Today in Legal History: Washington Becomes a State

Washington State was once part of the Oregon Territory.  In 1852, settlers wrote Congress asking for a new territory called Columbia.  Congress obliged, but changed the name to Washington Territory to honor the first President.  Originally, Washington Territory included western Idaho and part of Montana.

Washington Territory went through some interesting times.  For some years, white settlers were banned from moving into the eastern part of the territory to alleviate tensions between the native people and the settlers.  During the 1860s, over 300 civil war widows and female orphans settled in the territory as seamstresses, teachers, and brides.

On November 11, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison formally declared Washington State part of the union, making it the 42nd state.  Women were granted suffrage as part of the charter (The territorial legislature had granted women suffrage, but the territorial Court struck it down).  The first governor of Washington was Elisha P. Ferry.

More information is available at:

  • Washington History
  • Don Brazier, History of the Washington Legislature, 1854-1963 (Library 3rd FloorJK9266.B73 2000
  • Ralph Bushnell Potts Come Now the Lawyers, (Banta 1972) LAW-4th Floor KFW78.P68
  • Norman H. Clark Washington, A Bicentennial History (Norton 1976) LAW-3rd Floor F891.C57
  • Edgar I. Stewart Washington: Northwest Frontier (Lewis Historical Pub. 1957) LAW-3rd Floor F891.S87  v.1  (4 volume set)


Washington State “Stuff”

You know it is the Evergreen State so you can probably guess the state tree (but not its botanical name) and you can probably guess the state fruit. But do you know the state tartan’s colors? Did you know there was a state tartan? Or a state ship? And who decides this stuff? The answer is the legislature (hopefully on slow days) and they are codified in the Revised Code of Washington–mostly in RCW Chapter 1.20. FYI, the redhawk is not the state bird.


Washington State Supreme Court Briefs, Oral Arguments, etc

You can find briefs, accepted petitions, court opinions, links to taped oral arguments, and much more at the Washington State Supreme Court site.


Appellate Practice in Washington

At the Speed of Reference
SU Law Reference Librarian Kelly Kunsch has gathered together the sources you need to understand appellate practice in Washington state.


Washington State Government in Action… TVW!

TVW is a nonprofit organization that provides coverage of state governmental proceedings, including legislative activity and state supreme court oral arguments. Tune in soon!


Washington Apples, the Law and other Miscellania

It is apple harvest time in Washington and everyone knows that the apple is the official state fruit.  Did you ever wonder why?  It’s because there is a law making it so.  In fact, there is an entire chapter of the Revised Code of Washington devoted to adopting certain items as the “official” whatever:  tree, fish, song, dance, folk song and endemic mammal are a few of the recognized adoptees.  The chapter is RCW 1.20.  It even specifies that the proceeds from the official state song, “Washington My Home” shall be placed in the state’s general fund.  That should eliminate any budget shortfalls.  According to Wikipedia’s list of best-selling songs, the Legislature should have gone with “White Christmas.”


A Case for Exempting Minors from Prosecution for Prostitution in Washington State

The June issue of the Northwest Lawyer includes a persuasive article by Debra Boyer which argues that the criminal code should exempt minors from prosecution for prostitution offenses. The article describes state laws, policies, and reports about domestic minor sex trafficking.


Advocating for Washington State Forests

The Washington Forest Law Center began in 1997 as a non-profit law firm dedicated to applying the law and the best available science practices to protect Washington’s 10 million forested acres. The WFLC provides free legal services to environmental organizations that are concerned with the protection of Washington’s forests. The Center’s director and managing attorney is Peter Goldman, a 1984 graduate of Seattle University School of Law. The Center’s website provides detailed information about Washington’s forests and posts breaking news about environmental issues.


The Miracle of the Internet: Forming a Corporation from your Couch

By Jason Giesler, Law Library Intern

By moving to electronic filing systems, state and federal agencies have made it much easier to start a business. People start businesses for a variety of reasons, ranging from tax planning to limiting liability. Though the internet has made starting a business quite easy, those with questions about planning and business structure should seek the advice from an attorney before proceeding!

In order to start a business in Washington, one will first want to visit the Secretary of State Corporations page. The site includes access to electronic applications for forming all types of business entities. Fees vary depending on the type of organization that you are forming. Naming your business is important as certain words and phrases are not allowed in particular business names. For example, under RCW 23b.04.10, corporations cannot include words like bank or trust in their name. Luckily, the Secretary of State includes a search engine that allows you to check the availability of business names in the early stages of the application process. (more…)