March 11, 2013

Let Idaho Endure Forever

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

President Abraham Lincoln helped establish Idaho by signing into law, on March 4, 1863, legislationcreating the Idaho Territory.  This 150-year anniversary of the Idaho Territory lets us reflect on our state's remarkable history and accomplishments. 

Before Idaho became a state in 1890, it was part of several territorial reorganizations.  It was first included in the Oregon Territory (1848-1853); then divided between the Washington Territory and Oregon Territory until 1859.  When Oregon became a state, the entire Idaho area was attached to the Washington Territory, but the land was mostly unsettled until September 1860 when the unexpected discovery of gold at Pierce changed that.  Miners came by the thousands.  Within two years, the population of the area had exploded, leading to the creation of the Idaho Territory.    

Twenty-seven years after the territory's creation, legislation was enacted making Idaho the 43 rd state.  The Idaho State Historical Societynotes that the 27-year territorial era "was perhaps the most significant quarter century in Idaho's history, shaping who we are as a state today."  The Library of Congresscites some of the progress that occurred during this time period: a public school system was created; stage coach lines were established; two newspapers, the Boise News and the Idaho Statesman, began publication; Boise became the capital; and the transcontinental railway brought many people to the territory.

We have much to celebrate in this 150 th year of the Idaho Territory.  In addition to our state's abundance of natural resources, Idahoans continue to embody the determination and strength that were critical to developing 200 incorporated cities across 44 counties.  Much of this heritage was shaped by those who lived in the territory that eventually became Idaho, including the thousands of Native Americans who called the area home.  There is no doubt the Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute contribute to the richness of Idaho's history and are important to its future. 

Idahoans produce high-quality food and innovative products that help people across the nation and around the world.  Our farm families have grown Idaho agriculture into a $7 billion-plus industry that ranks in the top tenin the nation for 25 different crops and livestock.  In 2012, Idaho businesses exported a record-breaking more than $6 billionin products, including semiconductors, industrial equipment, precious/semi-precious metals, agricultural commodities and processed food, fertilizers, paper and forest products and personal care products.

The world's first usable electricity from nuclear energy was generated at the Idaho National Laboratory, which has provided more than 60 years of service to our nation's energy security and defense. 

Idaho is also home to military installations that provide world-class training and contribute greatly to our nation's defense.  Many of Idaho's best and bravest have volunteered to defend our freedoms at home and abroad throughout our history. 

As we begin the next 150 years, we will continue to build on these successes.  I am encouraged by the nearly 282,000 students enrolled in 115 traditional and 44 charter K-12 schools across the state, and more than 65,000 students are being educated at Idaho's eight colleges and universities.  They represent tomorrow's leaders and innovators. 

Idaho's motto "esto perpetua," meaning let it endure forever, exemplifies Idaho's history of strength and endurance.  The Idahoans who established our communities relied on values such as responsibility and perseverance to establish a base from which we could build our great state and the platform for a bright future.  Idaho has had many successes over the past 150 years, and I look forward to the achievements ahead in our state's future.

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