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1803 (October 20)

The Louisiana Purchase Treaty was approved by the United States Senate. The United States acquired nearly 800,000 square miles of land in this deal, including all of the future state of Oklahoma except for the panhandle.

1821 (March 3)

The Senate approved the Adams-Onis Treaty with Spain establishing Oklahoma as the southwestern border of the United States. The treaty was meant to resolve a dispute between Spain and the United States as to the amount of territory the United States had acquired from France in the Louisiana Purchase. In addition, Spain agreed to cede Florida to the United States.

1830 (May )

The Senate passed the Indian Removal Act, which forced the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indians, known as the Five Civilized Tribes, out of their lands east of the Mississippi River and into the west. In what came to be known as the Trail of Tears, federal troops marched the Indians into the eastern part of the future state of Oklahoma for permanent settlement.


The Senate passed legislation establishing the Indian Territory in much of what is today known as Oklahoma. The Five Civilized Tribes are now represented on the state flag of Oklahoma.

1850 (January 29)

Senator Henry Clay’s Compromise of 1850 established the northern border of Texas, which would become the southern border of Oklahoma.

1854 (March 3)

The Senate passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. As adopted on May 30, the law set the southern border of Kansas and thus, the northern border of Oklahoma at the 37th parallel.

1887 (February 8)

Congress passed the Dawes Act, dividing Indian lands, including most of Oklahoma, into individual allotments for sale to tribal members. This division forced the government to recognize Native Americans as individuals separate from the tribal unit, thus reshaping the government’s Indian policy.

1890 (May 2)

The Oklahoma Territorial Act, passed by the Senate on April 23, took effect, covering part of the area of the present state. The law provided for a territorial government, a legislature elected by the people, and an executive appointment by the president. Oklahoma was the last territory to be formed within the continental United States.

1898 (June 27)

The Senate and House passed and the president signed the Curtis Act, reducing the authority of Native American tribal governments and allowing individual land allotments to be sold to whites for settlement. This law resulted in a renewed land rush by settlers to the Oklahoma Territory.

1906 (April 23)

The Senate passed the Oklahoma Statehood Enabling Act, which passed both houses on June 16. It allowed the people of the Oklahoma and Indian territories to draft a state constitution and petition Congress for admission to the Union as one state.

1907 (November 16)

Oklahoma was admitted to the Union as the 46th state. On December 11, Oklahoma’s legislature elected the state’s first two senators: Robert L. Owen, a Democrat of Muskogee, and Thomas P. Gore, Democrat of Lawton. Gore was completely blind.

1907 (December 3)

Robert L. Owen was elected Democratic Conference secretary, despite the fact that he had not yet been sworn into office. He served as Democratic Conference secretary until 1911.

1907 (December 16)

Robert L. Owen and Thomas P. Gore presented their credentials, took the oath of office, and were seated in the United States Senate. The senators then drew lots to determine their class assignments. Senator Owen drew Class 2 with a term to expire March 3, 1913. Senator Gore drew Class 3, with a term to expire March 3, 1909.

1913 (March 15)

At the start of the 63rd Congress the Senate created the Senate Committee on Banking (now the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs). Robert L. Owen became its first chairman. In this capacity he cosponsored the Glass-Owen Bill--the landmark legislation that created the Federal Reserve Bank.

1913 (March 15)

Thomas P. Gore became chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, (today's Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry), serving until 1919.

1914 (November 3)

In winning re-election, Thomas P. Gore became Oklahoma’s first directly elected senator under the terms of the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

1917 (June 6)

A statue of Sequoya was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol as Oklahoma's first contribution to the National Statuary Hall Collection. Sequoya was famous for his leadership in the Cherokee Indian tribe, particularly for his efforts at promoting literacy.

1935 (January 3)

J. Elmer Thomas of Medicine Park became chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, serving until 1944.

1936 (November 3)

Joshua B. Lee of Norman was elected Democratic Conference secretary, a position he held until 1942.

1939 (June 6)

A statue of Will Rogers, renowned comedian and social critic, was unveiled in the Capitol as Oklahoma's second contribution to the National Statuary Hall Collection.

1944 (November 22)

J. Elmer Thomas became chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (today's Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition), serving until 1947, and again from 1949 to 1951.

1946 (August 2)

President Harry Truman signed into law the the Legislative Reorganization Act, co-sponsored by Oklahoma representative and future senator Almer Stillwell “Mike” Monroney of Oklahoma City. The act reformed the legislative process by, among other things, reducing the number of Senate committees.

1953 (July 13)

Senator Mike Monroney denounced the investigatory authority of Joseph McCarthy’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Monroney successfully tried to amend the Senate rules to prevent McCarthy's investigation of Central Intelligence Agency personnel.


Senator Robert S. Kerr of Oklahoma City helped shepherd through Congress funding a navigation project that eventually was named the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. This created an economic boom in northeastern Oklahoma.

1958 (May 21)

Senator Mike Monroney sponsored the Federal Aviation Act of 1958, which created the Federal Aviation Agency.

1961 (January 10)

Robert Kerr became chairman of the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, (today's Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation). This committee was crucial in providing support for the space program.

1963 (January 1)

Senator Robert Kerr died in office.

1965 (April 24)

Fred R. Harris of Lawton received the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the Senate for 100 hours in a single session of Congress.

1975 (January 9)

After losing a bruising election fight, Edmond A. Edmondson, son of former senator J. Howard Edmondson, filed a petition with the United States Senate to prevent incumbent senator Henry L. Bellmon of Red Rock from being seated. Citing irregularities in the vote totals, he challenged the legitimacy of the electoral result. The Senate ruled on March 4, 1976, in favor of Senator Bellmon.

1987 (January 12)

David L. Boren of Seminole became chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, serving until 1993.

1988 (November 29)

Donald L. Nickles of Ponca City was elected chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a position he held until 1991 when he took over as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee He served in that position until 1996.

1995 (June 8)

Kelly D. Johnston of Oklahoma became the 28th secretary of the Senate. Johnston served until September 30, 1996.

1996 (March 31)

James Inhofe received the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the senate for 100 hours in a single session of Congress.

1996 (December 3)

Donald L. Nickles was elected Senate Republican whip, serving until 2003.

2003 (January 14)

Donald L. Nickles became chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget, serving until 2005. James Inhofe became chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, servnig until 2007.

2004 (November 4)

Donald L. Nickles became Oklahoma's longest-serving senator, surpassing the record of 23 years, 10 months set by J. W. Elmer Thomas. Nickles retired on January 3, 2005, having served for 24 years.

2006 (March 1)

Tom Coburn of Muskogee received the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the senate for 100 hours in a single session.

2015 (January 8)

James Inhofe again became chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, a position he held until January 5, 2017.

2016 (April 11)

James Lankford of Edmond received the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the senate for 100 hours in a Congress.

2018 (September 5)

James Inhofe became chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.