BOISE – The beat of Shoshone Paiute drums, Civil War re-enactors and about 700 Idahoans filled the Capitol lawn Monday as state leaders marked the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Idaho Territory.
Both chambers of the Idaho Legislature packed the Capitol steps on the sunny afternoon to celebrate the milestone and give a tribute to President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Act of Congress creating the Idaho Territory on March 4, 1863, carving it out of Washington Territory during the Civil War.
The event featured a performance of “America” from Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, remarks from former Lt. Gov. David Leroy, and a speech from Lincoln impersonator Steve Holgate.
Gov. Butch Otter also took the stage, telling the crowd he believes Idahoans still have much in common with their territorial ancestors. Liberty and freedom, he said, are values the state’s people still hold dear.
“Idaho’s people are no different today than they were in 1863,” he said. “They had then, as we have now, an obligation and an opportunity to be the architects of our own destiny, and honor and share the goals and values our forefathers built upon this great state.”
Idaho became a state in 1890.
The ceremony kicked off a yearlong sesquicentennial celebration for the Gem State.
Also on Monday, Idaho lawmakers renamed the Capitol’s largest meeting room after Lincoln, as a way to commemorate the 16th president’s legacy of preserving the Union and helping end slavery.
Throughout the next several months, local communities and the state’s Historical Society will sponsor a series of other projects to commemorate the anniversary.