State flower, native sunflower. State tree, cottonwood. Abbr., Kans.; KS


Almost rectangular in shape and mostly part of the Great Plains, Kansas is famous for its seemingly endless fields of ripe golden wheat. The land rises more than 3,000 ft (914 m) from the eastern alluvial prairies of Kansas to its western semiarid high plains, which stretch toward the foothills of the Rocky Mts. The rise is so gradual, however, that it is imperceptible, although the terrains of the east and the west are markedly different. The state is drained by the Kansas and Arkansas rivers, both of which generally run from west to east.

The average annual rainfall of 27 in. (69 cm) is not evenly distributed: the eastern prairies receive up to 40 in. (102 cm) of rain, while the western plains average 17 in. (43 cm). Occasional dust storms plague farmers and ranchers in the west. The climate is continental, with wide extremes—cold winters with blizzards and hot summers with tornadoes. Floods also wreak havoc in the state; hence, flood-control projects, such as dams, reservoirs, and levees, are a major undertaking.

Topeka is the capital; other important cities are Wichita (the state's largest city), Lawrence, and Kansas City (adjoining Kansas City, Mo.). Points of historical interest include the boyhood home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Eisenhower Library in Abilene. Medicine Lodge has the home of Carry Nation, who, at the turn of the 20th cent., waged war on the saloons. Fort Leavenworth is the site of a large federal penitentiary. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is one of the few large tracts of virgin prairie in the United States.


Kansas is historically an agricultural state. Manufacturing and services have surpassed agriculture as income producers, but farming is still important to the state's economy, and Kansas follows only Texas and Montana in total agricultural acreage. The nation's top wheat grower, Kansas is also a leading producer of grain sorghum and corn. Hay, soybeans, and sunflowers are also major crops. Cattle and calves, however, constitute the single most valuable agricultural item. Meatpacking and dairy industries are major economic activities, and the Kansas City stockyards are among the nation's largest. Food processing ranked as the state's third largest industry in the 1990s.

The two leading industries are the manufacture of transportation equipment and industrial and computer machinery. Wichita is a center of the aircraft industry, producing chiefly private planes. Other important manufactures are petroleum and coal products and nonelectrical machinery. The state is a major producer of crude petroleum and has large reserves of natural gas and helium. Kansas was once part of a great shallow sea and has commercially valuable salt deposits.

Government and Higher Education

Government in Kansas is based on the constitution of 1859, adopted just before Kansas attained statehood. An elected governor serves a term of four years. The legislature has a senate with 40 members and a house of representatives with 125 members. Kansas is represented in the U.S. Congress by four representatives and two senators and has six electoral votes in presidential elections. The state has long been a Republican stronghold but has had some Democratic governors. Republican Bill P. Graves, elected in 1994 and reelected in 1998, was succeeded by Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, who also won (2002, 2006) two terms. Sebelius resigned in 2009 to become U.S. secretary of health and human services and was succeeded by Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson, also a Democrat. Republican Sam Brownback was elected to the post in 2010 and reelected in 2014.

Institutions of higher learning include the Univ. of Kansas, at Lawrence; Kansas State Univ., at Manhattan; Wichita State Univ., at Wichita; and Washburn Univ. of Topeka, at Topeka.


Early Inhabitants, Exploration, and Relocations

When the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado visited (1541) the Kansas area in his search for Quivira, a fabled kingdom of riches, the area was occupied by various Native American groups of the Plains descent, notably the Kansa, the Wichita and the Pawnee. Another Spanish explorer, Juan de Oñate, penetrated the region in 1601. A result of Spanish entry into the region was the introduction of the horse, which revolutionized the life of the Native Americans. While not actually exploring the Kansas area, Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, claimed (c.1682) for France all territory drained by the Mississippi River, including Kansas.

French traders and Native Americans had a great deal of contact during most of the 18th cent. By the Treaty of Paris of 1763 ending the French and Indian Wars, France ceded the territory of W Louisiana (including Kansas) to Spain. In 1800, Spain secretly retroceded the territory to France, from whom the United States acquired it in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The region was little known, however, and subsequent explorations to include Kansas were the Lewis and Clark expedition (1803–6), the Arkansas River journey of Zebulon M. Pike in 1806, and the scientific expedition of Stephen H. Long in 1819.

