Constitution Hall State Historic Site

Constitution Hall State Historic Site 319 Elmore, Lecompton, KS 66050-0198 785-887-6520 kshs.org/constitution_hall
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James Henry Lane had a significant impact on Kansas history and is one of Constitution Hall’s more colorful characters. He was part of a large antislavery delegation that marched into Lecompton to protest the convening of the proslavery Lecompton Constitutional Convention in the fall of 1857. The nation’s eyes were fixed on this site, waiting to see what kind of constitution would be drafted and whether Kansas would join the Union as a free or slave state. At this National Historic Landmark you will learn more about Jim Lane, the proslavery and free-state forces in the area, and other stories of territorial Kansas.

After 1894 Constitution Hall was owned by Odd Fellows Lodge No. 413. Over the years, they shared their lodge room with t...
04/17/2020

After 1894 Constitution Hall was owned by Odd Fellows Lodge No. 413. Over the years, they shared their lodge room with the Grand Army of the Republic, the Masons, and the Modern Woodmen of America. Lecompton Rebekah Lodge No. 698 took over responsibility for the building from the Odd Fellows in 1946. This women’s group conducted their social and services activities here until Constitution Hall became a state historic site in 1986. #kansashistory

Five years ago over 20 students enrolled in the “Window Restoration and Weatherization Boot Camp” at Constitution Hall. ...
04/14/2020

Five years ago over 20 students enrolled in the “Window Restoration and Weatherization Boot Camp” at Constitution Hall. With instruction from restoration expert Bob Yapp from Hannibal, Missouri, the participants restored and weatherized nine double-hung windows on the second floor at Constitution Hall. Partial funding for this project was provided by a grant from the Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council. #kansashistory

Although its time as part of territorial history was relatively brief, Constitution Hall continued to be utilized for ot...
04/10/2020

Although its time as part of territorial history was relatively brief, Constitution Hall continued to be utilized for other purposes. It was a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) hall from 1875 to 1896. The GAR was a Union Civil War veterans’ fraternity. These newspaper notices came from the Leavenworth Times on October 19, 1892 and from the Topeka State Journal on May 20, 1892. #kansashistory

Constitution Hall State Historic Site's cover photo
04/09/2020

Constitution Hall State Historic Site's cover photo

This illustration of an emigrant family in camp in Kansas Territory in 1857 was published in 1867 in Albert D. Richardso...
04/07/2020

This illustration of an emigrant family in camp in Kansas Territory in 1857 was published in 1867 in Albert D. Richardson’s, “Beyond the Mississippi: From the Great River to the Great Ocean.” #kansashistory

Ely Moore, Sr. was appointed agent for the Miami and other tribes of Indians in Kansas in 1853. He had come from New Yor...
04/03/2020

Ely Moore, Sr. was appointed agent for the Miami and other tribes of Indians in Kansas in 1853. He had come from New York where he had served in Congress. He was later appointed register of the United States land office in Lecompton, Kansas Territory in 1855, serving until 1860. He died in Lecompton in early 1860 and was buried on his farm south of Lecompton.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

On this day in 1855, an election was held in Kansas Territory to choose a legislature. Free state Kansans referred to th...
03/30/2020

On this day in 1855, an election was held in Kansas Territory to choose a legislature. Free state Kansans referred to this body and the laws they passed as the “bogus legislature” and the “bogus laws.” At this election of 6,000 votes, nearly 5,000 were fraudulent leaving less than 1,500 that were legal. Proslavery Missourians had taken possession of the polling booths and illegally elected themselves to the legislature. #kansashistory

Did you know that Pike’s Peak was once a part of Kansas Territory? From 1854 to 1861 Kansas Territory reached into Color...
03/27/2020

Did you know that Pike’s Peak was once a part of Kansas Territory? From 1854 to 1861 Kansas Territory reached into Colorado. The border of Kansas could have contained a large portion of Colorado and even part of Nebraska! #kansashistory

Slavery was not just a volatile subject within the borders of Kansas Territory. Hundreds of miles away in Washington D.C...
03/24/2020

