When did Arizona become a State? 2 Must-know Facts of Arizona’s Statehood

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when did Arizona become a state
Image by TowerKeeper from Pixabay. Flag of Arizona, U.S.A.

When did Arizona become a state? The answer is 1912!!

But, did you know that Arizona was originally a part of the New Mexico territory and not a separate state from the beginning? It was on 24, February 1863 that the settlement of Arizona was established as a separate territory of the United States.

Following a set of events, it was finally made the forty-eighth state of the United States of America (a federation of 50 states) on 14, February 1912.

The United States of America is established as a “federal” country encompassing 50 member states. It is a “federation” (not a “union”) of its constituent states. What it means is that the states have the right or authority to get out of the federation if they want to.

In a federation, often the states are joined or formed by a treaty or some agreement. In the case of the Grand Canyon State of the U.S.A. i.e; Arizona becoming a state, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and, the 1853 Gadsden Purchase have major roles to play. After all, it was these which decided its territorial extension!

There is whole history and process behind any territory becoming a separately identified state constitution, and it is exactly what this post deals with.

1. The process of Arizona territory becoming a state

Arizona was originally part of New Mexico.

It was not until 1848 that it was transferred to the U.S. to become a territory (not yet a state) of the union (here, federation) of America. Further ahead in 1853, the territorial extent of the Grand Canyon state was increased to form what we today see as the state of Arizona.

Both the territories of New Mexico and Arizona had to cover a controversial path to statehood. However, it was finally achieved after much effort in 1912.

On 6, January 1912, New Mexico was recognized as the forty-seventh state of the United States of America whereas Arizona became the forty-eighth state on 14, February 1912.

1.1. Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is important in terms of the setting up of Arizona territory. If not for this treaty, the path to the establishment of Arizona as a state of the U.S. would not have been set up.

The famous treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was a peace treaty. It was signed with the aim of ending the Mexico-American war and establishing peace. It was signed between the Mexican government and the American government on 2, February 1848.

Besides the establishment of peace between the two territories, the most important part of the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty was the annexation or transfer of territories from Mexico to the United States of America. You would be surprised that Mexico had to transfer or sign off 55 percent of its territory to the U.S.A.

This included the territories that form the present-day states of Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, California, parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, and most of Colorado and Arizona.

The annexed territories accounted for 525,000 square miles of land!

It was by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that the three-year-long Mexico-American war came to an end (1846-1848). It was mainly with the fall of the capital of the Mexican city in September 1847 that the decision to establish a treaty between the two rivals was made, and the territorial transfer took place.

Furthermore, provisions of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that Mexico recognizes the Rio Grande as the southern boundary of the United States of America, and gives up on all its claims to Texas.

1.2. Gadsden Purchase of 1853

Present-day Arizona is not formed only by the territory annexed from Mexico, parts of it were purchased from the Gadsden Purchase made in 1853.

The Gadsden Purchase (Spanish: Venta de La Mesilla or “The Sale of La Mesilla”) is associated with the expansion of the United States of America in 1853-1854.

It refers to the 29,670 square miles (76,845 km2) stretch of land acquired from Mexico (Second Federal Republic of Mexico) by the Treaty of Mesilla which was made on 8, June 1854.

The acquired territory includes the present-day part of southern Arizona and the southwestern part of New Mexico.

The Gadsden Purchase was also made as a way to resolve other border issues.

The main cities of the purchase included Sierra, Tucson, Vista, and Yuma.

Majorly combined with the Gadsden purchase of 1853 southern Arizona territory, the territory of Arizona acquired by the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo forms the territorial area of the present-day American state of Arizona.

when did arizona become a state
Image by ID 12019 from Pixabay. Rio Grande.

The Gadsden purchase majorly included the territories south of the Gila River, a tributary of the Colorado River, and west of the Rio Grande river where America wanted to build a transcontinental railroad following a deep southern route.

This aim of the U.S. was later completed by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1881–1883.

The Gadsden Purchase (1853-1854) is a major part and portrayal of the Western Expansion and Manifest Destiny historical era prevalent in the U.S. in the 19th century. Manifest Destiny was a belief of the U.S. in the 19th century to expand in North America.

