Immigration.The United States census of 1860 showed the population of Kansas to be 107,206. Early the following year the state was admitted into the Union with a population of less than two persons to the square mile. Almost immediately came the great Civil war, which for four years overshadowed everything else. The people and authorities of Kansas felt the need of increasing the population with an intelligent and industrious citizenship for the development of the state's vast and varied resources. In his message to the legislature in Jan., 1864, Gov. Carney said:
"The subject of immigration is one which attracts the attention of the whole country. Near 200,000 of the young men of the republic sleep in the soldier's grave, or are disabled for life, and a million of kindred spirits are in the field. This drain upon the labor of the country taxes it heavily, and will tax it still more, unless we supply it with alien labor. The president of the United States, in his annual message, foreseeing this result, urges upon Congress the policy of facilitating, by every means in its power, a rapid immigration, and the secretary of state, anxious to ward off its consequences, has sent a special agent to Europe to stimulate it. Every western state, acting upon this theory, has its bureau of immigration, or its agents abroad, laboring especially for their interests. . . . These are plain and simple facts but plain and simple as they are, none more important could be brought to your attention. You will weigh them and weigh them well, and after doing so, will determine which is the best course to pursue, or the wisest policy to adopt. Whether you will establish a bureau of foreign immigration, or send commissioners abroad or do both. I am so convinced of the necessity of prompt, systematic and thorough action, that I would gladly coöperate with you in any practical measure you may adopt."
In response to this message, the legislature passed an act, which was approved by Gov. Carney on Feb. 26, 1864, "to establish a bureau of immigration and appoint agents therefor." By the provisions of the act the governor was authorized to appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, two commissioners, who, with himself, should constitute the bureau of immigration. The bureau was given power to appoint one or more agents to visit Europe for the purpose of encouraging and directing immigration to the state; to make contracts with railroad and packet companies for the purpose of securing a low rate of fare to immigrants, and to perform such other duties as might be necessary to secure the ends aimed at in the act. The higher educational institutions of the state were directed to preserve a meteorological record and other scientific facts, which were to be forwarded to the bureau for publication. An appropriation of $5,000 was made to carry out these provisions, and the bureau was directed to try to effect the organization of county immigration societies to coöperate with it.
The Congress of 1864 passed an act organizing a national bureau of immigration in the department of agriculture. Agents were sent abroad or stationed at all the leading coast cities of the United States. In his message to the legislature in Jan., 1865, Gov. Crawford recommended that the law of 1864 "be so amended as to provide simply for a Kansas state agent in the city of New York, whose duty it should, in part, be to visit the principal cities of the Union, and make such arrangements with the railroad and steamboat companies as will lessen the rate of fare, and otherwise facilitate the passage of emigrants to Kansas."
The general assembly failed to adopt the governor's advice, and, in fact, no legislation supplementary to the act of 1864 was enacted until 1870. Immediately after the close of the Civil war there was a tide of immigration to Kansas, many of the newcomers being discharged soldiers seeking to establish homesteads in the West. In the spring of 1868 Rev. S. C. Larsen, a Swedish minister, visited Kansas with a view to locating some of his countrymen in the state. Adjt.-Gen. McAfee, in his report at the close of that year, said: "The great famine in Sweden has been causing tens of thousands to immigrate to this country; a great portion of them might, with proper effort, be secured to this state. Large purchases have already been made in Republic, Jewell, Cloud, Mitchell, Ottawa, Lincoln, Saline and McPherson counties." (See Swedish Settlements.)
In his message to the legislature of 1869 Gov. Harvey complained that the general assembly had "persistently refused to appropriate any money to induce immigration, throwing the burden upon those public spirited citizens, who, together with the governors, have constituted the board of immigration." He recommended that the legislature "at least make provision for the compilation, publication and dissemination of a large number of pamphlets in the English, German and Scandinavian languages, showing the advantages and resources of the state," but again the legislature declined to make any appropriation. The following year he again called attention to the subject and mentioned the fact that railroad companies, auxiliary organizations and enterprising real estate firms were doing good work, while the state sat idly by and did nothing. Gov. Harvey joined with other governors in calling an immigration convention at Indianapolis, Ind., Nov. 23, 1870, and in 1871 he submitted a report of this convention to the legislature, which provided for the preparation and publication of some pamphlets. These were distributed by the governor.
In Aug., 1873, the Catholic Publication Society of New York issued a book on "Irish Emigration to the United States," which gave a good description of Kansas. About that time the military laws of Russia drove many of the inhabitants of that country to the United States. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad company had about 3,000,000 acres of land which it desired to dispose of to settlers. A. F. Touzalin, general passenger agent and land commissioner of the company, and Carl B. Schmidt, immigration agent, succeeded in attracting some of these Russian immigrants to Kansas. Mr. Schmidt conducted a party of them to the vicinity of Great Bend and Larned, and A. Rodelheimer, of the Kansas (now Union) Pacific, showed them lands in Rush, ElIsworth and Ellis counties. A large Russian settlement was planted in Ellis county.
The Centennial exposition at Philadelphia in 1876 was of great benefit in stimulating immigration to the state. In presenting this matter to the legislature of 1877, Gov. Anthony announced that fetters of inquiry were coming in by scores and that colonies had already been located in various sections of the state. In Jan., 1878, a German immigration convention was held in Topeka, and the same year the "Kansas Hand Book" was issued by J. S. Boughton. The year 1878 witnessed the largest influx of settlers of any year in the history of the state up to that time. Concerning this tide of immigration the Atchison Champion said: "By every railroad train and along every highway leading to Kansas, immigrants are pouring into the state. It is an immense immigration that is now pouring into and over Kansasthe largest known for at least four years. And it is swelling in volume every week, and bids fair to continue for a year or more to come."
By 1880 the population of the state had reached almost to the million mark, and the subject of immigration dropped to a position of secondary importance. Since that time the railroad companies, land companies, commercial clubs and business men's associations have been somewhat active in advertising their respective localities, but the state has passed no additional laws for the promotion of immigration.Pages 895-898 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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