This new territory lay north of the 36° 30’ latitude line, and by the Missouri Compromise of 1850 this meant that slavery would be prohibited there. In this period of great conflict in the country over the question of slavery, there was no way Southerners in Congress would allow the creation of such a new “free” territory, so there were not enough votes to support Colfax’s bill and the territory was never created.
The constitution was adopted, government bodies established, including a territorial legislature that met and elected Robert W. Steele as provisional governor. Meanwhile, Beverly D. Williams was sent to Washington as a representative of the territory, but Congress refused his petition. Still, a Jefferson government did operate for about sixteen months, though it has been said to have "remained extralegal, factious, and semieffective." (Historical Atlas of Colorado) The territory as proposed would have been considerably larger than today's Colorado, encompassing more of Utah and much of Wyoming.
Governor Steele tried to reach an accord with the territorial government of Kansas to recognize Jefferson, as well as petitioning Congress to the same end, but neither effort succeeded. With the election of Lincoln in November 1860, all chance of Congress recognizing Jefferson ended, for Steele was a Democratic foe of Lincoln and the Republican Party.
MapsNeither Colona nor Jefferson were ever recognized by the Federal government and so never officially existed. However, that does not mean that they did not appear on contemporary maps. Mapmakers hated to have their maps not up-to-date. Any map that did not include a depiction of a newly created territory would be considered out-of-date, and because there was a time delay between when the map was drawn and when it was published, mapmakers tended to jump the gun a bit with potential new territories. They kept their ears to the ground to learn as soon as possible about new territories that might be created by Congress, and if a mapmaker believed that such a new political entity was about to be approved, he would put it on the map even before the bill was actually passed. If the territory was created, his map would be amazingly current, ahead of his competitors, and if it never came into existence, the mapmaker just hoped no one noticed.
Click here to see maps with Colona or Jefferson Territories in the inventory of The Philadelphia Print Shop West.