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Washington State

The Inaugural Decade, 1889–1899

Robert E. Ficken


In the sequel to his popular Washington Territory, author Robert E. Ficken deftly describes the turbulent first decade of statehood—ten years that laid the foundation for the following century and beyond.


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Long in territorial status, Washington, with its 70,000 square miles brimming with timber, rich farmland, and salmon, finally attained statehood in November 1889. In his sequel to Washington Territory, author Robert E. Ficken relates how the ensuing turbulent years laid the foundation for the next century and beyond. Citizens began to earnestly exploit the infant state’s seemingly limitless natural resources, initially heralding a time of prosperity. Those early years also were characterized by a population explosion that defined the major urban centers, yet also strained government funds at the city, county, and state levels. The Panic of 1893, followed by four long years of depression, revealed vast corruption, and spurred debt and escalated dependence on both federal and foreign capital. Finally, the economic suffering eased as the fiscally responsible decisions made by the Populist legislature restored confidence. Outside investors returned, and the Klondike gold rush brought renewed opportunity and wealth to the Pacific Northwest. By the end of its first decade, as American influence extended across the Pacific in the aftermath of the war with Spain, Washington stood poised to take full advantage of the newly expanded trade relationship with Asia.

In the sequel to his popular Washington Territory, author Robert E. Ficken describes the first decade of statehood. Initially, a new railroad system, vast natural resources, an irrigation boom, astounding population growth, and strong investment from outside capitalists brought modest prosperity. Yet citizens also faced inept and corrupt legislation, labor disputes, criminal activity, strained municipal budgets, and in 1893, a national economic collapse. Although recovery came at last, these turbulent years laid the foundation for Washington’s next century and beyond.

Photographs / notes / bibliography / index / 304 pages (2007)

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Weight 1.07 oz
Dimensions 9 x 6 in