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One of the Pacific coast states, popularly known as the "Evergreen State", the sixteenth in size among the state of the Union and the twenty-ninth in the order of admission. It was named in honour of the first president of the United States, whose likeness adorns the state seal. Its total area contains 69,127 square miles.
The old territory of Washington was originally formed with the consent of the U.S. Congress, 2 March, 1853, from the Territory of Oregon. It contained then "all that part lying south of the 49th degree of north latitude and north of the middle of the main channel of the Columbia river from its mouth to where the 46th degree crosses said river near Fort Walla Walla, thence with said 46th degree to the summit of the Rocky Mountains." Since the formation of the Territory (now State) of Idaho in 1863 Washington lies between 45 degrees 32' and 49 degrees northern latitude and 117 degrees and 124 degrees western longitude. Its limits according to article XXIV of the state constitution, adopted at Olympia, 22 August, 1889, are as follows:
Beginning at a point in the Pacific Ocean one marine league due west of and opposite the middle of the mouth of the north ship channel of the Columbia river, thence running easterly up the middle channel of said river, and where it is divided by island up the middle of the widest channel thereof to where the 46th parallel of north longitude crosses said river near the mouth of the Walla Walla river, thence east on said 46th parallel of latitude to the middle of the main channel of the Shoshone or Snake river; thence down the middle of the main channel of the Snake river to a point opposite the mouth of the Kookooskia or Clear Water river, thence due north to the 49th parallel of north latitude, thence west along said 49th parallel to the middle of the channel which separates Vancouver Island from the continent, thence following the boundary line between the United States and the British possessions through the channel which separates Vancouver Island from the continent to a point in the Pacific Ocean equidistant between Bonilla Point on Vancouver Island and Tatoosh Islands, thence running in a southerly course and parallel with the coast line, keeping one marine league off shore, to the place of beginning.
The Cascade and the Coast Ranges are the principal surface features. The former traverses the state from north to south, and divides it into two unequal parts commonly known as western and eastern Washington. These mountainous portions range from 5000 to 14,500 feet in height. The triangular peninsula which forms the extreme northwestern part of the state and contains the Olympic Mountains and the Coast Range is produced by Puget Sound, a part of the Pacific, occupying an area of more than 2000 square miles. The Olympic peninsula, though close to the most inhabited portion of the state, has on account of its native wildness been but little explored and is but sparsely inhabited. Between the Olympics and the Cascades lies the fertile Puget Sound Basin. The principal rivers of western Washington are the Skagit, Snohomish, Duwamish, Chehalis, and Willapa, which flow to the ocean, and the Cowlitz, a tributary of the Columbia. The most important lake in western Washington is Lake Washington, about 16 miles long and 3 miles wide. Western Washington, at the foot of abrupt and heavily timbered slopes of the Cascades, is in area about one-half of eastern Washington, whose plains lie more than 1000 feet higher. The northern and southern part of this section of the state are known as the Okanogan Highlands and the Columbia Plains. During the last ten years much government and private money has been expended to redeem this vast waste for agricultural purposes by utilizing the watercourses of this section for irrigation, and the success has been marvelous. The best orchards of Washington and superior alfalfa farms mark the oases so obtained. The main watercourse of eastern Washington is the Columbia, which receives on its long and circuitous path of nearly 1400 miles to the ocean a number of tributaries such as the Pend'Oreille or Clark, Okanogan, Spokane, Yakima, and Snake rivers. The northern part of eastern Washington with its extremely picturesque wilderness may be termed the Switzerland of Washington. Its most attractive spot is Lake Chelan, which is more than three miles wide and about seventy miles long and which penetrates deep into the Cascade Mountains, whose bases rise here and there abruptly from its waters.
Climatically there is scarcely a state in the Union more favoured than Washington, owing to the proximity of the Pacific Ocean and the protection afforded by the mountain ranges. The prevailing easterly and southwesterly winds bring with them the almost even ocean temperature, and make western Washington's winters milder and its summers less oppressive; eastern Washington, owing to its higher altitude, is less favoured. The state's mean temperature is about 51 degree west of the Cascades and 48 degrees east of that range. In like manner, these ocean winds charged with moisture precipitate more readily by coming into contact with cold land air in winter, and hence there is more rainfall in western than in eastern Washington, which latter they reach only after cooling off against the snowy Cascades.
