The Oklahoma Territory Organic Act

Stop 17: SW of Latting Cir and Park Ave at City Hall, Downtown

On May 2, 1890, Congress passed long awaited legislation establishing federally sanctioned territorial government for Oklahoma.

The Organic Act defined Oklahoma Territory boundaries to include the lands west of Indian Territory and the panhandle north of Texas known as No Man's Land. The Unassigned Lands were divided into six numbered counties, with Oklahoma City as the seat of government in county #2. As the federal government acquired Indian land and opened it for settlement, the land would be included in Oklahoma Territory. Rules were established for the election of territorial and local officials. The laws of Nebraska were applied to Oklahoma Territory until the new legislature could adopt its own.

Thirteen months after the Run of '89, residents of Oklahoma City had a federal framework for government. The long period of ad-hoc governance and political instability was over.

  • 1862
    The Homestead Act opens up settlement in the western U.S. by allowing any adult American to claim up to 160 acres of free federal land. 15,000 claims are made by the end of the Civil War.
  • 1866
    The Civilized Tribes are forced to cede large portions of their land, including the Unassigned Lands, to the U.S. Government for relocation of other Native American nations.
  • 1880
    Boomers begin attempts to settle in the Unassigned Lands. The U.S. military repeatedly forces them out.
  • 1887
    The Santa Fe Railroad from Kansas to Texas is completed. Multiple stops are opened in the Unassigned Lands.
  • January-March 1889
    Creek and Seminole Nations release claims to the Unassigned Lands, and Congress approves opening the land for settlement.
  • March-April 1889
    "Boomer camps" pop up along and inside the borders of the Unassigned Lands.
  • March 23, 1889
    President Harrison's Proclamation sets noon on April 22 as the time and date for the Land Run
  • April 19, 1889
    Prospective settlers are escorted from the Kansas and Texas borders to the perimeter of the Unassigned Lands. Those already inside are required to leave.
  • April 20, 1889
    Land east of the railroad tracks at Oklahoma Station is reserved for military use
  • April 22, 1889 at noon
    Oklahoma Land Run officially begins.


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