The Senate and House approved the Louisiana Purchase, acquiring nearly 800,000 square miles of land extending from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, including the future state of Kansas.
After five months of acrimonious debate, the Senate passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, dividing the Nebraska Territory into the Kansas Territory to the south and Nebraska to the north. The act provided for “popular sovereignty,” allowing the people of both territories to decide whether to permit or prohibit slavery. President Franklin Pierce signed the act into law on May 30.
During Senate debate on Kansas statehood, Senator Charles Sumner, a Free Soil advocate from Massachusetts, delivered his famous “Crime Against Kansas” speech, denouncing the Kansas-Nebraska Act and calling Senator Stephen Douglas’ popular sovereignty principle “popular slavery.” Sumner bitterly described South Carolina senator Andrew Butler as a Don Quixote, with slavery as his ugly mistress, Dulcinea del Toboso. In response, four days later, South Carolina representative Preston Brooks, a relative of Butler’s, beat Sumner with a cane while the senator was seated in the Senate Chamber.
Kansas citizens elected a free-state legislature.
Citizens of the Kansas Territory rejected the Lecompton Constitution which would have allowed slavery in the state of Kansas.
In the fourth attempt to draft a state constitution, delegates in Wyandot wrote a free-state constitution and petitioned Congress for admission to the Union.
The Senate approved the Wyandot constitution. The President signed the act on January 29 and Kansas became the 34th state in the Union.
James H. Lane of Lawrence and Samuel C. Pomeroy of Atchison took their seats as Kansas’ first two senators. Class selection was determined by lot, with Lane drawing a four-year term and Pomeroy drawing a six-year term.
Senator James H. Lane committed suicide in Fort Levenworth, KS.
During the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, Edmund Ross was one of seven Republican senators who courageously defied their party's leadership and voted with the 12 Democratic senators to acquit the president.
The Kansas legislature submitted its findings in an investigation of Samuel Pomeroy’s 1867 election to the Senate’s Committee on Privileges and Elections. On May 11, the committee received the state legislature’s investigation of Alexander Caldwell’s 1871 election. The findings suggested that both senators had used money to secure votes. Pomeroy lost his bed for another term in the 1872 November election, and his term ended in March 1873, with no Senate action taken against him. With evidence against him mounting, Caldwell resigned his seat on March 24, 1873, before the Senate could act.
Following an investigation into charges of bribery and corruption in the 1878 election of Senator John J. Ingalls of Atchison, the Senate found no evidence that Ingalls was involved in such activities and voted that he should retain his seat.
The contested election of John Martin of Topeka was resolved when Vice President Adlai Stevenson ruled on a point of order that a resolution that declared Kansas had not properly organized legislature at the time of Martin's election was not privileged and could not be considered.
The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Senator Joseph R. Burton of Abilene on the charge of receiving compensation for services rendered before a federal department. Burton resigned on June 4, 1906, before the Senate took any action. Burton’s case was part of the inspiration for the series of articles titled “Treason of the Senate” that appeared in Cosmopolitan Magazine beginning in February 1906.
A marble statue of George W. Glick, sculpted by Charles H. Niehaus, was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol, becoming Kansas’s second contribution to the National Statuary Hall Collection. Lawyer, farmer, and former governor of Kansas, Glick helped draft the free-state constitution that allowed for Kansas’s admission to the Union.
Charles Curtis became Kansas's first directly-elected senator under the terms of the Seventeenth Amendment, which had been adopted on April 8, 1913. Curtis had previously served in the Senate from 1907 to 1913. Ironically, in the Republican primary Curtis had defeated Joseph L. Bristow of Salina, who had introduced the resolution that led to the Seventeenth Amendment.
Arthur Capper ended his Senate career having served for 29 years, 9 months, and 30 days. He holds the record as Kansas's longest-serving senator.
Robert J. Dole of Russell began his Senate career. Dole lost the use of his right arm from wounds sustained in Italy during World War II.
The Republican Conference elected Senator Robert J. Dole as their floor leader. He served as majority leader until January 3, 1987, when the Democrats took control of the Senate. He served as minority leader until his resignation on June 11, 1996.
Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Wichita, who became Kansas' first woman senator in 1978, became chair of the Committee on Senate Labor and Human Resources (today's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions). Daughter of former Kansas governor Alfred M. Landon, Kassebaum became the first woman senator to chair a committee in 40 years.
Republican Leader Robert J. Dole resigned to run for president of the United States. He was nominated by his party in August 1996. Dole and his running mate, Jack Kemp, lost to incumbents President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore
Former senator Robert J. Dole was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the U.S. government. Honorees are selected solely by the president, and their accomplishments are in wide-ranging fields, including public service, journalism, entertainment, sports, and business.
A bronze statue of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, sculpted by Jim Brothers, became Kansas’s third contribution to the National Statuary Hall Collection. Because each state is allowed only two statues in the collection, Eisenhower replaced the marble statue of George W. Glick. Kansas became the first state to replace a statue in the collection.
Senator Sam D. Brownback of Topeka, who had defeated appointed senator Sheila Frahm of Colby in the special election to replace Bob Dole in November 1996, was elected governor of Kansas. Brownback had decided not to be a candidate for reelection to the Senate.
Pat Roberts became chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.