Oregon State Day, Motto, and Nickname
DATE OF ADMISSION TO UNITED STATES
February 14, 1859
RANKING IN STATE ADMISSION
Following the settling of border issues, the United States Congress was quick to act in organizing the Oregon Territory in 1848. Like many other territories, Oregon was impatient to realize statehood in the 1850s. Unfortunately, attempts were mired in the pre–Civil War political tensions over slavery. Frustrated with continuous delays and confused directives coming from Washington, in 1857, the leadership and people of Oregon Territory decided to proceed with a constitutional convention without the benefit of an Organic Act.
The constitution they drafted emulated those written by other states to the east, such as Indiana. Among many other issues, it addressed the slavery issue by banning the practice, but at the same time denied residency to freed African Americans. Even though the pioneers of the new territory did not want slavery in the state, they had very definite ideas about who was considered equal before the law. With the territory prepared to join the ranks of the free states, yet supporting pro-slavery issues, the way was clear for Congress to act. On February 14, 1859, President James Buchanan signed the quickly drafted bill and Oregon was accepted as the 33rd state.
Alis Volat Propriiis ("She Flies with Her Own Wings")
The state legislature adopted this phrase, taken from the territorial seal, in 1987. It was chosen to replace the previous motto "The Union," which had been adopted in 1957. The phrase is attributed to Judge Jessie Quinn Thornton, who was very active in pre-territorial Oregon politics and presented the petition to Congress for territorial status.
"The Beaver State," "The Union State," "Pacific Wonderland," "The Sunset State," "The Web Foot State," "The Hard-case State"
Beaver pelts were highly prized as a trade item in Oregon Country while it was still under British control. Eventually the area became over-trapped and the trade died out, but the animal’s popularity continued into modern times, leading to it being depicted on the state flag and adopted by many of the state’s athletic teams. Eventually this led to the nickname "The Beaver State."
Oregon's first state motto was the "The Union State," and it became a nickname. The "Pacific Wonderland" series of license plates was first issued to celebrate Oregon’s 100th anniversary and refers to the wide range of ecological attractions in the state. The nickname "Sunset State" refers to Oregon’s extreme west position in North America, even though Alaska is now the most western state in the Union. "The Web Foot State" is a light-hearted reference to Oregon’s status as one of the wettest regions in the country. "The Hard-case State" is a historical reference to the hardships that early settlers experienced while traveling to the state.
-World Trade Press