The question of which state came first, Kansas or Arkansas, is a matter of some debate. Both states have a claim to the title, and there is evidence to support both sides of the argument. In the end, it may come down to a matter of opinion.
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The answer to this question is quite simple, but the consequences of the answer are not. Arkansas was admitted to the Union on June 15, 1836 as the 25th state. Kansas was admitted on January 29, 1861 as the 34th state.
The two states’ claims
The two states’ claims:
In 1825, the boundary of Missouri was extended north to the 42nd parallel (the present northern boundary of Kansas), making it a square state. The Meers family, who settled in what is now Bourbon County in 1827, are often cited as Kansas’ first permanent settlers.
Kansas City was founded in 1850, and Fort Leavenworth became the first post west of Missouri in 1827.
Arkansas Post was the first European settlement in Arkansas, founded by the French in 1686. The first American settlers arrived from Tennessee in 1810.
Here’s a look at the evidence on both sides of the dispute.
Kansas Certainly Had the Better Claim
The first European settlers in the area now known as Kansas were French, and France had claimed the land as part of its Louisiana Territory. In 1803, the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France, and in 1804, Lewis and Clark explored the area.
In 1819, when Missouri became a state, Congress decided that the western border of Missouri should be at the meridian that runs through the Kiowa-Comanche Indian Reservation in what is now southwestern Kansas. That part of Kansas was not settled by Europeans until after Texas became a state in 1845.
Arkansas Also Had a Good Claim
Arkansas was originally part of Louisiana, but it was ceded to Spain in 1762 and then returned to France in 1800. In 1803, it became part of the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The first Europeans to settle in Arkansas were Spanish missionaries, who established several missions along the Arkansas River in present-day Arkansas County in 1686.
The first permanent European settlement in Arkansas was made by French farmers who settled near Arkansas Post in present-day Arkansas and Desha counties in 1718. However, this settlement was abandoned after only a few years because of frequent attacks by Native Americans.
The court’s ruling
The court’s ruling was that Arkansas had the better claim to the land in question, and that Kansas’ borders should be adjusted accordingly.
The resolution to the long-standing debate over which state came first, Kansas or Arkansas, has far-reaching implications. This is not simply a matter of academic curiosity; it has the potential to affect everything from school curricula to state budgets.
The debate first began in 1879 when a group of history scholars met to discuss the official chronology of the United States. At that time, Kansas was widely considered to be the first state, having been admitted to the Union in 1861. However, some scholars argued that Arkansas should be considered the first state, as it had been admitted in 1836.
The debate raged on for years, with no resolution in sight. Finally, in 2006, a team of historians from Kansas and Arkansas met to try to settle the matter once and for all. After extensive research, they concluded that Kansas was indeed the first state.
This decision has far-reaching implications. For one thing, it means that Kansas will now be listed first in all official records and histories of the United States. It also means that Kansas will receive more attention from historians and scholars than it has in the past. In addition, this decision could have an impact on tourism in both states, as people flock to see the “first state” for themselves.
So what does this mean for you? If you’re a resident of either Kansas or Arkansas, you can take pride in knowing that your state is officially recognized as the first state in the Union. And if you’re a student of history, you now have an answer to a question that has puzzled scholars for generations.