Kansas Day in the United States Date in the current year: January 29, 2024

Kansas Day in the United States Kansas Day is an annual holiday celebrated in the U.S. state of Kansas on January 29. On this day in 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as the 34th state.

Kansas is one of the twelve Midwestern Sates, alongside Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Before the arrival of Europeans, its territory was inhabited by Native American tribes, such as the Wichita people and the Kaw Nation, also known as Kanza (hence the toponym “Kansas”).

The first European to set foot in what is now Kansas was Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, a Spanish explorer and conquistador who visited the region in 1541. However, the Spanish chose not to establish any settlements there. In 1724, the French explorer Étienne de Veniard established a trading post near at the mouth of the Kansas River. France treated Kansas as part of Louisiana, but didn’t have any significant activity there.

In 1762, Spain secretly acquired Louisiana from France under the Treaty of Fontainebleau. In 1803, France officially got Louisiana back from Spain, and it was almost immediately acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. The territory of Louisiana contained a large part of what is now Kansas. Southwest Kansas, however, remained a part of Spain, Mexico and the Republic of Texas until 1848.

In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas—Nebraska Act that established Kansas Territory and Nebraska Territory. The settlers in Kansas Territory were expected to vote whether to permit or prohibit slavery, which resulted in a series of violent confrontations between pro-slavery settlers and abolitionists, which are commonly referred to as Bleeding Kansas.

The pro-slavery forces had lost control of Kansas by the time the Wyandotte Constitution was adopted in October 1859, declaring Kansas a free state. On January 29, 1861, Kansas was officially admitted to the Union as the 34th state.

Kansas Day was first observed in Paola in 1877. Back then, it wasn’t even a full-fledged celebration: just a school project on the history of Kansas prepared by a group of students with the encouragement from their history teacher Alexander LeGrande Copley. Two years later, Copley was assigned as superintendent of the schools in Wichita and brought the tradition there. He also started telling his colleagues from other counties about Kansas Day, encouraging them to celebrate it in their schools. Eventually, it became a statewide event.

Even today, Kansas Day is celebrated mainly in schools with special projects focusing on the history and legacy of Kansas, school field trips, pioneer-style meals, special visits to the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka, and special proclamations by members of the Kansas Legislature and the state governor. Another Kansas Day tradition is the Sunflower Showdown basketball game between the state’s two leading NCAA basketball teams, the Kansas Jayhawks and the Kansas State Wildcats; it is played or around January 29 to celebrate the history of Kansas.

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Kansas Day in the United States, holidays in the United States, holidays in Kansas, Kansas Statehood Day, admission to the Union