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The Confederacy continued to attempt to take over U.S. federal establishments in the seceding states. Commissioners were sent to Texas to persuade General David Twiggs to surrender the U.S. troops there. Twiggs was from Georgia and was easily so persuaded, turning over his troops to a Confederate force under Ben McCulloch in San Antonio on February 16th. For this action, Twiggs was dismissed from the Army for treason, subsequent to which he was appointed as Major General in the Confederate army.
As illustrated in the discussion on causes of the Civil War, it was the question of the extension of slavery into newly created territories in the trans-Mississippi West which was the major precipitating issue in the events leading up to the Civil War. As long as the Southern states remained in Congress, it was difficult to create new territories, as the issue of whether they would be free or slave was always paramount and seemingly unresolvable.
There were, however, many demands for new territories in the west. In an article in the New York Times on January 11, 1859, it was reported that there were six applications for the creation of new territories. One of the six territories (Onontagon consisting of the upper peninsula of Michigan) was never created, though variations on the other five were. They were not, however, created until considerably later. It was only once the Congressmen from the seceding states removed themselves from Congress in early 1861, that it became possible for the now heavily northern Congress to pass new acts creating territories. Within the first three months of 1861, three new territories were created; the first of which was Colorado.
The creation of that territory had its roots three years before in the western part of Kansas Territory. The Times article reported that "The demand for the formation of the Territory of Colona comes from the few settlers around Pike's Peak, in a region ...already under the government of Kansas." These settlers were there as the result of gold being discovered in 1858 close to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, near the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. This discovery precipitated a huge gold rush in the spring of 1859, usually called the Pike's Peak Gold Rush (though the gold diggings were not very near to that mountain). It is estimated that over 100,000 people flooded into the region that year in hopes of striking it rich. Denver City and other communities soon sprang up and the new settlers in the Rocky Mountain foothills felt the need for a government closer to them than the Kansas Territorial government well to the east.
In early 1859, Representative Schuyler Colfax, of Illinois, introduced a bill to Congress to organize the territory of Colona. The sectarian friction in Congress prevented this bill from passing. Another petition was presented to Congress to create a territory of Jefferson, but this too went nowhere. In response, the settlers in and around Denver City attempted to create a new state on their own. This bold step was voted down by the local citizens, but on October 24, 1859, a provisional government was established for a territory of Jefferson, complete with territorial constitution, governor, and a two-house legislature. This government did to some extent provide governance of the region for almost two years, though it was never authorized by Congress.
The need for a local government along the eastern slopes of the Rockies became more and more obvious as the population there grew and communities established themselves. However, it wasn't until those needs were combined with the desire of a northern-dominated Congress to control the region's potential mineral wealth, keeping it from the Confederacy, that action was finally taken in early 1861. By this time, sentiment was against naming this territory for the Southerner Thomas Jefferson, so the new name, "Colorado," was selected. On February 28th, 1861, the territory of Colorado was created out of the western Kansas Territory, the southwestern part of Nebraska Territory, the region of the headwaters of the Rio Grande in New Mexico Territory, and the eastern part of Utah Territory.
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