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Territorial Timeline

Olympia proclaimed the Capitol

On November 28, 1853, Governor Stevens proclaimed Olympia to be the capital of Washington Territory.

Although not the only settlement in Washington Territory, Olympia was considered the center of American settlement, as opposed to other settlements (like Vancouver) which were largely populated by former Hudson’s Bay Company employees of British citizenship.

In 1859 the Washington Territorial Legislature passed an act declaring Vancouver the capital. However the Legislature rescinded the act the following year.

The location of the capital continued to be controversial with several more attempts to move it to other cities. In 1889 voters were asked to approve the new state constitution and the permanent location of the state capital. Among the contenders were Vancouver, Olympia, Ellensburg and North Yakima. When the votes were counted, Olympia won, but the combined vote of North Yakima and Ellensburg would have exceeded Olympia’s.