[[Image:Kansas_State_Flag.gif|thumb|right|The state flag of Kansas.]]
'''Kansas''' is a Midwestern state which became the 34th state admitted to the Union on January 29, 1861. Its capital is [[Topeka]], and its largest cities are, in order, [[Wichita]], Overland Park, and Kansas City. The name ''Kansas'' comes from a Sioux word meaning "people of the south wind".
Kansas was admitted as a [[free state]] in the midst of [[Bleeding Kansas|guerilla warfare]] between pro-slavery and abolitionist forces that erupted in the wake of the passage of the [[Kansas-Nebraska Act]] of 1854. <ref>http://www.legendsofamerica.com/OZ-BleedingKansas.html</ref> This act had provided for an election to determine whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state, and many people flooded into the state to vote. The vote process was not easy, and was rife with accusations of voter fraud. <ref>http://www.historyplace.com/lincoln/kansas.htm</ref> Noted abolitionist [[John Brown]] led anti-slavery forces during some of this time period. This violence continued after Kansas was admitted to the union on January 29, 1861, and the worst example was the virtual destruction of the city of [[Lawrence]] by pro-slavery guerilla [[William Quantrill]] on August 21, 1863, which killed most of the male population of the town. <ref>http://www.legendsofamerica.com/OZ-Lawrence2.html</ref>
Kansas is reliable example of a conservative state, having voted for the Republican candidate in every Presidential election since 1968. Both of its senators, Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback are Republicans. Pat Roberts' current term of office is up in 2008. However, this may be changing. Kathleen Sebelius, the current governor who won re-election by a wide margin in 2006, is a Democrat. Former Rep. Jim Ryun's loss to Nancy Boyda in 2006 has evenly split the four U.S. Representatives from Kansas. Boyda and Dennis Moore, who represents the suburban area near Kansas City, are Democrats. The two Republican Representatives are Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran.
The past ten Governors have alternated between Republican and Democrats. Which shows the independent nature of Kansans in politics going back to pre-statehood. In the 2006 attorney general race, Democrat Paul Morrison defeated incumbent Phill Kline, who had strenuously pushed a conservative agenda. Kansas has a rich history of influence on the Republican party going back to [[William Allen White]] to [[Bob Dole]]. Current U.S. Senator [http://www.brownback.com/s/ Sam Brownback]is running for the Republican nomination for President.
Kansas exports more wheat than any other state. Kansas's economy is heavily dependent upon agriculture. <ref>http://www.fas.usda.gov/info/factsheets/CAFTA/ks.html</ref>
Kansas's motto is ''ad astra per aspera'', which is Latin for "to the stars through difficulties." Its state flower is the sunflower, its state tree is the cottonwood, and its state bird is the Western meadowlark.
[[Helium]] was first found in natural gas at the University of Kansas in Lawrence in 1905. <ref>http://www.news.ku.edu/2000/00N/AprNews/Apr7/bailey.html</ref>
The term "What would Jesus do?" was first used by Charles Sheldon, a Topeka minister, in 1896. <ref>http://www.mastersimage.com/articles/ihs.htm</ref>
Cawker City is home to the world's largest ball of twine, which has a 40 foot circumference<ref>http://skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Cawker/twine.html</ref>, and Greensburg is home to the world's deepest hand dug well, which is 109 feet deep. <ref>http://www.bigwell.org/bigwell.html</ref>. This well survived a large [[tornado]] that destroyed most of the town on May 4, 2007. <ref>http://www.kansas.com/233/story/65407.html</ref>
Although Dorothy Gale, in the 1900 book and 1939 film ''The Wizard of Oz'', is from Kansas, L. Frank Baum, the author of the Oz books, had never been to Kansas, and based his description of a state where 'everything was grey' on his experiences as a newspaper man in [[North Dakota]].
The operational headquarters of telecommunications giant Sprint Nextel is located in Overland Park.
The default position for the mapping program [[Google Earth]] is Lawrence. <ref>http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/dec/21/lawrence_pinpointed_center_google_earth/</ref>
[[Sam Brownback]], current US Senator and 2008 Presidential candidate, was born in Parker, attended Kansas State University, and currently represents Kansas in the Senate.
[[Bob Dole]], former US Senator and the 1996 Republican nominee for President, grew up in Russell.
[[Amelia Earhart]], the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, was from Abilene.
[[Dwight Eisenhower]], president of the United States from 1952 to 1960, grew up in Abilene.
[[Thomas Frank]], an author who is most well known for his book ''What's the Matter with Kansas?'', a look at the political history of Kansas written from a liberal perspective.
[[James Naismith]], inventor of the game of basketball, was a professor and coach at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
[[Gordon Parks]], an award-winning African-American photographer and writer, was from Fort Scott.
[[Jim Ryun]], a three time Olympic gold medalist who held the world record in the mile run and served several terms in the House of Representatives, is originally from Wichita but now lives in Lawrence.
[[William Allen White]], a journalist who is most well known for his bitter piece of conservative satire, ''What's the Matter With Kansas?'', lived in Emporia. (Note: The title of the aforementioned Frank book is a reference to the article by White, which precedes Frank's book by over 100 years.)
The 1970s progressive rock band [[Kansas (band)|Kansas]], known for the songs [[Carry On My Wayward Son]] and [[Dust in the Wind]] takes its name from the state.
The [[University of Kansas]]'s men's basketball team is a traditional powerhouse, having produced such NBA greats as Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning, and having won the 1988 national championship. The [[Kansas State University]] football team has also been relatively successful as of late. The Wildcats have advanced to the Big XII Championship game twice.
[[Wichita]] has been home to many minor level sports including the Wichita Wings(indoor soccer), Wichita Wind (hockey), Wichita Aeros,(Baseball), Wichita Wranglers, (baseball), Wichita Stealth,(football), Wichita Aviators (football), Wichita Wild (football). Wichita is also the annual home to the [http://www.nbcbaseball.com/index.cfm?NavID=1&SubNavID=0 National Baseball Congress] tournament. The NBC hosts teams from though out the country in a two week 24 hour a day tournament.
The Kansas Board of Regents supervises six public universities in Kansas: The University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, and Pittsburg State University. There are also several private universities in Kansas, including Washburn University, which is known for its law school. Just a few of the others include MidAmerica Nazarene University in [[Olathe]], Friends University in [[Wichita]], and Baker University in Baldwin City.