Kansas covers 82,282 sq mi; its capital is Topeka. It is located on the Great Plains, rising more than 3,000 ft from its eastern prairies to the high plains of the west. The region was occupied by the Kansa, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita Indians before European settlement. The first European explorer was Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, who came from Mexico in 1541 in search of gold. La Salle claimed the region for France in 1682. Kansas was acquired by the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. In the early 19th century the federal government relocated displaced eastern Indians to Kansas. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 created the Kansas Territory and opened it to white settlement. It was the site of conflicts over slavery, including one spurred by John Brown. It entered the Union as the 34th state in 1861. After the Civil War, the coming of the railroads promoted the growth of cow towns; Texas cattlemen drove herds to Wichita and Abilene to reach the railheads. Agriculture became important as farmers worked on the Great Plains. During and following World War II, airplane production expanded, and farm products remained strong.
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