The Washington Territory


Like Oregon, the origins of the states of Idaho, Washington and Montana was indeed interesting.

On February 8, 1853, Washington Territory was formed originally from the Oregon Territory north of both the lower Columbia River (named after the ship Columbia Rediviva) and after the 46th parallel which is situated east of Columbia. A bill was drafted to name the area “Columbia Territory” which was in competition with also naming it after the famous United States President George Washington. That was proposed by Kentucky Democrat Congressman Richard H. Stanton (1812-1891).

The Columbia River Named After Famed Captain

The Columbia River was named after the famous privately owned sloop the Columbia Rediviva under Captain Robert Gray (1755-1906). This prominent sailor was best known for pioneering the fur trade located within the Pacific Northwest. He also was commissioned as a captain in the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary War and was also involved in the importation of Black African slaves. From the periods of 1787-1790, he would also circumnavigate the world, being the first American to do so. This was all in the name of a trading business enterprise which started out from Boston, Massachusetts along with Captain John Kendrick (1740?-1794) who was also an explorer of the Pacific Northwest.

Boundaries of Washington Territory

The original boundaries of the territory included the current state of Washington, the northern tip of the state of Idaho and the western parts of the state of Montana. When the state of Oregon became admitted into the Union by 1859, the eastern parts of the Oregon territory included southern Idaho, some western parts of Wyoming(west of the continental divide), and small areas of Ravalli County, Montana which would later became part of the Washington Territory.

Not far from Clearwater River and east of the Snake River, the 117th meridian became a part of the newly created Idaho Territory in 1863, which was formerly a portion of the Washington Territory. After this, the current boundary of what is known as the state of Washington now was born. On November 11, 1889, Washington Territory became the state of Washington and was officially admitted into the Union as the 42nd state. The state of Washington is honored in-name after the first President of the United States of America. The capital was located at Olympia which today is the county seat of Thurston County, a major multicultural hub of the region of Puget Sound.

First Territorial Governor of Washington

Former Union Major General Isaac Stevens (1818 – 1862) was the first territorial governor of the Washington Territory. He would leave in order to join the Union in the American Civil War. General Stevens was killed in the Battle of Chantilly on September 1, 1862.