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Leavenworth, Kansas is on the west bank of the Missouri River, spreads out over high bluffs and rolling hills, overlooking the Big Muddy, its green "bottoms," and adjacent farm lands. The business district is on fairly level ground in the narrow valley of Three Mile Creek, a shallow stream which flows between steep banks and makes a natural line of demarcation between downtown Leavenworth and the south residential district.

Bounded by the river on the east and by the military reservation of Fort Leavenworth on the north, the city's growth from the retail and industrial district has been largely to the south and west. There are a number of modern homes among the old Victorian mansions that line its well shaded streets, but the architecture of the city is predominantly that of the eighties and nineties.

Fort Leavenworth, known as "the mother-in-law of the Army" because of the more than 200 Leavenworth girls who have married army officers, is just beyond the city limits two and a half miles northwest of the business district. It consists of an 8,000 acre reservation with appropriate residences and administrative buildings, and it also contains the Federal Penitentiary and the United States Prison Annex, formerly the Army disciplinary barracks.

The Penitentiary, locally calkd the "Pen," a towering city of gray stone and red brick, has its entrance at Thirteenth and Metropolitan Streets, 1.9 miles from the business section. Escapes from its impregnable walls are rare, but there have been some notable exceptions. On November 7, 1901, before the institution was completed, 26 inmates marched away in a fusillade of bullets. On April 20, 1910, six convicts forced an engineer to crash a locomotive through the heavy prison gates; and on December n, 1931, seven men, armed with revolvers smuggled to them in a barrel of shoe polish and using Warden Thomas B. White, his secretary, and a guard as shields, made a break for freedom. In each case, however, liberty was of short duration.

Catholic and Protestant churches are well supported and constitute a potent civic force. Residents at the fort have their own cliques and social circles, although women in riding habit and men in Army khaki are familiar figures in the city, particularly during the summer encampments. Prison guards make their homes in Leavenworth and occasionally the families of convicts establish temporary residence.

Although the manufacture of furniture predominates, there are various other industries whose production includes structural steel, cotton gloves, flour, stoves and ranges, mine and mill machinery, meat packing products, and coal. Diversified farming, truck gardening, and livestock raising are practiced in the vicinity, and a luscious variety of strawberry the Aroma developed by local fruitgrowers, has acquired a wide market.

The earliest known inhabitants of Leavenworth County were the Kansa Indians, a migratory tribe, followed by the Delaware and the Kickapoo. Lewis and Clark passed the townsite July 2, 1804, camped to the north, and left a description of the country in their journals. Seventeen years later trade with Santa Fe was initiated, and in 1827 Col. Henry H. Leavenworth erected Cantonment Leavenworth now Fort Leavenworth to protect traffic on the Santa Fe Trail. The first white settlers in the county and State were the farmers at the cantonment and missionaries employed among the immigrant tribes a few years later.

Leavenworth, the town, had its origin at a meeting of pro-slavers in Weston, Mo., a few days after the passage of the Kansas -Nebraska bill (May 30, 1854). Ambitious men in Missouri coveted the rich lands in Kansas, and David R. Atchison, proponent of slavery, advised his friends in Weston to go over and help themselves which they did even before the Territory was established. Although the townsite was on the Delaware Trust Lands and provisions of the treaty precluded their settlement until they were surveyed and sold to the highest bidder, Missourians surged across the border and preempted the choice locations. Some brought families and built crude huts in order to present the appearance of bona fide settlers. Most of the claims were speculative, but by the end of June 1854 there was scarcely an acre not claimed in this fashion.

The town company, the first in Kansas Territory, was organized June 13, 1854; the 320 acres embraced in the joint claim were surveyed, platted and divided into shares; and "New Town," as it was at first locally known, was created. The name, Douglas, in honor of Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, was suggested and generally favored; but H. Miles Moore, a townsite proprietor, argued that the sale of lots would be stimulated by leading outsiders to confuse the city with the military post, which was in an exceedingly desirable situation, and "Leavenworth" was adopted.

The city was progressing smoothly when the Delaware Indians, incited by settlers from the rival town of Atchison, sent a formal complaint to Washington, protesting against the invasion of their lands, and an order to drive off all squatters was issued. It was realized then that the dash into Kansas was illegal, but by agreeing to pay a price fixed by the Government, the squatters contrived to appease the Indians and were allowed to remain, although the final sale of the land was not consummated until February, 1857.

