Nov. 2 marks the 130th anniversary of statehood for North Dakota and its southern neighbor.
Although President Benjamin Harrison signed them both into statehood the same day – Nov. 2, 1889 – which state actually entered the U.S. first? Was it North Dakota or South Dakota?
It’s possible even President Harrison didn’t know for certain. And it’s prompted debate ever since.
According to legend, Harrison had his secretary of state, James Blaine, cover both proclamations with a sheet of paper before they were signed. Then, Harrison shuffled them.
At 3:40 p.m. EST, Harrison put his pen to the documents and two states emerged from what previously had been Dakota Territory.
Harrison was coy about the process: "They were born together," he reportedly said. "They are one and I will make them twins."
The documents’ order of signature was never recorded. However, North Dakotans can delight in knowing that their state generally is listed as the 39th state; South Dakota is listed as the 40th.