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The first European to reach Kansas was Coronado, who explored it in 1541. Later, French traders began to enter the area, which motivated the Spanish to attempt to drive them out 1720. Their expedition failed and the region remained under French control until 1762, when it was ceded to Spain. In 1800, it reverted to Spain, who included it in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. It was at first included in the territory of Louisiana. When the territory of Missouri was established in 1812, Kansas was left without any organized government. In 1854, the territories of Nebraska and Kansas were established, with the issue of slavery left to the local settlers. A protracted contest between supporters and opponents of slavery ensued. A constitution was finally adopted in 1859 that prohibited slavery, but Kansas could not overcome Southern opposition in Congress until the secession of the Southern states removed them from influence in Washington. Kansas became a state in 1861. During the war, Kansas continued to be plagued by border raids, such as the raid on Lawrence in 1863 that claimed 150 lives. After the war, peace permitted greater settlement in Kansas. Abilene became the terminus of the Chisholm Trail, which brought cattle to market from Texas. Kansas was an early adopter of Prohibition, and maintained it even after national repeal, remaining dry until 1949. During the Great Depression, Kansas suffered from drought and became part of the Dust Bowl. Kansas Governor Alfred M. Landon was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for President in 1936. An example of local history follows: Lecompton, Kansas, is in Douglas County. Lecompton was the only official capital of Kansas from 1855 to 1861. The city was a major player in the American Civil War. The events that occurred there, with the writing of the Lecompton Constitution, were debated in the U.S. Congress and in the office of the President. They caused Horace Greeley to publish an eight-page special edition in the New York Tribune on the Lecompton Constitution. The name Lecompton was used 51 times during America's most famous Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Lecompton touched the lives of five presidents: Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Arthur, and Eisenhower. The city was home to nine territorial governors. It is little wonder that E.H. Butler & Co. of Philadelpha in 1884, wrote that the name of no city in the world was ever such a "party cry," and that from 1855 to 1859, "Lecompton" was spoken in as many languages as the names of London, Paris, and Berlin. The history of Lecompton ranks in importance with Gettysburg, Fort Sumpter, Lincoln-Douglas Debates and any other major Civil War event. Lecompton is home to Constitution Hall, National Landmark and Kansas Historic Site; Territorial Capital Museum, National Register Site; Kansas Territorial Democratic Headquarters, and much more. It is truly one of America's most historic cities and best-kept secrets.

For more information, go to www. lecomptonkansas.com. See also Kansas.