Utah's Road to Statehood [banner]


Statehood Day


On 5 November 1895 the citizens of the Utah Territory voted for ratification of the proposed constitution and for their choice of state officers. In Washington, D.C., the Utah Commission examined the election returns and presented the results to Congress and the president of the United States. From his White House office, President Grover Cleveland, on Saturday, 4 January 1896, issued the proclamation admitting Utah to the Union as the forty-fifth state. Two days later, 6 January 1896, the newly elected officers of the state of Utah were inaugurated, and celebrations erupted throughout the new state.

Pen used

Abraham H. Cannon recorded in his personal journal that "The Constitution of the proposed State of Utah was today presented to President Cleveland by Commissioner J. R. Letcher of the Utah Commission.... The President promised to examine it at an early day, and if it conformed to the requirements of the enabling act he assured his visitors he would soon issue the proclamation making Utah a State." (Abraham H. Cannon Journals, vol. 19, 27 June 1895-31 December 1895. Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, Archives and Manuscripts Department.)

Swarming streets

When news of the proclamation signing reached Utah, widespread celebration and pandemonium ensued throughout the state. Business was suspended, and crowds swarmed the streets of Salt Lake City, shouting, laughing, and ringing bells, blowing whistles and firing firecrackers and rockets. James E. Talmage described the event in his personal diary. "At 8:03 a.m., Mountain Time, the expected message reached Salt Lake City that Grover Cleveland President of the United States had signed the proclamation which makes the admission of Utah to the Union of States complete.... The news of the admission was welcomed by the firing of cannon and small arms, the shrieking of steam whistles and every other kind of noise which could be produced." (James E. Talmage Diaries, vol. 9, 1 January 1896-31 December 1897, Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, Archives and Manuscripts Department.)


A battery of the Utah National Guard joined in the celebration by marching to Capitol Hill and firing a twenty-one gun salute, helping to alert the city that statewide celebrations should begin. In a letter to his son, Wilford Woodruff expressed relief that Utah had finally been admitted to the Union. "My Dear Son, Thank God Utah is a State after 50 years struggle We have Conquered.... Although we have seen some interesting days in Utah We have Never seen such a Day as this." (Letter from Wilford Woodruff to his son A. H. Woodruff, 6 January 1896, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS Church] Historical Department.)

Forty-five stars

The following Monday was inauguration day, with ceremonies taking place in the tabernacle, which was newly decorated for the occasion with red, white, and blue bunting and a forty-five star flag suspended from the ceiling.

Utah We Love Thee

Numerous speeches were delivered, including a reading of the statehood proclamation by Joseph L. Rawlins and an inaugural address by newly elected governor Heber M. Wells. Various patriotic songs were part of the program, including Evan Stephens' "Utah We Love Thee," written especially for the occasion and later adopted, 10 February 1917, as the official state song. David John described the event. "On Saturday January 4th 1896, attended a Mass meeting at the Utah State Tabernacle, being a Celebration in honor of the proclamation of the State of Utah.... It was a day of general rejoicing throughout Utah. I acted as Chaplain in the services held in Provo." (David John Journals, Vol 4, Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, Archives and Manuscripts Department.)


Numerous congratulatory letters and telegrams were sent to the new governor, Heber M. Wells.

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This page was last updated May 29, 2002.