North Dakota Government site North Dakota Tourism site

Last Territorial Legislature, 1889

Bismarck CapitolNorth Dakota Capitol, 1883-1930. This building served as the territorial capitol (1883-1889) and the state capitol of North Dakota (1889-1930). Much of the capitol building was destroyed by fire on December 30, 1930. (SHSND E0141)

The last Territorial Legislature met in Bismarck in January, 1889. It passed appropriations for the various institutions, treating each equitably without the usual partisan conflicts, and provided for an election to choose delegates to a northern constitutional convention to be held at Grafton. However, Congress passed the Enabling Act on February 22, 1889, admitting the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington. The bill provided for a 75-member convention in North Dakota, three to be elected from each of 25 districts, and divided Dakota Territory at the seventh Standard Parallel of the government survey instead of the 46th parallel. This not only made the boundary line between the two states easier to find, but more important, it kept townships and sections intact. The 46th parallel would have cut through sections of land.


Official 1889 Map of North Dakota. This map was created in June 1889, just before statehood. This is a reproduction of the 1889 map used for the state’s centennial celebration in 1989. (SHSND 978.4031 N864o 1989)


Another provision of the Enabling Act forbade discrimination “on account of race or color, except as to Indians not taxed.” Another very important one, from the standpoint of the schools, came about largely through the foresight and determined efforts of General W. H. H. Beadle, Territorial Superintendent of Schools. It provided that school lands could not be sold at less than $10 per acre, and that the rent from these lands, or the interest on the money for which they were sold, is to be applied to the support of the schools for which they were set aside; but none of the fund itself is ever to be spent.