The Little White Lie That Put Wyoming On the Map
July 10, 1890, United States President Benjamin Harrison signed a bill that officially made Wyoming the 44th state in the union.
Like many great events in American history, it may have never happened were it not for a lying politician.
On March 26, 1890, Wyoming's Congressional Delegate Joseph Carey introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would establish the territory as a state.
The biggest issue in the debate was Wyoming's population, which fell below the traditional standard for statehood of 60,000 citizens.
Leading up the vote, Carey had suggested that Wyoming actually had a populaton of nearly 125,000. Several members of congress questioned his estimate, citing the considerably smaller number of residents who had voted in recent state elections.
Ever the crafty politician, Carey dismissed the low voter turnout, claiming it was due to a lack of interest in politics. "There is but little of politics in Wyoming. Every year is an off year," Carey testified.
Carey also argued that the vast size of Wyoming and its rugged terrain made it difficult for census takers to conduct accurate population surveys.
Of course, Carey was lying through his teeth. Yet somehow, he was able to assure the House and Senate that Wyoming's population was large enough to merit statehood.
126 years later, Wyoming remains the least populated state in the country.