A Dictionary of American History

Author: Thomas L. Purvis  | Date: 1995


Washington Britain’s claims to Wash. produced the Nootka Sound crisis with Spain. In 1824 Hudson’s Bay Company built Fort Vancouver on the Columbia as its headquarters for the local fur trade. The first Anglo-American settlement was Marcus Whitman’s mission near Walla Walla in 1836. In October 1845, the first US settlement was made on Puget Sound by eight Americans near Olympia. A British-American joint occupation of the northwest ended with the Fifty-Four, Forty, or Fight controversy, which resulted in British recognition of the US claim over Wash. in 1846. Wash. remained part of Oregon until it became a territory on 2 May 1853. In 1860 it had 11,594 residents, of whom 27 percent were foreign-born and just 30 were black; it ranked 40th in population, 37th in the value of its farmland and livestock, and 35th in manufactures.

Wash. was the scene of the Cayuse and Yakima wars. Development accelerated rapidly after the first transcontinental railroad entered the territory in 1883. On 11 November 1889, it became the 42nd state. In 1900 it had 518,103 residents (96 percent white, 1 percent Indian, 1 percent Japanese, 1 percent Chinese, 1 percent black), of whom 59 percent were rural and 22 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 33rd in population, 34th in the value of agricultural products, and 29th in manufactures. The economy diversified away from agriculture and lumbering through shipbuilding, placement of military bases, the aircraft industry’s rise after 1916, and inexpensive electricity from Columbia River dams in the 1930s. In 1990 it was the 19th largest state and had 4,866,692 residents (87 percent white, 3 percent black, 4 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian, 2 percent Indian), of whom 82 percent were urban and 6.6 percent were of foreign birth. Manufacturing and mining employed 25 percent of workers.


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Chicago: Thomas L. Purvis, "Washington," A Dictionary of American History in A Dictionary of American History (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Reference, 1995), Original Sources, accessed August 21, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PBE71AHLRT7IZU7.

MLA: Purvis, Thomas L. "Washington." A Dictionary of American History, in A Dictionary of American History, Cambridge, Mass., Blackwell Reference, 1995, Original Sources. 21 Aug. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PBE71AHLRT7IZU7.

Harvard: Purvis, TL, 'Washington' in A Dictionary of American History. cited in 1995, A Dictionary of American History, Blackwell Reference, Cambridge, Mass.. Original Sources, retrieved 21 August 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PBE71AHLRT7IZU7.