Happy 128th Birthday, Wyoming
The Cowboy State turns 128 years old this week. July 10, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed a bill making Wyoming the 44th state in the union. Like many great events in American history, it would have never happened without a dishonest politician.
On March 26, 1890, Wyoming Congressional Delegate Joseph Carey introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to declare the territory a state. The biggest issue in the debate 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 congressmen questioned his estimate, citing the number of residents who had voted in recent territorial elections.
Carey 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 impossible for census takers to conduct accurate surveys.
Of course, Carey was lying through his teeth. Yet somehow, he was able to assure the House and Senate that Wyoming's population was large enough to merit statehood. 128 years later, Wyoming remains the least populated state in the country.