1.3. What was Arizona’s name before it became a state?

As evident, Arizona was known as the territory of New Mexico before it became an American state. This is simply because it was originally a part of the New Mexican territory.

In fact, it was even thought to make it a state combined with New Mexico but the Arizona people were against it. It was then constituted separately!

1.4. Statehood of Arizona Territory

It has been more than a century since Arizona became a part of the United States of America. However, the process of Arizona acquiring statehood was not easy at all.

With the end of the Mexico-American war, the territory of Arizona first came into the hands of America. Six years later in 1853, more regions were added to the Copper State of America by the Gadsden Purchase. But the newly formed Arizona territory was considered the “Wild West” by the eastern population of the United States of America.

It was considered not Anglo enough and termed as unruly.

In 1906, a chance to join the union came up but Arizona declined the proposal. It was mainly because the proposal aimed to make Arizona a part of New Mexico which was not agreed upon by the people of Arizona. Instead, they wanted to be established as a separate state.

By the Arizona Organic Act, Arizona was separated from New Mexico under President Abraham Lincoln.

when did Arizona become a state
Image by NiksWebDesignAz from Pixabay

It was with the efforts of George W.P. Hunt, the first territorial governor of Arizona, who smoothened the path of Arizona acquiring statehood and becoming the 48th state of the United States of America on 14 February 1912.

This is exactly why 14 February 1912 is known as the “statehood day” of Arizona.

1.5. Prospective days of Statehood

The statehood day of Arizona would have been the 12th of February had it not been a holiday as the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, and it could have been the 13th of February but it was considered ‘unlucky’.

More or so, the statehood day of Arizona could even have been decided six years back if Arizona agreed to become a united state along with New Mexico and did not demand to be established separately.

But as of now, 14 February it is! The statehood day of Arizona.

A constitution (Arizona Constitution) was formalized in 1912 and with that, home to the Grand Canyon i.e; Arizona became the forty-eighth state of the United States of America.

1.6. Why did not Arizona become a state until 1912?

The first attempt at Arizona’s statehood came to a crash by President William Howard Taft.

The statement by historian Marshall Trimble provides that it was the Apache wars, the shoot-out at the OK Corral, the outlaws, Pleasant Valley War that all gave Arizona the reputation as a wild place that was not ready for statehood. He marked that the eastern states didn’t like the idea of having two new senators from a place still unsettled like Arizona. According to them, those two senators will only be a couple of gun-toting cowboys. 

Moreover, the two senators were democratic and it was not wanted that they go to Washington, the capital of the United States of America.

At the beginning of the century, particularly around 1906, it was finally proposed to combine New Mexico and Arizona to form one single state of the U.S.A. But, it was a failed attempt too.

Then finally, the Enabling Act was passed by Congress (the American Parliament), carving out a path to statehood for Arizona territory. Trimble terms it a “very progressive convention.”

The reason to term it a progressive convention was the feature of giving women the right to vote. In fact, it was a decade before suffrage was given to women before the 19th amendment in the U.S. constitution provided it for the entire nation.

Of course, it was also extended till 1912 that women of Arizona were really given the right to vote. there were other issues and some demands which were not approved by President Haft. This is what delayed the process of statehood until 1912.

2. Arizona’s chronology: Who originally owned Arizona?

When it comes to understanding any territory of the world around any continent, the variety makes it ambiguous and unclear. This is simply because the history of any nation or state has numerous periods of rule, sometimes “no rule”, dependence, co-dependence, and independence.

This really clarifies that not one person or nation has ruled throughout the existence of any territorial area. There is not one territorial governor but many.

The same is the case with Arizona, the Grand Canyon state.

when did arizona become a state
Image by kahern from Pixabay. Colorado River through the canyon.

Different powers have ruled over Arizona, and it has existed individually as Arizona territory too before finally becoming a part of the United States of America.

The chronological stance stated below is indicative of defining who originally owned Arizona. But more or so, it aims to help in understanding the history and existence of the territory of Arizona in the past, and now.

2.1. The Pre-Historic Era of Arizona

The ancient history of any country or state or just any region is vast in itself. So, here, with the Pre-historic era, the basic target is the tenure from circa 1400 CE to as back as around 10,000 BCE.

