Capitols of Kansas

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We are continuing with some additional early Kansas history, from our records.

Capitals of Kansas

Governor Andrew Reeder arrived in territorial Kansas October 4, 1854, and he lived and maintained his office at Fort Leavenworth for about fifty days. From November 24, 1854, to June, 1855, the Shawnee Methodist Mission served as his headquarters. Then he moved to Pawnee, a town located near the Fort Riley reservation. There he convened the first territorial legislature on July 2, only to have the legislature adjourn, over the governor’s veto, to Shawnee Mission on July 6, 1855. A week later the governor returned to Shawnee Mission, and the last official act of the territorial government there was on December 11, 1855. In the meantime, the legislature, on August 18, 1855, identified Lecompton as the territorial capital, and the government was established there by April 20, 1856. The third territorial legislature met in Lecompton December 7, 1857, and adjourned to Lawrence on January 5, 1858, where the session met from January 8 to February 13, 1858.

Minneola was discussed as a possible capital, and an act locating the territorial capital in this Franklin County community was passed by the legislature, vetoed by the governor, and passed by the legislature over the veto. Although the United States attorney general ruled that removal of the capital to Minneola was a violation of the organic act of the territory, the third constitutional convention met there on March 23, 1858, and then adjourned to Leavenworth.

The fourth territorial legislature set the pattern for the remaining years of the territory of Kansas. The legislature assembled at Lecompton on January 3, 1859, and adjourned to Lawrence on January 5, with the session lasting from January 7 to February 11, 1859. The fifth territorial legislature convened at Lecompton January 2, 1860, and adjourned to Lawrence over the governor’s veto for a session lasting from January 7 to 18, 1860. Similarly, the sixth territorial legislature met in Lecompton on January 7 1861, and adjourned to Lawrence the following day, to be adjourned permanently with the creation of the new state.

Topeka was initially the temporary capital, and soon became the permanent capital of the state. Topeka’s location in the northeast corner of the state brought occasional agitation for removal to a more central location. One example was the resolution of a convention meeting at Abilene in 1888. Another was an action of the angry Populist portion of the House of Representatives during the “legislative war” of 1893, advocating removal of the capital to Kanopolis.