Most of the territory that eventually became Kansas was in an area known as the "Great American Desert," considered unsuitable for U.S. settlement because of its apparent barrenness. In the 1830s the region was designated a permanent home for Native Americans, and northern and eastern tribes were relocated there. Forts were constructed for frontier defense and for the protection of the growing trade along the Santa Fe Trail, which crossed Kansas. Fort Leavenworth was established in 1827, Fort Scott in 1842, and Fort Riley in 1853.

Pro- and Antislavery Factions

Kansas, at this time mainly a region to be crossed on the way to California and Oregon, was organized as a territory in 1854. Its settlement, however, was spurred not so much by natural westward expansion as by the determination of both proslavery and antislavery factions to achieve a majority population in the territory. The struggle between the factions was further complicated by conflict over the location of a transcontinental railroad, with proponents of a central route (rather than a southern route) eager to resolve the slavery issue in the area and promote settlement.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), an attempted compromise on the extension of slavery, repealed the Missouri Compromise and reopened the issue of extending slavery north of lat. 36°30′ by providing for popular sovereignty in Kansas and Nebraska, allowing settlers of territories to decide the matter themselves. Meanwhile, the Emigrant Aid Company was organized in Massachusetts to foster antislavery immigration to Kansas, and proslavery interests in Missouri and throughout the South took counteraction. Towns were established by each faction—Lawrence and Topeka by the free-staters and Leavenworth and Atchison by the proslavery settlers.

Soon all the problems attendant upon organizing a territory for statehood became subsidiary to the single issue of slavery. The first elections in 1854 and 1855 were won by the proslavery group; armed Missourians intimidated voters and election officials and stuffed the ballot boxes. Andrew H. Reeder was appointed the first territorial governor in 1854. The first territorial legislature ousted (1855) all free-state members, secured the removal of Gov. Reeder, established the capital in Lecompton, and adopted proslavery statutes. In retaliation the abolitionists set up a rival government at Topeka in Oct., 1855.

The Wakarusa War and Bleeding Kansas

Violence soon came to the territory. The murder of a free-state man in Nov., 1855, led to the so-called Wakarusa War, a bloodless series of encounters along the Wakarusa River. The intervention of the new governor, Wilson Shannon, kept proslavery men from attacking Lawrence. However, civil war ultimately turned the territory into "bleeding Kansas." On May 21, 1856, proslavery groups and armed Missourians known as "Border Ruffians" raided Lawrence. A few days later a band led by the abolitionist crusader John Brown murdered five proslavery men in the Pottawatamie massacre. Guerrilla warfare between free-state men called Jayhawkers and proslavery bands—both sides abetted by desperadoes and opportunists—terrorized the land. After a new governor, John W. Geary, persuaded a large group of "Border Ruffians" to return to Missouri, the violence subsided.

The Lecompton legislature met in 1857 to make preparations for convening a constitutional convention. Gov. Geary resigned after it became clear that free elections would not be held to approve a new constitution. Robert J. Walker was appointed governor, and a convention held at Lecompton drafted a constitution. Only that part of the resulting proslavery constitution dealing with slavery was submitted to the electorate, and the question was drafted to favor the proslavery group. Free-state men refused to participate in the election with the result that the constitution was overwhelmingly approved.

Despite the dubious validity of the Lecompton constitution, President James Buchanan recommended (1858) that Congress accept it and approve statehood for the territory. Instead, Congress returned it for another territorial vote. The proslavery group boycotted the election, and the constitution was rejected. Lawrence became de facto capital of the troubled territory until after the Wyandotte constitution (framed in 1859 and totally forbidding slavery) was accepted by Congress. The Kansas conflict and the question of statehood for the territory became a national issue and figured in the 1860 Republican party platform.

Kansas became a state in 1861, with the capital at Topeka. Charles Robinson was the first governor and James H. Lane, an active free-stater during the 1850s, one of the U.S. Senators. In the Civil War, Kansas fought with the North and suffered the highest rate of fatal casualties of any state in the Union. Confederate William C. Quantrill and his guerrilla band burned Lawrence in 1863.

