Welcome to Washington
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The first European record of a landing on the Washington coast was in 1774 by Spaniard Juan Pérez. One year later, Spanish Captain Don Bruno de Heceta on board the Santiago, part of a two-ship flotilla with the Sonora, landed near the mouth of the Quinault River and claimed the coastal lands up to the Russian possessions in the north.
In 1778, the British explorer Captain James Cook sighted Cape Flattery, at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But the strait itself was not found until Charles William Barkley, captain of the Imperial Eagle, sighted it in 1787. Barkley named it for Juan de Fuca. The Spanish-British Nootka Conventions of the 1790s ended Spanish exclusivity and opened the Northwest Coast to explorers and traders from other nations, most notably Britain, Russia, and the fledgling United States. Further explorations of the straits were performed by Spanish explorers Manuel Quimper in 1790 and Francisco de Eliza in 1791 and then by British Captain George Vancouver in 1792. Captain Vancouver claimed the sound for Britain and named the waters south of the Tacoma Narrows Puget's Sound, in honor of Peter Puget, then a lieutenant accompanying him on the Vancouver Expedition. The name later came to be used for the waters north of Tacoma Narrows as well. Vancouver and his expedition mapped the coast of Washington from 1792 to 1794.
Captain Robert Gray (for whom Grays Harbor County is named) discovered the mouth of the Columbia River in 1792, naming the river after his ship “Columbia” and later establishing a trade in sea otter pelts. The Lewis and Clark expedition, under direction from President Thomas Jefferson, entered the state from the east on October 10, 1805. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were surprised by the differences in Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest from those they had encountered earlier in the expedition, noting in particular the increased status of women among both coastal and plateau tribes. Lewis hypothesized that the equality of women and the elderly with men was linked to more evenly distributed economic roles, but neither Lewis nor Clark had any significant contact with Native women, an omission that is reflected in their travel journals.
Canadian explorer David Thompson extensively explored the Columbia River commencing in 1807. In 1811, he became the first European to navigate the entire length of the river to the Pacific. Along the way he posted a notice where it joins the Snake River claiming the land for Britain and stating the intention of the North West Company to build a fort there. Subsequently, Fort Nez Perces trading post, was established near present day Walla Walla, Washington. Thompson's notice was found by Astorians looking to establish an inland fur post. It contributed to David Stuart's choice, on behalf of the American Pacific Fur Company, of a more northerly site for their operations at Fort Okanogan.
Before settlement in the 1830s, when white women began moving to the territory, Metis women were sought after as wives for the traders. A population of Métis (mixed race) people grew as a result of centuries of sexual encounters between early European fur-traders and Indian women.
American interests in the region grew as part of the concept of manifest destiny. Spain ceded their rights north of the 42nd Parallel to the United States by the 1819 Adams-Onís Treaty, (but not possession, which was disallowed by the terms of the Nootka Conventions).
Britain had long standing commercial interests through the Hudson's Bay Company and a well established network of fur trading forts along the Columbia River in what it called Columbia District. These were headquartered from Fort Vancouver near present day Vancouver, Washington.
By the Treaty of 1818, following from the War of 1812, Great Britain and the United States established the 49th parallel as the border west to the Continental Divide of the Rocky mountains; but agreed to joint control and occupancy of Oregon Country. In 1824 Russia signed an agreement with the U.S. acknowledging it had no claims south of 54-40 latitude north and Russia signed a similar treaty with Britain in 1825.
Joint occupancy was renewed, but on a year to year basis in 1827. Eventually, increased tension between U.S. settlers arriving by the Oregon trail and fur traders led to the Oregon boundary dispute. On June 15, 1846, Britain ceded its claims to the lands south of the 49th parallel, and the U.S. ceded its claims to the north of the same line, in the present day Canadian border,in the Oregon Treaty.
In 1848, the Oregon Territory, composed of present-day Washington, Oregon, and Idaho as well as parts of Montana and Wyoming, was established. Washington Territory, which included Washington and pieces of Idaho and Montana, was formed from Oregon Territory in 1853. In 1872, An arbitration process settled the boundary dispute from the Pig War and established the US-Canada border through the San Juan Islands and Gulf Islands.
Settlements in the eastern part of the state were largely agricultural and focused around missionary establishments in the Walla Walla Valley. Missionaries attempted to ‘civilize’ the Indians, often in ways that disregarded or misunderstood native practices. When missionaries Dr. Marcus Whitman and Narcissa Whitman refused to leave their mission as racial tensions mounted in 1847, 14 American missionaries were killed by Cayuse and Umatilla Indians. Explanations of the 1847 Whitman massacre in Walla Walla include outbreaks of disease, resentment over harsh attempts at conversion of both religion and way of life, and contempt of the native Indians shown by the missionaries, particularly by Narcissa Whitman, the first white American woman in the Oregon Territory. Like many whites and especially evangelical women, Narcissa Whitman was unprepared for the harsh realities of missionary life.
