On August 2, 1876, Coloradans woke up for the first time as… Coloradans. The day before, President Ulysses S. Grant had issued a proclamation declaring Colorado officially a state. The new state’s largest newspaper at the time, the Denver Daily Times, captured the sentiment of the nation’s newest state, a place they believed “may exert an overwhelming influence in the country.”
Here are three stories that tell you everything you need to know about Colorado then, and Colorado now.
Story #1: Coloradans love to party
A meeting of citizens will be held in the District Court room this afternoon, at 6 o’clock, to concert measures for the illumination of the city to-night in honor of Statehood. Salemon [the newspaper’s owner] says he will furnish the powder to blow the old Territory out of the way.
Story #2: Traffic has always been a little crazy in Colorado
Yesterday afternoon a pair of horses attached to a carriage driven by Mr. Henry W. Baldwin, took fright at the corner of 18th and Champa, and ran furiously down Champa. Mr. Baldwin succeeded in keeping his seat, and checked the animals just before reaching the bluff at Cherry creek.
Story #3: Colorado always has been, and always will be, a special place
Yesterday, August 1, 1876, President Grant issued the proclamation declaring Colorado a State, and today we are living again in the United States — citizens of the Union. The year is an important political one, and we are early called upon to take part in the events connected therewith. Our election occurs on the first Tuesday in October, and there are to be elected one Representative to Congress, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor of State, State Treasurer, Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction, three Supreme Judges, and six Regents of the State University. There will also be elected, in the four judicial districts, four District Judges and four District Attorneys, and there are twenty-six State Senators and forty-nine members of the State House of Representatives to be elected. The State Legislature will elect two United States Senators and three Presidential Electors who will cast the Presidential vote of Colorado.
While it is not probable that the election of President will be so close as to give Colorado the balance of power, yet such is possible; and in view of such possible contingency, the two parties will strive their utmost to carry the young State. It is an extraordinary situation that a people should be called upon so early to decide, by their votes, matters of so great interest, and matters which may exert an overwhelming influence in the country.
At the breaking out of the late civil war, the Pike’s Peakers had but just got fairly settled, yet the young Territory took an honorable part, and did her share in upholding the old flag. Since the clash of arms died away, she has watched the political warfare from afar. She has had no voice in the events, and no influence in shaping the destinies for the future. She is now fresh for the conflict. Her young and vigorous voice will encourage the one side in the same ratio that it will carry consternation to the other. Practically, our people have been out of political life. Our elections have been of no importance, other than specifying what citizens shall hold certain offices, the duties of which were nothing but machine routine work, and drawing the salary. But now this is suddenly changed, and the result of our election two months hence may be of the utmost importance to the entire country, and may be possibly hold within its embrace the nature of treaties to be made with foreign powers.
How about it Pike’s Peakers? Are we “early called upon to take part” in the direction of our state and nation? Should we be active citizens, restraining the growth of government, or just ignore it and turn it over to new bureaucracies and programs they could have never imaged in 1876?
And Happy Colorado Day! Be sure to keep your horses under control.
The Denver Daily Times from August 2, 1876 was retrieved from the Colorado Historical Newspapers Collection. Check out the full issue here.