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Parade at the 1889 Constitutional Convention held in Bismarck.

The Enabling Act of 1889 (25 Stat. 676, chs. 180, 276–284, enacted February 22, 1889) is a United States statute that permitted the entrance of Montana and Washington into the United States of America, as well as the splitting of Territory of Dakota into two states: North Dakota and South Dakota. The Territory of Dakota was to be split on the "seventh standard parallel produced due west to the western boundary".[1] The initial convention centers chosen for North Dakota and South Dakota were Bismarck and Sioux Falls respectively, but the latter was later changed to the city of Pierre.

Legal residents of all of the above-mentioned territories were now permitted voting rights for state representatives, as well as the right to choose delegates who organized political conventions in their respective states.[2] Soon after the Enabling Act was passed, each of the newly formed states was to hold an election for congressional representatives, and submit their results by the fifteenth of April, 1889. Montana, Washington, and North Dakota were all entitled to one representative in the United States House of Representatives at the time of the bill’s passing, while South Dakota was allowed two due to its higher population.

The North Dakota constitution was built and structured in a less complex manner than that of South Dakota’s. Every delegate from the southern state was to present a ballot reading either "For the Sioux Falls constitution" or "Against the Sioux Falls constitution." If the latter was the majority, the constitution would be revised and resubmitted until the majority of delegates agreed on its passing.

Statehood of North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Montana also included religious tolerance, stating that no inhabitant of any of the above states can be harassed on account of their religion and/or religious beliefs. However, while religious tolerance was mandated, all public land in the territories of the now-states was to be become government property (including Indian reservations and unclaimed land).

The newly formed states were expected to pay off the debts of their respective territories, and in return, the federal government would provide education and maintain public schooling systems in the mentioned states. Schools were expected to be open to all children and free of bigotry or discrimination. All land planned for use for public education was to be sold at no less than ten dollars per acre, and all money was to go to a public school fund, and the money would be used to build an education system. No private companies or individuals were entitled to the land, as it was now property of the federal government.

North and South Dakota representatives were to assemble at a joint convention in Bismarck, North Dakota, to decide the borderline between the two states. Other items on the agenda that were to be split between the two states were public records, territory debt, and property. Each state was expected to pay for its share of the debts, as though they belonged solely to that state and were not previously shared with a territory.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Enabling Act of 1889". Washington State Legislature. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  2. ^ "1889 Constitutional Convention". State Historical Society of North Dakota. Retrieved 25 March 2018.

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