Reading Library

  • The following is based on a speech Thoreau first delivered to an audience at Concord, Massachusetts on October 30, 1859, two weeks after John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, and repeated several times before Brown’s execution on December 2, 1859. It was later published as a part of Echoes of Harper's Ferry in 1860.

  • This website engages Civil War buffs, scholars, students, and local residents in research and discussion on the Missouri-Kansas Border War that shook the region from 1854 to 1865. Through a collaborative effort among libraries, museums, and historical societies across the greater Kansas City region, the project provides free access to selected primary source materials and adds unique interactive features and a thematic layer of original scholarly essays and topical encyclopedia entries. 

  • In the days of the pioneer the farm business was hardly affected by community conditions. A general store where necessities could be purchased, a mill where grain could be ground, and a blacksmith shop were about the only necessary business agencies. The farm was largely self-sufficient and there was but little real community life. Nor was there much change in the next generation or two among the farmers who built substantial homes, supported their neighborhood churches and schools, and with the free labor of a good-sized family made a comfortable living.

  • This is the Constitution of the State of Kansas. It became the official Constitution of the State on January 29, 1861, when Kansas was admitted to the United States of America as the 34th state. Note: This constitution is known as the (Wyandotte Constitution).

  • Daniel Webster Wilder was born at Blackstone, Mass., July 15, 1832. He died at his home in Hiawatha, Kansas, July 15, 1911. He was the seventh son of Dr. Abel Wilder. He spent four years at the Boston Latin School, was an attentive and studious boy, received prizes every year, graduated second in his class, and received a Franklin medal. At Harvard he was an officer in the Hasty Pudding Club, the Alpha Delta Phi, and three other college societies. He graduated in 1856, and was awarded the first prize, a gold medal, for elocution in competition with all the classes. Charles F. Browne, better known as "Artemus Ward," was his roommate, and the friendships formed there with such men as F. B. Sanborn continue to this day.

  • The last place one would expect to find romance is in arithmetic and yet--Miss Effie Graham, the head of the Department of Mathematics in the Topeka High School, has found it there and better still, in her lecture "Living Arithmetic" she has shown others the way to find it there. Miss Graham is one of the most talented women of the state. Ex-Governor Hoch has called her "one of the most gifted women in the state noted for its brilliant women. Her heart and life are as pure as her mind is bright."

  • It is not the rule for men to follow the trade or profession to which they are best adapted and to achieve the dominant ambition of their lives. This inclination and result can in absolute truth be said of Capt. Henry King. He learned the printer's trade because the attraction was irresistible, and advanced from the composing room and hand press to the editorial desk because he must have foreseen the work he was best fitted to do. His taste and capacity were for writing, a natural force impelling him to reduce the workings of his mind to written form and it was real writing, for he never used a stenographer or typewriter, and his "copy" was the perfection of chirography.

  • The schools of Kansas have been locally supported and, for the most part, locally controlled since the earliest days. Until 1937 when the State legislature established a State Aid Fund for the benefit of elementary schools in need of additional support, the State government performed neither of these functions except for the State supported institutions of higher learning and the educational institutions for defectives.

  • Before the coming of white men, the Indians in Kansas had no beast of burden other than the dog and no means of conveyance save the dugout canoe and the travois, a simple contrivance of two poles between which a dog was hitched, with the packs secured to the dragging ends.

  • Very little was known of this vast territory which was thus added to the United States.  For the most part it was pathless wilderness where no white man had ever set foot.  Long before the Louisiana Purchase Jefferson had wanted to send out an exploring party into this unknown west.  Now he was more anxious for it than ever.  And at length he succeeded in getting an expedition sent out.

  • Adams was an honest and patriotic man, but he never won the love of the people as Washington had done.  And when in 1801 his term of office came to an end he went back to his country home.  There he spent the rest of his life as a simple citizen.