Slavery was not just a volatile subject within the borders of Kansas Territory. Hundreds of miles away in Washington D.C., a brawl broke out on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. The notorious argument occurred between northern and southern representatives in the Capitol in 1858 while debating the Lecompton Constitution. #kansashistory

Constitution Hall State Historic Site's cover photo
03/19/2020

Constitution Hall State Historic Site's cover photo

The Constitution Hall State Historic Site will be closed tothe public due to health and safety concerns until further no...
03/18/2020

The Constitution Hall State Historic Site will be closed to
the public due to health and safety concerns until further notice. From March 23 to April 5, our business offices will be closed.

We will continue to share Kansas history through our social media, KSHS.org, and kansasmemory.org. Please note that due to the closure of our business offices, we will be unable to respond to emails, calls, and social media messages. We will respond upon our return.

For more information visit our website at https://www.kshs.org/

Find the latest information on the COVID-19 Coronavirus: https://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus

Proslavery George W. Clarke shot and killed free state man Thomas Barber near Lawrence during the 1855 Wakarusa War. The...
03/17/2020

Proslavery George W. Clarke shot and killed free state man Thomas Barber near Lawrence during the 1855 Wakarusa War. The following year there was an assassination attempt on Clarke while he was seated reading at his desk at his home near Lecompton. The assassin’s bullet intended for Clarke missed its mark but did leave a hole in Clarke’s desk. #kansashistory

From March 17 through March 31, Constitution Hall State Historic Site will be closed to the public due to health and saf...
03/16/2020

From March 17 through March 31, Constitution Hall State Historic Site will be closed to the public due to health and safety concerns. We will be consulting with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Governor’s Office to assess the best time to reopen.

We will continue to share Kansas history through our social media, KSHS.org, and kansasmemory.org. Our staff will available by email and phone during this time.

For more information visit our website at https://www.kshs.org/

Whether you were a resident of Lecompton, or perhaps just passing through a ferry would have helped you get across the K...
03/13/2020

Whether you were a resident of Lecompton, or perhaps just passing through a ferry would have helped you get across the Kansas River. This 1867 photograph shows the Lecompton ferry on the Kansas River as photographed by Alexander Gardner. #kansashistory

In 1867, Alexander Gardner found himself photographing his way across the continent. One of his stops included Lecompton...
03/10/2020

In 1867, Alexander Gardner found himself photographing his way across the continent. One of his stops included Lecompton, where he took this photograph, showing many of the 1850s territorial buildings. This includes Constitution Hall State Historic Site. #kansashistory

This illustration published in the New York Illustrated News on January 19, 1861 shows the unfortunate image of a family...
03/06/2020

This illustration published in the New York Illustrated News on January 19, 1861 shows the unfortunate image of a family dying of starvation in Black Jack, Douglas County, Kansas Territory. A prolonged drought of 16 months had griped Kansas. Settlers suffered particularly in rural areas like Black Jack. With failed crops and famine, thousands of destitute settlers packed up and went back east. #kansashistory

03/03/2020
Around Kansas

The television show “Around Kansas” did a segment on the history of Constitution Hall State Historic Site by historian Michelle Martin. Michelle, a doctoral candidate in the history department at the University of New Mexico, was last Sunday’s speaker at our Bleeding Kansas program. #kansashistory

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2558194351098123

Michelle Martin is here with a look at the history of Constitution Hall in Historic Lecompton. #AroundKansas

Michelle M. Martin, a doctoral candidate, Department of history, University of New Mexico, will be sharing with us about...
03/01/2020

Michelle M. Martin, a doctoral candidate, Department of history, University of New Mexico, will be sharing with us about “A Shield Against the World: Opothleyahola and the Civil War in Indian Territory and Kansas," today at 2 p.m. at Constitution Hall. There is a $3 suggested donation for each adult in attendance. The program is held on the second floor and seating is limited. #kansashistory

