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State of Kansas
Flag of Kansas State seal of Kansas
Flag Seal
The Sunflower State (official);
The Wheat State [1]
The Jayhawker State [1]
The Free State [2]
Motto(s): Ad astra per aspera (Latin for To the stars through difficulties)
State song(s): "Home on the Range"
Map of the United States with Kansas highlighted
Official languageEnglish[3]
Largest cityWichita
Largest metroKansas portion of Kansas City, Missouri metropolitan area
AreaRanked 15th
 • Total82,278[4] sq mi
(213,100 km2)
 • Width410[5] miles (660 km)
 • Length213[5] miles (343 km)
 • % water0.6[6]
 • Latitude37° N to 40° N
 • Longitude94° 35′ W to 102° 3′ W
PopulationRanked 35th
 • Total2,911,505 (2018)
 • Density34.9/sq mi  (13.5/km2)
Ranked 40th
 • Median household income$56,422[7] (31st[8])
 • Highest pointMount Sunflower[9][10]
4,041 ft (1232 m)
 • Mean2,000 ft  (610 m)
 • Lowest pointVerdigris River at Oklahoma border[9][10]
679 ft (207 m)
Before statehoodKansas Territory
Admission to UnionJanuary 29, 1861
Kansas Day (34th)
GovernorLaura Kelly (D)
Lieutenant GovernorLynn Rogers (D)
LegislatureKansas Legislature
 • Upper houseSenate
 • Lower houseHouse of Representatives
U.S. SenatorsPat Roberts (R)
Jerry Moran (R)
U.S. House delegation1: Roger Marshall (R)
2: Steve Watkins (R)
3: Sharice Davids (D)
4: Ron Estes (R) (list)
Time zones 
 • Majority of stateCentral: UTC −6/−5
 • Greeley, Hamilton, Sherman, and Wallace countiesMountain: UTC −7/−6
AbbreviationsKS, Kan., Kans.
Kansas state symbols
Flag of Kansas.svg
Seal of Kansas.svg
Living insignia
AmphibianBarred tiger salamander
BirdWestern meadowlark
FlowerWild sunflower
GrassLittle bluestem
InsectWestern honey bee
MammalAmerican bison
ReptileOrnate box turtle
TreePlains cottonwood
Inanimate insignia
SoilHarney silt loam (unofficial)
State route marker
Kansas state route marker
State quarter
Kansas quarter dollar coin
Released in 2005
Lists of United States state symbols

Kansas (pronounced /kăn'zəs/)[11] is a state in the Midwestern United States of America. Kansas has a total population of 2.9 million, with an area of 82,000 sq mi (212,379 km2), making Kansas the 34th largest state by population and the 15th largest state by area. The name of the state comes from the Kansa Native Americans, whose name comes from a Siouan-language phrase meaning "people of the south wind".[12] The land that would become Kansas was bought in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Kansas became the 34th state to be admitted to the United States on January 29, 1861. Kansas' capital is Topeka, and its largest city is Wichita.

Kansas is in a region known as America's Breadbasket. Like other states in this area, Kansas is a large producer of wheat and other grains, producing one-fifth of all wheat grown in the United States.[13] In addition to wheat, Kansas produces large amounts of grain sorghum, summer potatoes, and sunflowers,[14] with other industries in Kansas including aviation and communications.

The terrain of Kansas consists of prairies and forests. All of Kansas is in the Great Plains.

History[change | change source]

Early history[change | change source]

In 1539, Marcos de Niza, a friar,[15] reported rumors of Cíbola, a city of gold, to Spanish colonial officials in Mexico City. Niza said the city was in modern-day New Mexico.[16] In response to the rumors, two years later, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado,with an army of 3000 Spaniards and 8001 Mexicans, marched northward from Culiacán in hopes of finding the city.When Coronado did not find the city in New Mexico, he continued northeast into the Mississippi Valley, crossing the present area of Kansas diagonally. This made Conrado and his army the first Europeans to see the Great Plains, including Kansas.[17] Later, Juan de Oñate also traveled to Kansas in 1601.[15]

