Wyoming, state, United States: Statehood and Progressive Legislation

Statehood and Progressive Legislation

Statehood was achieved in 1890, and in keeping with its frontier ideals, Wyoming adopted a liberal state constitution that included the secret ballot. The Carey Act of 1894, providing for the reclamation and settlement of land, stimulated further agrarian development and, in addition, pointed out the need for conservation and efficient use of water. The establishment of national parks protected timberlands and extensive grazing areas, and water power was harnessed to furnish electricity for farms and industries.

In politics, the Progressive movement found numerous adherents in Wyoming; in 1915, after one of the most bitter fights in the state's history, Progressive forces triumphed over the railroad and related interests with the establishment of a state utilities commission. A worker's compensation law was passed in 1915, and also in that year the legislature authorized the Univ. of Wyoming to accept federal grants for agricultural experiments and demonstrations. Thus were begun the state's outstanding and widespread services for agrarian improvement. In 1924 Wyoming became the first state to elect a woman governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross.

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