This 1861 illustration from the New York Illustrated News shows people and a covered wagon pulled by oxen struggling thr...
02/28/2020

This 1861 illustration from the New York Illustrated News shows people and a covered wagon pulled by oxen struggling through a Kansas blizzard in search of provisions. It was titled “Famine in Kansas.” #kansashistory

This newspaper article from Atchison’s “Squatter Sovereign” from January 22, 1856 shares how the Missouri River was iced...
02/25/2020

This newspaper article from Atchison’s “Squatter Sovereign” from January 22, 1856 shares how the Missouri River was iced over with an estimated two feet of ice. They go on to share how they saw two wagons pass each other on the ice. #kansashistory

Jim Ogle, the executive director of Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, will be speaking on the hidden history of...
02/23/2020

Jim Ogle, the executive director of Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, will be speaking on the hidden history of Quindaro at 2 p.m. today at Constitution Hall! You won’t want to miss it! Programs will be broadcasted downstairs for those who wish to not go to the second floor. #kansashistory

A “Retreat for Rural Leaders 2020” meeting was recently held in Lecompton on the second floor of Constitution Hall State...
02/21/2020

A “Retreat for Rural Leaders 2020” meeting was recently held in Lecompton on the second floor of Constitution Hall State Historic Site.#kansashistory

Most of the lumber to construct Constitution Hall was likely produced at a sawmill on a tract of woodlands owned by Doug...
02/18/2020

Most of the lumber to construct Constitution Hall was likely produced at a sawmill on a tract of woodlands owned by Douglas County, Kansas Sheriff Samuel J. Jones. The tract was located on Kansas River bottom on Oakley Creek east of Lecompton. #kansashistory

We are excited to welcome Deb Goodrich, host of “Around Kansas,” and Garvey Foundation historian in residence, Fort Wall...
02/16/2020

We are excited to welcome Deb Goodrich, host of “Around Kansas,” and Garvey Foundation historian in residence, Fort Wallace Museum, to present "Rake, Rambler, and Father to a U.S. Vice President: O. A. "Captain Jack" Curtis." Join us at 2 p.m. today at Constitution Hall! Programs will be broadcasted downstairs for those who wish to not go to the second floor. #kansashistory

Old-growth, native eastern cottonwood lumber was used for Constitution Hall’s floor boards, joists, wall studs, roof she...
02/14/2020

Old-growth, native eastern cottonwood lumber was used for Constitution Hall’s floor boards, joists, wall studs, roof sheathing, rafters, wall lath, and foundation sills. In contrast, old-growth, native black walnut lumber was used for its exterior siding and door frames. At 164 years old, Constitution Hall is one of the oldest wood- frame buildings left standing today in Kansas. #kansashistory

We have many state historic sites and spring will be here before you know it! What sites are you planning to visit this ...
02/11/2020

We have many state historic sites and spring will be here before you know it! What sites are you planning to visit this year? #kansashistory

Judy Sweets, historical researcher and genealogist, and Kerry Altenbernd, historian and John Brown interpreter, will be ...
02/09/2020

Judy Sweets, historical researcher and genealogist, and Kerry Altenbernd, historian and John Brown interpreter, will be here at Constitution Hall today at 2 p.m. They will be speaking on the topic "They Put Up More Than Hay: Joel and Emily Grover, Their Barn, and the Underground Railroad." Don’t miss out! #kansashistory

Did you know that over 103,000 acres (161 square miles) of Kansas land was sold in the Lecompton land office between the...
02/07/2020

Did you know that over 103,000 acres (161 square miles) of Kansas land was sold in the Lecompton land office between the years 1857 and 1861? #kansashistory

This 1857 map of the Kansas River valley from its mouth at Wyandotte City (Kansas City area today) to its headwaters at ...
02/04/2020

This 1857 map of the Kansas River valley from its mouth at Wyandotte City (Kansas City area today) to its headwaters at Fort Riley shows the many towns and villages located in the valley as well as several Native American missions and the many river tributaries. #kansashistory

