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Kansas Constitution

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Kansas Constitution
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OrdinancePreambleBill of Rights
The Kansas Constitution is the basic governing document of the state of Kansas. It outlines the shape and role of the Kansas state government.


The Kansas Constitution consists of 15 articles.[1]

It was approved by the people of Kansas in a statewide vote held on October 4, 1859, with 10,421 votes in favor and 5,530 votes against.[2]


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the Kansas Constitution states:

We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges, in order to insure the full enjoyment of our rights as American citizens, do ordain and establish this constitution of the state of Kansas, with the following boundaries, to wit: Beginning at a point on the western boundary of the state of Missouri, where the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude crosses the same; thence running west on said parallel to the twenty-fifth meridian of longitude west from Washington; thence north on said meridian to the fortieth parallel of north latitude; thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the state of Missouri; thence south with the western boundary of said state to the place of beginning.[1]

Bill of Rights

The "Bill of Rights" of the Kansas Constitution comes between the Preamble and Article 1. It prescribes the rights of the citizens of Kansas and is notable for spelling out a right to bear arms in its Section 4.[1][3]

Article One: Executive

Article 1 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Executive" and consists of thirteen sections.

Article Two: Legislative

Article 2 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Legislative" and consists of thirty sections.

Article Three: Judicial

Article 3 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Judicial" and consists of sixteen sections.

Article Four: Elections

Article 4 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Elections" and consists of three sections.

Article Five: Suffrage

Article 5 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Suffrage" and consists of seven sections.

Article Six: Education

Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Education" and consists of seven sections.

Article Seven: Public Institutions & Welfare

Article 7 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Public Institutions and Welfare" and consists of four sections.

Article Eight: Militia

Article 8 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Militia." It has four sections.

Article Nine: County & Township Organization

Article 9 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "County and Township Organization." It has three sections.

Article Ten: Apportionment of the Legislature

Article 10 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Apportionment of the Legislature." It only has one section.

Article Eleven: Finance & Taxation

Article 11 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Finance and Taxation." It has 13 sections.

Article Twelve: Corporations

Article 12 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Corporations." It has 6 sections.

Article Thirteen: Banks

Article 13 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Banks." It has two sections.

Article Fourteen: Constitutional Amendment & Revision

Article 14 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled "Constitutional Amendment and Revision." It has two sections. The two sections lay out the two paths by which the Kansas Constitution can be altered.

Article Fifteen: Miscellaneous

Article 15 of the Kansas Constitution is labeled Miscellaneous. It has 17 sections.

Amending the constitution

Main article: Amending state constitutions

Article 14 lays out two different routes that can be taken in order to change the constitution over time.

One path is the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. Either house of the Kansas State Legislature can propose an amendment to the state's constitution. Two-thirds of the members of each chamber must approve the resolution. If they do, the proposed amendment goes on either the next statewide ballot during which members of the state legislature are elected, or on a special election ballot if the legislature agrees to have a special election for this purpose.

  • If a simple majority of the electors of the state who vote on the proposition agree with it, it becomes part of the constitution.
  • The legislature must say what the measure's ballot title will be in their resolution authorizing it.
  • If there is more than one proposed amendment, voters must be able to vote on them separately.
  • At most five amendments can be proposed for one election.
  • An amendment is allowed to revise one entire article of the constitution, "except the article on general provisions."

Another path is through a constitutional convention. If two-thirds of the members of each house of the state legislature vote in favor, the question "Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the constitution of the state of Kansas?" or "Shall there be a convention limited to revision of article(s) ________ of the constitution of the state of Kansas?" shall be placed on a statewide ballot. If a simple majority of those voting on that question say "yes," there shall be a convention. Any amendments or revisions that come out of the convention must go before the state's voters.


The Kansas Constitution was originally known as the "Wyandotte Constitution" in order to distinguish it from three proposed constitutions that preceded it. The Wyandotte Constitution was created at Wyandotte (now part of Kansas City) in 1859 and was the fourth constitution voted on by the people of the Kansas Territory. Furthermore, the Kansas Constitution was created as the battle between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces during the "Bleeding Kansas" era and eventually spilled over to the debate over the terms of the new state's charter.[2]


The Wyandotte Constitution was approved in a referendum by a vote of 10,421 to 5,530 on October 4, 1859. In April, 1860, the United States House of Representatives voted 134 to 73 to admit Kansas under the Wyandotte Constitution; however, there was resistance in the United States Senate. As slave states seceded from the Union, their senators left their seats, and on January 21, 1861, the Senate passed the Kansas bill and Kansas was admitted into the Union. The admission of Kansas as a free state became effective January 29, 1861.[2]

The constitution settled the terms of Kansas' admission to the Union, particularly establishing that it would be a free state rather than a slave state. The constitution represented a pragmatic compromise over hotly-contested issues: it rejected slavery and affirmed property rights for women and their right to participate in school elections, but also denied universal suffrage for women, blacks and native americans. The previous proposed state constitutions were the Topeka Constitution of 1855, the Lecompton Constitution of 1857 and the Leavenworth Constitution of 1858.

Although amended several times (including a universal suffrage amendment in 1912), the Wyandotte constitution is still the constitution of Kansas.

See also

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