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Kansas officially became a state when it entered the Union on January 29, 1861. The Civil War began in April of that same year. Two-thirds of all Kansas men who were of age enlisted in the Union Army, and 8,500 of them were killed or wounded. Kansas suffered the most casualties in proportion to population of any other state in the Union.

Fighting between the white settlers and the native Indian tribes in Kansas ensued until the Indians signed a peace treaty in 1867 and agreed to relinquish their land rights in exchange for land in Oklahoma.

State Motto

The motto "Ad astra per aspera" means "to the stars through difficulties." This represents the struggles Kansas faced with issues such as slavery, Indian attacks, and the inevitable war.

State Seal

When Kansas entered the Union, the Kansas legislature designed the great seal of the state of Kansas described in the statute as follows: "The east is represented by a rising sun, in the right-hand corner of the seal; to the left of it, commerce is represented by a river and a steamboat; in the foreground, agriculture is represented as the basis of the future prosperity of the state, by a settler's cabin and a man plowing with a pair of horses; beyond this is a train of ox-wagons, going west; in the background is seen a herd of buffalo, retreating, pursued by two Indians, on horseback; around the top is the motto, 'Ad astra per aspera,' and beneath a cluster of thirty-four stars. The circle is surrounded by the words, 'Great seal of the state of Kansas. January 29, 1861.'"

Kansas State Seal image
Great Seal of the State of Kansas
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Governor's office

State Flag

On May 21, 1927, the Kansas State Legislature adopted the official flag of Kansas. It was flown for the first time over Fort Riley, in honor of the troops there and for the Kansas National Guard. At the top of the flag is the state crest: the sunflower sitting on the twisted blue and gold bar. This bar represents the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, when the land that would become Kansas was acquired by the U.S. from France. The sunflower, which is the state flower, is pictured without its stalk to represent the hardships that Kansas endured and overcame. The state seal is pictured below the crest in the center of the blue flag, and the gold letters of the word "KANSAS" stand below the seal.

Kansas flag image
State flag of Kansas
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society