1976 13¢ Kansas
State Flags Issue
Issue Date: February 23, 1976
City: Washington, DC
Quantity: 8,720,100 panes of 50
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Photogravure
Issued as part of the ongoing Bicentennial celebration, the 13¢ State Flags pane was a first in U.S. history. This was the first time a pane with 50 face-different stamps was issued. Each state is represented by its official flag, with the stamps arranged on the sheet in the same order each state was admitted into the Union.
Kansas Becomes 34th State
On January 29, 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as America was on the brink of Civil War.
Four main tribes lived in eastern Kansas before white settlers arrived – the Kansa, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita. After acquiring horses by the late 1700s, the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, and other tribes moved into the central plains to hunt buffalo.
Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led the first whites into the area in 1541. Coronado’s expedition was looking for a land called Quivira, where an Indian guide told him he would find gold. No gold was found, and the Spanish left without creating a settlement. By the early 1600s, France had claimed much of North America, including Kansas. During the early 1700s, French fur trappers began to settle in what is now the northeastern corner of Kansas.
In 1803, France sold the vast Louisiana Territory to the United States, including most of Kansas. The southwestern corner of present-day Kansas was claimed by Spain. This land would later become part of Mexico, and then Texas, before being made part of Kansas.
Kansas was governed as part of the District of Louisiana, the Louisiana Territory, and the Missouri Territory. Many Indians from the East were resettled in Kansas for a time. But soon, whites began to settle the area. Some came as missionaries to the Indians and others decided to stay while traveling the Santa Fe Trail. In 1827, Colonel Henry Leavenworth opened the first U.S. outpost, Fort Leavenworth. By 1850, there was substantial pressure to open Kansas for white settlement. The Federal Government negotiated with Indians and reclaimed most of the land. In 1854, Kansas was declared open for settlement. The Indians were sent to reservations in Oklahoma – but some decided to fight. However, none of these groups were successful for long.
During the 1850s, Kansas became the center of the America’s fight over slavery, an issue which had divided the nation. In Congress, slavery created a deep rift between the North and South. This was particularly true concerning the fate of new U.S. territories – there was a great struggle over whether the practice of slavery would be allowed in the new territories or not. Congress sought to avoid the issue with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which essentially let the people who settled these territories decide whether slavery would be legal or not.
Kansas became a U.S. territory on May 30, 1854. Soon, settlers from the North and South were pouring into Kansas. Groups looking to influence the decision over slavery aided these people in an attempt to gain a majority. In the election of 1855, many citizens from the slave state of Missouri came to Kansas and voted. Proslavery candidates did well in the election. Soon after, violence broke out in Kansas, particularly near the border with Missouri. The fighting became so intense that newspapers began to call the territory “Bleeding Kansas.” Proslavery officials wrote a constitution favoring slavery, but Congress refused to admit Kansas to the Union as a slave state. Finally, politicians opposed to slavery were able to gain control of the legislature.
Kansas achieved statehood on January 29, 1861. At that time, several Southern states had already seceded from the Union. Within a few weeks, the Civil War erupted. Kansas was soon hit with a new wave of violence. Confederate raiders under William C. Quantrill burned most of the town of Lawrence, Kansas, and killed about 150 people. During the war, Kansas sent more men to the Union Army in proportion to its total population than any other state. When the war ended in 1865, thousands of Union veterans and newly freed slaves moved to Kansas. In the years following the war, Kansas became a major ranching and farming center (dubbed the Breadbasket of America). Water shortages have plagued the state, though, particularly during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Kansas State Flag
The State Flag of Kansas was designed in 1925 and officially adopted in 1927. It was flown for the first time over Fort Riley by Governor Ben Paulin for the troops stationed there, as well as for the National Guard. At the center of the flag is the Great Seal of the State of Kansas, which pictures a landscape before the rising sun, a river and steamboat (signifying commerce), a cabin with a man plowing a field (representing agriculture), and a wagon train heading west (depicting American expansion). Also pictured is a group of Indians hunting buffalo. The cluster of 34 stars symbolizes Kansas’ role as the 34th state of the American Union.
The Bicentennial Series
The U.S. Bicentennial was a series of celebrations during the mid-1970s that commemorated the historic events leading to America’s independence from Great Britain. The official events began on April 1, 1975, when the American Freedom Train departed Delaware to begin a 21-month, 25,338-mile tour of the 48 contiguous states. For more than a year, a wave of patriotism swept the nation as elaborate firework displays lit up skies across the U.S., an international fleet of tall-mast sailing ships gathered in New York City and Boston, and Queen Elizabeth made a state visit. The celebration culminated on July 4, 1976, with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
The U.S.P.S. issued 113 commemorative stamps over a six-year period in honor of the U.S. bicentennial, beginning with the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Emblem stamp (U.S. #1432). As a group, the Bicentennial Series chronicles one of our nation’s most important chapters, and remembers the events and patriots who made the U.S. a world model for liberty.