Life on the Prairie

With peace came the development of the prairie lands. The construction of railroads made cow towns such as Abilene and Dodge City, with their cowboys, saloons, and frontier marshals, the shipping point for large herds of cattle driven overland from Texas. The buffalo herds disappeared (some buffalo still roam in state parks and game preserves), and cattle took their place. Pioneer homesteaders, adjusting to life on the timberless prairie and living in sod houses, suffered privation. In 1874, Mennonite emigrants from Russia brought the Turkey Red variety of winter wheat to Kansas. This wheat was instrumental in making Kansas the Wheat State as winter wheat replaced spring wheat on an ever-increasing scale. Corn, too, soon became a major cash crop.

Agricultural production was periodically disrupted by national depressions and natural disasters. Repeated and prolonged droughts accompanied by dust storms, occasional grasshopper invasions, and floods all caused severe economic dislocation. Mortgages often weighed heavily on farmers, and discontent was expressed in farmer support of radical farm organizations and third-party movements, such as the Granger movement, Greenback party, and Populist party. Tax relief, better regulation of interest rates, and curbs on the power of railroads were sought by these organizations. Twice in the 1890s, Populist-Democrats were elected to the governorship.

As conditions improved, Kansas returned largely to its allegiance to the Republican party and gained a reputation as a conservative stronghold with a bent for moral reform, indicated in the state's strong support of prohibition; laws against the sale of liquor remained on the books in Kansas from 1880 to 1949. Over the years the use of improved agricultural methods and machines increased crop yield. Irrigation proved practicable in some areas, and winter wheat and alfalfa could be cultivated in dry regions.

Wars and Depression

Wheat production greatly expanded during World War I, but the end of the war brought financial difficulties. During the 1920s and 30s, Kansas was faced with labor unrest and the economic hardships of the depression. As part of the Dust Bowl, Kansas sustained serious land erosion during the long drought of the 1930s. Erosion led to the implementation of conservation and reclamation projects, particularly in the northern and western parts of the state. In 1924 an effort of the Ku Klux Klan to gain political control was fought by William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette, who supported many liberal causes. Alfred M. Landon, elected governor in 1932, was one of the few Republican candidates in the country to win election in the midst of the sweeping Democratic victory that year. He was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate in 1936.

During World War II agriculture thrived and industry expanded rapidly. The food-processing industry grew substantially, the cement industry enjoyed a major revival, and the aircraft industry boomed. After the war agricultural prosperity once again declined when the state was hit by a severe drought and grasshopper invasion in 1948. Prosperity returned briefly during the Korean War, but afterward farm surpluses and insufficient world markets combined to make the state's tremendous agricultural ability part of the national "farm problem."

Modern Kansas

Kansas has become increasingly industrialized and urbanized, and industrial production has surpassed farm production in economic importance. Flood damage in the state, especially after a major flood in 1951, spurred the construction of dams (such as the Tuttle Creek, Milford, and Wilson dams) on major Kansas rivers, and their reservoirs have vastly increased water recreational facilities for Kansans. Since the 1970s, Kansas has become increasingly more urban and suburban. Accordingly, the economy has shifted its emphasis to finance and service industries located in and around the major urban centers.


See P. Gates, Fifty Million Acres: Conflicts over Kansas Land Policy, 1854–1890 (1954); R. S. Brownlee, Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy (1960); W. T. Nugent, The Tolerant Populists (1963); J. R. Cook, The Border and the Buffalo (1967); C. C. Howes, This Place Called Kansas (1984); H. E. Socolofsky and H. Self, Historical Atlas of Kansas (2d rev. ed. 1989); R. Richmond, Kansas: A Land of Contrasts (3d ed. 1989).

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Native Americans roamed the plains of Kansas at the time French explorers paddled the Mississippi River in the 1700s. The area now known as Kansas was part of the vast French holdings in central North America known as the Louisiana Territory. In 1803 Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, needed funds to support his European wars. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson (18011809) seized this opportunity and purchased Louisiana land for $15 million, doubling the size of the United States and bringing the region that would become Kansas and several other states under American control.

