Kansas Statehood

(Frank) And again, we’re back. Aren’t you happy? (Deb) -Laughs- Lord knows I am. (Frank) Well, we’re talking about Kansas because Kansas Day is coming up. And the “ad astra per aspera” of course means, “to the stars through difficulties.” And my story is going to be about Kansas. (Deb) The difficulties. (Frank) The difficulties. Because people think well, the Civil War started when Fort Sumpter got fired on and all that. Well, the Civil War really started in the 1850s between Kansas and Missouri. (Deb) I’m so proud of you Frank. I’m so proud of you. (Frank) It really did. Kansas was known as Bleeding Kansas. That’s when the Jayhawkers and the Border Ruffians, they were constantly fighting and clashing and… (Deb) High times. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) The old Chinese curse, may you be blessed to live in interesting times. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Well, they were really interesting times. (Frank) And then of course, Kansas came in as a free state and that was really the thing that finally sparked the fuse. (Deb) Yea. (Frank) And a lot of people think really? Yes. (Deb) Well, when I was back in Pennsylvania over New Year’s honoring General Meade, who won the battle of Gettysburg, and one of the reenactors at the celebration was Abraham Lincoln. And it’s really interesting because Lincoln, you know who now is this great, iconic figure, this person who freed the slaves, who kept the nation together was the most divisive president we have ever had. You know, we all have said during one election or another, so and so’s elected, I’m leaving the country. Lincoln was elected and half the country left. (Frank) Half the country left. (Deb) That’s what succession was, they left. They’re like, we’re not part of it anymore. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) So, it was divisive. And so Kansas is at the heart of that whole story. So, it’s yea, we’ve got a wonderful place in history. And this next piece is a really interesting side to that. (Frank) To the stars, through difficulties. After its being opened as a Territory in 1854, there was no doubt that Kansas would one day be a state. What kind of state was always the issue, and seven years of fighting on the Missouri border earned the designation, Bloody Kansas. At last, the bill for statehood passed Congress and on January 29, 1861, the territory joined the not-so-united states just as Southern states began pulling out. While there was much relief and celebration at the news, there is another side of the story. The Leavenworth Herald, took a momentarily realistic view of admission in its issue of January 30. The paper reported that those celebrating were mostly state office holders who would be drawing salaries from the new government. It was estimated that the cost of statehood was about $400,000 the first year, money that would have to be raised through taxes. The Herald compared the situation to the man who bought the elephant and spent all he had just feeling the animal. But, the Herald concluded, the thing is done, and “it is useless to worry over spilled milk.” So, as joyous as statehood was, the reality of increased taxes was on the minds of many Kansans. I guess some things haven’t changed in 155 years.

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