Yesterday, August 1, was Colorado Day, the anniversary of the day that Colorado became a state in 1876. Writing yesterday writing yesterday for the Denver Post, Ed Quillen recalled just how hard it was to get there.
This story of Colorado’s pioneers is not a pleasant Western tale. Statehood was delayed twelve years for Colorado because many of its early residents were draft dodgers, and because their political leaders were considered racists.In 1864, Colorado voters rejected statehood in order to dodge the Civil War draft. In 1865, an attempt to give Colorado Statehood was rejected by the U.S. Senate because the draft constitution banned blacks from voting, and while the Senate later passed it, President Andrew Johnson vetoed statehood for Colorado in 1866 for the same reason. In 1867 Johnson vetoed an effort to make Colorado a state again, this time without the ban on voting by blacks, because the likely Senators from the state wanted to impeach him. Eventually, a constitution banning racial discrimination was adopted, the impecahment crisis ended, and statehood followed for Colorado on August 1, 1876.
This background makes it a little less surprising that, a couple of generations later, in the early 1920s, Colorado politics was dominated by the KKK.
The full story from Quillen, linked above, is worth a read and provides additional insights, including the reason Colorado Day isn’t a state holiday anymore (a good one), but everyone should know, at least, the the bare bones outline of the story above.