Joseph M. Carey was the first U.S. Attorney for the Wyoming Territory and then served as a Justice on the Territorial Supreme Court. Entering into politics, he was elected Mayor of Cheyenne and as the Territorial Representative to the U.S. House. He worked diligently toward Wyoming's statehood. In his plea for statehood he said:
“The matter of statehood is a matter of great importance so far as Wyoming is concerned. We want to see the promised land; we want an enabling act; we want you to put us in such a position that if we conform to the conditions prescribed we may become a state.” Carey later went on to say, “The advantages of state government are very important to a man who wishes to thrive and wishes his business to prosper. A true American’s ambition is to be a full American citizen with all the attending privileges.” However, he felt that politics was too involved in the decisions of statehood, not just for Wyoming, but for other territories as well. It was thought that many territories were not being advanced to statehood because it could give one political party an advantage over another. Carey’s response to this was, “…I would rather live in a democratic state than to live in a territory with a large republican majority” (Cheyenne Daily Sun March 28, 1889, part 1, p. 4).
After Wyoming became a state, he was elected U.S. Senator. He went back to practicing law for many years until, in 1911, he was elected the eighth Governor of the State of Wyoming.