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Jefferson Territory

Jefferson Territory

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{{distinguish|Jefferson (Mountain state)|Jefferson (South state)|Jefferson (Pacific state)}} [[Image:Jefferson territory.png|400px|thumb|Map of Jefferson Territory]] The '''Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson''' was an extralegal and unrecognized [[United States territory]] that existed from October 24, 1859 until the [[Organic Act|creation]] of the [[Colorado Territory]] on February 28, 1861. The Jefferson Territory included land officially part of the [[Kansas Territory]], the [[Nebraska Territory]], the [[New Mexico Territory]], the [[Utah Territory]], and the [[Washington Territory]], but remote from the governments of those five territories. The government of the Jefferson Territory, while democratically elected, was never legally recognized by the [[United States Government]], although it managed the territory with relatively free rein for 16 months. Many of the laws enacted by the Jefferson Territorial Legislature were reenacted and given official sanction by the new [[Colorado General Assembly]] in 1861. ==Origins== On August 25, 1855, the [[Kansas Territory]] created [[Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory|Arapahoe County]], a huge county that included the entire western portion of the territory. The boundaries of Arapahoe County were defined as: {{quotation|Beginning at the northeast corner of [[New Mexico Territory|New Mexico]], running thence north to the south line of [[Nebraska Territory|Nebraska]] and north line of [[Kansas Territory|Kansas]]; thence along said line to the east line of [[Utah Territory]]; thence along said line between Utah and Kansas territories, to where said line strikes New Mexico; thence along the line between said New Mexico and the territory of Kansas to the place of beginning.}} Since Arapahoe County was occupied primarily by [[Cheyenne]] and [[Arapaho]] Indians with only a few white settlers, the county was never organized. (A remnant of this county survives today as [[Arapahoe County, Colorado]], in the [[Denver metropolitan area]].) The [[Pike's Peak Gold Rush]] began with the discovery of gold in July 1858 at the [[Englewood, Colorado|Dry Creek Diggings]] in Arapahoe County, Kansas Territory (now [[Englewood, Colorado|Englewood]] in [[Arapahoe County, Colorado|Arapahoe County]], [[Colorado]].) The gold rush brought 100,000 gold seekers to the area known as the [[Pike's Peak Country]], which included Arapahoe County in the Kansas Territory and the unorganized southwestern corner of the [[Nebraska Territory]]. The leaders of the Kansas Territory were much preoccupied with the violent events of [[Bloody Kansas]] in the populous eastern portion of the territory, so little time or attention was available to attend to the needs of the far western portion of the territory. The [[United States Congress]] was likewise preoccupied with threats of secession by the [[slave states]]. The settlers in the region attempted to organize Arapahoe County on their own. On March 28, 1859, an election was held to elect officers for Arapahoe County. A total of 774 votes were cast, including 231 from [[Auraria, Denver|Auraria]] and 144 from [[Denver, Colorado|Denver City]]. Unfortunately, the voters did not realize that the Kansas Territorial Legislature had replaced Arapahoe County with six new unorganized counties on February 7, 1859. When no word was received from Kansas Territorial officials, many settlers decided that they should establish a separate government themselves. ==Establishment== In April 1859, a tiny convention was held at Wootton's Hall in [[Auraria, Denver|Auraria]] about the need for a local government. The name Jefferson (in honor of [[Thomas Jefferson]] -the third [[President of the United States]] who had authorized the 1803 [[Louisiana Purchase]] that included much of the proposed territory) was chosen and a constitutional convention was scheduled for June 6, 1859. The conventioneers met that day, and then adjourned until August 1, 1859, when 37 district representatives met to draft a constitution for [[Jefferson (Mountain state)|Jefferson State]], which was subsequently rejected in a