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Union rested solely with Congress. That body might, if it chose, ratify proceedings taken in a Territory looking to its admission into the Union. It was stated that Dakota was not too large for one State, because both Texas and California were larger. To this the answer was made that Texas came into the Union with the privilege of being made into five or six States, and that California, Colorado, and other Western States of large territorial extent were mountainous, and therefore contained much land which could never be cultivated, while nearly all Dakota was suitable for agricultural purposes.
It was stated by the Committee that the rule for the admission of new States into the Union had not been uniform. Of the twenty-five new States admitted up to this time, fifteen were taken into the Union in pursuance of Enabling Acts passed by Congress. In the case of the ten other States there were peculiar circumstances attending the admission of each. While the movement resulting in the admission originated in the proposed States, yet there was not a single instance in which a Territory had inaugurated a movement looking to the formation of two States out of the area of which it was composed. There had not been heretofore any precedent for the admission of a part of an organized Territory into the Union as a State under proceedings originating in the Territory.
Again it was objected that it would be manifestly unjust to the people of the other States to make two States of Dakota, because it was doubtful if the population of these two would ever be as large as that of the average State.
After a long struggle, by the Omnibus Bill of February 22, 1889, so called because it authorized also the formation of State governments by Washington and Montana, Congress provided for the division of Dakota into two States and authorized the formation of governments and constitutions.
The Enabling Act was approved by President Cleveland on February 22, 1889. It provided that the Territory
should be divided into North and South Dakota by an east and west line on the seventh range, State survey.
Constitutional Conventions were to meet in Bismarck for North Dakota, and Sioux Falls for South Dakota, to form State constitutions. These were to contain the usual conditions. They must grant toleration in religious sentiment, assume the payment of the Territorial debts by the respective States, and maintain a system of free public schools. The conventions were to appoint a joint commission to apportion the public debt and divide the Territorial property between the new States. The delegates elected to the Constitutional Conventions assembled in each Territory on July 4, 1889. The two conventions formed constitutions of which the following are some of the principal features:
The land grants were especially noteworthy. Every sixteenth and thirty-sixth section of land in the proposed States were appropriated for the support of public schools, and were never to be sold for less than $10 an acre. In addition to this, as soon as the States were admitted, fifty sections of the unappropriated land within the States were to be set aside for the purpose of defraying the expense of buildings for the use of the State governments. There had been liberal grants to Dakota Territory by the national government for university and other purposes, and these were now confirmed. South Dakota granted forty thousand acres for a School of Mines, and the same amount respectively for a Reform School, Agricultural College, Deaf and Dumb Asylum, and University, and twice this amount for State Normal Schools. For other public buildings and educational and charitable purposes two hundred and twenty thousand acres were granted.
North Dakota had an area of seventy-one thousand nine hundred square miles, and South Dakota contained seventysix thousand six hundred, so liberal appropriations were desirable. The wise foresight of Manasseh Cutler and his associates in the Ohio Company had reached its legitimate
results. In these lavish gifts the government was only carrying out Cutler's original policy. The land grants for educational purposes alone in North and South Dakota would make a good sized State; and profiting by the experience of earlier States in the management of school lands and school funds, South Dakota has an educational fund of $27,000,000 at the lowest estimate, while North Dakota's reaches $30,000,000.
In both Dakotas there were elaborate provisions for the safety of the school fund, and if there should be any loss it must be made good by the State. The school lands might be sold or rented, but the rents must be paid in advance. Provision was made for the careful investment of the funds.
The county was given an important part in local government, and was provided with officers elected for two years. The town and county organizations were like those of Wisconsin rather than New England.
Both North and South Dakota treated very fully of corporations in their constitutions. The rights of the State were carefully guarded; a comparison of the sections regulating these with the corresponding sections of the earlier constitutions of the more eastern States gives an interesting view of the growing distrust of these organizations. Both constitutions gave considerable space to the railroad question and attempted to protect the people against unjust discrimination.
Like other parts of the Louisiana Purchase, the present State of Montana went through many changes of government and was a part of several different Territories before it reached its present condition. It was originally a part of the great French claim, based on discovery and exploration. In 1763, it was ceded to Spain, and receded to France in 1801, only to be transferred to the United States with the rest of the Louisiana Purchase. It became a part of the Territory of Louisiana in 1805, of Missouri in 1812, of Missouri and Oregon in 1848, of Washington in 1853, of Nebraska in 1854, of Dakota and Washington
in 1861, of Idaho in 1863, and became the Territory of Montana in 1864.
The first explorers in Montana of whose work any record has been preserved were Sieur de la Verendrye and his sons, who explored the upper waters of the Missouri, and reached the Rocky Mountains in 1742 and 1743. Doubtless these northern waters were traversed by wandering French hunters and trappers before and after this date, but they left no record of their journeys, and nothing is added to our knowledge of this Territory until the expeditions of Lewis and Clark. The knowledge gained by their explorations rather retarded than encouraged immigration. There was better agricultural land to be had farther east. It was so far north that it was supposed to be very cold, and the difficulty of communication with the east was very great because of the distance. If it had depended upon its agricultural possibilities, Montana would have remained for many years longer than it did the home of roving Indian tribes, unmolested by the white settlers.
For many years after the journey of Lewis and Clark it was valued chiefly for its fur trade, and the white inhabitants were, in the main, trappers. A trading post was built on the Yellowstone in 1809, and others, especially those of the American Fur Company were established throughout the region during the second quarter of the nineteenth century.
Jesuit missionaries came into Bitter Root Valley in 1840, and began work among the Flathead Indians, establishing a mission at the place where Fort Owen was afterward built.
Thus the land remained for a half century after its acquisition by the United States, and it might have continued for a century to be the home of the wandering Indian and the fur trader, but for the discovery of gold in 1852. It had, possibly, been obtained in small amounts earlier than this, but in 1862, the precious mineral was found in paying quantities in the neighborhood of Bannock. In the autumn, the town of Bannock was laid out, and by January, 1863, it had a population of five hundred. This was the
beginning of the rapid development and settlement of the Montana gold fields. The report of the rich finds in the neighborhood spread rapidly, so that in 1863 there was a large immigration into this part of Montana. In the summer of that year, Alder Gulch began its remarkable output of gold. In 1864, rich placer mines were discovered in various parts of the Territory. Virginia City was built, and in 1865 it had a population of ten thousand.
By 1865, mines of great richness, scattered through a territory one hundred and fifty miles long and one hundred miles wide had been discovered. The gold bearing area in Montana has been largely increased by later discoveries.
These gold discoveries had a marked influence on the development of Montana and distinguish it at the very start from the Territories already considered. In the earlier ones the growth at the first was gradual and the settlers were for the most part quiet, peaceful, law-abiding citizens, who came to the new Territory to make homes for themselves and their children, and to accumulate a competence by the laborious process of taming the wilderness and cultivating the prairie. They were men who, as a rule, were conservative, bringing with them the peaceful customs of their eastern or European homes.
But the opening of the gold fields in Montana brought a repetition of the scenes familiar in the rush to the gold fields in California in 1849. Fabulous fortunes had been made by some without great labor, and those who had been disappointed in California, Idaho, and Colorado, as well as those in the eastern States who were desirous of suddenly acquiring wealth, flocked by hundreds to the newly discovered gold fields. Many of these early settlers were honest men and hoped to gain wealth by honorable means, but there were very many who were not particular about the way in which they acquired it.
That first settlement in Bannock, where five hundred men gathered in the winter of 1863 and 1864, contained many reckless adventurers who figure conspicuously in the