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Kansas was first settled by European Americans in 1812, in what is now Bonner Springs, but the pace of settlement accelerated in the 1850s, in the midst of political wars over the slavery issue. When it was officially opened to settlement by the U.S. government in 1854 with the Kansas–Nebraska Act, abolitionist Free-Staters from New England and pro-slavery settlers from neighboring Missouri rushed to the territory to determine whether Kansas would become a free state or a slave state. Thus, the area was a hotbed of violence and chaos in its early days as these forces collided, and was known as Bleeding Kansas. The abolitionists prevailed, and on January 29, 1861, Kansas entered the Union as a free state. After the Civil War, the population of Kansas grew rapidly when waves of immigrants turned the prairie into farmland.
Humans have inhabited the land now known as Missouri for at least 12,000 years. The Mississippian culture built cities and mounds, before declining in the 1300s. When European explorers arrived in the 1600s they encountered the Osage and Missouria nations. The French established Louisiana, a part of New France, and founded Ste. Genevieve in 1735 and St. Louis in 1764. After a brief period of Spanish rule, the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Americans from the Upland South, including enslaved African Americans, rushed into the new Missouri Territory. Many from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee settled in the Boonslick area of Mid-Missouri. Soon after, heavy German immigration formed the Missouri Rhineland.