Monday, February 29, 2016

Idaho Territory Fends Off One Last Partition Attempt [otd 02/29]

On February 29, 1888, Congressional Delegate Fred T. Dubois sent the following telegram to Milton Kelly: “House committee on territories to-day reported unanimously against any division of Idaho. This ends the fight.”

Judge Kelly. Illust-State photo.
Milton Kelly was the operator-editor of the Idaho Statesman, published in Boise. He was born near Syracuse, New York, in 1818. He became a lawyer in 1845 and practiced for many years in Wisconsin. Kelly moved to Placerville, Idaho in 1863. He then represented Boise County in the first Idaho Territorial legislature.

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).

Monday, February 22, 2016

Book on Idaho History

Today’s "On This Day item," along with the “Sheep Queen” biography of yesterday, recall the long and colorful history of stock raising in Idaho. As noted in the blog, that history included the Blackfoot firm of Berryman & Rogers. Their story, along with many others is told in my book Before the Spud: Indians, Buckaroos, and Sheepherders in Pioneer Idaho.

Rogers’ career is, of course, outlined in the blog. Berryman, the book says, “divided his time among the company’s interests in stock raising, retail trade, and real estate for many years. However, by 1910, he saw himself primarily as a banker, working for one of the largest banks in Blackfoot. By 1920, Berryman was President of the bank.”

He passed away in 1925, a year before Rogers.

For more information on Before the Spud, visit the Sourdough Publishing web site. There, you will also learn more about my other two Idaho history books: Boise Basin Gold Country and Idaho: Year One, an Idaho Sesquicentennial History.