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First Territorial Capitol - Exhibits

Exhibits at First Territorial CapitolEarly town of Pawnee

The community of Pawnee was adjacent to the Fort Riley military reservation and was experiencing a building boom in the mid 1800s. Territorial Governor Andrew H. Reeder had announced that the territorial legislature would meet there July 2, 1855, and the town was poised to become the territorial capitol.

Kansas Territorial politics

Most of the legislators who came to Pawnee were sympathetic to the proslavery cause. They had been elected with the aid of Missourians who had crossed the border to vote. The election had been contested by the free-state partisans, but the fraudulent votes helped to overwhelm them. Because of this illegal selection of representatives, the legislature became known to antislavery Kansans as the "bogus legislature," and the laws it passed were called the "bogus laws."

Since most of the legislators meeting in Pawnee were from the border towns with interest in Missouri, they wanted the administrative center located in the eastern part of the territory where their strengths lay. After overruling a veto by the governor, both houses of the territorial legislature voted to adjourn in Pawnee and meet July 16 at Shawnee Mission.

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