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Late territorial period and after statehood


North Dakota picture
North Dakota picture

During the late territorial period and after statehood, the most influential man in North Dakota was Alexander McKenzie, Northern Pacific Railroad representative and skillful political operative who dominated state politics without ever holding a state office. Later referred to as Alexander the Great, McKenzie had arrived in northern Dakota Territory with a wagon train in 1867 when he was 17 and settled in Bismarck in 1873. He became an influential lobbyist for the railroad and eventually the leader of the North Dakota Republican Party.

In 1883 McKenzie arranged with Dakota Territorial Governor Nehemiah Ordway to move the territorial capital from Yankton, in the south, to Bismarck, in the north, an action that intensified the belief that southern and northern Dakota Territory had little in common. In 1887 a general election set the boundary between northern and southern Dakota Territory; on February 22, 1889, the U.S. Congress passed the enabling act permitting both Dakotas, Montana, and Washington to become states; and on November 2, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison signed the documents that made North Dakota and South Dakota the 39th and 40th states of the Union. McKenzie and the well funded Republican Party dominated early state politics; all the first state officials were Republicans, including the governor, John Miller, and legislation favored the interests of the railroad companies. "North Dakota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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