Address delivered at the quarter-centennial celebration of the admission of Kansas as a state
The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.
DELIVERED AT THE
ADMISSION OF KANSAS AS A STATE,
THE DEVELOPMENT OF KANSAS:
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE QUARTER-CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF THE
ADMISSION OF KANSAS, TOPEKA, JANUARY 29, 1886,
BY GOVERNOR JOHN A. MARTIN.
In Grecian mythology it is related that Zeus, warned by an oracle thatthe son of his spouse, Metis, would snatch supremacy from him, swallowedboth Metis and her unborn child. When the time of birth arrived, Zeusfelt a violent pain in his head, and in his agony requested Hephæstus tocleave the head open with an ax. His request was complied with, andfrom the brain of the great god sprang Athena, full-armed, and with amighty war-shout. She at once assumed a high place among the divinitiesof Olympus. She first took part in the discussions of the gods asan opponent of the savage Ares. She gave counsel to her father againstthe giants; and she slew Enceládus, the most powerful of those who conspiredagainst Zeus, and buried him under Mt. Ætna. She became thepatron of heroism among men, and her active and original genius inspiredtheir employment. The agriculturist and the mechanic were under herspecial protection, and the philosopher, the poet and the orator delightedin her favor. The ægis was in her helmet, and she represented theether—pure air. She was worshipped at Athens because she caused theolive to grow on the bare rock of the Acropolis. She was also the protectressof the arts of peace among women. She bore in her hand thespool, the spindle, and the needle, and she invented and excelled in allthe work of women. She was the goddess of wisdom and the symbol ofthought; she represented military skill and civic prudence. In war shewas heroic and invincible; in peace she was wise, strong, inventive, andindustrious.
THE ATHENA OF AMERICAN STATES.
Kansas is the Athena of American States. Thirty-six years ago theSlave Oligarchy ruled this country. Fearing that the birth of new Statesin the West would rob it of supremacy, the Slave Power swallowed theMissouri Compromise, which had dedicated the Northwest to Freedom.2The industrious North, aroused and indignant, struck quick and hard,and Kansas, full-armed, shouting the war-cry of Liberty, and nervedwith invincible courage, sprang into the Union. She at once assumed ahigh place among the States. She was the deadly enemy of Slavery; shegave voice and potency to the demand for its abolition; and she aided inburying Secession in its unhonored grave. The war over, she became thepatron, as she had been during its continuance the exemplar, of heroism,and a hundred thousand soldiers of the Union found homes within theshelter of her embracing arms. The agriculturist and the mechanic werecharmed by her ample resources and inspired by her eager enterprise.Education found in her a generous patron, and to literature, art andscience she has been a steadfast friend. Her pure atmosphere invigoratedall. A desert disfigured the map of the Continent, and she covered itwith fields of golden wheat and tasseling corn. She has extended towomen the protection of generous laws and of enlarged opportunities forusefulness. In war she was valiant and indomitable, and in peace shehas been intelligent, energetic, progressive and enterprising. The modernAthena, type of the great Greek goddess, is our Kansas.
THE CHILD OF A GREAT ERA.
It is not a long lapse of time since the 29th of January, 1861. A boyborn during that eventful year cast his first Presidential vote at the lastelection. But no other period of the world's history has been so fertile ininvention, so potential in thought, so restless and aggressive in energy, orso crowded with sublime achievements, as the quarter-century succeedingthe admission of Kansas as a State. During that period occurred thegreatest war the world has ever known. An industrious, self-governed,peace-loving people, transfigured by the inspiration of patriotism andfreedom, became, within a twelve-month, a Nation of trained and disciplinedwarriors. Human slavery, entrenched for centuries in law,tradition, wealth, and the pride of race, was annihilated, and five millionslaves were clothed with the powers and responsibilities of citizenship.The continent was girdled with railroad and telegraph lines. In1860 there were only 31,186 miles of railway in the United States; thereare now fully 130,000 miles. Less than 50,000 miles of telegraph wireswere stretched at the date of the admission of Kansas; there are nownearly 300,000 miles. The telephone and the electric light are fruits ofthis period, and the improvements and inventions in farm implements, inbooks and newspapers, in all the appliances of mechanical industry, andin the arts and sciences, have revolutionized nearly every department ofhuman activity.
When this marvelous era dawned upon the world, Kansas was a fiction3of the geographers. On the map of our country it was marked asa desert, and the few explorers who had penetrated its vast solitudesdescribed it as an arid and sandy waste, fit only for the wild bison or thewilder Indian. There it had lain for centuries, voiceless and changeless,waiting for the miracle of civilization to touch and transform it.
The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill made Kansas the central figurein a tremendous conflict. It became not only the child of a marvelousepoch, and heir to all the progress, the achievements and the gloryof that epoch, but it stood for an idea; it represented a principle; andthat idea and principle thrilled the heart and awakened the conscience ofthe Nation. That a State cradled amid such events, schooled during sucha period, and inspired by such sentiments, should, in its growth and development,illustrate these mighty energies and impulses, was inevitable.The Kansas of to-day is only the logical sequence of the influences andagencies that have surrounded, shaped and directed every step and stageof the States material and administrative progress.