In 1682, Marquette, Joliet, Hennepin and other French leaders took formal control of the Mississippi Valley, including the land that would become Kansas. This land, known as the Louisiana territory, was used to organize trade with Native Americans. In 1762, France ceded the Louisiana territory to Spain. However, in 1801, Spain receded the territory back to France in the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso.[15] On April 30, 1803, Napoleon sold the Louisiana territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.[15][18][19] In the early 1800s, Kansas was used to hold Native Americans that were removed from their native lands.[20]

Statehood[change | change source]

On May 30, 1854, the Congress signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Kansas-Nebraska Act stated that Kansas and Nebraska were both territories of the United States.[21][22] It also stated that Kansans would vote on the legality of slavery.[23]

Upon hearing this, about 1,200 armed New Englanders came to Kansas to vote against slavery. However, thousands of southerners, mostly from Missouri, came to vote for slavery.[23] The final vote was to make slavery legal, and Kansas adopted most of Missouri's slave laws. There was fighting between Southerners and Northerners in Kansas. In one fight, John Brown and his men killed five people in the Pottawatomie Massacre. Later, Southerners destroyed Lawrence, Kansas. Kansas was called "Bleeding Kansas".

Between 1854 and 1861, Kansas proposed four state constitutions. Out of the four proposed constitutions, three did not allow slavery.[24] Finally, in July 1859, Kansas passed the Wyandotte Constitution, which was anti-slavery.[25][26] The constitution for statehood was sent to the U.S. government in April 1860 to be voted on. The constitution was passed by the House of Representatives, but rejected by the Senate.[27] This is because southern voters in the Senate did not like that Kansas would become a state without slavery. In 1861, after the Confederate states formed, the constitution gained approval from the Union, and Kansas became a state.[20][23][27][28]

Kansas in the Civil War[change | change source]

The Lawrence Massacre on August 21, 1863

Four months after Kansas became a state, the Civil War started.[29] Out of the 381 battles in the Civil War, four were fought in Kansas.[30] Throughout the war, Kansas remained a Union state.

On August 21, 1863, William Clarke Quantrill led a force of 300 to 400 Confederates into the town of Lawrence, Kansas.[31] Quantrill and his troops burned, looted, and destroyed the anti-slavery town. This battle became known as the Lawrence Massacre. In total, 164 Union soldiers and 40 Confederate soldiers died in the Lawrence Massacre.[31] In the Battle of Mine Creek, on October 25, 1864, Union soldiers attacked Confederates as they were crossing the Mine Creek. The Union surrounded the Confederates, and captured 600 men and two generals. 1,000 Confederate soldiers and 100 Union soldiers died in the battle.[32] In total, 8,500 people from Kansas died or were wounded in the Civil War.[12]

Post Civil War[change | change source]

After the Civil War, many free slaves came to Oklahoma and Kansas. In fact, between the years of 1879 and 1881, about 60,000 African Americans came to this region.[33][34] This is because the slaves wanted economic opportunities, which they believed awaited them in Kansas. African Americans also came to Kansas for better political rights and to escape sharecropping.[34]

Recent history[change | change source]

Dust Bowl[change | change source]

From 1930 to 1936, Kansas went through a period of time called the Dust Bowl. During this time, Kansas had little rainfall and high temperatures. Thousands of farmers became very poor and had to move to other parts of the United States. In total, 400,000 people left the Great Plains area.[35] The years from 1930 to 1940 was the only time the population of Kansas went down. The number of people living in Kansas decreased 4.3 percent.[36]

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas[change | change source]

During the 1950s, school segregation was required in fifteen U.S states. However, Kansas was not one of these states.[37] Instead, school segregation was permitted by local option, but only in elementary schools.[38] In 1896, the ruling from Plessy v. Ferguson stated that segregation was allowed, but equal facilities should be made available for blacks and whites.[39] Often, however, black schools received less funding and had fewer textbooks than white schools.[40]

For these reasons, Linda Brown and her family sued the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Brown won the case, and the ruling was to overturn the Plessy v. Ferguson decision.[41] This was considered by many a landmark case in the civil rights movement.[39][41][42]

