Kansas State Day, Motto, and Nickname
DATE OF ADMISSION TO UNITED STATES
January 29, 1861
RANKING IN STATE ADMISSION
Republic of Texas
Kansas’ territorial status played a fundamental part in the outbreak of the American Civil War. In 1854 Congress passed a controversial law enforcing the right of residents in the newly formed territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide whether slavery would be permitted in their territories. Bitter debate over the issue engulfed the nation. With the passage of the bill, hundreds of pro- and anti-slavery advocates flooded Kansas Territory in an effort to force the hand of the government by ensuring representatives favorable to their sides were elected to office.
The disagreements between the two factions eventually led to fighting in the streets of the newly formed territory. Further debate over which side should be represented by the new legislature led to both sides crafting their own constitutions. It would take seven years of bitter struggle before Kansas would reach statehood. Kansas finally joined the Union as the 34th state on January 29, 1861, some three months before the commencement of the Civil War.
Ad astra per aspera ("To the stars through difficulties")
The motto, which was written by the Kansas resident John James Ingalls in 1857, reflects the determination of some to see Kansas accepted as a state, even with the bitter struggle that polarized its citizens.
"The Sunflower State" (official), "The Garden of the West," "The Garden State," "The Wheat State," "Midway USA," "The Central State," "Bleeding Kansas," "The Jayhawk State."
The sunflower is Kansas' official state flower, and the state is also officially known as "The Sunflower State." The bright lemon-yellow flowers are a common sight in Kansas. The nicknames "The Garden of the West" and "The Garden State" may refer to the state's fertile soil. Alternatively, some historians believe these expressions may have originated to encourage people to move to Kansas during the anti-slavery struggle of the 1850s. "Midway USA" and "The Central State" refer to Kansas’ central geographic location. A stone monument marks the center of the country outside of Lebanon, Kansas.
Kansas is a leader in wheat production and a central supplier of wheat flower and other grain products in the country. A number of nicknames hail from Kansas’ pre–Civil War struggles, such as "Bleeding Kansas," which refers to the dark period before statehood when pro- and anti-slavery factions battled for power. The jayhawk, a fictitious cross between a blue jay and a sparrow hawk, became a symbol of the battle against slavery prior to Kansas' statehood, as well as the name attributed to slavery abolitionists. "Jayhawk" is also the contemporary name of the University of Kansas’ athletic teams.
-World Trade Press