Editor’s Note: Tribune history writer Harold Schindler takes you back to the scenes of statehood a century ago today.
Last-minute decisions are considered regarding the inaugural ceremonies and parade. President Grover Cleveland confirms that he will sign the statehood proclamation tomorrow, but he still will not tell Gov. Caleb W. West if he can witness the signing. Cleveland has done everything possible to discourage the Utahns from making a ceremony out of it; he insists it should be treated as routine business.
If Cleveland is being stubborn, then West is tenacious. He is back at the executive mansion again this morning, dogging Henry T. Thurber, the private secretary who has been telling him the president is “too busy” to meet with him and Frank J. Cannon, the territorial delegate to Congress. West is exasperated, but sticks in there.
There can be no mistaking his concern. He has repeated himself a dozen times, telling Thurber that Utah wants, desires, pleads for a small ceremony attended by himself, Cannon and a handful of dignitaries who traveled from Utah for the occasion. After all these years of struggling, Utah deserves a ceremony for something as important as statehood.
The whole thing has become a litany with the governor. Anyone else would have given up by now, but not Caleb West. Is Cleveland churlishly punishing Utah for its poor showing by Democrats in the 1894 election? More than a few politicians on both sides of the fence say so.
But West, himself a Democrat, insists the president would not do that. He continues to haunt the premises, hoping for a word with the chief executive. Thurber continues to brush him aside, but finally tells the governor to show up tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. and “perhaps” Cleveland can find a moment for an interview. The secretary suggests that West come alone; there will be no room for a delegation.
Before leaving the White House, Cannon extracts a promise from Thurber to turn over the pen Cleveland uses in the signing to Cannon for the Utah archives. Thurber says he will do what he can. Later, when Cannon repeats the story to the small group of Utahns who came to see the ceremony, one of the delegation facetiously suggests that the competition for the pen is so intense that Cleveland ought to use “several pens in forming the letters of his name” so that each of the Utah patriots could secure “the much-coveted instrument.'” The idea evokes a few laughs and is dismissed.
The executive committee for the inaugural ceremonies still is trying to shape a Tabernacle “programme” to follow official notice of the signing. (Arrangements have been made for a telegram to be sent immediately after it takes place.) They definitely plan to have someone read the proclamation, but have not selected the individual yet. And the proclamation, they have been told, has not been sent to the White House yet.
As far as swearing in the new state officials, that honor goes to Chief Justice Charles S. Zane of the Utah Supreme Court. Ironically, Zane is blamed by the Mormons for conducting a “judicial reign of terror” in the territory during the 1880s with his heavy penalties for polygamists.
Yet he is to administer the oath of office to Gov.-elect Heber M. Wells, son of Daniel H. Wells, who led the Nauvoo Legion against the Utah Expedition in 1857, and who practices plural marriage.
Because no overcoats are issued to Utah National Guardsmen and because the weather on Inaugural Day may be so severe that the planned parade may be abandoned altogether, John Q. Cannon, adjutant general, issues orders that none of the outlying units needs to participate in the parade.
But Companies A, B and D of the First Infantry, Troop C of the First Cavalry, the First Battery of the Light Artillery, and the Signal Corps–all of whom are stationed in Salt Lake City–and Company H of the First Infantry from Farmington will be expected to march.
And that is how things stand for the moment as Utah awaits tomorrow’s statehood signing.