History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 731 pages of information about History of the United States.

=Six New States (1889-1890).=—­For many years there was a deadlock in Congress over the admission of new states.  The spell was broken in 1889 under the leadership of the Dakotas.  For a long time the Dakota territory, organized in 1861, had been looked upon as the home of the powerful Sioux Indians whose enormous reservation blocked the advance of the frontier.  The discovery of gold in the Black Hills, however, marked their doom.  Even before Congress could open their lands to prospectors, pioneers were swarming over the country.  Farmers from the adjoining Minnesota and the Eastern states, Scandinavians, Germans, and Canadians, came in swelling waves to occupy the fertile Dakota lands, now famous even as far away as the fjords of Norway.  Seldom had the plow of man cut through richer soil than was found in the bottoms of the Red River Valley, and it became all the more precious when the opening of the Northern Pacific in 1883 afforded a means of transportation east and west.  The population, which had numbered 135,000 in 1880, passed the half million mark before ten years had elapsed.

Remembering that Nebraska had been admitted with only 67,000 inhabitants, the Dakotans could not see why they should be kept under federal tutelage.  At the same time Washington, far away on the Pacific Coast, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, boasting of their populations and their riches, put in their own eloquent pleas.  But the members of Congress were busy with politics.  The Democrats saw no good reason for admitting new Republican states until after their defeat in 1888.  Near the end of their term the next year they opened the door for North and South Dakota, Washington, and Montana.  In 1890, a Republican Congress brought Idaho and Wyoming into the union, the latter with woman suffrage, which had been granted twenty-one years before.

=Utah.=—­Although Utah had long presented all the elements of a well-settled and industrious community, its admission to the union was delayed on account of popular hostility to the practice of polygamy.  The custom, it is true, had been prohibited by act of Congress in 1862; but the law had been systematically evaded.  In 1882 Congress made another and more effective effort to stamp out polygamy.  Five years later it even went so far as to authorize the confiscation of the property of the Mormon Church in case the practice of plural marriages was not stopped.  Meanwhile the Gentile or non-Mormon population was steadily increasing and the leaders in the Church became convinced that the battle against the sentiment of the country was futile.  At last in 1896 Utah was admitted as a state under a constitution which forbade plural marriages absolutely and forever.  Horace Greeley, who visited Utah in 1859, had prophesied that the Pacific Railroad would work a revolution in the land of Brigham Young.  His prophecy had come true.

[Illustration:  THE UNITED STATES IN 1912]

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History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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