  • A comprehensive survey of the United States, at the end of the Civil War, would reveal a state of society which bears little resemblance to that of today. Almost all those commonplace fundamentals of existence, the things that contribute to our bodily comfort while they vex us with economic and political problems, had not yet made their appearance. The America of Civil War days was a country without transcontinental railroads, without telephones, without European cables, or wireless stations, or automobiles, or electric lights, or sky-scrapers, or million-dollar hotels, or trolley cars, or a thousand other contrivances that today supply the conveniences and comforts of what we call our American civilization. The cities of that period, with their unsewered and unpaved streets, their dingy, flickering gaslights, their ambling horse-cars, and their hideous slums, seemed appropriate settings for the unformed social life and the rough-and-ready political methods of American democracy.

  • John S. Gilmore was born in Rochester, N. Y., December 6, 1848. I His parents were Robert G. and Helen Storrier Gilmore, and in 1857 he accompanied them and his brothers to Kansas territory. October 31 of that year the family landed at Wyandotte from a Missouri river steamboat (the William Campbell) and set out on their journey of 110 miles in an ox wagon to the claim which the father had taken in March of the same year. Their cabin on the frontier was in the Neosho river woods, two miles northeast of the new town of Emporia, and our subject lived in the county till the summer of 1865, when, on the 20th of July, he entered the office of Jacob Stotler's Emporia News as a printer's apprentice. He afterward worked on the Burlington Patriot (S. S. Prouty), the Oswego Register, the Leavenworth Daily Commercial, the Osage Chronicle (M. M. Murdock), and the Emporia Tribune. 

  • Josiah Miller was born in Chester district, South Carolina, November 12, 1828. He was the son of Robert H. Miller and Susannah Allilley. The family were Scotch Presbyterians and pronounced opponents of slavery.

  • Kansas art, like Kansas literature, was born amid the strife and chaos of Territorial days. The first large group of settlers were concerned primarily with politics and morality and had little time or aptitude for painting and sculpture. Yet a few were impelled to record, with motives similar to those of a traveler who photographs a scene he wishes to preserve, the novel conditions in which they found themselves. With little or no professional instruction, it is doubtful if they thought of themselves as artists in the accepted sense. They left, however, valuable drawings and paintings portraying important events of the Territorial struggle.

  • This is the inaugural article about the facts of Kansas and its history.  In the coming months I will be providing some interesting facts, figures and historical data about the state of Kansas for our readers. This series should be of interest to students, teachers, authors, historians and others interested in the history of the State. So without further ado, we begin with a list of Kansas Facts. This list will grow and expand throughout the coming months, so keep checking back from time to time to see what is new. 

  • Cutler's History states that, "Anderson County is situated in the second tier of counties west from Missouri, fifty miles south from the Kansas River, and seventy miles north from the Indian Territory. It is in extent twenty-four miles square, and is bounded on the north by Franklin County, on the east by Linn, on the south by Allen, and on the west by Coffey."

  • Barton County is nearly in the geographical center of the State, being situated exactly midway between the northern and southern boundary lines, and is in the first tier of counties west of a central line drawn from north to south; the east line of the county being a little over 200 miles west of the east line of the State, and a little less than 200 east of the west line. Source: Cutler's History of the State of Kansas 

  • Bourbon County borders on Missouri, and is in the third tier of Counties from the Indian Territory. The northern boundary of the county is three miles north of the 38th parallel of north latitude. It is bounded as follows: On the north by Linn County; on the east by Missouri; on the South by Crawford County and on the West by Neosho and Allen Counties. By the "Bogus Laws," its limits were defined as follows: beginning at the southeast corner of Linn County, thence south thirty miles; thence west twenty-four miles; thence north thirty miles; thence east twenty-four miles to the place of beginning. Within these limits were contained 720 square miles or 460,800 acres. Source: Cutler's History of the State of Kansas 

  • Brown County is situated in the northeastern portion of Kansas, being located in the first tier of counties, from Nebraska. Doniphan County lies to the east, Atchison and Jackson counties to the south, and Nemaha County to the west. Source: Cutler's History of the State of Kansas 

