Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Prediction: Emigration to Western Regions Will Soon Create New States

On September 3, 1863, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, Colorado published an overview of what it saw as some key aspects of westward migration. The article said, “The tide of emigration setting westward will soon fill up two or three new States with populations that will ask admission into the Union. Utah began to knock at the door some years ago, and, but for its ‘peculiar institution,’ would no doubt have been admitted ere this. The Territory has more than the usually required number of people to form a State government, which is rapidly increasing.”

The “peculiar institution” was, of course, polygamy, which was then a tenet of Mormonism, the ‪Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints‬. Utah Territory originally stretched from the Continental Divide to the border of California, and between the 37th and 42nd parallels of latitude. A series of cessions reduced the area to near its present size, plus a largely uninhabited strip of eastern Nevada. The population was estimated at perhaps 55 thousand, comparable to the state of Oregon at that time. However, Utah would not achieve statehood until 1896, after the church officially renounced polygamy.

The newspaper went on, “Nevada Territory will take the initiatory step this fall in claiming admission into Uncle Sam’s family circle.” Nevada moved from Territory to Statehood in October 1864.

The News also said, “The young Territory of Colorado also begins to aspire to a State organization, and will probably take advantage of the enabling act in a year or two. Its mining cities and towns are thriving, and the settlements are being extended into new valleys.”

Colorado Territory had been created in February 1861. Although it grew substantially because of its rich mines, the Territory did not achieve statehood until 1876.
Wagon Train in Canyon Country

Finally, the article said, “Washington Territory and young Idaho now divide the attention of Western emigrants, the latter being the latest gold marvel of the continent. It is scarcely a year yet since the first adventurers filled their pockets with the “yellow boys” at Bannack City, and this year the emigrant trains to the mines of Idaho are long and numerous.”

The writer concluded, “What a generation ago was only known as a Great American Desert will ere long form four or five populous and powerful free States of the Republic.

References: [Brit]
“More New States Coming,“ Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colorado (September 3, 1863).
Allen Kent Powell (ed.), Utah History Encyclopedia, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City (1994).

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