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The 34th state in the United States, Kansas, began with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They camped for several days in present-day Kansas City, at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers in 1804. And when Zebulon Pike named Kansas “the Great American Desert” on his maps when he passed through it. It became part of the Missouri Territory for a bit. In 1821, the Santa Fe Trail was established, giving a pathway from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Missouri, going right through Kansas, and part of that trail, as it went through Kansas, was traveled by people on the Oregon Trail. Hence, Kansas became an important way stop for food as well as outfitting. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 which opened both territories up to settlers, left it up to the settlers whether they would be admitted to the Union as slave states or free states, which repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which said that there would be no slave states north of the 36th parallel admitted into the Union. Within days of the Act passing, hundreds of pro-slavery Missourians moved into Kansas and chose an area of land. They then united with others during meetings with the goal of influencing the vote for slavery. In response, the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company sent anti-slavery settlers, who were called “Free-Staters,” into the state. Those Free-Staters were joined by like-minded people from Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio and founded Topeka, Lawrence, and Manhattan. On March 30, 1855, when the state legislature was elected, Missourians who had come across the border stuffed the ballot boxes in favor of pro slavery candidates, and those candidates won at all of the districts except one. Massive violence was the order of the day until 1858, which is how the state became known as “Bleeding Kansas”.


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