How Wyoming Became The 44th State (Spoiler Alert: It Was Total B.S.)
The state of Wyoming celebrates its 129th birthday tomorrow. Like many great events in American history, it would have never happened without a politician lying through his teeth.
On March 26, 1890, Wyoming's Territorial Delegate Joseph Carey introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to establish the territory as a state. The central issue was Wyoming's population which fell below the traditional standard for statehood of 60,000 citizens. Leading up the vote, Carey suggested that Wyoming actually had a population of nearly 125,000. Several members of Congress questioned his estimate, citing the considerably smaller number of residents who voted in recent state elections.
The crafty Territorial Representative dismissed the low voter turnout, claiming it was due to a lack of interest in politics. "There is but little of politics in Wyoming. Every year is an off year," Carey testified. He also argued that the vast size of Wyoming and its rugged terrain made it difficult for census takers to conduct accurate population surveys.
Of course, Carey was completely full of it. Yet somehow, he was able to convince the House and Senate that Wyoming's population was large enough to merit statehood and Wyoming officially became the 44th state in the union on July 10, 1890. 129 years later, it remains the least populated of the United States.
Fun footnote: Just weeks after Wyoming's bid for statehood was approved, the 1890 United States Census counted 62,555 citizens in the territory, just over the 60,000 threshold. Carey was definitely lying, but he was still right after all.