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Constitutions » KS Constitution » Adoption Process

The Kansas Constitution was adopted by the Legislature on July 29, 1859. However, the decision to adopt the Wyandotte version proved to be a battle of the parties. All of the 17 Democrats protested the document by refusing to sign it.

Ultimately the supporters of the constitution won with a landslide victory on October 14, 1859 (almost doubling the number of those opposed) 10,421 votes to 5,530 votes.

After the new constitution had been ratified, it was sent to the president of the United States, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and the president of the U.S. Senate. The Kansas bill had to be voted on by the House and Senate and signed by the president before it could be officially implemented.

Abraham Lincoln had just been elected, which caused a domino effect of Southern states, 11 in all, to secede from the Union. Subsequently, all of the Southern Democrats in the Senate fled to the South, providing a much friendlier atmosphere for the Kansas bill to be passed. The House voted to pass the bill in April 1860, and the Senate passed the bill during the next session. Now all that stood between the Kansas Territory and statehood was the current president.

Although Lincoln was the president-elect, he didn't take office until March 4, 1861. Ironically, it was President James Buchanan whose signature was required to pass the bill into law. Northerners referred to Buchanan as a "doughface," a term applied to those who were from the North but sympathized with the South. Nonetheless, Buchanan signed the bill on January 29, 1861, making Kansas the 34th state to enter the Union.

James Buchanan image
President James Buchanan, who signed the Kansas statehood bill into law
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress