3¢ Wyoming Statehood
Issue Date: July 10, 1940
City: Cheyenne, WY
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 10.5 x 11
Color: Brown violet
U.S. #897 was issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Wyoming’s statehood. Since the Idaho statehood stamp (issued just one week before) pictured that state’s capitol building, President Franklin Roosevelt suggested that the Wyoming stamp should picture something else. The Wyoming State Seal was selected. The seal pictures a female statue draped with a banner reading “Equal Rights,” representing the rights of women following the territorial suffrage amendment in 1869. The two men and their respective banners symbolize the state’s long history in livestock and mining.
How Wyoming Became America’s 44th State
In the mid-1700s, French trappers probably became the first whites to enter Wyoming. However, the area remained unexplored until after the 1800s. Most of Wyoming was purchased by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. American trappers then came to the area. In 1807, John Colter became the first European to travel across the Yellowstone area. A party of fur traders led by Robert Stuart found an easy way to cross the mountains, which became known as the South Pass.
In 1833, while leading a fur-trading and -trapping party, Captain Benjamin L. E. de Bonneville discovered an oil spring in the Wind River Basin. Traders William Sublette and Robert Campbell established Fort William in eastern Wyoming. This fort was later renamed Fort Laramie, and was the area’s first permanent settlement.
Lieutenant John C. Frémont explored the Wind River Mountains in 1842 and ’43. The famous scout Kit Carson served as Frémont’s guide. Based on Frémont’s report, Congress decided to build a series of forts along the Oregon Trail to protect settlers moving west. In 1849, the government bought Fort William, which was later renamed Fort Laramie.
Sections of present-day Wyoming had been part of the territories of Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Dakota. Part of southern Wyoming belonged to Spain from the 1500s to the 1800s. Spain lost control of this territory to Texas in 1836. All of Wyoming became U.S. territory when Texas joined the Union in 1845.
During the 1840s, many settlers traveled across Wyoming, heading to the West. Travelers utilized three famous trails: the California Trail; the Mormon Trail, which went to Utah; and the Oregon Trail, to the Pacific Northwest. All three trails used the South Pass through the mountains, but separated after crossing. Settlers traveling through southern Wyoming used the Overland, or Cherokee, Trail. This trail joined others at Fort Bridger. Thousands of people passed through Wyoming, but few stayed.
At first, the Plains Indians were tolerant of the wagon trains crossing their land. In fact, Indians often assisted the travelers. But by 1849, the number of settlers began to alarm the Indians. Whites killed or frightened away the wild animals, created massive grass fires on the Prairies, and introduced diseases. Some fighting broke out between Indians and settlers, and the U.S. Army often intervened. During the 1860s, settlers were using the Bozeman Trail to reach Montana, where gold had been discovered. This increased the Indian attacks. Fort Phil Kearny was built in 1866, to keep the Bozeman Trail open. Sioux warriors led by Chief Red Cloud laid siege to the fort, forming what came to be known as the Circle of Death. Hundreds of soldiers died before a treaty was signed. The U.S. gave up Fort Phil Kearny and two other forts. Then, the Indians agreed to allow the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad in southern Wyoming.
Wyoming’s mineral resources, especially gold, attracted many settlers even before the Indian fighting had ended. The growth of towns was fueled by the Union Pacific Railroad, which entered the area in 1867. In 1868, the Territory of Wyoming was created.
On July 10, 1890, Wyoming achieved statehood. This attracted many settlers to the state. Most of these people started small cattle ranches.
FDR – The Stamp-Collecting President
President Franklin Roosevelt was instrumental in the design and issuance of U.S. #897. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mother introduced the future President to stamp collecting at a young age. Throughout his life, he turned to his collection to relax and unwind.
Roosevelt was elected President four times, serving in the nation’s highest office longer than any other chief executive – 12 years. During those 12 years, Roosevelt promoted the importance of stamps by personally approving each of more than 200 stamp designs. This included suggesting topics, rejecting others, and even designing some of the stamps himself. He used U.S. postage stamps to educate Americans about their heritage, to buoy war-weary spirits during World War II, and to send a message of peace and hope as Europe faced the overwhelming task of rebuilding.