T. Kevin Griffin will be sharing with us about “The Most Famous Unknown Room in America,” today at 2 p.m. at Constitutio...
02/02/2020

T. Kevin Griffin will be sharing with us about “The Most Famous Unknown Room in America,” today at 2 p.m. at Constitution Hall. You won’t want to miss this fascinating presentation! #kansashistory

Samuel D. Lecompte and his family came to Kansas so he could serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Kansas T...
01/31/2020

Samuel D. Lecompte and his family came to Kansas so he could serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Kansas Territory, as appointed by President Franklin Pierce. He was also the president of the Lecompton Town Company and actively promoted the city to become the state capital. He was a stalwart Democrat, but by the end of the Civil War he renounced his allegiance to the Democratic Party and became a Republican. He served as the probate judge of Leavenworth County, on the state legislature, and as the chairman of the Republican Congressional Committee of the first district. #kansashistory

Today, Kansas governors serve four-year terms, so it’s hard to image several governors in less than a decade. But, that’...
01/28/2020

Today, Kansas governors serve four-year terms, so it’s hard to image several governors in less than a decade. But, that’s exactly what happened during the just under seven years of our territorial period. Ten men served as governor or acting governor from 1854 to 1861, earning Kansas Territory the name “Graveyard of Governors.” #kansashistory
Photograph courtesy of the Lecompton Historical Society.

This year’s Bleeding Kansas Program series at Constitution Hall is kicking off with remarks by Governor Laura Kelly! Fol...
01/26/2020

This year’s Bleeding Kansas Program series at Constitution Hall is kicking off with remarks by Governor Laura Kelly! Following her remarks, we will get look at the Winter School Restoration from project manager Dan Rockhill, former state Senator Winton A. Winter, Jr., and Katie Winter, an education interpretive specialist. #kansashistory

While there has been some debate over the origin of Kansas’ name, most explanations derive from the Kaw, who were a domi...
01/24/2020

While there has been some debate over the origin of Kansas’ name, most explanations derive from the Kaw, who were a dominant tribe in Kansas. Other less common explanations have been proposed, such as one from historian George Morehouse, who suggested an origin going back to Spanish. There are even many spellings of Kansas that have been used! Today, it is generally accepted that the origin derives from the Kaw tribe. #kansashistory

For more information on names in Kansas see “1001 Kansas Place Names” by Sondra Van Meter McCoy and Jan Hults.

Douglas County Sheriff Samuel J. Jones, builder of Constitution Hall, also constructed a six-room log house that was use...
01/21/2020

Douglas County Sheriff Samuel J. Jones, builder of Constitution Hall, also constructed a six-room log house that was used in 1856 by Governor John Geary as the "Governor's Mansion." Sadly, nothing remains today of the cabin once located west of the existing Democratic Headquarters in Lecompton, except a window shutter displayed at the Territorial Capitol/Lane Museum in Lecompton. This engraving of the “Governor’s Mansion” appeared in an 1857 edition of Harper's Weekly. #kansashistory

In January of 1857, a convention of the "National Democratic Party of Kansas” met in Lecompton.  A committee consisting ...
01/17/2020

In January of 1857, a convention of the "National Democratic Party of Kansas” met in Lecompton. A committee consisting of several prominent men of the territory was formed to prepare an address to the people of the United States. Committee members included such men as John Calhoun, Surveyor General of Kansas and Nebraska territories and President of the Lecompton Constitution, George W. Clarke, Indian agent and land office official; John H. Stringfellow, speaker of the 1855 territorial legislature; L. A. Maclean, chief clerk surveyor general office; and ex-U.S. Senator David R. Atchison of Missouri.