  • Butler the largest organized county in the State, may well be called 'the State of Butler.' Within it lines lies more territory than that of some of the Eastern States, while its arable land amounts to nearly as much as that of two of the smaller ones. From north to south it stretches forty-two miles, and from east to west thirty-four and a half; making a total area of about one million acres. It is named in honor of Andrew P. Butler, for twelve years United States Senator from South Carolina. Source: Cutler's History of the state of Kansas 

  • Chase County, named after Salmon P. Chase, who was United States Senator from, and Governor of, Ohio, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was organized in 1859. It was south and west of the center of population of Kansas in 1875, and in 1880 this center had moved some distance west of it. The northern boundary of the county is 102 miles south of the Nebraska line; its eastern line, 96 miles from the State of Missouri; its southern boundary, 75 miles from the Indian Territory; and its western boundary, 285 miles from the State of Colorado. Source: Cutler's History of the State of Kansas 

  • Cherokee County is situated in the southeast corner of the State. It is bounded on the north by Crawford County, on the east by Missouri, on the south by the Indian Territory, on the west by Labette County. It lies within what was originally McGee County, which according to the "Bogus Statutes," was bounded as follows: "Beginning at the southeast corner of Bourbon County; thence south to the southern boundary of this Territory: thence west on said boundary twenty-four miles; thence north to a point due west from the place of beginning; thence east twenty-four miles to the place of beginning."

  • The purpose of a county is for local administration of an area beneath the state level, i.e federal, state, county, and municipal governments. In Kansas, there are a total of 105 counties, each with their own county seat. This county seat is the town where the governing body of the county resides. This body is known as the County Legislature which is named after the county. 

  • Folk tales and folk songs, compounded of dreams, idle imaginings, and wish fulfillment, are usually based on the prosaic doings of. men who "earn their living by the sweat of their brow." In Kansas the first workers were the farmer and the cowboy. Within the short span of three decades their not so heroic figures were draped with a spangled mantle of lore and legend.

  • When people hear the word Kansas in conversation they usually think or say, "oh yeah you mean flyover country", or "you mean the State that is 100 years behind the times?  (think the nineteenth century)"  Well I am here to tell you that there is more to the State than the "Great American Desert" or the home of Dorothy and Toto from the Wizard of Oz.

  • The first writing inspired by the region comprised in the present State of Kansas was the journal of Pedro de Castaneda de Najera, who in 1541 accompanied the Spanish explorer Coronado on the latter's march through this region in search of the semi-legendary city or province of Quivira. In the three centuries between Coronado's futile quest and the early settlement of Kansas, the region was traversed by other explorers, some of whom notably, among the later travelers, Etienne Bourgmont, Lewis and Clark and their aide Patrick Gass, and Zebulon M. Pike have given us factual records of the region in their published journals.

  • Marshall Mortimer Murdock, founder of the Wichita Eagle, and for nearly forty years intimately identified with the history and progress of Sedgwick county, was a native of the Old Dominion, having been born in the Pierpont settlement in Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1837, the year Victoria ascended the throne of England. His earlier ancestors were Scotch, but his more immediate ancestors lived in the north of Ireland, where his grandfather engaged in rebellion against the British government about the time of the Revolutionary War in America, and was compelled to flee to this country to save his life.

  • Pioneers from New England, traveling westward in the 1850's, fortified their spirits with the stirring and prophetic cadences of Whittier's son of "The Kansas Emigrants," written for the first company of emigrants and "sung when they started, sung as they rode, and sung in the new home."

  • Noble Lovely Prentis was born April 8, 1839, in a log cabin three miles from Mount Sterling, Brown county, Illinois. He died July 6, 1900, at the home of his daughter, at La Harpe, in the same state, within a few miles of the place of his birth. His parents were from Vermont, and were descended from English settlers who came to America in 1630 and 1641, respectively. His grandfather Prentis served in the Revolutionary army, and two of his uncles gave their lives one at Bunker Hill and one at Saratoga.

