Wyoming Statehood

Preceeding statehood, Wyoming had a history notably marked by American Indian tribes, French Explorers, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, emegration trails, Indian wars, and the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1865 J.M. Ashley of Ohio introduced a bill to Congress to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming." On July 25, 1868 the Wyoming Terratory was formed. Due to the presence of the railroad, which was being built across what is now the southern part of the state, the population in the territory began to grow.

On July 10, 1890 the State of Wyoming was admitted to the Union, as the last of a number of states admitted to the Union between 1889-1890. The territory of Wyoming, much like many of the neighboring states recently admitted, had a record of conservative voting, as you see the 1888 elections brought republican leadership to both houses and the presidency in Washington DC. The Wyoming territory had two percieved drawbacks in Washington, the lack of populous and to a lesser extent womens sufferage. In 1869, the terratorial governor signed a sufferage act into law that gave women the right to vote. A number of reasons have been speculated as to why Wyoming took the lead in womens sufferage, which range from increasing the count of the voting population (it is said there was a 60,000 vote threshold to gain admission), the desire to attract women to a terratory that was mainly populated with men, to the possibility that the measure passed because the leadership genuinely believed in sufferage as a matter of principle. None the less, women in Wyoming were able to take advantage of the law, as Wyoming was the first state to allow women to vote and sit on a jury. In addition, Wyoming had the first female Justice of the Peace, female court bailiff, and female governor.

In 1886 things started to spin out of control in Wyoming. Hundreds of thousands of head of cattle began to over graze areas of grasslands, at the same time a dry summer and cold winter didn't help matters. Many of the cowboys that worked for the large open grazing operators were forced to leave their jobs, and due to lack of other opportunity, began homesteading their own land. This began to present some anxiety for the larger operations, as they feared cattle rustling from their former employees. The Wyoming Stockgrowers Association became involved by developing very strict membership rules with the intent of keeping those out that they didn't want. Various incidents lead to the 1892 Johnson County War, where the stockgrowers association hired a private army to go to Johnson County to "stop" cattle rustling, just some two years after statehood.