You do know what day this is, don’t you? Are you prepared to properly celebrate this day? Today is the anniversary of Oregon’s admission into the Union. Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859, 8½ years after California and 30½ years before Washington.
Fun Facts for Black History Month:
Oregon was admitted as a free state, a tradeoff with the South that allowed slavery in the southwestern states.
Not a problem for Oregon, as its original constitution contained a “whites only” clause. The Oregon Territory had outlawed slavery in 1844, with its Black Exclusion Law. As the name implies, African-Americans were not allowed into the territory. Slave owners were given three years to free them. Black persons who did not leave were arrested and given at least twenty, but no more than thirty-nine lashes across their bare backs. The process was repeated after six months for anyone found still in the state.
- The Black Exclusion Law was repealed in 1925.
- An amendment to the Oregon Constitution in 1927 allowed Blacks to vote.
- Interracial marriage was legalized in 1951.
(Additional but only tenuously related Fun Fact: The University of Oregon was founded in 1872; Blue Ribbon Sports, precursor to Nike, was founded in 1964.)
If you are curious about that Valentine guy, here’s his story.