Republican and Anti-Mormon - 1890
Idaho becomes the 43rd state July 3, 1890
By: Andrew Glass
July 3, 2007
On this day in 1890, Idaho, the last state to be explored in the nation's relentless effort to open up the West, became the 43rd state. But not without a struggle between the largely Mormon south and the anti-Mormon north.
Shortly after the Gold Rush, settlers began pouring into the Pacific Northwest in the early 1860s. The boom prompted President Abraham Lincoln to create the Idaho Territory in 1863 from portions of the Washington Territory and the Dakota Territory. The new entity included most of the areas that later became the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. By 1880, Idaho's population was 32,610; the capital was in Lewiston.
The gold rush faded, although less valuable silver remained in plentiful supply. Meanwhile, Mormon settlers arrived from Utah, dispatched to the new territory from Salt Lake City. For the most part, they supported the Democrats, and the Republicans in the northern part of the territory capitalized on widespread opposition to the Mormon practice of polygamy to deny them the vote.
With the Republicans eager to increase their influence in the Senate in the aftermath of Reconstruction, Idaho came into play as potentially helping the GOP cause. In 1889, the territorial legislature pushed the process along by adopting a strongly anti-Mormon constitution that Congress quickly approved.
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