First Territorial Capitol State Historic Site

First Territorial Capitol State Historic Site

693 Huebner Rd., Fort Riley, KS 66442 - United States




For four days in 1855 Governor Andrew Reeder and the territorial legislature met here. Their actions here would help lead to the Civil War. Away from the influence of proslavery influence of Missouri the legislature planned to choose a permanent seat of government, create a constitution, and decide if Kansas would be a free or slave state. Discover the stories of territorial Kansas here alongside the beauty of the Kaw River nature trail. Operated with Partners of First Territorial Capitol.


First Territorial Capitol's exhibits cover two floors in the historic building where the territorial legislature met near the Kansas River in Fort Riley.

Early 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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