The Making of the United States of America - When and How the States Came to Be
Three Came During The First Quarter Of The Twentieth Century
A Short Course in U. S. History
Reprinted with permission of Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services
Oklahoma - 46
Admitted: November 16, 1907
Population: 1.4 million
Prior time as territory: 17 years
Journey to statehood: Rolled right over Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, Choctaw and Seminole Indians who had been relocated from the Southeast in the 1830s on the "Trails of Tears." In the 1890s, the Indians were put on reservations; their land was sold and settled by whites -- known as "Sooners" -- who literally raced on horseback to claim their plots. The resulting population boom culminated in statehood. One consolation for the Indians was that they were invited to the constitutional convention in 1907.
New Mexico - 47
Admitted: January 6, 1912
Prior time as territory: 62 years
Journey to statehood: Began in 1848, even before it became a territory as part of the Compromise of 1850. Residents craved statehood almost as soon as the ink dried on the 1848 treaty purchasing the area from Mexico. But sparse population, party politics, racism, jingoism and anti-Catholicism in the United States kept New Mexico a territory longer than any other state. It was finally admitted in tandem with Arizona.
Arizona - 48
Admitted: February 14, 1912
Prior time as territory: 49 years
Journey to statehood: Sidetracked by Congress in 1891 because an unauthorized convention had produced a constitution declaring silver as legal tender. A decade later, a Senate proposal to admit Arizona and New Mexico as a single state was shot down in Arizona. Finally, President William Howard Taft recommended admitting Arizona and New Mexico as separate states, resulting in statehood two years.
Note: Population is at time of entry into the Union. Date of admission reflects the effective date of each state's admission, rather than the date of congressional passage. While the dates are the same in some cases, such as Florida's, the effective date typically followed the date of passage by several months.
Source: Knight-Ridder Tribune (1993)