This is represented by a great variety of animals. The fur bearers which attracted the first white speculators are not yet extinct, and furnish the market still with their valuable pelts. We note the bear, wildcat, cougar, coyote, elk, deer, mountain sheep, otter, beaver, marten, skunk, muskrat, squirrel, and rabbit. The "Evergreen State" is also the natural home of birds of every class and description. The small kind and singers are represented by the robin, black-bird, meadowlark, humming bird, and wild canary; while the game birds, geese, various kinds of ducks, prairie chickens, pheasants, and quails, attract the sportsman. Washington's rivers and large bodies of water, especially Puget Sound and its tributaries, are rich in all kinds of commercial fish, shellfish, and their by-products, such as glue and guano. The following statistics, taken form the report given by the state bureau, show the present extent of the annual output: Salmon packed, value "(,113,656.40; fresh, salted, and smoked fish, $3,592,215.00; oysters, $581,000.00; clams, $111,375.00; crabs, $58,750.00; shrimps, $35,263.70; oil, $16,200.00; guano, $22,050.00; glue, $3,500.00. The total value of the output for 1909 was consequently $13,534,010.10; the capital invested being $4,825,620, and the number of persons employed 13,237.
Together with 6,173,688 acres of improved lands, 2,435,717 acres Indian reservations, 3,196,059 acres federal lands for homesteading, 12,007,340 acres of national forests, the State of Washington has still 391,000,000,000 (board) feet of standing timber; and the lumber, lath, and shingles manufactured in 1910 reached 4,000,000 feet. Though the coal mines and other mineral resources are yet in their infancy, the coal mines produced in 1910 no less than 3,979,569 tons of bituminous coal. Rich veins of silver, lead, iron, and copper, and occasionally gold, are found, especially in the hills of the Okanogan highlands; but they have been more or less neglected probably owing to the proximity of the richer goldfields of Alaska. More than three million dollars are annually realized by the lime, sandstone, cement, tile, pottery, and brick industries. Washington's chief charm and source of revenue lie in its forests with their wild vegetation of dogwood, madrona, maple, cottonwood, and alder and their gigantic trees. Cedar, spruce, fir, pine, and hemlock are the chief marketable varieties. Washington fir is extensively used for shipbuilding, and the cedar shingles are well known for their durability.
The foreign trade of the State of Washington has naturally grown with the development of its agricultural and natural resources. While twenty years ago the total foreign commerce barely reached five million dollars, its present foreign trade is listed as follows: import, 1910, $28,910,491; 1911, $36,645,675; export, 19190, $29,889,473; 1911, $39,135,571.
The state of Washington, owing to its favourable climactic conditions, is rapidly advancing among the states of the Union as an agricultural state. Not only are the valleys, plains, and redeemed lands utilized for farming purposes, the logged-off forest lands are also growing in favour on account of the ever-increasing population. According to the U.S. government report, 8 Sept., 1911, western Washington had in 1908 a total area of 5,180,000 acres of standing timber, which was reduced by 1910 to 4,450,000 acres. The same government bulletin reports that in 1908 this territory had 432,000 acres of assessed pasture land which in 1910 had increased to 628,000 acres. The following list will show the principal agricultural products of the state: wheat, 34,895,000 bushels, $32,452,350; oats, 9,190,000 bushels, $4,411,200; barley, 5,180,000 bushels, $3,315,200; corn, 417,000 bushels, $359,000; potatoes, 6,970,000 bushels, $3,276,000; hay, 798,000 tons, $11,172,000; hops, 3,000,000 pounds, $666,000. The total number of farm animals for the assessment of 1909 was given at 1,068,857 at a total value of $38,034,450; while the dairy industry shows for the same year the following result: butter, 9,681,668 lbs., $3,160,599.23; cheese, 204,983 lbs., $32,750.21; condensed mild, 1,195,893 cases, $4,185,230.00.
