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Territorial Governor’s Day will celebrate Kansas’ first capitol

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, June 14, 2012, at 9:14 a.m.

If you want to see life as it was in Kansas in the 1850s, mark June 23 on your calendar.

That’s when Partners of the First Territorial Capitol will host Territorial Governor’s Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the First Territorial Capitol Site at Fort Riley. There will be presentations, activities for children, food vendors and historic re-enactors portraying events and historic Kansans from 157 years ago.

It was at that site in July 1855 that territorial Kansas legislators met and began the debate over whether Kansas would be admitted to the Union as a free or slave state. In the years that followed, the territory became known as "Bleeding Kansas" because of the violence that erupted over the issue.

The majority of the legislators, who were pro-slavery, didn’t like meeting in such a "remote" part of the state. They voted – after just a few days – to move the next capitol closer to their homes – and closer to Missouri, which was pro-slavery.

During the next seven years, several capitol buildings were located throughout the state – in Shawnee Mission, Topeka, Lecompton, Leavenworth and Wyandotte – before Topeka was chosen as the permanent location. Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861 as a free state.

The First Territorial Capitol State Historic Site is on Fort Riley at 693 Huebner Road. Photo identification is required for admission to the post. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, call 785-784-5535 or visit kshs.org/first_territorial_capitol.

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