  • This is the first 35 chapters of the Project Gutenberg E Book of Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler which is a complete biography of Mrs. Rosetta B. Hasting's father. In her preface to the work, she states: "I have not attempted to write a complete biography of my father, but merely to supplement his "Recollections" with a few of my own reminiscences. He was a man who said little in his family about his early years, or about any of the occurrences of his eventful life. Nor did he ever keep any journal, or any account of his meetings, or of the number that he baptized. He seldom reported his meetings to the newspapers. I think it was only during the few years that he was employed by missionary societies, that he ever made reports of what he accomplished. He had even destroyed the most of his old letters. And so, for nearly all information outside of my own recollections, I have been indebted to the kindness of relatives and friends."

    You may also down load the full text of the Personal Recollections of Pardee Butler here.

     

  • The utility of the diffusion of political knowledge among a people exercising the right of self-government, is universally admitted. The form of government established by the people of the United States, though well adapted to promote the general welfare, is highly complicated; and the knowledge requisite to administer it successfully can not be acquired without much study. From the fact that a large portion of the American people are greatly deficient in this knowledge, we may justly conclude that it will never become general, until it shall have been made an object of school instruction.

  • Preston Bierce Plumb was born at Berkshire, Delaware county, Ohio, October 12, 1837. He died at Washington city, December 20, 1891. Plumb's parents were poor, and he was compelled to depend upon his own resources at an early age. When he was twelve years old he went to Kenyon College, at Gambier, Ohio, through which institution he worked his way, acquiring at the same time high efficiency as a printer.

  • The first churchman of whom there is any authentic record in the region now known as Kansas was a Franciscan friar, Father Juan de Padilla, who accompanied Coronado's expedition to Quivira in 1541. He returned to Mexico with the expedition, but journeyed back to spread Christianity among the Plains Indian tribes. It is said that he was murdered by the Quivirans because of his decision to leave them and preach to another tribe. According to some accounts, however, the martyred friar was murdered by his own men.

  • A full account of the exploring expeditions of John C. Frémont would form almost a complete history of the great West during that time--from June, 1842, to February, 1854. The three earlier expeditions were made at the expense and under the direction of the Government. The two later ones were private ventures.

  • The rise of the new west was the most significant fact in American history in the years immediately following the War of 1812. Ever since the beginnings of colonization on the Atlantic coast a frontier of settlement had advanced, cutting into the forest, pushing back the Indian, and steadily widening the area of civilization in its rear. There had been a west even in early colonial days; but then it lay close to the coast. By the middle of the eighteenth century the west was to be found beyond tide-water, advancing towards the Allegheny Mountains. When this barrier was crossed and the lands on the other side of the mountains were won, in the days of the Revolution, a new and greater west, more influential on the nation's destiny, was created. 

  • The scarcity of natural water areas and the need for water conservation and flood control led indirectly to the development of the State's chief recreational asset its State parks. A plan to establish a system of parks, in connection with the construction of artificial lakes, was first proposed in 1923 by a group of sportsmen and conservationists.

  • The neighborliness and hospitality of farmers is proverbial in every land and clime. Throughout much of the old world where farmers still live in village communities the poverty or distress of any family is at once apparent and the more fortunate members of the village in one way or another give such assistance as is possible. The more primitive the people the more binding is this obligation for mutual aid, and one cannot but feel that our so-called advanced civilization has failed to develop as keen a sense of responsibility for the unfortunate.

  • The community is composed of people in a certain area, but the community may be dead or it may be alive. The _life_ of the community is determined by the degree to which its people are able to act together for the best promotion of their common welfare. This ability to act together will obviously depend upon the extent to which the people have common aims and purposes. If the people of a community form distinct groups with diverse ideals and purposes, it will be much more difficult to secure that sympathy, tolerance, and understanding which are necessary for united action, than if they are more alike. Yet it is just such diversity of interests of different elements in the community which gives rise to community problems and which brings about an appreciation of the need of developing community life.

