Washington is the 42nd State Admitted to the Union

On November 11, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison declared Washington the forty-second state in the Union.

Less than fifty years after pioneers began entering the Pacific Northwest via the Oregon Trail, the United States borders extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. Spanish and British explorers landed on the Northwest coast in the 1770s; American explorers followed. In 1818, the United States and Britain jointly occupied the "Oregon Country," of which Washington was a part.

In 1844, presidential candidate James K. Polk urged an aggressive stance with regard to ownership of the land below the 54th parallel. The slogan "Fifty-four Forty or Fight" became a rallying cry of the Polk campaign. Two years later, the U.S. and Great Britain signed the Oregon Treaty setting the Canadian-American border at the 49th parallel and granting the United States territory that included present-day Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. In 1848, Congress designated this newly acquired area the "Oregon Territory."

In 1852, people from all over what was to become Washington state gathered in Monticello (now Longview) to draft a memorial to Congress. The memorial expressed their desire to be granted statehood under the name of Columbia. This meeting came to be known as the Monticello Convention. The desires of the Convention were met favorably in Congress, but it was decided that a state named Columbia might be confused with the preexisting District of Columbia. The state was instead named Washington in honor of our first president. Washington became the 42nd state in the United States on November 11, 1889.

Early prominent industries in the state included agriculture and lumber. In eastern Washington, the Yakima Valley became known for its apple orchards, while the growth of wheat using dry-farming techniques became particularly productive. The heavy rainfall to the west of the Cascade Range produced dense forests, and the ports along Puget Sound prospered from the manufacturing and shipping of lumber products, particularly the Douglas fir. Other industries that developed in the state include fishing, salmon canning and mining.

If there is one thing, indeed, more than another, among the facts of civilization, which the Pacific Coast organizes most quickly and completely, it is good eating….When the Puritans settled New England, their first public duty was to build a church with thrifty thought for their souls. Out here, their degenerate sons begin with organizing a restaurant, and supplying Hostetter's stomachic bitters and an European or Asiatic cook. So the seat of empire, in its travel westward, changes its base from soul to stomach, from brains to bowels.”

— Our New West (Hartford, CT: Hartford Publishing, 1869)