Oklahoma Statehood was long process
The following article appeared on page one of the Frederick Enterprise (forerunner of the Frederick Press), Frederick, Oklahoma Territory, on February 1, 1906:
– – –
The Statehood Bill Passed House
Last Thursday by Vote of 194
to 150. McGuire Confident
According to program the debate on the statehood bill began at 11 o'clock Thursday. When the vote was announced it was found that it had passed despite the fact that every democrat and thirty three of the republicans voted nay.
The bill as passed provides that Oklahoma and Indian Territory shall constitute one state known as Oklahoma and that Arizona and New Mexico form another to be known as Arizona. Should the terms of admission be ratified by the citizens of the territories, their respective state constitutions must contain clauses prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors and plural marriages.
The most impressive of the ten minute speeches which preceded the vote was that of Delegate McGuire. After the vote was announced he immediately rushed it to the senate territorial committee.
It is now up to the Senate for consideration. Opponents to the measure will try dilatory tactics but it is believed that it will pass with practically no amendments.
Although the Oklahoma and Indian Territories had sufficient population to be admitted as separate states, Congress insisted that the territories would only be granted statehood as a single, combined state. As a result, delegates representing the citizens of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories met in Oklahoma City in July 1905 for a joint statehood convention. They outlined their reasons for statehood—they had sufficient land area, population, resources and character—and drafted a petition to Congress.
|H.R. 12707 (from National Archives)|
As reported in the Frederick Enterprise, the U.S. House of Representatives approved HR 12707 on Thursday, January 25, 1906, paving the way for Oklahoma statehood under certain conditions. The Enterprise report's assessment that no amendments were expected proved very wrong.
Since the House bundled New Mexico and Arizona statehood with Oklahoma statehood, HR 12707 proved very controversial. Speaker "Uncle Joe" Cannon (R-IL) pushed the contentious bill through the House.
When the bill went to the Senate, though, the bill was amended to omit New Mexico and Arizona statehood. Cannon, despite many telegrams from the residents of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories remained determined to resist the Senate's amendments.
On June 16, 1906, after months of political wrangling, Congress finally passed an act enabling the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories to form a state constitution and state government and to be admitted into the Union on equal footing with the existing states. Congress included a compromise measure that allowed the voters of the Arizona Territory and New Mexico Territory to decide if the territories should be admitted into the union as one state.
On September 17, 1907 the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories voted favorably on statehood. The vote was certified and delivered to the President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt and on November 16, 1907, Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 780 admitting Oklahoma as the 46th state. In his annual message on December 3, 1907 — just a few weeks later — President Roosevelt announced to Congress, "Oklahoma has become a state, standing on full equity with her elder sisters, and her future is assured by her great natural resources."
|Bird Segle McGuire|
New Mexico became the 47th state when it was admitted to the union on January 6, 1912. Arizona, the 48th state, was admitted on February 14, 1912.
NOTE: Delegate McGuire to whom the article refers was Bird Segle McGuire. McGuire, a Pawnee attorney, was elected as a Republican delegate to the 58th and 59th Congresses, serving from 1903 to 1907. When Oklahoma became a state in 1907, McGuire was elected as a Representative to the 60th and to the three succeeding Congresses, serving from November 16, 1907, until March 3, 1915.
Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society's board of directors. He may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.