Thursday 11 August 2011

The America project - Kansas

Kansas (KS) size 82,277 sq.m population 2.9 million

Bordering states Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri (5)
State capital Topeka
Most populous city Wichita
Other notable places Kansas City, Olathe, Lawrence
Notable landmarks and natural features Kansas River; Pony Express Trail; The World's Largest Ball of Twine (disputed), Cawker City

Statehood 29th January 1861 (34th)

Ten famous Kansans
Roscoe Arbuckle (actor; born Smith Center, 1887-1933)
Erin Brockovich (environmental campaigner; born Lawrence, 1960 -)
Bob Dole (politician; born Russell, 1923 -)
Amelia Earhart (aviator; born Atchinson, 1897-1937)
Dwight Eisenhower (army general and politician, 34th President of the USA; born Denison, Texas (raised in Abilene), 1890-1969)
Maurice Greene (athlete; born Kansas City, 1974 -)
Dennis Hopper (actor and artist; born Dodge City, 1936-2010)
Buster Keaton (actor and filmmaker; born Piqua, 1895-1966)
Charlie Parker (musician; born Kansas City, 1920-1955)
Jess Willard (boxer; born Pottowatomie County, 1881-1968)

Three important events

1. Prohibition (19th February 1881)
The Temperance Movement held great sway in the United States during the late 18th, 19th and early 20th Centuries, culminating of course in nationwide Prohibition of alchol between 1920 and 1933. Kansas was the State that led the way, outlawing the hooch on February 19th 1881. The key character to come out of this was Carrie Nation, a fanatical Temperance Movement follower and devoted Christian. She would enforce the newly-passed law by lomping her 6 foot frame from bar to bar, Bible in one hand and a hatchet for destroying beer barrels in the other.

2. The Great Flood (July 1951)
Heavy summer rains in 1951 saw the Kansas River burst its banks at numerous points. The ensuing flood was of Biblical proportions. 17 people died, whilst over half a million were made homeless. At times the flood waters inland reached 8 feet, whilst some rivers saw peak crests almost 3 metres higher than their previous records. To prevent a repeat, Kansas added 15 extra dams to the length of the Kansas River.

3. Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (May 17th 1954)
A landmark legal decision in the United States, ruling that having seperate schools for black and white students was unconstitutional. The knock-on effect of this ruling - brought by 13 parents from Topeka, led by Oliver L.Brown - was that racial segregation in itself had been deemed illegal in a court of law. The Brown vs The Board of Education of Topeka case is one of the most often-cited in the whole history of the Civil Rights movement.

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