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Old 08-01-2007, 05:13 PM
8,317 posts, read 25,095,377 times
Reputation: 9065


131 years ago today, Colorado became a state. Many Colorado residents had been lobbying for statehood for years. As would be typical for Colorado right up to the present time, its fate was decided by people with agendas that didn't necessarily have anything to do with what was good or bad for Coloradans. Colorado was admitted to the Union in 1876, not really because of its long-time desire for statehood, but because its electoral votes were deemed needed for one of the Presidential candidates in the upcoming national election. So, Colorado became a state on August 1, 1876.

In 1876, the state was about the third of the way into a boom led by the silver mining industry. Not long after statehood, that industry exploded across the state, not because of some miracle of free enterprise, but because the federal government enacted legislation basically obligating the US Treasury to purchase all of the silver that could be produced in the US--at a price very profitable to Colorado silver producers. So, early-on, Colorado got used to feeding at the federal trough. Along with the silver boom came a boom in transportation and land development, led by the state's railroads (most of which in short order came under ownership of absentee Eastern US and European capitalists). Those railroads were responsible for establishing numerous Colorado communities dotting Colorado yet today--Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Salida, Grand Junction, Alamosa, Durango, just to name a few.

By 1893, it was apparent that the Sherman Silver Purchase Act (that mandated all of those government silver purchases) was going to bankrupt the US Treasury. So, that act was repealed in 1893. Overnight, Colorado entered a deep depression, which also affected much of the rest of US. While the "Panic of 1893" only lasted a few years in most of the US, much of Colorado remained economically depressed for nearly a half-century, not emerging from depression until after World War II.

The next big boom in Colorado, during and following World War II, was fueled once again by massive federal spending in the state--defense complexes built during and after the war, the location of a large federal government presence in Denver, federal largesse dealt out to Colorado defense contractors, and --of course--the massive federal direct and direct subsidization of road building, reservoir construction, suburbanization, and recreational development. Later on, federal leasing of oil, gas, and coal production added to the boom. All of that has fueled the Colorado economy up until now. With all of that government "encouragement," few people cared that Colorado, after about 1970, started to lose much of its industrial base, that agriculture was increasingly considered little more than a trivial industry by most urban Coloradans, and that much of the remaining economy of the state was geared to encouraging people to spend money on ever-more creative, expensive, consumptive, and non-productive ways to goof off.

Well, once again, Colorado may stand at the brink of a "bust." The plentiful money and abundant resources that allowed the state to boom stand at the brink of serious decline. Much of the state's economy is dependent on both government and individuals having excess discretionary income to fritter away on non-productive assets, expensive pleasures, and unsustainable lifestyles. Just as happened in 1893, the state's entrepreneurs and merchants will suddenly be confronted with trying to sell a product that few will want, and even fewer can afford.

When that happens, just as in 1893, the "soft-livers" who flocked to the state in recent decades will evaporate away, as do the sprinkles of rain on a dusty desert afternoon. Those who will be left in the state will be those tough enough, stubborn enough, maybe dumb enough to endure the hardships of living in a place--stunningly beautiful as it may be--that gives up a living only begrudgingly to those with the mettle to meet the challenge. That is the history of Colorado--booms and busts, and usually longer busts--that we should think about on this, the anniversary of statehood.
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Old 08-01-2007, 05:39 PM
Location: Foot of the Rockies
84,960 posts, read 98,795,031 times
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Happy Colorado Day to one and all! When I worked as a public health nurse, for Adams Co, we got the day off!
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Old 08-01-2007, 06:14 PM
6 posts, read 23,542 times
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Many historians think that Colorado's state hood was delayed due to the bad press after the Sand Creek Massacre.
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Old 08-01-2007, 08:21 PM
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,346 posts, read 80,751,010 times
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Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
131 years ago today, Colorado became a state. Many Colorado residents had been lobbying for statehood for years....that we should think about on this, the anniversary of statehood.
Outstanding post.
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Old 08-01-2007, 08:47 PM
Location: cincinnati northern, ky
835 posts, read 2,567,271 times
Reputation: 175
Colorado day rocks!
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