The temporary Capitol was in Guthrie, OK. But the plan for a permanent Capitol Building brought with it a fight between the republicans in the West, and the Democrats in the East. they originally sought to create 2 states (Oklahoma & Sequoyah), but Roosevelt didn’t want another Democrat state(Sequoyah), so he supported a 1-state solution and hoped the Western republicans would prevail.
The New Jerusalem
William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray proposed buying a township for the capital. He proposed selling lots around the capitol building and said the chosen place should have “good drainage and a picturesque grandeur. ” This and similar plans became known as the “new Jerusalem” approach to the capital - creating an entirely new city on the prairie with construction of the Capitol funded by the platting and selling of lots.
On Nov. 3, 1908, an election was held on a state question calling for the acquisition of a capital site and the selling of lots to finance construction of the Capitol. Although more voters than not approved the measure, it did not pass by the necessary majority.
When he signed a proclamation calling for a special election on the matter, Governor Haskell, of Muskogee; crossed out the original election date of June 14, a Tuesday, and changed it to the preceding Saturday.
That meant election results would not be available until the next day, a Sunday, when Guthrie partisans could not find a court open to file for an injunction to stop the transfer of government.
Despite his pretense of neutrality, Haskell, a Democrat, had been stung by barbed criticism in Guthrie’s Republican newspaper. Sound familiar? Also, “drunken hoodlums” in the city’s Elks Club had mutilated a picture of Haskell, and territorial Gov. Frank Frantz (a Republican) “acted the jackass” by refusing to participate in Haskell’s inauguration ceremonies, a Guthrie paper reported.
Oklahoma City sent out trainloads of boosters to canvass the state on June 5. The following Saturday, 160,000 voters - all of them male - went to the polls. Oklahoma City won handily. Guthrie was second and Shawnee a distant third.
Capture The Flag
Legends surround the removal of the seal in 1910, and the truth - not nearly as colorful - has been washed by the passage of time. So nobody really knows exactly how Oklahoma City became the state capital a bit earlier, shall we say, than expected. Dirty laundry is how one source says it happened. Dirty tricks is how Guthrie partisans saw it.
W.B. Anthony, who was Gov. Charles Haskell’s secretary in the days when men were secretaries and women did the wash, said he smuggled the seal out of Guthrie’s interim capitol building in a bundle of clothing. This was in the wee hours of June 12, 1910. Anthony later told an historian that he drove to Guthrie in a car rented for the purpose by the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce.
Arriving at 3 a.m., Anthony told a guard he needed to retrieve some laundry in an office. The seal had earlier been concealed in the clothing. The drive back to the new capital city took three hours, owing as one history book puts it to “rutted, red dirt roads through the blackjacks. ”
Stolen Seal Finds Home
The trip north had actually taken longer because of a flat tire at Seward. Back in Oklahoma City by 7 a.m., Anthony met Gov. Haskell, who arrived that Sunday morning by train from his home in Muskogee.
Haskell declared the capital was now Oklahoma City, and the seat of government was planted in the Lee-Huckins Hotel pending erection of a capitol building.
The fight continued, though, between boosters for Oklahoma City and Guthrie even as the winning city had to referee a debate on where the Capitol should go.