Matthew Bergh


This thesis will explore Colorado’s path to statehood. It begins with a summary of the election of 1876 to set up the research question: why did Colorado, a Republican-territory, become a state in a critical election year when the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives? Next, it covers the historiography to gain insight into how scholars view Colorado statehood and its relationship to the election of 1876 given that both happened in the same year and that coincidences in politics are rare. A follow up will occur with an explanation of the differences between a state and a territory to demonstrate the importance of statehood alongside a discussion of the unsuccessful attempts to make Colorado a state that came from both within the territory and in Congress. Then, events inside the territory leading up to the successful bid for statehood will be discussed to gain an understanding into the origins of that effort. Afterwards, national events will be covered to narrate a familiar experience for Colorado statehood – that various occurrences at different moments appeared to halt statehood for the time being. Finally, this thesis ends with a discussion of the final statehood bill in Congress to explain how it finally passed. The major argument will be that political developments inside Colorado territory promulgated the successful statehood effort while the inability of the Congressional Democratic leadership to hold the party together in opposition to Colorado statehood allowed it to pass and in time to participate in the election. 



How to Cite

The Rocky Road to Statehood: Colorado Statehood and the Contested Election of 1876. (2024). University of Denver Undergraduate Research Journal, 5. https://duurjportal.com/index.php/duurj/article/view/221