Birth of Idaho

This Day in History

On this day in 1890 Idaho became the 43rd state to join the Union. 

The territory was first founded by none other than Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who touched upon Idaho’s soil in the summer of 1805 while on the prowl for a route to the Columbia River over the Rocky Mountains.

Lewis and Clark stumbled onto Shoshone Indians, whom, at the time, even as late as 1805, had never seen a white man. The Shoshone and their horses aided Lewis and Clark’s expedition  considerably as they made their way through the rugged territory that would later be known as Idaho. 

Years later, one instrumental factor prompted the large-scale settlements into the many remote western states – the discovery of gold. Thousands and thousands of miners and their families raced in swarms into Idaho after the roar of major gold veins was heard in September of 1860.

“Mining the miners” came into fruition when yearning farmers and merchants hitchhiked on the gold rush bandwagon set on course for soon-to-be Idaho. 

Idaho miners

The explosion of settlements in the west lead to the official creation of the Idaho Territory in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, where Idaho was shaped by cutting out portions of Washington and Dakota Territories. By 1880, Idaho had reached the impressive population of about 32,610. 

The journey to statehood would be completed a number of years later – but not without both religious and political controversy. An abundance of Mormon settlers left the religious colony of Salt Lake City to find new homes in most of southern Idaho.

The territory geometrically bisected into a Mormon-controlled south and an anti-Mormon north. In the mid-1880s, the anti-Mormon north staked advantageous political grounds using the outlandish Mormon practices of polygamy to drive forward legislation which lead to the Republicans gaining Idaho over the Democratic Mormons. 

With the Democratic Mormon votes now out of the picture, Idaho grew into a Republican-dominated territory. In 1888, the Republicans longed for an increase in congressional influence by pushing for Idaho’s statehood.

The following year, Idaho territorial legislature approved a powerful anti-Mormon constitution. Congress approved the document on July 3rd, 1890, and Idaho was admitted into the Union as the 43rd state. 

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