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Was admitted into the Union in the year 1859. It, primarily, included Washington Territory, and, with the latter, comprised the extensive tract lying between the British Possessions, on the north, and California, on the south; the Rocky Mountains, on the east, and the Pacific Ocean, on the west. The coasts of this region were discovered by the Spaniards in the 16th century. In 1792, Capt. Grey, of Boston, discovered and entered the Columbia River, and thus the United States acquired the right of sovereignty over the territory. The exploration of the country from the Missouri to the Columbia, by Lewis and Clark, government appointees, in 1804-5-6, strengthened this claim. The British, however, laid claim to the northern part of the territory, which gave rise to a threatening dispute between Great Britain and the United States. But the difficulty was adjusted by a treaty in 1846, establishing the boundary of 49°, north latitude. The State still contains the Flathead, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Shoshane, and other tribes of Indians, who are, for the most part, in the savage state, though the Christian missionaries have done much in the way of civilizing a portion of them. The furs of this region, those of the badger, beaver, bear, fisher-fox, lynx, martin, mink, muskrat, etc., have long been a great source of revenue.
The American fur companies established trading posts in Oregon at an early period, that of Astoria being founded in 1810, under the auspices of the late John Jacob Astor, of New York. It was settled, at Astoria, by emigrants from the Eastern States, in the year 1811. Its population amounted to 52,465 in 1860.
About the development of this young State cluster some of the most important events of American history. Its territorial organization, by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, in 1854, re-opened the agitation of the slavery question, which seeming to have acquired fresh vigor and virulence from the sleep it had enjoyed under the Missouri Com
promise, thoroughly aroused the old animosities between the pro and antislavery elements of our national politics. From 1854 to 1857 it was the theater of political tragedies, the bare mention of which may well put the blush of shame upon even the most fool-hardy partisan; and the historian has well said that these dire afflictions might have been expected when the bill organizing Kansas Territory was passed. No sooner was it decided that this territory was open alike to the abolitionist and the slave-holder, than the Emigrant Aid Societies of New England and the pro-slavery organizations of the South began pouring streams of settlers into it of opposite political views, entertaining the most hostile feelings, each party toward the other; and, as the legitimate result, came a civil war, which lasted about two years, and which, in some of its incidents would have shamed even savages.
The Territory made application to Congress, in 1857, for a place in the Union, but the Constitution under which it asked admission (the one framed at Lecompton) was known to be a fraudulent affair, and hence Kansas was rejected. The discussion of this Constitution caused a permanent division of the Democratic party. The Constitution was rejected by the people of Kansas by a majority of 10,000. Kansas was, however received into the Union, in 1861, under a free State Constitution, formed at Topeka.
Was admitted into the Union on the 7th of September, 1850. The alarming discussion which occured upon the question of admission was what gave rise to the compromise measures of 1850, popularly styled the Omnibus Bill. The measures are presented in detail in another part of this work.
General Fremont, with a small but dauntless band of rangers, conquered California in 1846, having defeated, on frequent occasions, vastly superior forces of Mexicans. Its resources as a farming country early attracted attention. But when, in February, 1848, it was published that gold in quantities had been found on a branch of the Sacramento, the swarm of emigrants which rushed in, comprising representatives from every State in the Union, and from nearly
all the nations of Europe, was almost incalculable. From a small village, San Francisco was rapidly inflated to a large city. In many places towns sprang up like mushrooms. Owing to the fact that its population had been thrown hastily together, from so many places, and in consequence of the want of a government, California was, for some time, the scene of many dark crimes and hideous outrages. Never was the want of wholesome legal restraint more keenly felt than here. The Constitution of California was framed by a convention of delegates in 1849. It took a firm stand for the Union in 1861. The first settlement, within its limits, was made at San Diego, by the Spanish, in 1764. It furnishes annually to the Government, seventy to eighty millions of dollars in gold.
On Virginia's passing the ordinance of secession, mass meetings were immediately held in West Virginia, to take into consideration the best means of preserving their allegiance to the United States. A convention of nearly five hundred delegates assembled there early in May, 1861, which declared the ordinance of secession to be null and void, and elected delegates to a general convention, to meet at Wheeling, to devise such measures as the welfare of the people might demand. On the 20th of August, 1861, the convention passed an ordinance to provide for the formation of a new State out of a portion of the territory of Virginia. In compliance with its provisions, delegates were elected to a constitutional convention, which assembled at Wheeling, November 26, 1861, which proceeded to draft a Constitution, which was submitted to the people on the first Thursday of April, 1862. The vote in favor was 18,862; that against 514. On the 31st of December, 1862, Congress passed an act admitting West Virginia into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, in all respects whatever, allowing them three members in the House of Representatives of the United States. On the 1st of November, 1862, the State had furnished to the Federal Army nearly 20,000
This Territory having formed a State Constitution, under an enabling act previously passed by Congress, was admitted as a member of the Federal Union, on an equal footing with the original States. The State convention was held at so late a period of the year, that it was necessary to telegraph the Constitution to Washington, in order that it might be received there in time to secure the admission of the State previous to the Presidential election. Immediately upon its reception, President Lincoln issued a proclamation, dated October 31st, A. D. 1864, in which he "declared and proclaimed that the said State of Nevada is admitted into the Union, on an equal footing with the original States," etc. The vote of the State at the Presidential election, in 1864, was 16,420—of which Mr. Lincoln received 9,826, and General McClellan 6,594. Majority for Mr. Lincoln, 3,232. This new State is probably the richest in the Union in respect to mineral resources. No region in the world is richer in argentiferous leads. Her silver mines are her great source of wealth. The Washoe region maintains the preeminence in these mineral resources.
Nebraska was organized into a Territory in 1850. The first settlers were Americans. In the last few years it has increased in wealth and population more rapidly than any of the adjoining States or Territories, Probably the chief cause of this has been occasioned by the Pacific Railroad passing directly through the State from east to west. It is impossible, at the present time, to estimate the advantage it will be to the State in developing its resources. The value of its minerals in the western portion of the State is incalculable. It has fair prospects of becoming one of the richest mineral and agricultural States in the Union. Omaha, the capital, is a city of considerable commercial importance, being located at the junction of the Missouri River and the Pacific Railroad. In 1866, the Territory applied for admission into the Union, but, on account of the word "white being used in its Constitution, it was rejected. The word was then stricken out, after which it was admitted, February, 1867-the bill for admission having been passed over the President's veto.
Colorado was organized as a Territory March 2, 1861, from parts of Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah.
March 3, 1875, it was admitted into the Union of States the thirty-eighth.
It is situated on each side of the Rocky Mountains, and has an area of 106,475 square miles. It is a superior grazing and cattle producing region, with a healthy climate and rich soil. An extensive coal-bed, and also gold, iron, and other minerals abound. Its population is rapidly increasing. Several growing towns serve as centers of supply and trade, and offer fine facilities for schools and churches. The Colorado Springs," near Denver, are much resorted to, especially by asthmatics. The scenery at Pike's Peak and many of the canyons is sublimely grand and beautiful.