President Jefferson sent the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the country from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. When the expedition reached Kansas, they described the country as "delightful . . . the whole country exhibits a rich appearance." Although this account was favorable, other explorers reported Kansas to be a dry wasteland, and as a result migration to Kansas started out slowly compared to other parts of the country. However, the rich abundance of furbearing animals lured American trappers and traders to the area.

During the first half of the 1800s settlers started to migrate west to Kansas, at this point still an unorganized territory, in search of adventure and a new life. Missionaries also came to the plains and taught tribes of the region how to work the land. Eventually, the United States government would push all Native Americans westward onto reservations.

When gold was discovered in the 1850s in what is now Colorado, miners rushed across the country to seek their fortune. As mining grew in the west, transportation was needed to carry people and goods. The Leavenworth and Pike's Peak Express to Denver made 19 stops in Kansas along the route. Federal land grants were awarded to other companies to encourage more railroad building and settlement along the railroads. Over the next several decades about 200 companies built railroads across Kansas. Many towns sprang up along the track, together with hotels, gambling houses, and saloons.

The 1850s were also a period of political turmoil in Kansas. The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 formally organized the territory of Kansas, and allowed for the people who lived there to determine if slavery would be permitted there. Previously, the Missouri Compromise had prevented slavery from spreading into Kansas, and the predominantly anti-slavery North was greatly angered by what they saw as an attempt by the South to expand its power and influence. Pro-slavery southerners and anti-slavery northerners flooded into the region in an effort to gain control. There was frequent conflict between the two sides, the area became known as "Bleeding Kansas." The controversy over Kansas worsened the split between the North and the South, was a major force behind the formation of the Republican Party, and helped drive the nation in the American Civil War (18611865). Kansas would eventually be admitted to the Union as a free state in 1861.

After the Civil War thousands migrated to Kansas to take advantage of the government's promise of free land. In a government-backed effort to encourage settlers to move west, the Homestead Act of 1862 allowed any citizen who paid a ten dollar filing fee to claim up to 160 acres of federal land as long as they farmed the land for 5 years. In 1873 the Timber Culture Act made the same promise to those who would plant trees on one-fourth of the land they claimed within four years. By that time new Kansas homesteaders had already claimed about 6 million acres.

After the Civil War the government also encouraged the development of railroads by giving the railroad companies land grants. More than 200 companies laid tracks that zigzagged across Kansas. As the railroads offered land grant acreage at low prices and reduced fares to new settlers, they helped to open the state for commerce and development.

The new settlers in Kansas were known as "sodbusters" because they cut up large squares of sod and, as lumber was scarce, used them to make walls and roofs for their new homes. They planted crops in place of the sod. They soon discovered how harsh life could be on the plains. "Rattlesnakes, bedbugs, fleas, and the 'prairie itch' were what kept us awake at nights and made life miserable," wrote W.H. Russell, a Rush County settler. Also, a grasshopper plague in 1874 destroyed crops on 5,000 square miles of farmland. In addition, the severe weatherblizzards, rainstorms, droughts, and prairie firesstranded trains and destroyed crops and homes.

After the Civil War cattle was abundant in Texas but scarce in the north. Texas cattle ranchers took advantage of the demand from the north and began driving their cattle to the nearest railroad stations in Kansas. "Cow towns" were established at cattle shipping points. The cow towns played host to cowboys looking to spend their money in hotels, saloons, dance halls, and gambling houses.

During the boom years of the 1870s and 1880s new settlers were attracted to Kansas due to better weather conditions and improved farming methods as well as easy railroad access to outlying areas of the state. Wealthy farmers and land developers bought up land and established towns. At the same time, more than 15,000 former slaves traveled from the south to Kansas to establish a new way of life for themselves. A blizzard in 1886 and a drought in 1887, however, quickly caused the state to fall into a depression. Ranchers were forced to leave because more than 20 percent of the state's cattle herd perished in the blizzard and the farmers lost all their crops in the drought.

Farmers who stayed behind were frustrated by falling wheat prices and the high cost of shipping goods. They formed the Farmers' Alliance and became a major component of the Populist Party in the 1890s. Members of the party were voted into congressional seats of other political office. The Populists were instrumental in implementing laws that helped farmers by regulating banks, stockyards, railroads, telegraph companies, and building-and-loan associations.

