Dakota Datebook

Dakota Territory Splits

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Dakota Territory officially became two states at 3:40 p.m. on this date in 1889. Congress had debated, for two years, whether the territory would stay intact or become two separate entities. A northern faction lobbied for a single state, but an equally determined southern faction pushed for division. In fact, southern divisionists wanted to make South Dakota a state and make the northern half into the territory of Lincoln. Finally, a compromise was reached.

President Harrison covered each statehood proclamation with papers, leaving the signature lines exposed. He then mixed them, signed both, mixed them again and exposed them simultaneously. Secretary of State James Blaine wrote, “This is the first instance in the history of the national government of twin states. North and South Dakota entered the Union at the same moment.”

Sources:
The Bismarck Tribune. 2 Nov 1938.
The Soda Springs Sun (ID). 26 Oct 1934.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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