With a frontage of salt water approximating 2500 miles Washington possesses on account of its numerous and safe harbours favoured foreign and domestic routes of communication. The most important harbours are Seattle, Tacoma, Gray's Harbour, Everett, Bellingham, Port Townsend, and Bremerton, at which latter port the U.S. navy yard and dry dock are situated. Besides its great facilities by sea the state has more navigable rivers and railroad advantages than any other western state. The total mileage of navigable rivers is approximately 1150; while the steam railroads are operated on a total trackage of 5726 miles, which does not include different interurban electric routes. If fact there is scarcely a county which is not touched by one or more means of communication. The principal companies operating within the State of Washington are the Northern Pacific, Great Northern, Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul, and the Canadian Pacific, which form the main transcontinental routes. There are also several interstate and state railway companies such as the Seattle-Portland-Spokane; Oregon-Washington R.R. & Nav. Co.; Inland Empire; and Columbia-Puget Sound. All railways are under the control of a state railroad commission.
According to the census returns Washington had, in 1860, 11,594; in 1870, 23,955; in 1880, 75,116; in 1890, 349,390; in 1900, 418,103; and in 1910, 1,141,990 inhabitants, about 5000 of whom are Indians. There are about 100,000 Catholics; 48,000 Methodists; 29,000 Presbyterians; 21,000 Baptists; 19,000 Lutherans; 11,000 Disciples of Christ; 9500 Congregationalists; 9000 Episcopalians; and a large variety of smaller sects. For purposes of administration the state is subdivided into 30 counties. Western Washington contains a population of 732,291; whereas eastern Washington, though almost twice as large, has only 409,796 inhabitants. The largest cities are Seattle, 237,194; Spokane, 104,402; Tacoma, 83,743; Everett, 24,814; and Bellingham, 24,298.
The state constitution provides for the election of the state officers for a period of four years simultaneously with the general presidential election. Minor state officials and commissioners are appointed by the governor. Both men and women of the legal age are qualified to vote, provided they are citizens, and have duly registered after a residence of one year in the state, three months in the county, and thirty days in their voting precinct. The legislature consists of a senate and a house of representatives. The senators are elected for four years, one half retiring every two years, while the representatives are chosen every two years. According to the state constitution the senate can never number more than half or less than one third of the house of representatives. The executive power in the several counties is vested in a board of three county commissioners whose office is likewise elective.
Article 1 of the state constitution provides in its section 2 for a strict separation of Church and State in the following words: "Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship shall be granted to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion; but the liberty of conscience thereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state. No public money or property shall be appropriated for any religious worship or the support of any religious establishment. No religious qualification shall be required for any public office or employment, nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror in consequence of his religious opinion, nor be questioned in any court of justice touching his religious belief to affect the weight of his testimony." "The mode of administering an oath", according to sec. 6 of the same article, "shall be such as may be most consistent with and binding upon the conscience of the person to whom such oath may be administered." Though there is strict separation of Church and State, yet Sundays and Christmas are recognized as days to be legally observed. With the exception of hotels, drug-stores, livery stables, and undertakers' establishments, all business houses must be closed on those days. Likewise is the sale of all intoxicating liquors prohibited on Sundays, and all fines collected for violations are paid to the common school fund.
The state law provides for the severe punishment of indecent language and literature; which, however, does not annul the constitutional rights of every person to "freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right". Drunkenness has received a wholesome check by the passage of a local option law in 909, which allows corporate towns and voting districts to determine whether places where liquor is sold shall exist in their midst or not.
Priests are not required to perform jury duty; nor can a priest be examined as a witness as to any confession made to him without the consent of the person making such confession. Likewise is the priest a legally recognized minister to solemnize marriage when a license has been obtained. The bishop as the representative of the diocese possesses the rights of a corporation sole regarding all the church property in the State. This privilege was granted by the territorial Government, and has never been revoked by the State. Church property to the extent of 120 x 200 feet is exempt from taxation, provided the church edifice is built thereon.
