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Historical Glossary

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"King Cotton"

Expression used by Southern authors and orators before the Civil War to indicate the economic dominance of the Southern cotton industry, and that the North needed the South's cotton. In a speech to the Senate in 1858, James Hammond declared, "You daren't make war against cotton! ...Cotton is king!".

Kanagawa, treaty of

On 31 March 1854, Japanese officials and Commodore Matthew Perry signed this treaty (effective 22 June 1855) giving US ships their first access to Japanese ports at Shimoda and Hakodate. The agreement was soon supplemented by closer commercial and diplomatic ties negotiated by Townsend Harris. 

Kansa Indians

The Kansa (or Kaw) are a group speaking one of the Siouan languages, that lived along the lower Missouri River. They may have numbered 3,000 in 1780. Although often in conflict with neighboring Indians, they avoided war with Anglo-Americans. In 1850 their 1,700 members accepted a 390 square-mile reservation on the Neosho River in Kans., but by 1873, when they relocated to the Arkansas River, they had been reduced to 533. In 1889 only 194 Kansa remained. They have a reservation in Osage County, Okla. 


The US acquired Kans. by the Louisiana Purchase. The Indian Removal Act (1830) divided its eastern lands among Indians relocated from the midwest. The Kansas–Nebraska Act transferred these tribes to the Indian Territory (see Oklahoma) and opened the area to whites. Border ruffians fought free-soil settlers during Bleeding Kansas. It was admitted as the 34th state on 29 January 1861.
In 1860 it had 107,204 residents, of whom 99 percent were white and 12 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 35th in population, 33rd in the value of its farmland and livestock, and 30th in manufactures. During the Civil War, it furnished 20,149 USA troops (including 2,080 blacks). Kans. jayhawkers plundered Mo., and Mo. rebels terrorized Kans. in brutal guerrilla warfare that culminated in William Quantrill's sack of Lawrence. The Red River War ended Indian raids on southern Kans.
The first Homestead Act and the expansion of the railroads stimulated a mass exodus to Kans., whose population increased to 996,096 by 1880 and then grew by 43 percent in the next decade. Between 1887 and 1897, adequate rain for crops fell in only two years on the plains and commodity prices dropped sharply. Extreme economic hardship resulted in 149,800 persons leaving the state in the 1890s and strong political support for populism. In 1900 Kans. had 1,470,495 residents (96 percent white, 4 percent black), of whom 78 percent were rural and 9 percent foreign-born; it ranked 22nd in population, 7th in the value of its agricultural products, and 16th in manufactures.
During the early 20th century, the problems of agriculture inhibited the growth of the Kans. economy. Farmers suffered from falling prices in the 1920s and dust bowl conditions in the 1930s. From 1920 to 1940, 246,900 persons left the state. The number of farms fell by half, from 177,000 in 1935 to 86,000 in 1970. Although the state's economy has greatly diversified, it has consistently ranked among the 10 largest agricultural producers. In 1990 Kans. was the 32nd largest state and had 2,477,574 inhabitants (88 percent white, 6 percent black, 4 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian, 1 percent Indian), of whom 54 percent were urban and 2.5 percent were foreign-born. Manufacturing and mining employed 23 percent of workers. 

Kansas–Nebraska Act (30 May 1854)

On 23 January 1854, Senator Stephen Douglas introduced a bill organizing Kans. and Nebr. territories on the principle of popular sovereignty. He soon agreed to amend it with a repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The Senate passed it by 23 votes and the House by 13. The act was the decisive event that led free-soil and antislavery northerners to coalesce as the Republican party. Its other legacy was Bleeding Kansas.