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Pugilistic Promotions and Progressive Politicians

August 23, 2000

Historian's Notes

The state of Sequoyah, as noble of an idea as it might seem to us now, was really a crime perpetrated on the citizens of Oklahoma. There was no way that the separate state would have ever been approved in Washington D.C., yet a handful of men used the attempt for a separate state to gain status and power for the time when statehood eventually arrived. The hopes, dreams and hard work of countless numbers of people lay shattered in ruins -- all for the self-glorification of four or five individuals.

The Morgan v. Morris boxing match caught my eye as I was looking through some old newspapers.

Resources for "Pugilistic Promotions":

Scales, J. R., & Goble, D. (1982). Oklahoma politics: A history. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.

Goble, D. (1980). Progressive Oklahoma: The making of a new kind of state. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Resources for "Progressive Politicians":

Tulsa Daily Democrat. August 19, 1916.

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac where we turn the pages of history to bring you the stories of our state's past.

This week pugilistic promotions and progressive politicians make the news.

In 1905 what is now present day Oklahoma was a land divided. In the place of the one state there were two territories, Oklahoma Territory in the West and Indian Territory in the East. Most concerned citizens of the region knew that statehood was just around the corner, but the big question was whether there would be one unified state or two separate states.

It was in this week in 1905 that delegates met in Muskogee to draft a constitution for the state of Sequoyah to be made up of what was then Indian Territory. Native Americans of Indian Territory had been in agreement for some time that joining with Oklahoma Territory would not be in their best interest, and the meeting in Muskogee was their first step in formalizing that agreement. The delegates drew up what was, for that time, a very progressive document, one that included many reforms advanced by the Populist elements of the state. The constitution was submitted to the voters in November and was passed with an overwhelming majority and a great amount of fanfare. Politicians in Washington, led by then President Theodore Roosevelt, however, rejected the new constitution instead passing an enabling act that would eventually unite the two territories into one state.

Many Oklahomans this week in 1916, nine years after statehood, awaited eagerly for the heavy weight boxing bout between Frank Morgan and Sapulpa, Oklahoma native, Carl Morris. Although most sports enthusiasts chose Sapulpan, Carl Morris to win the fight, it was outsider Frank Morgan who won the hearts of boxing fans statewide. Morgan it seemed was happy to pose for photographers and chat with reporters until all were satisfied. Morgan apparently even agreed to sit through a second round of pictures when it was discovered that a photographer's camera had malfunctioned during the initial shoot. Carl Morris, native son of Oklahoma, on the other hand was evidently less than hospitable towards the press. When confronted at his Sapulpa residence by a photographer it was reported that Morris scowled, ran back into the house and then ran out the back door avoiding pictures and interviews alike.

The Labor Day bout attracted ticket buyers from both coasts and promised to be "standing room only"...and that's what happened this week in Oklahoma history.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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