Today In History: 130 Years Wyoming Becomes The 44th State In The Union
Today (July 10th, 2020), is a monumental day in Cowboy State history. 130 years to the date, Wyoming became the 44th state to be admitted into the union.
In 1865, Representative James Mitchell Ashley of Ohio introduced a bill to Congress to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming". The area that came to be known as Wyoming was named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, made famous by the 1809 poem written by Scottish poet, Thomas Campell titled, Gertrude of Wyoming, which was based on the Battle of Wyoming in the American Revolutionary War. The word "Wyoming" is derived from the Munsee word xwé:wamənk, meaning "at the big river flat".
130 years ago today, on July 10, 1890, President Harrison signed the Statehood Bill and Wyoming was the 44th state admitted to the Union.
Wyoming Becomes a State: The Constitutional Convention and Statehood Debates of 1889 and 1890 and Their Aftermath" written by Phil Roberts shares the history of how we became the 44th state.
Democrats and Republicans alike in Wyoming Territory agreed by the late 1880's that it was time their territory became a state. Statehood was attractive to the territory’s businessmen and politicians, as it offered them much more local control over land and water issues. Statehood would also mean the federal government would no longer pay the salaries of the top officials — but that savings mattered less as time went on.
One big obstacle loomed, however: were there enough people? Population had grown only slowly since the Territory was established in 1869. Congress used a general rule of thumb, dating back before the U.S. Constitution to the Northwest Ordinance, that a territory had to show a population of 60,000 people to qualify for statehood. Territorial Gov. Thomas Moonlight, a Democrat, reported in December 1888 that Wyoming had only 55,500 people.
Most people lived on ranches and in small towns. The major employers, however, were the railroads (by 1890, these were the Union Pacific, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and the Chicago and Northwestern) and the coal mines (many owned by the railroads). But the population remained small and scattered over the territory’s 98,000 square miles.
To read the more on the 130 years of Wyoming's rich history, click here.
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