Washington Territory

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Territory of Washington
Organized incorporated territory of the United States

1853–1889
 

 

Seal of Washington Territory of Washington Territory

Seal of Washington Territory

Capital Olympia
Government Organized incorporated territory
Governor List
History
 -  Split from Oregon Territory March 2, 1853
 -  Idaho Territory split off March 4, 1863
 -  Statehood November 11, 1889

The Territory of Washington was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 2, 1853, until November 11, 1889, when the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Washington. It was created from the portion of the Oregon Territory north of the lower Columbia River and north of the 46th parallel east of the Columbia. At its largest extent, it also included the entirety of modern Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming, before attaining its final boundaries in 1863.

History[edit]

Agitation in favor of self-government developed in the regions of the Oregon Territory north of the Columbia River in 1851–1852.[1] A group of prominent settlers from the Cowlitz and Puget Sound regions met on November 25, 1852, at the "Monticello Convention", to draft a petition to the United States Congress calling for a separate territory north of the Columbia River. After gaining approval from the Oregon territorial government, the proposal was sent to the federal government.[2]

The bill to establish the territory, H.R. 348, was reported in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Charles E. Stuart on January 25, 1853.[3] Representative Richard H. Stanton argued that the proposed name—the "Territory of Columbia"—might be confused for the District of Columbia, and suggested a name honoring George Washington instead.[4] The bill was thus amended with the name "Washington", though not without some debate,[5] and passed in the House on February 10, passed in the Senate on March 2, and signed by President Millard Fillmore on the same day.[6]

Isaac Stevens, who was appointed the territory's first governor, declared Olympia to be the territorial capital. A territorial legislature was elected and first met in February 1854,[7] and the territorial supreme court issued its first decision later in the year.[8] Columbia Lancaster was elected as the first delegate to U.S. Congress.

The original boundaries of the territory included all of the present day State of Washington, as well as northern Idaho and Montana west of the continental divide. On the admission of the State of Oregon to the union in 1859, the eastern portions of the Oregon Territory, including southern Idaho, portions of Wyoming west of the continental divide, and a small portion of present-day Ravalli County, Montana were annexed to the Washington Territory.[9] The southeastern tip of the territory (in present day Wyoming) was sent to Nebraska Territory on March 2, 1861.[10][11]

In 1863, the area of Washington Territory east of the Snake River and the 117th meridian was reorganized as part of the newly created Idaho Territory, leaving the territory within the current boundaries of Washington State, which was admitted to the Union on November 11, 1889 as the 42nd US state.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Weber, Dennis P. (Fall 2003). "The Creation of Washington: Securing Democracy North of the Columbia". Columbia Magazine 17 (3): 23–34. Retrieved February 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Settlers met at Monticello to sign a petition asking Congress to create a separate territory north of the Columbia River". Washington History. Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved July 19, 2011. 
  3. ^ Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Volume 48, p. 185, January 25., 1853
  4. ^ McClelland, John M., Jr. (Summer 1988). "Almost Columbia, Triumphantly Washington". Columbia Magazine 2 (2): 3–11. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  5. ^ The Congressional Globe, 32nd Congress, 2nd Session, p. 555. Rep. Alexander Evans argued that the name "Washington" was as confusing as "Columbia". In a later amendment to H.R. 348, a senator offered the name "Washingtonia".
  6. ^ Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Volume 48, p. 397, March 3, 1853.
  7. ^ Kit Oldham (January 15, 2003). "Governor Isaac Stevens selects Olympia as capital of Washington Territory on November 28, 1853". HistoryLink. 
  8. ^ Tim Fuller. ""The Most Accurate and Useful Law Books Possible": Milestones of Official Case Reporting in Washington". Washington State Courts. 
  9. ^ "Act of Congress Admitting Oregon to the Union". Oregon Blue Book. February 14, 1859. 
  10. ^ The Statistician and Economist (San Francisco: L.P. McCarty) 19: 59. 1897–1898 http://books.google.com/books?id=1rFXAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA59 |url= missing title (help). 
  11. ^ Harrison Johnson (1880). "Chapter I: Historical". Johnson's History of Nebraska. Omaha: Henry Gibson. p. 41. 

External links[edit]