Meanwhile, plans went ahead for the town's advancement. On September 15, 1854, the Kansas Herald, first English newspaper in the Territory, was published under a tree on the town's levee. On October 9 the first sale of town lots was held, and the following summer by an act of the legislature convened July 20, 1855 Leavenworth became the first incorporated town in Kansas Territory.

Early elections of the community were notoriously corrupt. Residents of Weston and other points in Missouri floated down the Missouri on steamboats to stuff ballot boxes with fraudulent votes. The proslavery and Free State parties nominated candidates for the Territorial council and assembly, and a canvass made before the first election (March 30, 1855) revealed the district as capable of polling 305 votes. But the election inspectors accepted 964 "legitimate" votes and allowed the pro-slavery candidates an overwhelming majority.

Nor was it wise to protest the frauds. William Phillips, a young Free State lawyer, tried it and was advised to leave the Territory. When he refused, he was stripped to the waist, tarred and feathered, and escorted to Weston, Mo., where he was ridden on a rail to the accompaniment of clanging bells and pans, and eventually placed on a slave block and auctioned off for one cent by an old Negro.

But despite political violence, Leavenworth grew. Its proximity to the fort gave it military protection and made it the commercial terminus for the roads radiating from the fort into the Territory. Business firms were attracted. In the fall of 1854 Murphy and Scruggs established a sawmill. By the following February the Leavenworth Hotel had been erected ; a tailor, shoemaker, and barber had hung out their signs; and two blacksmith and three carpenter shops were established. In the spring of 1856 J. L. Abernathy, with the slender capital of $600 began the Abernathy Furniture Company; the following fall Majors Russell and Waddell (see TRANSPORTATION) made it headquarters for their vast transportation system.

Employing thousands of men and oxen and hundreds of wagons, this firm did more for the development of the town than several decades of average increase. The first year it expended more than $15,000 for stores, and for blacksmith, wagon and repair shops, thereby attracting other traders. Outfitters, formerly located at Independence, Westport, Weston, and St. Joseph, Missouri, now moved to Leavenworth as the new base of supply for the West and Southwest. And to all this exchange was added the $600,000 annually spent by the fort in salaries and for supplies.

On March 25, 1858, after two previous attempts at Lecompton and Topeka a constitutional convention assembled in Melodeon Hall at Leavenworth and framed the Leavenworth Constitution. This document was patterned after the Topeka Constitution and was sent to Congress while that body was debating the Lecompton Constitution. One of its provisions recognized the Negro and gave him the right to the ballot ; another provided that the question of universal suffrage be submitted to a vote. Congress never took action on this constitution but its purpose was accomplished by the eventual defeat of the Lecompton Constitution.

Four years after its founding, July 15, 1858, Leavenworth suffered a fire in which 32 stores and $200,000 worth of property were destroyed. Yet, by 1861, with a population of nearly 8,000, it was the largest city in the newly formed State and a money center equal in importance to cities of five times its size. It boasted eight banks and five newspapers, shops, stores, and manufacturing plants. It had telegraphic connections with the East and was looking forward to railroads. It had an organized board of education and a school system.

Meanwhile the political sentiments of the community had shifted strongly to the North and throughout the struggle of the Civil War Leavenworth was loyal, furnishing eighteen companies for defense of the Union. On April 18, 1861, when a river steamer flying a Confederate flag docked at the levee, a crowd assembled with "Old Kickapoo," a battle scarred cannon, and ordered the flag lowered. Then the mob went aboard and forced the skipper to raise the American standard.

Leavenworth's importance was recognized in the development of railroads, and one of the first charters granted by the Territorial legislature was to the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western (afterwards the Eastern Division of the Union Pacific) in 1855. As the starting point for western travel, Leavenworth was selected for the eastern terminus. But after surveying, grading, and assembling supplies, difficulties arose; and the terminus was moved to Wyandotte in the summer of 1863. This was a serious setback, duplicated in 1879 when a branch line of the Hannibal and St. Joseph from Cameron, Mo., resisted all Leavenworth's efforts and selected Kansas City, Mo., as its point of connection. These losses to Leavenworth gave Kansas City the advantage which resulted in its ultimate ascendancy ; although until 1880 Leavenworth, with more than 20,000 people, was still the largest city in Kansas, humming with trade and manufacture. Since 1900, however, it has fallen to sixth place.

The city has many manufacturing interests, wholesale and retail establishments, and is serviced by one main and five branch line railroads.