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By Larry Remele
Education & Interpretation Division, State Historical Society of North Dakota
Note: this summary history of North Dakota appeared in the 1989 North Dakota Blue Book, a publication of the North Dakota Secretary of State. The history was originally written in 1988.
When North Dakota entered the Federal Union in 1889, its leaders prophesied a glorious future for the Northern Prairie State. Great cities and prosperous farms, said the promoters, would make Dakota the "jewel" in the crown of Democracy. The ensuing century has proven the "boomers" both right and wrong. North Dakota has enjoyed prosperity, but it has also seen devastatingly hard times. In 1989, the essential problem remains the same as a century earlier—finding the capital necessary to provide services and benefits of a modern society to a far-flung population. As it was in 1889, North Dakota remains a social, cultural, and economic colony, a producer of raw materials, a consumer of manufactures and capital, and an exporter of educated young people.
In the image to the right, Dakota is presenting her virtues as a potential state, for the inspection of Uncle Sam while Columbia prepares to add Dakota to the roster of the union. This type of advertisement was printed for the Commissioner of Immigration of Dakota Territory, to encourage settlers to come and take up the 24,000,000 acres of land available as of 1887.
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