NOT THE HISTORIAN.
I am not, however, the historian of this occasion. Very properly thecommittee assigned to my honored predecessor, the first Governor of theState—who has been with and of it during all the lights and shadowsof thirty-one revolving years—the duty of presenting an historical sketchof the difficulties and dangers through which Kansas was "added to thestars," and became one of the brightest in the constellation of the Union.To me was allotted another task—that of presenting, as briefly and asclearly as I am able, the material development of Kansas, and her presentcondition and position. It is at once a delightful and a difficult task.The growth of Kansas is a theme which has always enlisted my interestand excited my pride. But I cannot hope to present any adequate pictureof the Kansas you know so well—the Kansas of your love and of yourfaith; the imperial young State, at once the enigma and the wonder ofAmerican commonwealths.
THREE PERIODS OF DEVELOPMENT.
The development of Kansas, it seems to me, has had three periods,which may properly be called the decades of War, of Uncertainty, andof Triumph. From 1855 to 1865, Kansas was an armed camp. Theborder troubles, outbreaking late in 1854, continued until the rebellionwas inaugurated. Kansas, in fact, began the war six years before theNation had fired a shot, and the call to arms in 1861 found here a singularlymartial people, who responded with unparalleled enthusiasm to thePresident's demands for men. In less than a year ten full regiments were4organized, and before the close of the war Kansas had sent over twentythousand soldiers to the field, out of a population of but little more than ahundred thousand. Fields, workshops, offices and schools were deserted,and the patient and heroic women who had kept weary vigils during allthe dark and desolate days of the border troubles, now waited in theirlonely home for tidings from the larger field of the civil war.
It is doubtful whether Kansas increased, either in population or wealth,from 1861 to 1864. But the young State grew in public interest andreputation, and when the heroic men, whose valor and patriotism hadsaved the Republic, began to be mustered out, Kansas offered an invitingfield for their energy, and they came hither in great numbers. The populationof the State, which was 107,206 in 1860, had increased to 140,179in 1865. The assessed value of its property increased from $22,518,232to $36,110,000 during the same period, and the land in farms from1,778,400 to 3,500,000 acres. It was not a "boom," nor was it stagnationand decay. Yet it is probable that nearly the whole of the growthshown by these figures dates from the Spring of 1864.
The real development of Kansas began in 1865, and it has known fewinterruptions since. The census of 1870 showed a population of 364,399—anincrease of 124,220 in five years, or nearly double the populationof 1865. Railroad building also began in 1865, and 1,283 miles werecompleted by 1870. The home-returning soldiers and the railroads cametogether. Immigrants to other States came in slow-moving canal boatsor canvas-covered wagons, but they came to Kansas in the lightningexpress, and most of them went to their claims in comfortable cars drawnby that marvel of modern mechanism, the locomotive. Our State hasnever had a "coon-skin cap" population. It is the child of the prairies,not of the forest. It has always attracted men of intelligence, who knewa good thing when they saw it. They brought with them the school,the church and the printing press; they planted an orchard and a groveas soon as they had harvested their first crop; and if they were compelledto live in a dug-out the first year or two, they were reasonably certain toown a comfortable house the third.
THE PERIOD OF UNCERTAINTY.
The period from 1865 to 1875 was, however, a period of uncertainty.Kansas remained an experiment. The drouth and grasshopper invasionof 1860, a menacing memory for many years, had just begun to growdim when the drouth of 1873 and the still more disastrous drouth andlocust invasion of 1874 revived its recollection, and intensified the uncertaintyit had inspired. The intervening years were not, it is true, withouttheir exaltation and triumphs. Luxuriant harvests followed the disaster5of 1860, year after year in unbroken succession, until 1873, andwe indulged in much jubilant boasting and self-gratulation over ourfruitful soil, our benign climate, and our gracious seasons. But over andthrough it all brooded and ran a feeling of question or uncertainty,which manifested itself in many ways. The newspapers, while affectingto sneer at those who did not believe Kansas to be a country where rainsalways came just when they were wanted, nevertheless recorded everyrain with suspicious prominence. Even the corner-lot speculator watchedthe clouds while he was denouncing the slanderers who asserted thatKansas was "a dry country." "Methinks the lady doth protest toomuch," might have been said of the Kansans who, from 1865 to 1875,vehemently maintained that the normal condition of Kansas was that ofa quagmire.
And in the midst of it all came 1873 and 1874, with their twin devastationsand calamities. A fierce sun rose and set for months in a cloudlesssky; the parched earth shrank and cracked; and the crops witheredand shriveled in winds as hot as the breath of a furnace. But as if thedestruction thus wrought was not enough, out from the northwest cameclouds of insects, darkening the sun in their baleful flight, and leavingthe very abomination of desolation wherever they alighted. It was thenthat the bravest quailed, and our sturdiest farmers abandoned all hope.Thousands of people, now among our most prosperous citizens, wouldhave sold everything they possessed for one-sixth of its value, during theyear 1874, and abandoned the State forever. But they could find no purchasers,even at such