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Minutes for HB2070 - Committee on Transportation

Short Title

Designating a portion of United States highway 75 as the John Armstrong memorial highway.

Minutes Content for Wed, Mar 20, 2019

Chairperson Petersen called the meeting to order at 8:40 a.m. and requested Assistant Revisor Adam Seibers brief the committee on the contents of the bill.

Mr. Nathan McAlister, history teacher at Seaman High School and sponsor of the Civic Engagement Club, introduced the students who delved into the history of John Armstrong. He was a Civil War Veteran whose activity as an abolitionist and conductor of the Underground Railroad in Topeka worked tirelessly to free slaves.

Cade Rothenberger said his interest in John Armstrong came when he discovered John Armstrong was involved with James Lane and John Brown. Armstrong joined the 5th Kansas Cavalry, mustered in as a private and later became a Lieutenant with General James Lane (Attachment 1).

Cole King verified that John Armstrong played a crucial role in establishing the Topeka station of the Underground Railroad in 1857.  He noted the profound influence Armstrong had in the struggle to make Kansas a free state (Attachment 2).

Mason Clark recalled how John Armstrong's efforts resulted in a woman, Ann Clarke,  escaping from her captors in Lecompton; she was one of 300 slaves to gain freedom through the Underground Railroad (Attachment 3).

Connor Bryant requested consideration of HB 2070 because of John Armstrong's patriotism and loyalty to the Union in the Civil War.  That conflict became the impetus pushing Kansas to emerge as a separate state and eventually resulted in declaring Topeka the capital (Attachment 4).

Mary Morrison related the story of Ann Clarke, an African-American slave in Lecompton.  She was escorted through the Underground Railway early in 1857 to Civil Bend, Iowa, where she settled and raised a family (Attachment 5).

Chairperson Petersen and members of the Committee thanked the students and encouraged each one to continue learning, and, like John Armstrong, step out of comfort zones to make a difference in life.

Chairperson Petersen closed the hearing on HB 2070.