popular referendum on September 24. The original authors determined to hold another convention on October 3, and drafted a provisional constitution for the Territory of Jefferson. The proposed Territory of Jefferson included all of the present [[Colorado|State of Colorado]], but it was 70 percent more extensive. The territory had the same southern boundary as the present [[Colorado|State of Colorado]], the [[37th parallel north]], but it extended 138.1 miles (222.2 kilometers) farther north to the [[43rd parallel north]], about 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometers) farther east to the [[102nd meridian west]], and about 50 miles (81 kilometers) farther west to the [[110th meridian west]]. The territory was divided into eight council districts and 19 representative districts. On October 24, 1859, an election was held to approve the formation of the Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson and to elect officials for the territory. The formation of a provisional government was approved by a vote of 1,852 to 280 and the following officials were elected: {{-}} {| border="2" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2" style="margin:auto;" |+ '''Officials of the Provisional Government of the
Territory of Jefferson 1859-1861''' |- | [[Governor of the Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson|Governor]] | [[Robert Williamson Steele|R.W. Steele]] |- | Secretary | Lucien W. Bliss |- | Treasurer | George W. Cook |- | Attorney General | Samuel McLean |- | Chief Justice | A.J. Allison |- | Associate Justice | John M. Odell |- | Associate Justice | E. Fitzgerald |- | Clerk of Supreme Court | Oscar B. Totten |- | Marshall | John L. Merrick |- | Superintendent of Public Instruction | H.H. McAffee |- | Auditor | C.R. Bissell |} {{-}} On November 7, 1859, [[Governor of the Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson|Governor]] [[Robert Williamson Steele]] opened the first session of the provisional Jefferson Territorial Legislature in [[Denver, Colorado|Denver City]] with the following proclamation: {{quotation|Let us then enter upon our duties with a determination of spirit that conquers all difficulties: working for the benefit of the whole commonwealth, encouraging moderation and conservation in all our acts, that we may never be ashamed of having taken an humble part of the organization of a Provisional Government for the Territory of Jefferson.}} During this first session, the legislature organized 12 counties. (The [[Colorado General Assembly]] would create 17 counties with somewhat similar boundaries in 1861.) The legislature adjourned on December 7, 1859. Many settlers from eastern [[Territory of Kansas|Kansas]] preferred to be governed by that territory. Those resistant to the self-government of Jefferson Territory held an election on December 8, 1859, and elected Captain R. Sopris as their representative to the Kansas Territorial Legislature. [[Robert Williamson Steele|Governor Steele]] called the second session of the provisional Jefferson Territorial Legislature to meet at [[Denver, Colorado|Denver City]] on January 23, 1860. Many disappointed gold seekers left the region in 1860. The [[United States Census of 1860]] counted approximately 35,000 persons in the region of the Jefferson Territory. Governor Steele pointed out that many gold seekers were working claims in remote areas and estimated that the total number of people in the Jefferson Territory was 60,000. Governor Steele attempted to reach accommodation with the officials of the Kansas Territory. On August 7, 1860, Steele issued a proclamation requesting that the Provisional Government of the Jefferson Territory be merged into the Kansas Territory. Kansas officials would have no merger with what they considered to be an outlaw government, so the stalemate continued. On November 7, 1860, the [[United States presidential election, 1860|U.S. presidential election]] produced a victory for [[Abraham Lincoln]] and precipitated the secession of seven [[slave states]] and the formation of the [[Confederate States of America]]. These events eliminated any chance for federal endorsement of the Territory of Jefferson and any role in government for Governor Steele, a staunch [[United States|pro-Union]] [[Democratic