The Center for Legislative Archives

Oklahoma Statehood, November 16, 1907

Housed in the historical records of the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate at the Center for Legislative Archives are many documents that illuminate Congress's role in the statehood process. Below is a selection of the wide-variety of congressional records that document Oklahoma's unique path to statehood.

Survey Map of Oklahoma and Indian Territory showing distances, municipal towns, and post offices, published by George Cram, 1902

Most of the land that is now Oklahoma was acquired by the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In the 1830s, the U.S. used the land to relocate Indian tribes and the Indian Territory was formed from the land set aside by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834. The Indian Territory originally extended beyond present-day Oklahoma, but the size was gradually reduced over the course of the 19th century. In 1889 Congress authorized the opening land seized from the Indian Territory for homestead settlement, and a year later Congress passed an act that officially created the Oklahoma Territory.

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

President Benjamin Harrison's nomination of George Washington Steele to be the first Governor of the Oklahoma Territory, May 8, 1890

Congress holds the power to make all the needful laws in the territories including the establishment of the territory and territorial government. In 1890 Congress created the Oklahoma Territory and confirmed George Washington Steele as the Territorial Governor.

RG 46, Records of the United States Senate

First page of the Joint Statehood Convention, Oklahoma City, July 12, 1905

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 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 which was presented on March 7, 1906 and ordered printed.

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

HR 12707, A Bill to enabling the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories to form a state constitution and State government, January 20, 1906

The Oklahoma statehood bill, as originally introduced to the House, also included the admission of New Mexico and Arizona as one state.

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Cover of pamphlet "Souvenirs of Tulsa - Indian Territory," 1906

This pamphlet is part of the file for the HR 12707, Oklahoma's statehood bill. It, along with a multitude of other documentation, was submitted as evidence that the people of the territories were primed for statehood.

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

General View of Tulsa, 1906

From the pamphlet "Souvenirs of Tulsa - Indian Territory"

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

First Avenue, Tulsa, IT, 1906

From the pamphlet "Souvenirs of Tulsa - Indian Territory"

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Main Street, Tulsa, IT, 1906

From the pamphlet "Souvenirs of Tulsa - Indian Territory"

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

High School, Tulsa, IT, 1906

From the pamphlet "Souvenirs of Tulsa - Indian Territory"

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Bird Creek Falls, Tulsa's Picnic Grounds, 1906

From the pamphlet "Souvenirs of Tulsa - Indian Territory"

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Telegram from T.H. Marlin of the Indian Territory to Joe Cannon, March 13, 1906

Since the House bundled New Mexico and Arizona statehood with Oklahoma statehood, the bill proved very immensely controversial. Speaker "Uncle Joe" Cannon (R-IL) pushed the contentious bill through the House. The Senate, however, amended the bill to omit New Mexico and Arizona statehood. Cannon, despite "an avalanche of telegrams" from the residents of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories remained determined to resist the Senate's amendments.

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Letter from Edwin Meeker of the Oklahoma Territory begging the House to concur with the Senate's amendment to the statehood bill, March 13, 1906

On March 9, 1906, the Senate voted to admit Oklahoma and the Indian Territory as one state and struck all references to New Mexico and Arizona that were in the original House bill. When it became apparent the House was going to fight the Senate amendments, telegrams and letters from residents of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories flooded into Washington DC.

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Engrossed HR 12707, An act to enable the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories to form a state constitution and State government, first page, June 16, 1906

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.

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

Engrossed HR 12707, An act to enable the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories to form a state constitution and State government, endorsement, July 16, 1906

The endorsement for HR 12707 illustrates the long, complicated progress the bill underwent from January to June, 1906.

RG 233, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

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 forty-sixth 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."

Read select pages of House Document 1, 60th Congress, President Theodore Roosevelt's Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1907 from the United States Congressional Serial Set.

For more information about Oklahoma's history and centennial celebrations please visit:

Oklahoma Centennial Commission: http://www.oklahomacentennial.com/

The Oklahoma Historical Society: http://www.okhistory.org/

The Carl Albert Center: http://www.ou.edu/special/albertctr/cachome.html

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