Idaho Day 2020

Go! Create some fun new Idaho Day traditions after a ceremony at the Statehouse 12:00 pm March 4th.

March 4th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln removed a large chunk of Washington Territory with the stroke of a pen. Idaho Territory was born when he signed the Organic Act, and he helped set up its original government by assigning hand-picked staffers and officers to its highest positions. Pres. Lincoln’s influence over the Homestead Act and the Pacific Railway Act also proved essential in bringing settlers to Idaho, leading to a population large enough to vote and become a State in the larger Union.

During that chaotic time in history, when states could change their names and sizes seemingly at a whim, Idaho struggled to establish and maintain its borders and identity. Those struggles are heavily shrouded in myth, particularly the story behind the boundary between Idaho and Montana. Some stories say Montana unscrupulously took a large portion of Idaho’s land away on its eastern side.

Before 1863, what is now Idaho was ruled over by Washington Territory from its capital in Olympia. Gold was discovered near Lewiston in 1860, which inspired an influx of miners and prospectors to the area. With sudden immigration from many other states, changes in both population and politics played on the fears of those calling the shots in Olympia. Feeling anxious there would be a vote to move the capital away from Olympia to a city further east in Idaho, Washington Territory legislative officials chose not to put up a fight when Lewiston and other patches of mining terrain voted to withdraw and become part of the newly created state of Idaho.

There are many other border stories about Idaho: how it was carved out of the Deseret Territory created by the Mormons, how it used to extend as far east as the Dakotas, but those tales aren’t as interesting as something that has come up more recently. 

Mike McCarter is the chief petitioner of a movement behind the attempt to create a new state called Greater Idaho. He and a group of other like-minded citizens in the Pacific Northwest are hoping to redraw boundaries so that most of Oregon and a large piece of northern California would become part of Idaho. If you like this idea, you can sign their petition and help get this massive state line redraw rolling.

In honor of President Lincoln taking that initial step towards the creation of our home state, we celebrate Idaho Day every March 4th. This year, Go! to the Statehouse at 12:00 pm to meet with Idaho officials, including Gov. Brad Little and First Lady Teresa Little, and Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra, as they celebrate Idaho Day with a spotlight on inspiring Idaho women. Permeal French, Idaho’s first female Superintendent of Public Instruction, will be a special focus of Idaho Day 2020. 

Idaho Day is a chance for us to be model citizens and honor our history, but it is also a day to have some Idaho state pride. Best of all, it gives us all an excuse to celebrate and maybe start some fun new traditions. 

What do you think would be a good Idaho Day tradition? A beer festival like the Germans have in early fall? A series of athletic competitions? Another tailgate party at Alberston’s Stadium, even if the football season is over? Let us know what fun Idaho Day tradition you think we should start and hope to make last for future generations.

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Adam Brimhall

Adam Brimhall

An expert at going out.