In 1864, the Homestead Act was amended to allow returning Union soldiers with two years of service to acquire the land a...
01/14/2020

In 1864, the Homestead Act was amended to allow returning Union soldiers with two years of service to acquire the land after only a one-year residency. Under the provisions of the original Homestead Act, settlers could claim 160 acres of public land. They paid a small filing fee and if they lived on the 160 acres for five continuous years, built a residence, and grew crops, they could file for their deed to the property. The Homestead Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on May 20, 1862. #kansashistory

The affairs of Kansas Territory made an impact far past the borders of Kansas. Many politically powerful federal officia...
01/10/2020

The affairs of Kansas Territory made an impact far past the borders of Kansas. Many politically powerful federal officials were involved in the affairs of Kansas. United States Senator David R. Atchison lived close to the border of Kansas and Missouri, and even commanded proslavery troops. Southerner Jefferson Davis was the U.S. Secretary of War. U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas was the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which established Kansas as a territory. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. #kansashistory

Establishing a constitution for Kansas was not an easy task. It took four attempts during the early years of Kansas Terr...
01/07/2020

Establishing a constitution for Kansas was not an easy task. It took four attempts during the early years of Kansas Territory. The first attempt took place in 1855 in Topeka and produced a free state document. The Lecompton Constitution came two years, followed by the Leavenworth Constitution in 1858. Finally, in 1859, the Wyandotte Constitution was produced, and Kansas would be admitted under this constitution in 1861. #kansashistory

John H. Stringfellow had once been a fiery proslavery newspaper editor in Atchison and radical speaker of the proslavery...
01/03/2020

John H. Stringfellow had once been a fiery proslavery newspaper editor in Atchison and radical speaker of the proslavery 1855 Kansas “bogus” territorial legislature, but in January 1858 he wrote to the Washington Union newspaper advocating against the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution. To do so, he said, would break down the Democratic Party at the North, and seriously endanger the peace and interests of Missouri and Kansas, if not of the whole Union. The slavery question in Kansas, he said, had been settled against the South
by immigration. #kansashistory

Happy New Year! State offices, including Constitution Hall State Historic Site, will be closed today, January 1, 2020. #...
01/01/2020

Happy New Year! State offices, including Constitution Hall State Historic Site, will be closed today, January 1, 2020. #kansashistory

John H. Stringfellow had once been a fiery proslavery newspaper editor in Atchison and radical speaker of the proslavery...
12/31/2019

John H. Stringfellow had once been a fiery proslavery newspaper editor in Atchison and radical speaker of the proslavery 1855 Kansas “bogus” territorial legislature, but in January 1858 he wrote to the Washington Union newspaper advocating against the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution. To do so, he said, would break down the Democratic Party at the North, and seriously endanger the peace and interests of Missouri and Kansas, if not of the whole Union. The slavery question in Kansas, he said, had been settled against the South
by immigration. #kansashistory

Although brief, the Wakarusa War of 1855 was not without bloodshed. On the way home from Lawrence with his brother and b...
12/27/2019

Although brief, the Wakarusa War of 1855 was not without bloodshed. On the way home from Lawrence with his brother and brother-in-law, Thomas Barber was fatally shot by a group of men containing militia and territorial officials. While an article by historian Ely Moore Jr. in 1901 suggests Barber was really killed over a stolen horse, research generally supports the former. #kansashistory

Back in 1820, the Missouri Compromise had allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state. Under the Missouri Compr...
12/24/2019

Back in 1820, the Missouri Compromise had allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state. Under the Missouri Compromise the future Kansas Territory would have automatically been a free state. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 changed this, however, when it repealed the Missouri Compromise. Instead, the principle of popular sovereignty, which allowed the people of the territory to choose, would now decide the issue of slavery in both the Kansas and Nebraska Territories. #kansashistory

Ely Moore, Jr., from New York City, served as a deputy register of the land office on the first floor of Constitution Ha...
12/20/2019

Ely Moore, Jr., from New York City, served as a deputy register of the land office on the first floor of Constitution Hall from 1857-1860. He authored several articles in the Kansas State Historical Society’s publication Kansas Historical Collections on topics such as Lecompton and John Brown and Osawatomie. #kansashistory

Drawing by Ellen Duncan

Address

319 Elmore St
Lecompton, KS
66050-0198

Opening Hours

Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00
Sunday 13:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(785) 887-6520

Website

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