|Judge Kelly. Illust-State photo.|
In April 1865, President Lincoln appointed him an Associate Justice for the Territorial Supreme Court. Six years later, he moved to Boise City and bought the Statesman.
Kelly actually showed remarkable restraint when he inserted the telegram text in the next day’s issue. His brief editorial about it did advise the partition supporters to “help build up Idaho instead of trying to tear it to pieces.”
As noted in several of my blog articles, many residents of North Idaho did not want to be part of Idaho Territory. That became especially true in Lewiston after the south “stole” the capital away to Boise City in 1864. The northerners hoped to become part of Washington, or perhaps a totally new territory.
The partition notion also had another root. The Republican-dominated U. S. Congress made Nevada a state in October 1864, even though its population fell well below the preferred minimum for statehood. (As a state, the region offered a Representative and two Senators who were “safely” Republican.)
To “bulk itself up,” in 1866 and 1868 the new state added major chunks of Utah and Arizona territories. Anti-Mormonism bolstered the Utah acquisition. And clearly the mining camps in the wedge that became southern Nevada benefited from being part of a state rather than a weak Arizona Territory.
Emboldened, starting around 1869 Nevada officials tried to carve a chunk out of southern Idaho. They hoped to acquire the booming Owyhee County silver mines. To gain support, they offered to split Idaho with Washington Territory. North Idahoans jumped on board, of course.
However, the schemers failed to overcome the political savvy of the Idaho leaders and their allies in Congress. Although the partitionists seemed to be close to their goal at times, the Territory remained intact.
|Delegate Fred Dubois.|
Library of Congress.
The scheme resurfaced in 1886. By that time, miners had exhausted the best silver lodes in Nevada, and the state’s population was plummeting. (It lost almost a quarter of its people between 1880 and 1890). Adding the growing population of southern Idaho could offset the decline.
Led by Idaho’s shrewd and politically astute Delegate, Fred T. Dubois [blog, May 29], the Territory and its allies fought back in Washington, D. C. Internally, they made concessions to North Idaho – guaranteeing a university there [blog, Oct 3], and so on. This eroded northern support for partition. Shortly after Dubois sent his triumphant telegram, Idaho began to prepare for statehood.
|References: [B&W], [Illust-State]|
|“Constitutional Convention and Ratification,” Reference Series No. 476, Idaho State Historical Society.|
|“Good News from Washington,” Idaho Statesman, Boise (March 1, 1888).|