Geography[change | change source]

The Flint Hills in eastern Kansas

Kansas is the 15th-largest state in the United States. It covers an area of 82,282 square miles (213,109 km2). Of this, about 462 square miles (1196.57 km2) are water. This makes up 0.60% of the total area of the state.[43]

Kansas is one of six states on the Frontier Strip. Kansas shares borders with Nebraska to the north, Oklahoma to the south, Missouri to the east, and Colorado to the west. The geographic center of the main 48 states is near Lebanon, Kansas. The geographic center of Kansas is in Barton County.

Topography[change | change source]

All of Kansas is in the Great Plains,[44] where the land is mostly flat with prairies and grasslands. Eastern Kansas has hills and forests, like the Flint Hills and the Osage Plains in the southeastern part of the state.

Kansas increases in elevation from east to west. The highest point in the state is Mount Sunflower near the Colorado border. Mount Sunflower is 4,039 ft (1,231 m) tall. The lowest point is the Verdigris River in Montgomery County, at 679 ft (207 m) above sea level. It is a common misconception that Kansas is the flattest state — in 2003, a tongue-in-cheek study famously said the state is "flatter than a pancake".[45] Kansas has a maximum topographic relief of 3,360 ft (1,020 m).[46] This makes Kansas the 23rd flattest U.S. state.[47]

Rivers[change | change source]

Spring River, Kansas

About 75 mi (121 km) of the Kansas's northeastern border is the Missouri River. The Kansas River is created by the junction of the Smoky Hill River and Republican River. This happens at Junction City. The Kansas River then joins the Missouri River at Kansas City. It goes 170 mi (270 km) across the northeastern part of the state.

The Arkansas River (pronunciation varies) starts in Colorado. It goes for about 500 mi (800 km) across the western and southern parts of Kansas.

Kansas's has other rivers. There is the Saline River and the Solomon River. They are tributaries of the Smoky Hill River. The Big Blue River, the Delaware River, and the Wakarusa River flow into the Kansas River. The Marais des Cygnes River is a tributary of the Missouri River. Spring River is between Riverton and Baxter Springs.

Weather[change | change source]

A tornado in Manhattan, Kansas

Kansas has a varied climate with an average yearly temperature of 56°F (13°C).[48] The record high in Kansas is 121 °F (49.4 °C). This occurred in Fredonia on July 18, 1936, and in Alton on July 24, 1936. The record low in Kansas is -40 °F (-40 °C). This occurred in Lebanon on February 13, 1905.[49] Kansas is in a temperate area of the country. Like other states in this region, Kansas has four distinct seasons.

Kansas can have extreme weather in all four seasons. For example, in spring and autumn, Kansas has many tornadoes. In fact, the state averages 55 tornadoes per year.[50] This is because Kansas is in the area known as Tornado Alley, where cold and warm air masses come together to make severe weather.

In summer, Kansas has experienced severe droughts. For example, in 1934, 1936, and 1939, Kansas had less than average rainfall and widespread dust storms as a part of the Dust Bowl.[51][52]

In winter, Kansas has snow in most parts of the state.[53] The average snowfall in the northern half of the state is 16 inches, with the average snowfall in the southern half of the state being 8 inches.[54] Blizzards and related snowstorms are rare in Kansas.[55]

Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Various Kansas Cities
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Concordia 36/17 43/22 54/31 64/41 74/52 85/62 91/67 88/66 80/56 68/44 51/30 40/21
Dodge City 41/19 48/24 57/31 67/41 76/52 87/62 93/67 91/66 82/56 70/44 54/30 44/22
Goodland 39/16 45/20 53/26 63/35 72/46 84/56 89/61 87/60 78/50 66/38 50/25 41/18
Topeka 37/17 44/23 56/33 66/43 75/53 84/63 89/68 88/65 80/56 69/44 53/32 41/22
Wichita 40/20 47/25 57/34 67/44 76/54 87/64 93/69 92/68 82/59 70/47 54/34 43/24
Concordia Weather - Kansas - Average Temperatures and Rainfall Dodge City Weather - Kansas - Average Temperatures and Rainfall Goodland Weather - Kansas - Average Temperatures and Rainfall Topeka Weather - Kansas - Average Temperatures and Rainfall Wichita Weather - Kansas - Average Temperatures and Rainfall

