Douglas County sites seek spots on ‘8 Wonders of Kansas History’ list
Black Jack Battlefield and Constitution Hall are among finalists for designation as among the “8 Wonders of Kansas History,” a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.
The two sites in Douglas County join 22 others vying for a spot on the list, which is being determined by public voting through June 15, with winners to be announced within a week after that.
Paul Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society, is encouraging voters to help Constitution Hall State Historic Site to make the cut.
His case: Constitution Hall is where the Lecompton Constitution was written, then approved by the U.S. Senate in 1858 and endorsed by President Buchanan before being rejected by the U.S. House by eight votes, thereby preventing Kansas from becoming a slave state.
The constitution would be mentioned 55 times during the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and is credited with splitting the Democratic party into factions that prompted three separate candidates for U.S. president in 1860 — an election that would be won by the fourth candidate, a Republican who would garner only 39 percent of the vote.
“Lincoln would not have been elected president had the Democrats not been split into three different factions,” Bahnmaier said.
Another finalist, Black Jack Battlefield near Baldwin City, is considered the place where free-state and pro-slavery forces first engaged in combat, fighting that eventually would lead to the U.S. Civil War. Up to 200 people would die in such fighting in Kansas before war formally broke out between the North and South, Bahnmaier said.
“All the sites in Douglas County need to be recognized for their important role in U.S. history,” he said. “It’s bigger than just Kansas history. It’s United States history.”