Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 12, No. 4
December, 1934

Dan W. Peery


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The date was November 16, 1907, when the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, signed the proclamation that made Oklahoma the forty-sixth state in the Union. On the same day Chas. N. Haskell took the oath of office as Governor of the State of Oklahoma. President Roosevelt signed this proclamation in his office at Washington, D. C. and Governor Haskell took the oath of office in front of the Carnegie Library at Guthrie. We know of no better way of telling of the historic events of that day than to reprint the press reports written by newspaper men who were there "taking notes".

The first dispatch that we will reproduce was written from the President's office in Washington and other dispatches on same date from the Capital of Oklahoma at Guthrie.

These old newspaper accounts; of the signing of the Statehood Proclamation and giving the story of the inauguration of the first Governor may be accepted as authentic history.

D. W. P.

When Oklahoma Became a State

Washington, D. C. November 16, 1907

"Oklahoma is now a state", smilingly remarked the President of the United States as he made the concluding flourish with an eagle quill pen to the statehood proclamation at 10:16 o'clock this morning.

The President picked up one of the new blotters which lay on the cabinets table to dry his signature, but he had not completed the operation before an alert person with gray hair, white tie and nervous smile, cried out, "Mr. President, give me the blotter". The blotter was presented with a smile to Albert Hammer of Enid, Oklahoma who had made the request, a clerk in the general land office. Incidentally Mr. Hammer is the proud possessor of the blotter with which the original bill admitting Oklahoma to statehood was signed.

Attended by no Ceremony

"If any of you gentlemen want pictures of the blotter, I'll give them to you", remarked Mr. Hammer to a group of news-

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paper men as the President turned to leave. "I am going to have some struck off for distribution to my friends".

The birth of the new state of Oklahoma was attended with no ceremonial. Not an official of the state nor a member of Congress, had assembled to see the President attach his signature to the proclamation. Senator Warner of Missouri and Senator Carter of Montana, each of whom was present when the President informed the Oklahoma delegation that he intended to issue the proclamation, headed the small delegation of government clerks from Oklahoma and newspaper men who were waiting at the cabinet room to witness the birth of the new state.

Signed with Eagle Quill

"I am especially interested in that part of the constiution which provides for state wide prohibition", remarked Senator Carter as he entered the room. The delegation formed around the cabinet table and fifteen minutes after 10 o'clock the door leading to the executive private office was thrown open and the President entered, taking a seat at the head of the cabinet table. Secretary Leob had ready the eagle quill pen presented by Governor Frantz which by previous arrangement was to be the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Not until he had signed his name to the proclamation prepared by the State department did the President recognize, by even so much as a nod of the head, the group which surrounded the cabinet table. Without any further comment than to announce the birth of the new state in the language given, the President left the cabinet room.

At 10 o'clock the White house telegraph rooms were directly connected both with Guthrie and Oklahoma City and the second the President attached his signature to the proclamation the information was flashed to the new state.

0fficials-Elect were Ready

Every detail had been arranged in advance for providing the new state with its officials just as soon as the President's signature in Washington made the oath of office possible. The state office holders-elect had sent word that they were prepared to enter upon their duties and the federal officers had taken their

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commissions with them when they left Washington after the heated fight which resulted in their appointments.

Political Power Transferred

The signing of the important proclamation which made Oklahoma a state was in marked contrast to every other important incident which has attended the advance of Oklahoma to statehood. With the attachment of the President's signature to the proclamation, Guthrie and not Washington becomes the center of interest for those who are concerned in the affairs of the new state. It marks, too, the most complete transfer of political power possible under American institutions.

From the most absolute control—that of the federal power over a territory to the most democratic of all American governmental power—that of the state as provided in the Constitution, Oklahoma was shifted by a mere stroke of the President's pen. The conditions under which the new state enters the Union gives it a prestige which has attended the birth of no other American commonwealth.

The Prestige of Oklahoma

In population and wealth no other state at the time of its admission has approached it sufficiently to make a comparison possible. It enters the Union with a larger fund available for educational purposes than all the other states combined at the time of their admission, if.Texas be excepted. Its congressional delegation, which will begin service with the opening of the sixtieth Congress, the first Monday in December, will have sufficient numerical strength to make it a factor in the lower house at the beginning. One congressman has represented former states in the lower house at the time of their admission. Oklahoma will have five. It would be possible in no other government on earth save that of the United States for a new territory to be given equal power with confederated states in the admission of national affairs which entered upon those duties politically committed to the antagonism of the party in power.

