Kansas was created from the most important conflict in U.S. history: slavery.
Lecompton played a critical role in that battle, so current leaders believe that the Territorial Capital of Kansas would be the perfect place for the Kansas Legislature to meet for one day next year as part of the state’s sesquicentennial.
“This is where the beginning of the end of slavery occurred,” said Paul Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society. Having the Legislature meet here “would recognize the importance that Kansas played in the history of the United States.”
Bahnmaier has written a letter to Gov.-elect Sam Brownback and Kansas legislators seeking the legislative road trip to historical Lecompton, which is midway between Topeka and Lawrence. State leaders have not made a decision yet.
“This one-day change of venue would bring national attention to the important role Kansas played in the pre-Civil War period,” the letter stated. The letter was also signed by state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence; state Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence; Douglas County Commissioner Jim Flory; and Lecompton Mayor Roy Paslay.
Kansas celebrates its 150th anniversary of statehood next year.
Lecompton was the capital of the Kansas Territory from 1855 to 1861, and a pro-slavery constitution was written there, which was passed by the U.S. Senate but failed in the House.
The document split the national Democratic Party in several different camps, which helped Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, win the presidency with 39 percent of the vote.
Bahnmaier said that if the Legislature came to Lecompton, the Kansas House could meet in the Territorial Capital Museum, a National Register site where President Dwight Eisenhower’s parents were married. And the Kansas Senate could meet in Constitution Hall, a National Landmark and Kansas State Historical Site.
Bringing attention to the historical events in Lecompton that led to Kansas becoming an anti-slavery state would put the state in a “very favorable light,” the letter stated.
“While the event will be held in Lecompton, it will truly honor the men and women who have built this state economically, politically, socially, and the sacrifices they made so that we may live in a free society,” the letter stated.
Bahnmaier said the Lecompton Historical Society will raise private funds to charter buses to transport legislators and staff, and, with help from the Lecompton United Methodist Church, will provide a meal.