History of Kansas – the 34th State of the Union
The U.S. State of Kansas (KS) was admitted as the 34th state of the union on January 29th, 1861. Like much of North America at the time, and specifically the mid-western region, several indigenous Native American tribes inhabited the area of modern-day KS for thousands of years. The first Europeans to make contact with the tribes living in the region were the Spanish. Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado explored the area in the mid-1500s. Still, settlements weren’t established until the early 1800s, when the first European Americans began moving into the territory following the Louisiana Purchase, which included most of KS.
The entire land comprising modern-day KS did not become the property of the United States until after the Mexican American War in the mid-1800s when the Spanish ceded territory to the United States as a condition of their loss in the war. KS was formally recognized as an official territory under the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854, with its admission to statehood following shortly after in 1861.
Currently, Kansas is the 15th largest among the 50 states in terms of area and the 34th most populous. The state capital of Topeka is located in the northeastern region of Kansas. As of the 2010 census conducted by the United States Census Bureau, Topeka has 127,473. Although it stands as the capital, Topeka is not the largest or most popular city in the state. Wichita nearly doubles the population of Topeka and serves as the largest city in Kansas by both area and population. As of a 2014 estimation by the United States Census Bureau, Wichita is home to 388,143 people, with the full metropolitan area inhabiting over 600,000 people. In addition, Wichita is host to one of the nation’s largest aircraft manufacturing centers.
Kansas has built a name for itself through its extensive agricultural output over the years, with its main exports being grain, wheat, sorghum, cotton, cattle, and sheep, among others. In addition, Kansas has significant stock in petroleum and oil production, ranking eighth in the nation in both industries, respectively. Some of the largest employers in the state are the aviation industry, the telecommunications industry, and the automobile manufacturing industry.
Throughout the years, KS has appeared as a home and an inspiration for musicians and literature writers. For example, the rock band by the same name formed in Topeka in the 1970s, and the main character in The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, is written to be from Kansas with the famous line, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Although lacking in professional sports programs, KS is home to several Division I NCAA colleges. The University of Kansas and Kansas State University field some of the most popular collegiate sports programs in the nation and Wichita State University.
Kansas has been a staple of the traditional conservatism most associate with the Republican Party. Both of its federal representatives in the United States Senate are Republicans and the four representatives in the United States House of Representatives. Kansas has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in nearly a century.