Party (United States)|Democrat]] and vocal opponent of Lincoln and the [[Republican Party (United States)|Republican Party]]. Seeking to augment the political power of the [[free state (United States)|free states]], the [[Republican Party (United States)|Republican]] led [[U.S. Congress]] hurriedly admitted the portion of the [[Territory of Kansas]] east of the [[25th meridian west from Washington]] to the [[United States|Union]] as the [[free state (United States)|free]] [[State of Kansas]] on January 29, 1861. Kansas [[U.S. state|statehood]] left the western portion of the now defunct Kansas Territory, which the Jefferson Territory also claimed, officially unorganized. While the federal government refused to sanction the Jefferson Territory, it had effectively acknowledged the eastern border of the region. ==Counties== On November 28, 1859, the Territory of Jefferson created 12 [[county (United States)|counties]]: #[[Cheyenne County, Jefferson Territory|Cheyenne County]] evolved into [[Laramie County, Wyoming]] #[[St. Vrain County, Jefferson Territory|St. Vrain County]] evolved into [[Weld County, Colorado]] #[[Arrappahoe County, Jefferson Territory|Arrappahoe County]] evolved into [[Arapahoe County, Colorado|Arapahoe County]], [[Adams County, Colorado|Adams County]], and the [[Denver, Colorado|City and County of Denver]], [[Colorado]] #[[El Paso County, Jefferson Territory|El Paso County]] evolved into [[El Paso County, Colorado|El Paso County]] and [[Pueblo County, Colorado|Pueblo County]], [[Colorado]] #[[Fountain County, Jefferson Territory|Fountain County]] encompassed most of southeastern [[Colorado]] #[[Park County, Jefferson Territory|Park County]] evolved into [[Park County, Colorado]] #[[Saratoga County, Jefferson Territory|Saratoga County]] evolved into [[Grand County, Colorado|Grand County]] and [[Summit County, Colorado]] #[[North County, Jefferson Territory|North County]] evolved into [[Jackson County, Colorado]] #[[Jefferson County, Jefferson Territory|Jefferson County]] evolved into [[Jefferson County, Colorado]] #[[Jackson County, Jefferson Territory|Jackson County]] evolved into [[Boulder County, Colorado]] #[[Heele County, Jefferson Territory|Heele County]] evolved into [[Larimer County, Colorado]] #[[Mountain County, Jefferson Territory|Mountain County]] evolved into [[Gilpin County, Colorado|Gilpin County]] and [[Clear Creek County, Colorado|Clear Creek County]], [[Colorado]] {{see also|List of counties in Colorado}} ==Capitals== *[[Denver, Colorado|Denver City]] - October 24, 1859, to November 12, 1860. *[[Golden, Colorado|Golden City]] - November 13, 1860, to June 6, 1861. Most administrative affairs of the Territory of Jefferson were handled at the home of [[Robert Williamson Steele|Governor Steele]] at [[Mount Vernon, Colorado|Mount Vernon]] and later [[Apex, Colorado|Apex]]. ==Dissolution== On February 26, 1861, Congress passed a bill organizing the [[Territory of Colorado]]. The bill was signed into law by [[President of the United States|U.S. President]] [[James Buchanan]] two days later on February 28, 1861. On May 29, 1861, [[William Gilpin (governor)|William Gilpin]], newly appointed [[List of Governors of Colorado#Governors of the Territory of Colorado|Governor of the Territory of Colorado]], arrived in Denver City. Most citizens of the region welcomed their new government. On June 6, 1861, [[Governor of the Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson|Governor]] [[Robert Williamson Steele|Steele]] issued a proclamation declaring the Territory of Jefferson disbanded and urging all employees and residents to abide by the laws governing the United States. ==See also== *[[Colorado counties]] *[[Governor of the Territory of Jefferson]] *[[State of Colorado]] *[[Territory of Colorado]] *[[Territory of Kansas]] *[[Territory of Nebraska]] *[[Territory of New Mexico]] *[[Territory of Utah]] *[[Territory of Washington]] ==External links== *[http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A05E1D81F31EE34BC4D51DFBE668382649FDE The New Territory of Jefferson] [[New York Times]], 1859-08-25 *[http://history.denverlibrary.org/research/fiftyniners/ Fiftyniners' Directory: Colorado Argonauts 1858-1859] [[Denver Public Library]] {{Colorado}} {{coord missing|Colorado}}