Unfortunately the reasons for which a divorce may be obtained are many, and much depends upon the personal good sense of the judge in applying them. The chief causes are: (1) Fraud or force in obtaining consent to the marriage, in which case the injured party can sue, provided there has been no subsequent voluntary cohabitation; (2) adultery; (3) impotency; (4) abandonment for one year; (5) cruel treatment and personal indignities rendering life burdensome; (6) habitual drunkenness, or neglect to provide for the family; (7) imprisonment in the penitentiary, providing the complaint be filed during such imprisonment; (8) any other cause which the court deems sufficient to prevent the parties from living together any longer. A necessary condition for obtaining a divorce is that the party demanding it must have resided in the state for one year.
The State of Washington provides for the free education of all its citizens from the child in the common schools to the graduate of its high school. To accomplish this task, the state received on its admission to the Union from the U.S. Congress an endowment for school purposes of every section numbered 16 and 36 in all townships within its borders, or one-eighteenth of all its public lands, amounting to more than two million acres of land which will ultimately net the state treasury no less than fifty million dollars. The money obtained by the sale of this land constitutes an irreducible fund, of which only the interest, together with the rentals and incidental fines as provided by law, can be expended for current school purposes. Any deficiency of a school district is supplied by local taxation. The statistics show that there existed on 30 June, 1911, no less than 2685 districts with schools in which 2220,461 children were instructed by 7589 teachers, the average monthly salary paid to male teachers being $85.69 and to female teachers $66.25. There were then 379 high- schools in existence. The annual expenditure for each child maintained has been conservatively estimated at $30. The state university is located at Seattle on a picturesque site of 350 acres overlooking Lakes Union and Washington. It owes its existence to an endowment of two townships of land made in 1854 by Congress to the Territory of Washington for this purpose. To minimize the tuition fee of students resident of the state, the state legislature in 1893 granted the university 100,000 acres additional. From its slender beginnings in 1862 the institution has steadily increased, and is at this time attended by 2427 students. It maintains schools and colleges of arts, sciences, law, pharmacy, philosophy, pedagogy, engineering, mines, and forestry. According to the latest state educational directory the present teaching staff is composed of 36 professors, 7 associate and 30 assistant professors, 54 instructors, 7 assistants, and 10 graduate assistants; together with a musical staff of 6 teachers, and a library staff of 6 members.
In addition to its university the state maintains an agricultural college at Pullman, which is devoted to practical instruction in agriculture, mechanic arts, experimental stations and incidental sciences, with an attendance of 1463 students. The three state normal schools at Bellingham, Cheney, and Ellensburg with a total of 1353 students supply teachers for the public schools. Besides these state institutions of higher learning there are no less than 30 schools under sectarian of private management. The Catholic Church also has not been lacking in its educational advancement. The total number of boys receiving their education in six Catholic high-schools and academics in the state is about 1100. These schools are chiefly in the care of the Christian Brothers, the Benedictine and Jesuit Fathers. The 18 academies for girls and young ladies in charge of the Visitation, Benedictine, Franciscan, Dominican, Providence, and Holy Names Sisters show an attendance of 1509 pupils. Great credit is especially due the Sisters of the Holy Names, whose two Catholic normal schools have been accredited by the state. In addition to these higher institutions of learning the Catholics by voluntary taxation and personal sacrifice maintain 32 parochial schools with 5126 pupils, thus saving the state an annual expense of about 150,000 dollars.
The state maintains a penitentiary at Walla Walla and two reform industrial schools for youthful delinquents at Chehalis and Monroe. The total number of inmates of the state's penal, charitable, and reform institutions in 1906 were 3939, which increased to 4288 in 1911. The hopelessly insane are provided for by two asylums at Steilacoom and Medical Lake; while those suffering from milder forms of insanity are placed in the state sanitarium at Sedro-Woolley.
