What’s good for the goose?

In 1879, a new law passed regarding the census of the United States. Many key factors of the new law included detailed instruction for door to door census taking. Enumeration of Native Americans labeled “taxed” and “untaxed Indians” was required, as was collecting as much information as possible regarding “their condition.” With the budget provided, just 5 reservations, 3 in Washington Territory, 1 in Dakota Territory, and 1 in California, were counted. Interestingly, the law directed the collection of as much information as possible regarding Alaska, too. The 5 schedules of the 1880 census required collecting information concerning population; mortality; agriculture; social statistics; and “relating to manufactures.” According to the 1880 census, the population of the portion of Dakota Territory that would become South Dakota was less than 12,000. Ten years later in 1890, just months after South Dakota was admitted to the Union, the population was over 320,000. Clearly, the populations of “untaxed Indians” were almost wholly unrepresented in the 1880 census. The Dakota Territory was included in the unique 1885 census as well. Why the fuss over Dakota Territory?

Just as much fuss as 4 other western territories at the time. In short order, Dakota Territory was split and admitted to the Union as North Dakota and South Dakota in November, 1889. Montana followed less than a week later. 3 days after Montana, Washington was admitted. In 1890, both Idaho and Wyoming were admitted in July. Why the rush to admit 6 states in just over 8 months when the previous 6 states’ admissions spanned more than 17 years? Among multiple factors, following increasing urbanization in the United States and the rise of populism, the Republican grip on national politics began to slip away. The United States also had largely (I choose the word) “subdued” the Native American population. The 6 new states were homes to large populations of Native Americans both “taxed” and especially, “untaxed,” and the 6 new states were almost entirely rural, and had relatively small populations. Maybe most importantly, they voted Republican. In 1890, although Democrats made massive gains in the House, Republicans were able to hold on in the Senate under the rules of time where U.S. Senators were produced out of state legislatures. 5 of the 6 newly admitted states voted Republican in the 1890 House election. 4 of the 6 new states voted for Benjamin Harrison in 1892: North Dakota and Idaho voted for James Weaver. After the 1894 election, Republicans maintained control of the Senate and then controlled the House in a monumental election eventually gaining 130 seats. The next biggest flip in the House came unsurprisingly in 1932. After 1894, 100% of House representation of the new states was Republican. One North Dakota Democrat, one South Dakota Populist, and 10 Republicans represented these states in the Senate. Today those same states are represented by 9 Republican and 3 Democrat senators, as well as 9 Republicans and 7 Democrats in the House. All 7 Democrats are from Washington state, with 7.6 million residents compared to Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming currently combining for little more than 5 million residents. So what?

D. C. statehood. That’s what. Let’s throw nearby Puerto Rico in the mix while we’re at it. Why don’t the United States citizens of both D. C. and Puerto Rico have proportional voting representation both in Congress and presidential elections? They’re not states. But the people who live there are U.S. citizens, and those citizens overwhelmingly desire recognition as states. In 2017, after 100 years as U. S. citizens (far-flung Hawaii was a territory for less than 60 years), over 500,000 Puerto Ricans favored statehood compared to less than 8000 votes for independence and 6800 votes for the current status. But today’s Republicans, not too different from Republicans in the late 19th century, now fear losing political power above all else, especially by admitting states without “subdued” indigenous populations. In addition to Grover Cleveland when Republicans overwhelmingly controlled Congress, Republican presidents approved the admission of the following and final 6 states admitted to the Union – Utah (1896); Oklahoma (1907); New Mexico (1912); Arizona (1912); Alaska (1959); and Hawaii (1959). Surely, if you’re reading this, no electoral maps are necessary.

the real deal

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