The Populist movement gave way to the Progressive administrations of governors from 1905 to 1913. New reforms called for laws that reduced railroad fares and costs for shipping grain. Child labor laws were instituted along with workmen's compensation and further banking regulations. In addition, the use of machines such as tractors and threshers made farming easier and helped increase crop production. New crops such as sorghum, sugar beets, broomcorn, and alfalfa were harvested in the plains.

During World War I (19141918) Kansas stepped up production of wheat to feed the troops. After the war more roads were built to accommodate automobiles built by a Kansan Walter P. Chrysler (18751940), founder of the Chrysler Motors automobile company. This modest recovery, however, was only temporary. During the Great Depression (19291939) Kansas was devastated. The country suffered the worst depression in history; stock markets crashed and Kansas crop prices dropped. In 1932 a severe drought began and turned the area into a "dust bowl. Governor Alfred M. Landon attempted to bring relief to farmers and businessmen by reorganizing state banks, cutting taxes, and halting mortgage foreclosures for six months. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's (19331945) New Deal provided jobs building libraries, schools, and post offices. The Agricultural Adjustment Act was also passed in 1933 as part of the New Deal. It sought to raise farm prices by encouraging farmers to reduce production. But true economic relief only came at the start of World War II (19391945). During the war plants in Kansas built more than 25,000 aircraft and produced munitions and artillery for the war effort. Wheat and soybean farming also stepped up to provide food for military personnel.

After the war, manufacturing growth steadily increased and people began to move from rural to urban areas. For the first three decades after the war, businesses grew in Kansas and meat packing, mining, flour milling, and petroleum refining became the largest industries in the state. In addition, more aircraft were built in Kansas than anywhere else in the country. Farming remained the most prominent part of the state's economy.

Farmers enjoyed prosperity in the 1960s and 1970s as feeds and improved fertilizers increased production, but they faced a crisis as a recession hit in the 1980s. Many farmers lost their land and were forced into bankruptcy. Kansas sought to expand its market of products and signed a trade agreement with the St. Petersburg region of Russia in 1993.

The 1990s also brought extremes in the weather. Drought and topsoil erosion damaged 865,000 acres, drove up prices, and depleted grain stores. From April through September 1993, floods caused more than $574 million worth of damage. Efforts to restore economic growth included the allocation of government block grants. In 1995 the median household income in Kansas was $30,346 and about 11 percent of all Kansans lived below the federal poverty level.

See also: Bleeding Kansas, Cow Towns ,Dust Bowl, Farmers' Alliance, Homestead Act, Homesteaders, Kansas-Nebraska Act, Lewis and Clark Expedition


Anderson, George L. Kansas West. San Marino, CA: Golden West Books, 1963.

Aylesworth, Thomas G. South Central: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.

Fredeen, Charles. Kansas. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications, 1992.

Kummer, Patricia K. Kansas. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 1999.

Worldmark Encyclopedia of the States. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1998, s.v. "Kansas."

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Kansas City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157

Overland Park . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167

Topeka . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179

Wichita . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

The State in Brief

Nickname: Sunflower State

Motto: Ad astra per aspera (To the stars through difficulties)

Flower: Native sunflower

Bird: Western meadowlark

Area: 82,276 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 15th)

Elevation: Ranges from 680 feet to 4,039 feet above sea level

Climate: Temperate, but with seasonal extremes of temperature as well as blizzards, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms; semi-arid in the west

Admitted to Union: January 29, 1861

Capital: Topeka

Head Official: Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) (until 2007)


1980: 2,364,000

1990: 2,495,000

2000: 2,688,824

2004 estimate: 2,735,502

Percent change, 19902000: 8.5%

U.S. rank in 2004: 33rd

Percent of residents born in state: 59.5% (2000)

Density: 32.9 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 110,997

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 2,313,944

Black or African American: 154,198

American Indian and Alaska Native: 24,936

Asian: 46,806

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 1,313

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 188,252

Other: 90,725

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 188,708

Population 5 to 19 years old: 609,710

Percent of population 65 years and over: 13.3%

Median age: 35.2 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 40,609

Total number of deaths (2003): 24,840 (infant deaths, 261)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 1,123


