1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Preface

This is an attempt to commence at the beginning and continue to the end in writing a history of Kansas. There has never before been an effort to elaborate the pre-Territorial events in the history of the State. The reaction on Kansas of the political conditions developed in Missouri up to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act has never before been discussed in the annals of Kansas. A careful study of events will show that the destiny of Kansas was closely bound up with the political developments in Missouri for a period of nearly half a century. Many of the transactions of early times are here first brought into their proper relations in a narrative history of Kansas. Some of these are proper relations in a narrative history of Kansas. Some of these are the accounts of Quivira, of Louisiana, of the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails, of the Overland commerce, of the unique Indian occupancy and the extinguishment of the primal title to the soil, of the Missouri Compromise and its repeal, and of the Provisional Government of Nebraska Territory. There are others which will reveal themselves to the student in even a cursory review. While most of these subjects have been in a way touched upon by writers - and a few of them in an exhaustive manner - they have not been before built into the structure of Kansas history.

One of the features of this work which will be hailed with satisfaction by students will be found in the Magoffin Papers. The history of Doniphan's Expedition, and consequently, that of New Mexico, have not heretofore been capable of a full elaboration. These papers complete the record and render the explanation of the conquest of New Mexico through Kansas simple and satisfactory. They afford new light on the War with Mexico. These invaluable documents were secured from the War Department in May, 1910, after years of persistent, and, often, discouraging effort by this author - no other student having been to that time able to obtain copies of them. So far as now known, the copies herein published are the sole and only copies ever made.

In the matter of Coronado, while there are no end to the books on that subject, some of them exhaustive in character, it is maintained that this is the first attempt to make any dispassionate effort to determine the location of Quivira. This subject has not before been considered to any appreciable extent in the unprejudiced way with the Indian occupancy of Kansas of that time. The territorial possessions of the Caddoan linguistic family of North American Indians have not before had proper attention from students. This is the key to the Coronado problem. The Kansas Indians have heretofore been credited in the time of Coronado, with too great an area of what is now Kansas. In the Coronado era they possessed but an insignificant portion of the State. Their importance in this relation has always been exaggerated. Their connection with the plains country at that time was comparatively unimportant.

But the Kansas Indians gave their name to our principal river; and, through it, they gave us the name of our State. And the significance of that name is forever bound up with the mysticism of their conceptions of a supreme being and their relations to him. The name - Kansas - refers, without possibility of doubt, to the Wind, the South Wind, and perhaps to the Breath of Life. That it is pure Indian in its origin and its application, there is no question.

An effort has been made herein to point out the national aspects of Kansas history. Kansas had her inception in national achievement. In pre-Territorial and Territorial periods the history of Kansas is wholly of national import. The great movements of American life have touched Kansas, and have been touched by Kansas. In colonial times, in the struggle for independence, in the conquest of the Mississippi Valley, in the battle against slavery, in the Civil war, in the stand for social betterment, Kansas, under some name and in some form and in some way has borne a part and exerted an influence. Her historians have been too prone to treat her history as a series of local influence. Her historians have been too prone to treat her history as a series of local annals and detached events without logical connection with American progress. It is to be hoped that the fertile field of Kansas nationality will be given suitable attention in the future. For in this direction lies here principal glory. Her influence on American life will be found to have been vital, far-reaching, fundamental. And if the highest traditions of Kansas are but kept in mind and insisted on by Kansas in the future this national dominance and leadership will be maintained to the permanent benefit of America - and mankind.

In every country certain interests always endeavor to distort history. selfishness lies at the root of such efforts. And jealousy - often malice - bears a hand. Kansas has not escaped this fate. The statement of the most elemental historical facts has subjected writers to unmeasured villification and abuse from these inimical sources. Here, what the record shows to be true is set down without fear or favor.

Special attention is called to the article on Prohibition, under the administration of Governor St. John. It is the first attempt, strange as the fact is, in this great pioneer prohibition by Kansas. And well-worked-out study of the adoption of prohibition by Kansas. And a careful perusal of it will doubtless convince the most skeptical that Kansas has permanently suppressed the liquor traffic within her borders. And more - she is leading in example and by agitation in the struggle for national prohibition. This article will prove particularly welcome to those interested in the great moral forces of the Union.

It is strange that it should fall to the lot of this history to carry the first effort to analyze the political cataclysm known in Kansas as the Populist Uprising. For that political revolution had its inception here soon after the close of the Civil war. It should have found a chronicler many years ago. Perhaps the memory of it was so fresh in the minds of the people that it was believed a written account would prove superfluous. The discussion presented here is a splendid one - scholarly and exhaustive. Every phase of th subject is treated with a keen insight into causes and results that is surprising and gratifying. The economic sources of unrest which brought the people to political rebellion are handled in a masterly manner. That article is a valuable contribution to literature, as well as to history. The emotional elements underlying all great reforms are revealed. The article is a classic, and it will live as long as mankind rises against oppression to battle for liberty.

The number of quotations given in this History of Kansas requires perhaps, a word of explanation. They are not put in for the purpose of "padding" to reach a given size for the history of Kansas. The contract with the publishers called for a minimum of 300,000 words. The author could have furnished that number and have complied with his contract by so doing. But he knew that the work could not even approach completion with so small a volume. He supplied more than 900,000 words for the History of Kansas contained in the first two volumes - more than three times as many as the contract called for. The author was constrained to furnish these quotations from the old and rare authorities on the history of Kansas for more than one reason. These first books on Kansas history are now exceedingly scarce and difficult to secure. Many of the libraries even of Kansas do not have them. It will prove a blessing to these libraries if many of the essential first documents are made available through this medium. Students will find them set out here in their proper order, a convenience they will doubtless appreciate. And these original documents will enable them to form their conclusions from the first and best sources.

No one can ever be more conscious of the imperfections of this work than is the author. The history of Kansas, to be complete, can not be confined to the narrow bounds of two volumes. Adequately treated, there should be ten, and then there would be not dreary page. For there is no other history like Kansas history - it is an inspriration. But with whatever faults the book is burdened, it will be the model for the future historian by which to write the complete history of Kansas. It is on correct historical lines, and it is hoped that its mission and its aims will be found what the author intended - truth fearlessly told and justice served.

A few words regarding the biographical section, which was emphasized in the original prospectus. In that section are found the names, portraits and accounts of a great number of the people of the state. Preserving the records of families is at least as worth while as keeping record of live stock. These biographies also have a great value in interpreting the broader movements described in the general history. The truth is, biography is a most important portion of any historical effort. In the great drama of history, all play is a part - more or less important - more or less significant. some are the mere settings of the stage. Some play an insignificant part. But others - the strong men in a community or state - those who labor and achieve - these are the men who really possess and preserve the genius of a people and perpetuate to ultimate destiny the real trend of a commonwealth's progress. The combined stories of the lives of these men create and constitute, in the main, true history. They furnish a standard by which can be computed the results of combined effort in the upbuilding of states and nations.

WILLIAM ELSEY CONNELLEY.
Library Kansas State Historical Society,
Memorial Building, Topeka, December 21, 1916.

1918 Kansas and Kansans Next Section


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.

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