Antagonistic to Administration

Oklahoma is intensely antagonistic to the party which created it a state. Despite this fact the amazing spectacle was pre-

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sented of the witness of its birth by officials only of the opposition party. Even the senators who were assembled in the cabinet room were members of the Republican party. The political situation is all the more remarkable because the new state is admitted on the eve of a Presidential election when it is known that it certainly will cast its vote in opposition to the party which gave it a place in the electoral column.

The admission of Oklahoma marks a radical departure from all former procedure in the admission of states. It is the only state that has ever been brought into the Union under an almost absolute guarantee that its voice would be raised against the party which made it. Its boundaries were fixed by the Republican party, for the joinder Oklahoma and the Indian Territory was first suggested in a Republican Senate committee room. A Republican Congress passed the enabling act, a Republican President issued the proclamation admitting it to statehood and a Democratic governor will administer its affairs.


Guthrie, Oklahoma November 16, 1907

A revolver shot rang out and the rejoicing began in Guthrie. After an existence of eighteen years, six months and twenty-four days, the Territory of Oklahoma with Indian Territory, became a memory today with the signing of the statehood proclamation by President Roosevelt. The news of the admission of the state into the Union was received here at 9:18 o'clock this morning, two minutes after the proclamation was signed. According to Washington time, the news was received at 10:18.

J. C. Nelson, superintendent of the Western Union Telegraph Company was here from Omaha and had secured a direct wire to the White House, thereby preventing any delay in the transmission of the message. This announcement was first made public by Hugh Scott, private secretary to Governor Frantz. Scott stood on the portico and fired an automatic pistol as a signal to the militia companies, which replied with volleys of blank cartridges. Instantly the city broke into a tumult of noise.

Bands began playing, bells were rung, steam whistles blown and every man and boy who could fire a gun added to the up-

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roar. The firing of guns at public demonstrations was typical of Oklahoma. In early days volunteer fire departments were called out in this way. The air was sharp and crisp and the morning resplendent with sunshine. The crowds that had been pouring into Guthrie since the arrival of early trains were in a jubilant mood. Many women joined with men in the streets in shouting a welcome to statehood.

Governor Haskell's apartments were jammed with people from every portion of the new state. Many of the women were handsomely gowned. The crush extended from his office at the Hotel Royal through the parlors, down the wide stairway, through the hotel lobby and across the sidewalk into the street. He was showered with congratulations and with kindly words for the success of his administration.

Governor Haskell had laid aside his customary sack coat for a Prince Albert, but wore it easily and moved from group to group as if he were at a big house party. Even before he had taken his oath of office Governor Haskell proceeded to the state's business and his first act was against the Standard Oil Company. He had been informed at an early hour this morning that the Standard company was preparing to take advantage of the short interval in which neither the Territorial nor the State officers would be in existence, that it might lay an interstate natural gas pipe line from Washington County into Kansas. Bartlesville is is the seat of Washington County.

During this interval it was believed that the United States Indian Agent at Muskogee also might not have authority to interfere with the Standard. Governor Haskell sent a telegram to the deputy County Attorney of Washington County instructing him peremptorily to prevent the laying of the gas pipe line. The question involved is one of greatest interest to citizens of the new state who wish, if possible, to prevent the exportation of natural gas outside the state, preferring that the vast natural gas resources of Oklahoma should be used to build up home industries. To circumvent the loss of natural gas through interstate pipe lines, the constitutional convention refused to declare natural gas pipe lines common carriers. The natural gas pipe lines

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inside the state were chartered and are owned by the Barnsdall branch of the Standard's organization.

William Cross, secretary of state, and J. J. McAlester, member of the corporation commission, because of illness are not here today and will be unable to take part in the inaugural. The fear is expressed by Cross' friends that he may not recover. He has serious affection of the heart.

Jack Love Keeps His Promise

J. J. Love of Woodward, member of the Corporation Commission, kept his promise made at home during his campaign and brought forty young women of Woodward to Guthrie in a special car at his expense. Love is a typical frontier Texan, about six feet three inches high and walks with swagger of a cowboy. For many years he was the close personal friend of the late Temple Houston.

"The young ladies with me today," said Love, "run anywhere from the daughters of bankers to the daughters of laborers and you can't tell them apart. They are all my friends and my people and I'm certainly going to show them a good time."