Almost with the dawn of Catholicism in the Northwest, charity had commenced its errand of well doing to the sick, the poor, and fallen. On 8 Dec., 1856, the Sisters of Charity of Providence (Montreal) arrived at Vancouver, and there began their errand of mercy in the Northwest. Their charitable institution at that place housed and supported in 1911 no less than 130 orphans and 253 aged and infirm persons. From humble beginnings their admirable work extends now proportionately to almost every larger city of the state: Colfax, Colville, Everett, North Yakima, Olympia, Port Townsend, Walla Walla, Spokane, and Seattle. Their new Providence Hospital at Seattle, built at a cost of approximately $1,000,000 and dedicated on 24 Sept., 1911, has rooms for 300 patients, not including its spacious general wards. Other sisterhoods engaged in hospital work in the state are the Sisters: of St. Dominic at Aberdeen and Chehalis; of St. Joseph of Peace (Jersey City, N.J.) at Bellingham; of St. Francis (Glen Riddle, Pa.) at Tacoma; the Sisters of the Good Shepherd have care of no less than 271 wayward and orphan girls. The liberality of Mrs. E. Briscoe Foss enabled Bishop O'Dea to open the Briscoe Memorial Home and Training School for orphan boys on 15 June, 1909, which now gives protection to about 80 young lads. In the large cities the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Catholic Social Betterment League are likewise doing efficient charity work.
The names of the first explorers of the coast of Washington are immortalized by the physical features of the Northwest. Inlets and bays bear the names of Juan de Fuca (1592), Cook (1778), Puget (1791), and Gray (1792); Vancouver and Whidby (1791) are recalled by two islands; while Lewis and Clark's expedition (1805) as well as Gray's ship, "Columbia," have been perpetuated by the largest rivers. Washington was originally a part of the long controverted Oregon Country, whose joint possession by both England and the United States was regulated by the treaty of 1818; but lying north of the Columbia River, which the British Government considered a favourable boundary, it remained until 1846 almost exclusively under the control of the English Hudson's Bay Company, who exploited it for its wealth in furred animals all the more energetically in the hope of establishing a claim of preponderant influence in favour of the home country. In this they were, however, destined to disappointment. When the time arrived the United States demanded the 49th parallel as the international boundary both by reason of prior discovery and of prior colonization of the whole Oregon Territory. In 1853 Washington was organized as a separate territory, and was admitted to the Union as a state with its present limits on 11 Nov., 1889.
Before the advent of Christian civilization the Indians of the northwest coast lived in the grossest ignorance, and their morals were correspondingly low. They recognized a superior divinity, Ekannum, and an inferior god, Etalapasse. The former created everything visible, including the human being; while the latter gave man the use of his eyes and mouth and created the Columbia with its fishes for man's food. Idolatry was extensively practised; even the lowest animals and the shades of the dead received divine honours; nor were human sacrifices infrequent, especially after successful wars. Father De Smet, S.J., the pioneer Indian missionary, tells us of a child consecrated to the shade of one of its companions, who had died the previous day. "Almost in front of a house occupied by the Protestant missionary", he says, "the little victim was so cruelly garroted that the cords entered the flesh; it was exposed on a rock where it could not have failed to soon expire had not Mr. Perkins succeeded in ransoming it." It was the general custom of the northwest tribes to bury their dead, though the funeral pile was also occasionally used. Among the Chinooks and Puget Sound Indians a strange funeral practice was favoured. The body, arrayed in the deceased one's best garb, was placed together with his weapons into one of his canoes, and permanently raised on long poles or a scaffold. Every tribe was governed in patriarchal fashion by a chief. Intermarriage of persons of different tribes was forbidden, but polygamy tolerated. Prisoners of war, if not killed at subsequent festivities, were never adopted into a tribe, but performed slave work in the families of those who had fallen in battle. The Indian believed in immortality as a reward for personal bravery, which was one of his prominent virtues. He was fearless on land and sea, and in no way overawed by a white man's sailing vessel.
