Voters elect Washington's first state officials on October 1, 1889.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 9/20/2003
  • Essay 5549
See Additional Media

On October 1, 1889, Washington voters ratify the state's first constitution and elect the first state officials. Republican Elisha P. Ferry (1825-1895) is elected governor. The new constitution is ratified by a majority of four to one with approximately 51,000 men casting votes.

Elisha Ferry (1825-1895) was a lawyer from Illinois and served as the first mayor of Waukegan. A Republican, he served as state bank commissioner and as Assistant Adjutant General with the rank of Colonel during the Civil War. He moved to Washington Territory in 1869 and received an appointment as Surveyor General. In 1872, President Ulysses Grant appointed him governor for eight years (1872-1880). When Washington became a state, Ferry ran for governor and was elected.

Ratification of a constitution was one requirement of the Act of Congress authorizing statehood for Washington. Besides Governor Ferry, elected officials included:

  • Lieutenant Governor, Charles E. Laughton
  • Secretary of State, Allen Weir
  • State Auditor, Thomas M. Reed
  • State Treasurer, A. A. Lindsley
  • Attorney General, William C. Jones
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction, Robert B. Bryan
  • Commissioner of Public Lands, W. T. Forrest

Five men were chosen for the Supreme Court and they drew lots to determine the lengths of their terms. Voters, all of whom were male since at the time women did not have the right to vote, defeated a constitutional amendment granting women full suffrage (the right to vote), and an amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol.

Voters also selected Olympia as the state capital over North Yakima, Ellensburg, Centralia, Yakima City, and Pasco. But Olympia did not receive a majority of votes. A second election was held among the top three vote-getters.


Edgar I. Stewart, Washington: Northwest Frontier (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1957), 155-157; C. T. Conover, "Ferry Was Governor of Both Washington Territory, State," The Seattle Times, December 13, 1956, p. 56.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You