This event triggered the Cayuse War against the Indians, followed by the Yakima War, together continuing until 1858. The Provisional Legislature of Oregon in 1847 immediately raised companies of volunteers to go to war, if necessary, against the Cayuse, and, to the discontent of some of the militia leaders, also sent a peace commission. The United States Army later came to support the militia forces. These militia forces, eager for action, provoked both friendly and hostile Indians. In 1850, five Cayuse were convicted for murdering the Whitmans in 1847, and hanged. Sporadic bloodshed continued until 1855, when the Cayuse were decimated, defeated, bereft of their tribal lands, and placed on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in northeastern Oregon.
The conflicts over the possession of land between the Indians and the ‘American’ settlers led the Americans in 1855, by the 'treaties' at the Walla Walla Council, to coerce not only the Cayuse, but also the Walla Walla and the Umatilla tribes, to the Umatilla Indian Reservation in northeastern Oregon; fourteen other tribal groups to the Yakama Indian Reservation in southern Washington State; and the Nez Perce to a reservation in the border region of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. That same year, gold was discovered in the newly established Yakama reservation and white miners encroached upon these lands. The tribes - first the Yakama, eventually joined by the Walla Walla and the Cayuse - united together to fight the Americans in what is called the Yakima War. The U.S Army sent troops and a number of raids and battles took place. In 1858, the Americans, at the Battle of Four Lakes, defeated the Indians decisively. In a newly imposed ‘treaty,’ tribes were, again, confined to reservations.
As American settlers moved west along the Oregon Trail, some traveled through the northern part of the Oregon Territory and settled in the Puget Sound area. The first settlement in the Puget Sound area in the west of what is now Washington State was Fort Nisqually, a farm and fur-trading post owned by the Puget's Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company. Washington's erstswhile founder, the black pioneer George Washington Bush and his caucasian wife, Isabella James Bush, from Missouri and Tennessee, respectively, led four white families into the territory and settled New Market, now known as Tumwater, in 1846. They settled in Washington to avoid Oregon's racist settlement laws. After them, many more settlers, migrating overland along the Oregon trail, wandered north to settle in the Puget Sound area. Contrasted with other American occupations of the West, there was comparatively little violence between settlers and Native Americans, though several exceptions, such as Territorial Governor Isaac Ingalls Stevens’ extensive campaigns in 1853 to force Indians into ceding lands and rights, are notable: the Puget Sound War, Cayuse War, Yakima War, and Spokane War being the largest conflicts between the new American authorities and indigenous governments. Raids by Haida, Tlingit and other northern tribes from British and Russian territory terrorized Native Americans and settlers alike in Puget Sound in the 1850s. Miners bound for the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in British Columbia in 1858 using the Okanagan Trail travelled under arms and there were many instances of violence along the route.
Lumber industries drew settlers to the territory. Coastal cities, like Seattle (founded in 1853 and originally called “Duwamps”), were established. Unlike the wagon trains that had carried entire families to the Oregon Territory, these early trading settlements were populated primarily with single young men. Liquor, gambling, and prostitution were ubiquitous, supported in Seattle by one of the city’s founders, David Swinson “Doc” Maynard, who believed that well-run prostitution could be a functional part of the economy. The Fraser Gold Rush in what would as a result become the Colony of British Columbia saw a flurry of settlement and merchant activity in northern Puget Sound which gave birth to Port Townsend and Whatcom (which became (Bellingham) as commercial centres, at first attempting to rival Victoria as a disembarkation point of the goldfields until the colony's governor ordered that all access to the Fraser River go via Victoria. Despite the limitation on goldfield-related commerce, many men who left the "Fraser River Humbug", as the rush was for a while misunderstood to be, settled in Whatcom and Island counties. Some of these were settlers on San Juan Island during the Pig War of 1859.
Upon the admission of the State of Oregon to the union in 1859, the eastern portions of the Oregon Territory, including southern Idaho, portions of Wyoming west of the continental divide (then Nebraska Territory), and a small portion of present-day Ravalli County, Montana were annexed to the Washington Territory. In 1863, the area of Washington Territory east of the Snake River and the 117th meridian west was reorganized as part of the newly created Idaho Territory, leaving that territory with only the lands within the current boundaries of the State of Washington.
After the passage of the Enabling Act of 1889, Washington became the 42nd state in the United States on November 11, 1889. The proposed state constitution, passed by a four-to-one ratio, originally included women’s suffrage and prohibition, but both of these issues were defeated and removed from the accepted constitution. Women had previously been given the vote in 1883 by the Washington Territorial Legislature, but the right was rescinded in 1887 by the Washington Territorial Supreme Court as a response to female support of prohibition. Despite these initial defeats, women in the Pacific Northwest were given the right to vote earlier than the rest of the country with Washington passing a suffrage amendment in 1910.
State Motto: "Alki" - By and By (unofficial)
State Song: "Washington, My Home"
State Flower: Coast Rhododendron
State Bird: Goldfinch
State Tree: Western Hemlock
State Gemstone: Petrified wood
State Nickname: The Evergreen State
State Gemstone: Petrified wood
State Nickname: The Evergreen State
State Fruit: Apple
State Vegetable: Walla Walla Sweet Onion
State Dance: Square Dance
State Fish: Steelhead Trout
State Folk Song: Roll On, Columbia, Roll On
State Rock Song: Louie Louie (unofficial)
State Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass
State Insect: Green Darner Dragonfly
State Fossil: Columbian Mammoth
State Marine Mammal: Orca
State Land Mammal: Olympic Marmot
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