How Christianity became first known to the aborigines of the northwest coast, whether by stranded mariners or missionaries from California, can only be conjectured. Whether the few religious objects found among them by the first known explorers were obtained from venturesome fellow-tribesmen roaming southward to the California borders, from missionaries, or, as articles of exchange, from passing sailors and traders must likewise remain an unsolved problem. Certain it is that the desire to see the "Black Gowns" was to no small extent aroused by the French-Canadian trappers and hunters in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company, and that the coast Indians were anxious to accept the Catholic Faith when the first known missionaries, Fathers F.N. Blanchet and Modeste Demers, arrived (cf. DIOCESE OF SEATTLE). The fist Catholic services known to have been celebrated within the present State of Washington were held in the Big Bend, Okanogan Co., 14 Oct.; at Walla Walla (Wallula) 18 Nov.; and at Vancouver 24 Nov., 1838. The first mission in the whole Northwest was established at Cowlitz, where Father Blanchet said Mass in the home of Simon Plamandon, one of the four Catholic settlers at that point, on 16 Dec., 1838. So strenuous, zealous, and successful was the work performed by these two apostles of the Northwest, that in 1844, when Father Blanchet was raised to the episcopal dignity, he could report to his superiors the conversion of more than 5000 Indians and the return to their religious practices of about 1500 whites. A new impetus to Catholic life came through the gradual arrival of more missionary labourers and especially through the wise division of the vast Oregon Territory into two dioceses in 1846, one of which by a change of title has now become the Diocese of Seattle. Bishop A.M.A. Blanchet was its first head as Bishop of Walla Walla, later of Nesqually.
In eastern Washington the Jesuits have always been zealous and influential missionaries and have met with wise foresight the ever- growing exigencies of this section. For nearly forty years they were almost exclusively in charge of the vast northern district lying between the Cascades and the Rockies, and a debt of gratitude is owed to some of those intrepid apostles who by their prudent conduct and timely advice to both military leaders and turbulent tribes, prevented strife and bloodshed on many occasions during the Indian wars of Washington's territorial years. Among the religious labourers of the Society of Jesus in the Northwest, since their first apostle, Father P.J. De Smet, planted the cross on the summit of the Rockies in 1840, may be mentioned Fathers Joset, Tosi, Jaquet, and Cataldo, whose names are more intimately linked with the early history of Washington. By far the most important mission from a present-day point of view was the one established among the Spokane Indians by Father Cataldo, who celebrated Mass there for the first time on 8 Dec., 1866.
Since then the Indian has almost disappeared, and close by the former log church rises now the city of Spokane with its 104,402 inhabitants and its eight splendid Catholic churches. The little school originally intended for Indian boys was also forced to yield its place. In 1881, when the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad had transformed the spot into a village, white children gradually superceded the native element. In 1887 Gonzaga College was opened, and in 1912 was raised to the rank of a university; at the present time it has more than 500 students. The Jesuit Fathers maintain another college for boys at Seattle, with about 300 pupils, and are about to open an institution at Tacoma.
While eastern Washington was principally in the care of the Jesuits, western Washington was not less fortunate in possessing the efficient help of the Oblate (O.M.I.) Fathers, especially among the Indian tribes of Puget Sound. The name of Father Chirouse still lives among them. For almost thirty years they worked in the Diocese of Nesqually till their places could gradually be supplied by secular clergy, when they retired northward to British Columbia, of which they have had exclusive charge to the present day. The secular priests, as their number increased, were little by little restricted to narrower limits; instead of remaining missionaries in the stricter sense of the word their centres of action have been multiplied, whereby they are not only able to know better the momentary spiritual wants of their several districts, but also to meet more efficiently the individual claims of their cosmopolitan charges. Thus, when in 1895 Bishop Junger bequeathed the office to his successor, the present head of the diocese, the vast State of Washington contained a scattered Catholic population of about 25,000 in charge of 38 secular priests and 23 priests of religious orders. At present the last census shows in the same territory a Catholic population of nearly 100,000 taken care of by 161 priests, of whom 94 are secular clergy and 67 belong to religious orders.
DE SMET, Missions de l'Oregon et voyages aux Montagnes Rocheuses (Gand, 1848); CRONAU, Amerika, Geschichte seiner Entdeckung bis auf die neueste Zeit (Leipzig, 1892); Statistics of the State of Washington (Olympia, 1910); Educational Directory of the State of Washington (Olympia, 1911); BARTON, Legislative Manual (Tacoma, 1889); Gonzaga (Spokane, 1911-12), a student publication; Population Statistics of the State of Washington (Olympia, 1911).
APA citation. (1912). State of Washington. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15560a.htm
MLA citation. "State of Washington." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15560a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the people of the State of Washington.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
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