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Seal deal

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The June 2 cover story (Rob Collins, "The state steal") was most interesting.

The seal was not stolen. It was simply among the office items that W.B. Anthony, secretary to Gov. Charles Haskell, brought to the Lee-Huckins Hotel to be open for state business on the day following the election to move the capital to a new location.

The state seal became the symbol of the unexpected move of the capital, particularly by those living in Guthrie. Actually, if the movement of the state seal has anything to do with the capital's location, Oklahoma, even today, would need to put the National Guard in charge of keeping it guarded day and night, in order to prevent someone from ever stealing it and moving it.

The 1910 vote for capital removal was between three cities " Guthrie, Oklahoma City and Shawnee. When Haskell was convinced that OKC was getting more votes than the other two cities combined, he called upon Anthony to move his office supplies and official items to OKC where he planned to be open for business in the hotel the next day. This was a very unexpected surprise for all three cities.

The federal government's Enabling Act for the creation of Oklahoma's Constitutional Convention stated that the capital would remain in Guthrie for not less than six years after statehood, and only about half of those years had passed at the time Haskell made the move. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled the federal government could not tell a former territory where its capital would be once it became a state.

Stories have come up over the years by other people claiming to have been the remover of the state seal. At least one tells about hiding it in a brown bag. These make interesting stories, but actually the removal of the state seal had nothing to do with the state capital location. The last claim came from former Gov. William H. "Alfalfa Bill" Murray in 1952, when he said a black messenger who had worked for him made the removal.

Capital removal brought unexpected challenges to OKC. The governor's office was in the hotel, but space was immediately needed for other departments of the state. Most important was the need for a large assembly room for the Legislature to hold its meetings. The state chose for this location the former India Shrine building. That building, on the northwest corner of what is now Kerr and Broadway, is the farthest east of the group of structures that became the Kerr-McGee complex. The Legislature continued meeting in that former India Shrine building until the state Capitol building was constructed about six years later on N.E. 23rd Street.

"Pendleton Woods
Oklahoma City

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