Major industries: Agriculture, oil production, mining, manufacturing

Unemployment rate: 5.4% (March 2005)

Per capita income: $29,545 (2003; U.S. rank: 27th)

Median household income: $43,622 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 10.3% (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Income tax rate: Ranges from 3.5% to 6.45%

Sales tax rate: 5.3%

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Kansas State in central USA; the capital is Topeka. Other major cities are Wichita and Kansas City. First visited by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, the area passed from France to the new United States under the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. It was Native American territory until 1854, when the Territory of Kansas was created and the area opened up for settlement. Part of the Great Plains, the land rises from the prairies of the e to the semi-arid high plains of the w. The area is drained by the Kansas and Arkansas rivers. Kansas is the leading US producer of wheat. Corn, hay, and sorghum are also grown and cattle raising is important. Manufacturing is economically significant. Industries: transport equipment, chemicals, petroleum products, machinery. Area: 213,094sq km (82,276sq mi). Pop. (2000) 2,688,418.

Statehood :

January 29, 1861

Nickname :

Sunflower state

State bird :

Western meadowlark

State flower :


State tree :


State motto :

To the stars through difficulties

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Kansas (river, United States)

Kansas or Kaw, river, 170 mi (274 km) long, formed by the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers in NE Kansas and flowing E to the Missouri River at Kansas City; the system drains parts of Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. Heavy floods (especially in 1951 and 1977) on the Kansas and its tributaries caused great damage to the surrounding farms and Kansas City area. Numerous dams, reservoirs, and levees have since been built to prevent flooding.

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Rock group

For the Record

Hoodwinked Label

Turning Point in 1976

Stardom, Predictably Followed by Implosion

Selected discography


In the 1970s, Kansas emerged as one of the most successful rock acts in America with their fusion of hard-hitting Midwestern power guitars into ornate, violin-and-organ fueled arrangements that borrowed heavily from British progressive rock. In 1977 alone, two of their albums achieved platinum status, and their best-known track,Carry on Wayward Son, was the most frequently played song on classic rock radio station play lists in 1997, 20 years after its debut. In 1978, British music writer Ian Birch described Kansas signature sound in Melody Maker as full of monolithic chord structures meshed with complex textures, dramatic harmonies, lengthy improvisations, spiritually swashbuckling lyrics and hard-core instrumental prowess. It will either turn your stomach or hook you from the first note.

Most of the original members of Kansas, all of whom were born between 1949 and 1951, knew one another from high school in Topeka. They had been playing in a series of bands since the late 1960s, but failed to achieve any real success on the Plains biker-bar circuit in their respective outfits. Kansas itself was formed from the remnants of two other bands led by Kerry Livgren and Phil Ehart. Livgren would become the main songwriter and was also responsible for the

For the Record

Members include Phil Ehart (born in 1951 in Kansas), drums; Dave Hope (born on October 7, 1949, in Kansas), bass; Kerry Livgren (born on September 18, 1949, in Topeka, KS), guitars, keyboards; Robby Steinhardt (born in 1951 in Michigan), violin, vocals; Steve Walsh (born in 1951 in St. Joseph, MO), keyboards, vocals; Rich Williams (born in 1951 in Kansas), guitar.

Band formed as Kansas in Topeka, KS, 1970; changed name to White Clover, 1971; reformed as Kansas, 1972; signed with Kirshner Records and released self-titled debut, 1974; disbanded in 1983; regrouped, 1986.

Addresses: Record company Epic Records, 550 Madison Ave., 22nd Fl, New York, NY 10022. Website-The Art of the StateThe Kerry Livgren Website:

bands intricate guitar sound. Ehart, a drummer, recruited bassist Dave Hope, whom he knew from his days at West Topeka High, and the trio named themselves Kansas in 1970. Their sound drew heavily from Frank Zappa, who was then at the forefront of the American avant-garde rock scene, but it failed to catch on with local audiences. For a time, they played under a different name, White Clover, but had trouble retaining the rest of their lineup. In 1972, a frustrated Ehart moved to England for a few months and tried to break into the music business there. He was only offered country-and-western gigs, and so returned, dismayed, to Topeka. He reunited White Clover, and they soon decided to revert to their original name.

