Historical Kansas

      When Kansas territory was opened for white settlement on May 30, 1854, a bitter contest developed over the slavery question. Established the following December, Topeka, 25 miles ahead favored the Free-State cause even though the territorial government was at first Pro-slavery. Rebelling Free Staters attempted to set up a rival legislature in Topeka in 1856. Acting for President Franklin Pierce came Col. E. V. Sumner with five companies of U.S. dragoons and two cannons specially loaded for legislators. Lawmakers understood the message and adjourned reluctantly, but Topeka got even. When the city named its first streets for Presidents, Pierce was omitted.
      Free Staters eventually won out and Kansas became a state January 29, 1861, with Topeka the capital. The Statehouse, started in 1866, was completed in 1903. Topeka is known throughout the world for the contributions of the Menninger Foundation to mental health. South of the city the Topeka Army Air Field (later Forbes Air Force Base) was a processing center in World War II for B-17, B-24 and B-29 aircraft and crews. From a few miles west of Topeka to Lawrence, I-70 generally follows a main route of the Oregon-California trail, traveled from the 1830's to 1860 by thousands of emigrants, in hundreds of wagon trains.
Erected by Kansas State Historical Society and State Highway Commission
Marker text sent by Robert Walter, Pittsburg, KS
Wabaunsee County  
Wabaunsee Rest Area
Eastbound I-70
Wabaunsee County

January 31, 2001 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas / history@kslib.info

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