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Mount of the Holy Cross
Mount of the Holy Cross

Idaho > Colorado: a chronology

I. Gold. By 1860, the number of Mid-Western miners that had flooded into the Pikes Peak area had reached a population sufficient to warrant a bid for statehood, effectively skipping the usual first step of establishing a new Territory. See California.
II. A constitution was adopted, and a delegate, George M. Willing was elected and sent to Washington D.C.
III. The constitution was rejected at which point Willing lobbied for the creation of a Territory - Jefferson Territory.
IV. Back in what will eventually become Colorado, investigation into the election that positioned Willing as delegate found widespread fraud and the results were subsequently certified in favor of Willing's opponent, B. D. Williams.
V. In Washington Williams continued lobbying for the establishment of Jefferson Territory but faced stiff resistance from the Republican House, for purely political reasons, over the chosen name Jefferson.
VI. Williams in response insisted on renaming the proposed Territory Idaho.
VII. When the bill establishing the new Idaho Territory entered the Senate, it was objected to by Oregon Senator Joseph Lane. Missouri Senator James S. Green stated "Idaho is a very good name. In the Indian language it signifies 'Gem of the mountains'." Lane's response "I do not believe it is an Indian word. It is a corruption. No Indian tribe in this nation has that word, in my opinion… It is a corruption certainly, a counterfeit, and ought not to be adopted."
VIII. After the name change was passed by the Senate, doubts about the provenance of Idaho caused Williams to research its origin. Through his investigation Williams determined that someone within the Pike's Peak territorial supporters, most likely George Willing, simply invented the name. Regardless of the debate surrounding its originator, Willing was pivotal in Idaho's national debut.
IX. Williams petitioned Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson to change the name back to Colorado, the name with which the bill entered the Senate.
X. Colorado became a territory on February 28, 1861. Statehood: August 1, 1876.