Colorado’s journey to statehood proceeded in fits and starts. Carved out of the western portion of the Kansas Territory, the area was first settled by pioneers seeking riches in the gold producing region of Pike’s Peak. The goal of establishing a government in the region spanned nearly 20 years and saw the region shift from self-governance to territory and finally statehood.
After a failed attempt at gaining official territorial status in 1858, the region took matters into its own hands and named itself the Jefferson Territory. A constitutional convention was called, resulting in the election of a governor and creation of a legislature. Without recognition by the federal government, the fledgling territory had limited power to create and enforce laws. Shortly after Kansas became a state in January 1861, Congress passed a bill to create the Colorado Territory the following month. This section of a draft version of the bill delineates the territory’s boundaries.
After achieving territorial status, a Colorado statehood bill was put before each session of Congress from 1869 to 1873, with legislation granting approval to establish a state government finally passing in spring 1875. The Centennial State became the 38th state on August 1, 1876.