Kansas, situated on the American Great Plains, became the 34th state on January 29, 1861. Its path to statehood was long and bloody: After the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened the two territories to settlement and allowed the new settlers to determine whether the states would be admitted to the union as “free” or”slave,” North and South competed to send the most settlers into the region. This quickly led to violence,and the territory became known as “Bleeding Kansas.” Kansas has long been known as part of America’s agricultural heartland, and is home to the major U.S. military installation Fort Leavenworth. In 1954, it became a battleground of the civil rights movement when the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case was decided in the Supreme Court, ending the doctrine of “separate but equal” in public schools. Kansas is also known for its contributions to jazz music, barbecue and as the setting of L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s book The Wizard of Oz.
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