Haskell Takes the Oath

November 16, 1907, Guthrie, Oklahoma

Five minutes after it was known that Oklahoma was a state the oath of office was administered to Governor Haskell by Leslie G. Niblack, editor of the Guthrie Leader, who had qualified as a notary public especially for this purpose. The ceremony took place privately in Mr. Haskell's hotel apartments in the presence of his immediate family, R. L. Owen, United States senator-elect and Thomas Owen of Muskogee, Haskell's former political manager.

The administration of the oath was withheld from the public that interest in the public inaugural ceremonies might not be lessened. Governor Haskell was determined that he should take up the reins of government at the earliest possible moment, believing that the safety of public affairs demanded it. He immediately announced the appointment of Frank Canton, Fairfax to be

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adjutant general and said that his other appointments would be made known at 3 o'clock this afternoon. With a miniature cannon a local merchant fired a salute of seventeen guns for the new governor and commander-in-chief.

Frantz Staying at Home

Frank Frantz, retiring territorial governor, is spending the day at his home, joining in no way in the inaugural ceremonies. He went to his office early this morning to get his mail, remaining only a few moments. He was greeted by a number of officers of the Oklahoma National guard with whom he is popular and who had called to say an official good-by to him.

Between Frantz and Governor Haskell is a personal feud so bitter that Haskell refused to ride with Frantz in the inaugural parade. Then Frantz refused to give Haskell any personal or official recognition. In the state campaign Haskell made a speech at Shawnee in which he attacked Frantz's personal character and referred to Frantz's family in his statement.

Invited No Territorial Officers

None of the territorial officers except Governor Frantz was invited by the committee on arrangements to take part in the inaugural. When the question was first discussed the committee was embarrassed by the fact that a general invitation. would include a negro, E. P. McCabe, deputy territorial auditor. It was a certainty that even the invitation, much less the appearance of McCabe, would have caused riotous feelings among the Southern Democrats, who are intense in their race prejudice and are clamoring of the immediate enactment of "Jim Crow" law by the legislature. McCabe, however, would not have accepted the invitation.

Many Couldn't Get Near

Seven thousand citizens of the new state stood in the street facing the south portico of the Carnegie library to witness the beginning of the state government. Thousands were weary with trying to get within seeing distance of the ceremonies through the streets in the business portion of the city. Even the trees on

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the library grounds were filled with men and boys. In the outskirts of the crowd was a jam of motor cars, carriages and horse men.

Hundreds of Democratic farmers, rising long before dawn, had ridden from the country to see the inaugural sight. Elsewhere were glittering uniforms of band musicians. A detail of state militia-men stood guard at the entrance of the library.

Noon had almost arrived before the new state officers-elect and their families. Shortly afterward Governor Haskell came in an open carriage accompanied by Judge Frank Dale, ex-chief justice of Oklahoma, Leslie G. Niblack and Frank Canton, adjutant general of the state militia.

Flowers and Jeweled Women

The portico was banked with beautiful flowers which were hardly so attractive, however, as the handsome women and their rich gowns and jewels that flashed in the sunlight. Judge Dale was Master of Ceremonies on the platform. Shortly after 12 o'clock Charles H. Filson, secretary of the late territory of Oklahoma began reading President Roosevelt's statehood proclamation which brought a roar of cheering from the great audience.

Then came the marriage ceremony which joined Oklahoma and Indian Territory for life. C. G. Jones of Oklahoma City, for many years one of the most tireless champions of joint statehood, was the groom and made the proposal of marriage to the bride, Miss Indian Territory, who was Mrs. Leo Bennett of Muskogee, a citizen of the Cherokee nation and wife of Dr. Leo Bennett, long United States marshal at Muskogee. Mrs. Bennett is a beautiful woman and shows attractively the racial characteristics of her people. In his proposal the groom said that he was only 18 years old, having been born in Washington in 1889.

Gave the Bride Away

The bride was given away by William Durant of Durant, who was sergeant-at-arms of the constitutional convention and a citizen of the Choctaw nation. The marriage ceremony was performed by the Rev. W. H. Dodson, pastor of the First Baptist church of Guthrie.

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The Official oath was administered to Governor Haskell at 12: 20 o'clock in the afternoon by Leslie Niblack, editor of the Guthrie Leader. Governor Haskell proceeded at once to the delivery of his inaugural address.

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