Population[change | change source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
Est. 20182,911,5058.3%
2018 Estimate[57]
A population map of Kansas, with densely populated areas in dark green

Kansas had 627 cities in 2008.[58] The largest city in Kansas is Wichita, which had a population of 382,368 in 2010. The other largest cities in Kansas are: Overland Park, 173,372; Kansas City, 145,786; Topeka, 127,473; and Olathe, 125,872.[59] Between the years of 2000 and 2010, the Kansas population increased 6.1 percent.

Ancestry[change | change source]

The 2010 Census says that the people of Kansas were:

Ethnically 10.5% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race).[60][61] They are mostly in southwest Kansas. Many black people in Kansas were from the Exodusters, free black people who left the South.

As of 2011, 35.0% of Kansas's population younger than one year old were part of a minority group (i.e., did not have two parents who were non-Hispanic white).[62]

Kansas ethnic breakdown of population
Racial composition 1990[63] 2000[64] 2010[65]
White 90.1% 86.1% 83.8%
Black 5.8% 5.8% 5.9%
Asian 1.3% 1.7% 2.4%
Native 0.9% 0.9% 1.0%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
Other race 2.0% 3.4% 3.9%
Two or more races 2.1% 3.0%

Language[change | change source]

English is the most-spoken language in Kansas. Spanish is second.[66]

Economy[change | change source]

Largest private employers (as of 2016)[67]
Rank Business Employees Location Industry
No. 1 Spirit AeroSystems 12,000 Wichita Aviation
No. 2 Sprint Corporation 7,600 Overland Park Telecommunications
No. 3 Textron Aviation 6,812 Wichita Aviation
No. 4 General Motors 4,000 Kansas City Automotive manufacturing
No. 5 Bombardier Aerospace 3,500 Wichita Aviation
No. 6 Black & Veatch 3,500 Overland Park Engineering Consulting
No. 7 National Beef 3500 Liberal Food Products
No. 8 Tyson Foods 3,200 Holcomb Food Products
No. 9 Performance Contracting 2,900 Lenexa Roofing & siding
No. 10 National Beef 2,500 Dodge City Food Products

Farming has always been an important part of the state economy of Kansas. The main crop grown in Kansas is wheat. In fact, Kansas farmers produce about 400 million bushels of wheat per year.[13] Kansas also ranks first in the United States in grain sorghum produced, second in cropland, and third in sunflowers produced.[14] However, farming is not the only important part of the economy of Kansas. Many parts of airplanes are made in the city of Wichita. Also, many important companies are near Kansas City, Missouri. For example, the Sprint Nextel Corporation is one of the largest telephone companies in the United States. Its main operational offices are in Overland Park, Kansas.[68]

About 90% of Kansas's land is used for farming.[69] Kansas's agricultural products are cattle, sheep, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, cotton, hogs, corn, and salt. As of 2018, there were 59,600 farms in Kansas, 86 (0.14%) of which are certified organic farms.[69] The average farm in the state is about 770 acres (more than a square mile). In 2016, the average cost of running the farm was $300,000.[69]

The industrial products are transportation equipment, commercial and private aircraft, food processing, publishing, chemical products, machinery, apparel, petroleum, and mining.

The median household income for Kansas was $47,709 in 2009.[70] The gross domestic product (GDP) for Kansas was $122,700,000,000 ($122.7 billion) in 2008. Overall, Kansas' GDP accounts for less than 1 percent of total U.S. economy.[71]

Kansas has three big military bases: Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth, and McConnell Air Force Base. The US Army reserve has about 25,000 soldiers at these bases, and they also have about 8,000 civilian employees there.

