What Was The Original Name Of Washington State?

Before Washington became an official state in 1889, it was part of the Oregon Territory. The territory stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains and from California to Canada.

canvaKentucky Played A Part In Picking Washington State's Name In 1853

In 1846, the Oregon Treaty settled a dispute between Great Britain and the United States over who would control this land. As a result, the future states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and parts of Montana and Wyoming were established.

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When Congress created the Washington Territory in 1853 out of the Oregon Territory, they initially wanted to name it Columbia Territory after the Columbia River that runs through it.

However, there was already a District of Columbia (DC) named after George Washington. This confused lawmakers who were concerned that using "Columbia" would be too similar to DC.


To avoid any confusion with DC, Kentucky Representative Richard H. Stanton proposed naming the new territory after George Washington instead. Congress agreed on his proposal and officially named it "Washington Territory" on March 2nd, 1853.

It wasn't until November 11th, 1889 that it became known as "The State of Washington."


Another fun fact about Washington's original name is that it was not the first name proposed for the territory. Before Columbia and Washington, other names were suggested including "Tacoma," "Shoshone," and "Sahale."

Washington state's original name was intended to be Columbia, but it ended up being named after the first president of the United States due to confusion with DC. It's fascinating to think about what could have been if they had decided on a different name

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