Capital.In the establishment of civil government in a new territory or state, one of the early questions to come up for consideration and settlement is the location of the seat of government. Kansas became an organized territory by the act of May 30, 1854, which designated Fort Leavenworth as the temporary seat of government, and provided that some of the public buildings there might be used as territorial offices. Gov. Reeder, the first territorial governor, assumed the duties of the office early in Oct., 1854, but soon became dissatisfied with the quarters and offices provided for him at the fort, and on Nov. 24 he removed the executive office to the Shawnee Methodist Indian mission, about a mile from the Missouri line and less than 3 miles southwest of the town of Westport, Mo. At that time the mission buildings were the best and most commodious in the territory.
Acting under the authority conferred upon him by the organic act, Gov. Reeder called the first territorial legislature to meet at Pawneenear Fort Rileyon July 2, 1855, and on June 27 the governor removed his office to that place. The legislature soon became dissatisfied with the accommodations at Pawnee and adjourned to the Shawnee mission, where Judge Franklin G. Adams says the executive office was reëstablished on July 12. (See Reeder's Administration.)
On Aug. 8, 1855, the two branches of the legislature met in joint session to vote on the question of locating the permanent seat of government. The competitors for the honor were Leavenworth, Lawrence, Tecumseh, St. Bernard (in the northern part of Franklin county near the present village of Centropolis), White Head, Kickapoo, Lecompton, Douglass and One Hundred and Ten. Three ballots were taken, the last one resulting as follows: Lecompton, 25; St. Bernard, 11; Tecumseh, 2; all the others having dropped out of the race. F. J. Marshall, H. D. McMeekin and Thomas Johnson were appointed commissioners to select the grounds at Lecompton upon which were to be erected suitable buildings for the governor and legislature. (See Capitol.) The first records dated at Lecompton as the capital were the executive minutes of Gov. Shannon on April 20, 1856.
A special session of the legislature was held at Lecompton in Dec., 1857. This was the third territorial legislature, and the first one controlled by the free-state men. When it met again in regular session on Jan. 4, 1858, considerable dissatisfaction was manifested toward Lecompton, and on the second day of the session adjourned to Lawrence, which became practically the capital of the territory, as the governor maintained his office there during the session. This legislature passed an act providing for the removal of the capital to Minneola, in the northern part of Franklin county, a little east of Centropolis. Railroad companies were chartered to build lines which would center at Minneola, and members of the legislature were financially interested in building up the town. The governor vetoed the act, but it was passed over his veto. Subsequently the attorney-general of the United States declared the act in violation of the organic law and therefore null. This ended the attempts to remove the territorial seat of government from Lecompton.
In the meantime the free-state men had adopted a constitution, elected state officers, and designated Topeka as the capital of the territory. But as this action was not authorized by any act of Congress the national administration declined to recognize the constitution or the seat of government thus established.
The legislature of 1859 met at Lecompton on Jan. 3, and on the 5th adjourned to meet at Lawrence on the 7th. The legislature of 1860 also voted to adjourn to Lawrence, which action was vetoed by Gov. Medary, but the resolution was passed over the veto and the session was held at Lawrence, the governor remaining at Lecompton. The last territorial legislature was convened at Lecompton on Jan. 7, 1861, and the next day removed to Lawrence, where it continued in session until Feb. 2. A week later the state government was inaugurated.
The Wyandotte constitution, under which Kansas was admitted to statehood, designated Topeka as the temporary seat of government, but provided that "The first legislature under this constitution shall provide by law for submitting the question of the permanent location of the capital to a popular vote, and a majority of all the votes cast at some general election shall be necessary for such location."
Pursuant to this constitutional requirement, the first state legislature, which met on March 26, 1861, passed an act ordering the question to be submitted to the people at the general election on the 5th of the following November. The statement has been repeatedly published that at the election Topeka received 7,996 votes; Lawrence, 5,291; all other places, 1,184. But in 1910 Secretary Martin of the State Historical Society found the certificate of the board of commissionersJoseph P. Root, John W. Robinson and Samuel A. Stinsonwho canvassed the returns. This certificate gives the result in detail, as follows: Topeka, 7,859 votes; Lawrence, 3,334; Baldwin City, 400; Sac and Fox Agency, 184; Emporia, 158; Manhattan, 100; Leavenworth, 95; Lecompton, 39. Burlingame, 28; Clinton, 25; Ogden, 21; Junction City, 20; Mapleton, 15; Council Grove, 12; Shawnee, 9; Paola, 7; Greenwood, 6; Osawatomie, 5; Ash Point, Indianapolis and West Point, 4 each; Ashland, Big Springs, Neosho Rapids and Wabaunsee, 3 each, Clifton, Delaware, Kickapoo, Marion, Minneola, Superior and Whisky Point, 2 each; Bennett's Station, Geary City, Hendricks Creek, Fort Scott, Plymouth, Junction, Olathe, Spring Hill, Mansfield, Mound City, Potosi, Stanton, Wyner, Rodgersville, Minomae, Marysville and Tecumseh each received one vote. Topeka had a clear majority of 1,604 over all competitors, and the question of a permanent capital was settled.
The above figures are interesting as showing the aspirations of some of the embryo cities of Kansas half a century ago. Some of these places that then put forward their ambitions are now nothing more than a name and a memory, while others, without the influence and prestige of being the state capitol, have gone steadily forward and have become cities of considerable size and importance in the industry and commerce of the state. The legislature of 1862 accepted from the Topeka Association a grant of 20 acres of land for a statehouse, thus indorsing the action of the people in selecting that city as the permanent seat of government. (See Capitol.)Pages 281-283 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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