Transportation[change | change source]

Highways[change | change source]

There are two interstate highways in Kansas. The first part of the interstate highway opened on Interstate 70 west of Topeka. It opened on November 14, 1956.[72]

Interstate 70 is an important east-west highway. People can go from Kansas City, Missouri to Denver, Colorado. Cities on this highway include Colby, Hays, Salina, Junction City, Topeka, Lawrence, Bonner Springs, and Kansas City.

Interstate 35 is a major north–south highway from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to Des Moines, Iowa. Cities on this highway include Wichita, El Dorado, Emporia, Ottawa, and Kansas City (and suburbs).

Interstate Highways[change | change source]

U.S. Routes[change | change source]

Law and government[change | change source]

State and local politics[change | change source]

Executive branch: The executive branch has the governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state, the treasurer, and the insurance commissioner.

Legislative branch: The legislative branch is the Kansas Legislature. It is a bicameral legislature. It has the Kansas House of Representatives and the Kansas Senate. The House has 125 members, and the Senate has 40 members.

Judicial Branch: The judicial branch is headed by the Kansas Supreme Court. The Kansas Supreme Court has seven judges. If there is a spot open, the governor picks who to replace them.

Political culture[change | change source]

Since the middle of the 20th century, Kansas has been socially conservative. In 1999 and 2005, the Board of Education voted to stop teaching evolution in schools.[73] In 2005, Kansas banned same-sex marriage. In 2006, Kansas made the lowest age to marry 15 years old.[74]

National politics[change | change source]

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election.

The state's current delegation to the Congress of the United States includes Republican Senators Pat Roberts of Dodge City and Jerry Moran of Manhattan; and Republican Representatives Roger Marshall of Great Bend (District 1), Steve Watkins (District 2), Ron Estes of Wichita (District 4), and Democratic Representative Sharice Davids (District 3).

Kansas has been strongly Republican. The Republican Party was very strong since Kansas became a state. This is because Republicans were very anti-slavery, and Kansas was also anti-slavery. Kansas has not elected a Democrat to the United States Senate since 1932.

Abilene has the childhood house of Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Two Republican presidential candidates, Alf Landon and Bob Dole, were also from Kansas.

Education[change | change source]

Primary and secondary schools are controlled by the Kansas State Department of Education. Public colleges and universities are controlled by the Kansas Board of Regents.

In 1999 and 2005, the Board of Education voted to teach intelligent design in science classes.[75] Both times, they changed their decision after the next election.

Culture[change | change source]

The Famous Rio Theatre in Overland Park

Music[change | change source]

The rock band Kansas was created Topeka. Many of the band's members are from there.

Joe Walsh, guitarist for the famous rock band the Eagles, was born in Wichita.

Danny Carey, drummer for the band Tool, was raised in Paola.

Singer Melissa Etheridge is from Leavenworth. Singer Martina McBride is from Sharon. Singer Janelle Monáe is from Kansas City.

In 1947, Kansas chose "Home on the Range" as their state song.[76]

Books[change | change source]

Kansas's most famous appearance in a book was as the home of Dorothy Gale. She is the main character in the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).

Movies[change | change source]

The Plaza Cinema in Ottawa, Kansas was built on May 22, 1907. It is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest operating movie theater in the world.[77][78]

