Tags: US State Facts | Washington History | The Evergreen State | Seattle Space Needle

Washington History: 8 Events That Shaped the State

By    |   Monday, 23 Feb 2015 11:32 PM

Washington, the only U.S. state named after a president, became the 42nd state on Nov. 11, 1889. The Seattle Space Needle remains the most recognizable part of that city's skyline, while the state's Mount Rainier is the highest peak in the continental U.S. These are among the many events that make up Washington history. Most people are also familiar with Mount St. Helens, the volcano that erupted in 1980.

The Evergreen State has seen many historical moments in its 125-year history. Here are eight events that shaped the state:

1. The Treaty of Oregon was signed on June 15, 1846 between the U.S. and Great Britain, setting a dispute over control of the Oregon territory. In drawing the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Strait of Georgia, United States gained formal control over future states Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, while the British kept Vancouver Island, says History.com.

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2. The Cayuse War. In 1836, missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman founded the Whitman Mission miles from what is now Walla Walla, Washington. They hoped to bring Christianity to the Cayuse Indians, but brought an outbreak of measles that killed most of the Cayuse offspring. Incensed, Chief Tiloukaikt and his tribe slaughtered the Whitmans and 12 other settlers in 1847. That resulted in the a war that lasted until 1855, and ultimately opened up Cayuse lands to white settlers, but destroyed relationships between whites and the native tribes, according to Legends of America.

3. Seattle's Great Fire, on June 6, 1889, was an important moment in the city's history. The afternoon blaze began when a pot of glue from a cabinet store ignited and spread across the business district over the next 18 hours. Damages were estimated at $20 million.

4. Washington is recognized as the birthplace of Father's Day, thanks to Spokane resident Sonora Smart Dodd. She wanted to honor her Civil War veteran father, who had raised Dodd and her five siblings alone himself after his wife died in childbirth. According to History.com,  Dodd organized the first statewide celebration in July 1910, and then campaigned for a nationally recognized observance. Though Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge both supported the idea, Father's Day finally became a federal holiday in 1972.

5. The Puget Sound, located off Washington's northwestern coast, became a focus for manufacturers during World War II. In particular, Boeing made many of the country's bombers in ports such as Seattle, Bremerton and Tacoma to help the war effort. As young men left to fight, large numbers of women joined the workforce. One of the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and the Boeing B-29 that carried it originated from the state.

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6. Long before statehood, the Washington territory was visited by Europeans interested in the profitable fur of the sea otter, among other items. Captain Don Bruno de Heceta claims the land for Spain in 1775, while British explorer Captain George Vancouver led an expedition into the area in 1792. Great Britain and Spain signed the Nootka Sound agreements in the 1790s, which avoided a war over land claims in the Pacific Northwest coast of North America, and opened the coastline to traders and settlers from both empires. Famed surveyors Lewis and Clark also travelled the Columbia River region and coastal areas for the U.S. in 1805–06.

7. Bertha Knight Landes advanced the woman's movement in 1926 when she became the first female mayor of a major American city. She served Seattle from 1926-28. Landes was born in Massachusetts and moved to Seattle in 1895 with her husband. Before becoming mayor, she was elected to the Seattle City Council and also became Council President.

8. Seattle native Bill Gates founds Microsoft in 1975 with his childhood friend, Paul Allen, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The firm moves to Bellevue in 1979 and eventually to its current home in Redmond. The company is responsible for the livelihood of thousands of Washington residents.

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Washington, the only U.S. state named after a president, became the 42nd state on Nov. 11, 1889. The Seattle Space Needle remains the most recognizable part of that city's skyline, while the state's Mount Rainier is the highest peak in the continental U.S.
Washington History, The Evergreen State, Seattle Space Needle
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