Hoodwinked Label

Other founding members of Kansas were guitarist Rich Williams, keyboard player Steve Walshwho would write much of its future material with Livgrenand a violinist, Robby Steinhardt, whose father chaired the music department at the University of Kansas. Steinhardt had already spent time playing with orchestras in Europe, but was eager to experiment with his instrument in a rock band. The musicians knew, however, that their unique sound would not likely attract attention from hit-seeking record company executives, so they recorded a demo tape to send out that contained five standard rock songs. At the time, the band was broke and members were living on a dollar a day. It was very lonely, Ehart recalled in an interview with Jon Pareles of Rolling Stone a few years later. We were going to play this style of music and not compromise, even if we had to f***ing starve. We believed in Kansas more than anythingit was our life, our religion, our food. That was it, there was nothing else, zero.

The demo tape attracted the attention of Don Kirshner, host of a late-night live-music program that aired on NBC called Don Kirshners Rock Concert. When the phone call came from New York, It was like, Weve been saved, Ehart recalled in the interview with Pareles. Somebody just threw us a rope.

Kirshner sent his assistant, Wally Gold, out to see the band, and to make a good impression, the band rented out Topekas old opera house. They advertised a free concert with free beer, and the turnout was appropriately enthusiastic enough to impress Gold. He signed the band to Kirshners label and became the producer of its first record, though his sole other credit as a producer had been for a Barbra Streisand album.

Kansas was released in 1974, and sold a modest 100,000 copies. Like all of the bands subsequent records, it featured lyrics that ventured into the metaphysical, while a heavy guitar sound and complex chord structures placed them firmly in the Jethro Tull/Emerson, Lake and Palmer camp. They began to win fans while working as the opening act for Queen, Bad Company, Foghat, and other mainstream rock bands. Walsh said at the time he was always assured of Kansas potential as rock stars in their own right. Thats not ego, thats reality. If I wasnt completely convinced, this business would be much too big a hassle to mess around in, he told Patrick Snyder in Rolling Stone.

Turning Point in 1976

Kansas released two LPs for Kirshner in 1975, Song for America and Masque, and continued to tour heavily. A distribution deal with CBS Records helped both sell around 250, 000, but it took several tries for their unique sound to emerge on vinyl, for the band members were seasoned professionals on stage but had little experience in the studio. Moreover, the records were usually made during brief breaks between lengthy tours. Finally, they decided to let their sound engineer, Jeff Glixman, serve as producer for Leftoverture, their 1976 release, and the combination of talents finally clicked. Buoyed by the success of its first single, Carry on Wayward Son, Leftoverture quickly became their biggest success, reaching number five on the Billboard album charts and achieving platinum status in March of 1977.

Rock critics, however, hated Kansas, and wrote disparagingly of them. Their music hybridizes cornfed American shuffle riffs with the odd time signatures and quick changes of British progressive rock, explained Páreles in Rolling Stone, who described them as a perfect targettoo fancy for barroom rockers, too simple for die-hard progressives, too pretentious for most adults and too derivative for the critics. The British music press was even less kind. The obvious broadside to fire at Kansas is that of pretension, wrote Birch in Melody Maker. The arrangements, and lyrics especially, are knee-deep in layers of chintzy grandeur. There are key words and themes like eyes, old men, blind men, childhood, the natural elements, endless questioning and a kind of patriotic zeal for the motherland.

At best, Kansas was faulted for a certain absence of soul in its music. The band plays a brand of baroque rock in the tradition of King Crimson, Yes and ELO, filled with monumental chord structures overlaid with glittering textures, wrote Snyder in Rolling Stone. The moving force here is precisionnot emotion. At worst, Kansass music was described as a passing pubescent phase. In the 1979 Rolling Stone article, Pareles quoted a top-secret survey of the bands fans that found its music appeals to the twelve-to-fifteen-year-old teenager who finds himself or herself asking questions of universal import as part of his psychological development. The survey explained that a Kansas stage was the natural progression after a teenagers Kiss stage.