  • Dorothy Gale (portrayed by Judy Garland) in the 1939 fantasy film The Wizard of Oz was a young girl who lived in Kansas with her aunt and uncle. The line, "We're not in Kansas anymore", has become a phrase to describe veryy new and/or unexpected situation.[79]
  • The 1967 feature film In Cold Blood was set in various locations across Kansas. Many parts in the film were filmed at the exact places where the events in the book happened. A 1996 TV miniseries was also based on the book.
  • The 1988 film Kansas starred Andrew McCarthy as a traveler who met up with a dangerous wanted drifter played by Matt Dillon.
  • The 2005 film Capote, for which Philip Seymour Hoffman was awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the title character. He profiled the author as he traveled across Kansas while writing In Cold Blood (although most of the film itself was shot in the Canadian province of Manitoba).
  • The setting of The Day After, a 1983 made-for-television movie about a fictional nuclear attack, was the city of Lawrence.
  • The 2013 film Man of Steel is set primarily in Kansas (as Superman is from Smallville, Kansas – a fictitious town).
  • The 2012 film Looper is set in Kansas.
  • The 1973 film Paper Moon in which Tatum O'Neal won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (The youngest to win an Academy Award) was based in and filmed in Kansas. The film was shot in the small towns of Hays; McCracken; Wilson; and St. Joseph, Missouri. Various shooting locations include the Midland Hotel at Wilson; the railway depot at Gorham; storefronts and buildings on Main Street in White Cloud; Hays; sites on both sides of the Missouri River; Rulo Bridge; and Saint Joseph, Missouri.
  • Parts of the 1996 film Mars Attacks! were set in the fictional town of Perkinsville. Scenes set in Kansas were filmed in Burns, Lawrence, and Wichita.
  • The 2007 film The Lookout is set mostly in Kansas (although filmed in Canada). Specifically two locations; Kansas City and the fictional town of Noel, Kansas.[80]
  • The 2012 documentary The Gridiron was filmed at The University of Kansas
  • The 2014 ESPN documentary No Place Like Home was filmed in Lawrence and the countryside of Douglas County, Kansas
  • The 2017 film Thank You for Your Service is mostly set in Kansas, including the cities of Topeka and Junction City.
  • The 2017 documentary When Kings Reigned was filmed in Lawrence.
  • The 2019 film Brightburn was set in the fictional town of Brightburn. As is evident with scenes in the film depicting mountains (Kansas has no mountain ranges), it was filmed in Georgia instead of in Kansas.

State symbols[change | change source]

The state symbols of Kansas are:[81]

Symbol State symbol Photograph Date adopted Notes
State flower Native Sunflower
A flower with yellow petals and a brown center against a blue background
"...[The sunflower is] the pride of the present, and richly emblematic of the majesty of a golden future".[82]
State bird Western Meadowlark
A grey bird with short black streaks and a yellow breast
Students elected the western meadowlark as the state bird in a poll conducted by the Kansas Aubudon Society in 1923.[83]
State tree Cottonwood
A tree with branches and leaves, with a large branch to the left, a branch to the center, and one to the right
"The cottonwood tree can rightfully be called "the pioneer tree of Kansas"".[82]
State song Home on the Range Home on the Range, performed by James Richardson in 1939
State animal The American Buffalo
A black-and-white illustration of a buffalo
The American Buffalo provided Kansan Native Americans with meat, rope, rawhide, and other materials for everyday life.[84]

Carin Terrier state dog

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

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  2. "Kansas Entered the Union as a Free State". www.americaslibrary.gov.
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  4. Geography, US Census Bureau. "State Area Measurements and Internal Point Coordinates". Archived from the original on March 16, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Kansas Geography from NETSTATE". Archived from the original on June 4, 2016.
  6. USGS, Howard Perlman,. "Area of each state that is water". Archived from the original on June 25, 2016.
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  10. 10.0 10.1 Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
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  19. Larned 1894, p. 1936
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Today in History: January 29". Library of Congress. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
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  26. Larned 1894, p. 1937
  27. 27.0 27.1 Winas 1902, p. 9
  28. Ingalls 1892, p. 705
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  33. "General Article: Call of the West". Public Broadcasting Station. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
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  38. "Topeka, Kansas - Separate Is Not Equal". americanhistory.si.edu. 2009. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
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  40. "Beginnings of Black Education - The Civil Rights Movement in Virginia - Virginia Historical Society". vahistorical.org. 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
  41. 41.0 41.1 "Jefferson - Enlightenment: Brown v. Board of Education - Racial Segregation in Public Schools". pbs.org. 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
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Book sources[change | change source]

  • Winans, George Wesley (1902). Kansas. The Macmillan Company. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  • Larned, J.N. (1894). history for ready reference. Retrieved January 12, 2011.

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Ingalls, John James (1892). Harper's magazine, Volume 86. Harper's Magazine Co. Retrieved January 15, 2011.

Other websites[change | change source]