Gov. Brownback announces top 12 notable Kansas events
As part of the state’s commemoration of the Kansas sesquicentennial, Governor Sam Brownback announced the top 12 Notable Kansas Events Jan. 24 at the Topeka High School Media Center. Students from Topeka High assisted the Governor in announcing the top 12 events.
“Our state has been at the forefront of national movements since its founding 151 years ago. This year, we marked our state’s sesquicentennial by honoring the Top 25 Kansans in history, holding a cattle drive through our state’s largest city, wearing period clothing, and singing ‘Home on the Range’—hundreds of times,” Gov. Brownback said. “It’s a fitting end to the year of celebrating our history to recognize the 12 events in Kansas history that most impacted the nation and the world.”
Selected by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel for History, the 12 events are (in chronological order):
Overland Trails: On September 1, 1821, the first party left Missouri headed for Mexico on the Santa Fe Trail. This event was the official opening of the Santa Fe Trail. Overland trails helped the nation expand to new territories and initiate trade with neighboring countries.
Indian Removal: On November 4, 1838, the Pottawatomie Trail of Death ended in Kansas. Under the Indian Removal Act, 859 Pottawatomie people were forced to walk more than 600 miles to Kansas. As many as 90 different tribes were removed to Kansas in the mid-19th century, and hundreds of native people lost their lives during their first few years here.
Kansas-Nebraska Act: On May 30, 1854, U.S. President Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act into law. The act created the Kansas Territory which became a battleground for proslavery and antislavery forces known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
Railroad Development: On February 11, 1859, the Kansas Territorial Legislature chartered the Santa Fe Railway and helped launch railroad development in the state. Railroads brought jobs and settlers to the state and influenced town development. Services such as restaurants, hotels, grain elevators, and general stores sprung up close to the rail line.
Women’s Rights: On July 5, 1859, discussions and debates of the Wyandotte constitution included women’s rights. Provisions regarding child custody, property rights for married women, and equality in matters pertaining to public schools were included in the final draft of the state constitution approved by voters in Kansas Territory and Congress. This placed Kansas ahead of most other states in terms of women’s rights and set a course for future advancements.
Wheat Industry: On March 5, 1862, the Kansas Legislature formed the Kansas Agricultural Society. This organization would later become the State Department of Agriculture, and it vigorously promoted Kansas to prospective settlers, including Volga German farmers with agricultural skills. Just a few years after successfully recruiting these immigrants to Kansas, the state surpassed other states in the production of winter wheat.
Cattle Drives: On September 5, 1867, the first load of cattle to be shipped via rail left Kansas. This positioned Kansas as a leader in the beef industry; first as the place where Texas cattle were driven to be shipped to the East, then as a producer of quality beef from shorthorn cattle and Herefords.
Reform Movements: On January 1, 1881, Kansas adopted prohibition as part of the state’s constitution. Alcohol consumption was just one of the many health and safety concerns that reformers campaigned against. Others, such as the public drinking cup, child labor, and flies, were addressed first in Kansas and led the way to national change.
Aviation Industry: On January 26, 1925, the Travel Air Manufacturing Company was established. Aviation innovators Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech, and Lloyd Stearman partnered to create this company and later went on to form their own aviation manufacturing operations, making Kansas the “Air Capital of the World.”
Dust Bowl: On April 14, 1935, a massive front darkened the entire Midwest in clouds of dust. The day became known as Black Sunday. Drought conditions, overgrazing, and large portions of cultivated land led to the Dust Bowl in the Midwest. Although these storms had devastating effects, they led to soil conservation movements such as planted windbreaks and strip and contour farming.
Rural Electrification: On April 1, 1938, rural electrification reached Kansas. Electricity allowed farmers and families to take advantage of modern conveniences and increase productivity. Rural farmers were able to compete with their urban counterparts and rural schools also benefited from the service.
Brown v. Board of Education: On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its unanimous ruling on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. This landmark decision laid a foundation of equal rights and opportunities for all. It demonstrated that educational opportunity and achievement are core values. It also recognized that education can be a great equalizer among people of different races, classes, and backgrounds.
The blue ribbon panel for history is comprised of: Don Chubb, Topeka; Dr. Virgil Dean, Kansas Historical Society; Gayle Garrelts, Hays; Dr. James Hoy, Emporia State University; Bob Keckeisen, Kansas Historical Society; Nathan McAlister, Royal Valley High School; Dr. Leo Oliva, Woodston; Mary Regan, Finney County Historical Society; J. Schafer, Kansas Public Radio; Dr. James Shortridge, University of Kansas; and Dr. Raymond Wilson, Fort Hays State University.
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