Stardom, Predictably Followed by Implosion

The band left Topeka for good when they relocated to Atlanta around 1977. But internal pressures, exacerbated by the slaughter in the press, took their toll. Even today, we still dont quite fit in, Ehart said in the interview with Pareles. People are behind us and really with us and everything, but some still cant figure out this group. Its still, Whats the deal? Theyre American, but they dont play like Americans and dont act European either. Nobody knows why it sounds that way. Walsh almost quit during the making of Point of Know Return, but the record fared even better than Leftoverture and firmly established the band in the annals of Seventies rock. It reached number four, and two singles, Point of Know Return and Dust in the Wind did extremely well. The latter, a morbid acoustic number, became one of the most popular youth-culture anthems of the era, perennially voted to serve as the graduation song for high school seniors and even serving as a requiem at funerals for tragic teen fatalities.

In 1978, Kansas released a live LP, Two for the Show, and continued to tour heavily. Live, their sound was impressive, as even Pareles conceded. He described it as a hurtling steeplechase of grandiose riffs and high-powered choruses leaping past sudden breaks and rapid-fire interpolations. The set is virtually relentless. The bands seventh record, Monolith, was the first one that they produced themselves, but its singles were not as memorable as the previous records releases. Walsh made a solo album, Schemer-Dreamer, that came out at the end of that year, and Livgren followed with Seeds of Change in 1980. Walsh left the band in 1981, dissatisfied with the direction it had taken with its 1980 LP, Audio Visions. Like Monolith, Audio Visions went gold, but no hit singles emerged from it. John Elefante replaced Walsh on vocals and keyboards, and Kansas recorded Vinyl Confessions in 1982. One of its tracks, Play the Game Tonight, reached the top twenty, but after dismal sales for 1983s Drastic Measures, the group officially disbanded.

Meanwhile, both Livgren and Hope had become born-again Christians with a band called AD, which, like Walshs solo ensemble Streets, failed to lure fans. Ehart, Williams and Walsh reformed Kansas for its third incarnation in 1986, adding Steve Morse, a jazz-fusion guitarist. They recorded Power that same year, which yielded the groups last top twenty single, All I Wanted. A 1988 release, In the Spirit of Things, sank, and seven years separated that record with Freaks of Nature. Livgren, still nominally a Kansas member, appeared on Somewhere to Elsewhere, a 2000 effort for their new Epic/Legacy label home. Greatest-hits compilations on CD have done surprisingly well. Fortune writer Jeff Gordinier reviewed The Best of Kansas in 1999, and noted that while some of the tracks seem pretty sillyespecially those Byzantine violin solos its shocking how many of the songs have aged well.

Selected discography

Kansas, Kirshner Records, 1974.

Song for America, Kirshner Records, 1975.

Masque, Kirshner Records, 1975.

Leftoverture, Kirshner Records, 1976.

Point of Know Return, Kirshner Records, 1977.

Two for the Show (live), Kirshner Records, 1978.

Monolith, Kirshner Records, 1979.

Audio Visions, Kirshner Records, 1980.

Vinyl Confessions, Kirshner Records, 1982.

Drastic Measures, CBS Associated, 1983.

The Best of Kansas, CBS Associated, 1984.

Poller, CBS Associated, 1986.

In the Spirit of Things, CBS Associated, 1988.

Live at the Whiskey, CBS Associated, 1992.

Freaks of Nature, CBS Associated, 1995.

The Best of Kansas, Epic/Legacy, 1999.

Somewhere to Elsewhere, Epic/Legacy, 2000.


Amusement Business, January 28, 1989, p. 5.

Fortune, May 24, 1999, p. 72.

Melody Maker, February 25, 1978.

Rolling Stone, March 10, 1977, p. 26; August 23, 1979, p. 9.

Carol Brennan

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Kansas •Malthus •acanthus, agapanthus, clianthus, dianthus, helianthus, polyanthus •Hyacinthus • Aegisthus • traverse •canvas, canvass •Selvas • grievous • mischievous •redivivus • fulvous • nervous •Peleus, rebellious •Kansas • Jesus

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