  • The people of most rural communities have an unsatisfied desire for more play, recreation, and sociable life. Opportunities for enjoyment seem more available in the towns and cities and are therefore a leading cause of the great exodus. Economic prosperity and good wages are not alone sufficient to keep people on farms and in villages if their income will not purchase the satisfactions they desire.

  • From the earliest times and among all peoples the common religious life has formed one of the strongest bonds of the rural community. Several of the original thirteen colonies which formed the United States were settled by those seeking freedom to worship as they chose, and as their descendants migrated westward many of the new settlements were largely composed of the membership of some one church or those of a similar faith.

  • In many manufacturing lines, American genius for organization and large scale production has developed mammoth industries. In nearly all the tendency to combination and concentration has exercised a predominating influence. In the early years of the twentieth century the public realized, for the first time, that one corporation, the American Sugar Refining Company, controlled ninety-eight per cent of the business of refining sugar.

  • Energy and action may be of two sorts, good or bad; this being as well as we can phrase it in human affairs. The live wires that net our streets are more dangerous than all the bad men the country ever knew, but we call electricity on the whole good in its action. We lay it under law, but sometimes it breaks out and has its own way. These outbreaks will occur until the end of time, in live wires and vital men. Each land in the world produces its own men individually bad--and, in time, other bad men who kill them for the general good.

  • Before passing to the review of the more modern days of wild life on the Western frontier, we shall find it interesting to note a period less known, but quite as wild and desperate as any of later times. Indeed, we might also say that our own desperadoes could take lessons from their ancestors of the past generation who lived in the forests of the Mississippi valley.

  • The American farmer thinks first of his own home; only recently has he commenced to appreciate that his and other homes form a community. In the "age of homespun" the pioneer subdued his new lands and built his home; the farm and the home were his and for them he lived. He bought but little and had but little to sell. Farms were largely self-supporting. Neighbors helped each other in numerous ways and as the country became more thickly settled neighborhood life grew apace. But there was little sense of relation to the larger community. Roads were bad and people were too widely scattered to come together except on special occasions. The family was the fundamental social unit and social life revolved around the family, or in the immediate neighborhood.

  • Chapter I

    Mankind fitted for Society, and for Civil Government and Laws.

    §1. Mankind are social beings. They are by nature fitted for society. By this we mean that they are naturally disposed to associate with each other. Indeed, such is their nature, that they could not be happy without such association. Hence we conclude that the Creator has designed men for society. It can not, therefore, be true, as some say, that the savage state is the natural state of man.

  • Chapter V

    The Nature and Objects of a Constitution, and the Manner in which it is made.

    §1. Of all the different forms of government which have existed, a republican government, on the plan of that which has been established in this country, is believed to be best adapted to secure the liberties of a people, and to promote the general welfare. Under the reign of a wise and virtuous ruler, the rights of person and property may be fully enjoyed, and the people may be in a good degree prosperous. But the requisite virtue and wisdom have seldom been found in any one man or a few men. And experience has proved that the objects of civil government may be best secured by a written constitution founded upon the will or consent of the people.

  • Chapter XXIII

    Canals and Rail-Roads.

    §1. In carrying out the purposes of government, provision ought also to be made to secure to the people the means of obtaining a suitable reward for their industry, and to render the labor of all, as nearly as may be, equally profitable.

  • Chapter XIV

    Counties and County Officers. Powers and Duties of County Officers.

    §1. Some of the purposes for which a state is divided into small districts have been mentioned. (Chap. VII, §1.) There are other reasons, equally important, for these territorial divisions. Laws for the whole state are made by the legislature; but certain regulations may be necessary for the people in some parts of the state which are not needed in others, and which the people of these places can better make for themselves.

  • Chapter XXII

    Education. School Funds; Schools, &c.

    §1. The proper object of government is to promote the welfare and happiness of its citizens. For this purpose, it must provide for making and properly administering laws to protect the people in the enjoyment of life and the fruits of their labor. But it should go further, and make express provision for improving the condition of the people, especially the less fortunate portions of them.