The pre-historic period is marked by the formation of various land features such as the sunset crater, and the inhabitation of the territorial area by different tribes of people. Some of it is discussed below.

The ancient people residing in Arizona were basically the “paleo” people. It was somewhat around 200 CE that the farming of primitive corn was started. Circa 1200 CE, the Anasazi came to reside in the “four corners region” (now a part of America).

The “sunset crater” was formed around 1064 BCE, and around 300 BCE, the territory of Arizona was inhabited by the Hohokam.

The “Casa Grande” was built near the Gila River during the pre-historic period too.

Around 1400 CE, a cultural decline of the prehistoric people and groups had begun.

2.2. The Spanish Period of Arizona [1528-1821]

The Spanish Period has an interesting twist to it. It began with the growing interest in the exploration of the American continent, and ended with the Mexican war of Independence!

The eight-year-long Cabeza de Vaca lasted from 1528 to 1536. His companions were included in the exploration of the American continent.

It was as far back as 1540-42 that Francisco Vázquez de Coronado claimed the vast lands of the present-day American Southwest for Spain. This took place after the failed attempts of finding the 7 Golden Cities in Cibola. He, along with his companions, was among the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon, which today lies in Arizona.

Between 1598 and 1607, the first colonies were established in New Mexico by Juan de Oñate. And in 1619, the City of Santa Fe was founded. Franciscans formed the first Europeans to live in Arizona territory (1629).

1751 of the Spanish period was marked by the Great Pima Indian Revolt.

In 1767, the Spanish realm expelled the Jesuits. During the same time period, Franciscan Father Garcés entered Arizona.

Juan de Anza and Father Garcés explored routes to California, and around 1775-1776, Juan de De Anza and Father Garcés took colonists overland to California. Tucson was established.

Yuma revolt took place in 1781, and Father Garces was murdered.

Spanish troops went on offensive campaigns.

The last decade of the Spanish period (1810-1821) was marked by the Mexican war of Independence.

2.3. The Mexican Period of Arizona [1821-1848]

Right after the Mexican war of Independence, fought from around 1810 to 1821, Mexico’s territory achieved independence. This marked a new era in the history of Arizona, and it is termed the Mexican period.

when did Arizona become a state
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay. Flag of Mexico.

A year following the independence of New Mexico, 1822, trade was opened between Santa Fe and St. Louis. In 1823, several American people began to settle down in Texas.

1824 was marked by the entrance of the American mountain men into Arizona to trap beavers.

1835-1836 of the Mexican period was the period of the Texas Revolution.

In 1837, Mexico made an offer of several bounties for Apache scalps.

The period of 1846-1848 was the historical period of the U.S.-Mexican War.

As discussed above, the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, a peace treaty, was signed ending the three-year war, and a vast territory of Mexico was ceded to America.

2.4. Arizona’s Territorial Period [1848-1912]

The beginning of Arizona’s territorial period is marked by an expansion of the United States of America in the Mexican territories which included Arizona and other such territories that today form California, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, and many other states of the U.S., by the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty.

Gold was discovered in California in 1848, with Gila Trail becoming a major route to the gold fields.

A compromise was made in 1850 which made possible the establishment of the Territory of New Mexico. This new territory of New Mexico included parts of present-day Arizona.

New areas were added to Arizona by the Gadsden Purchase (1853). This incorporated all the territorial land extending from the Gila River to the present existing boundary of Arizona state.

In 1856, American cavalry occupied Tucson. this was the time when Arizonans began petitioning for a separate territorial status.

Fort Buchanan was established on Sonoita Creek in 1857. The next year, Butterfield Overland Stage Line crossed Arizona.

The 1860s was the time-period of discovery of gold in the Gila and Colorado River, and Bradshaw Mountains.

1861: The Bascom Affair took place. The Civil War had begun and several posts of the U.S. military were left abandoned in the Arizona territorial portion of the former New Mexico Territory.

The territorial period of Arizona from 1861 to 1886 was the period of the Apache Wars.

when did Arizona became a state
Image by jrslocum0 from Pixabay. Arizona Apache Trail.

Arizona was taken as a confederate territory. This was done by the Confederate States of America in 1867, marked by the battle at Glorieta Pass, New Mexico. Fort Bowie at Glorieta Pass was also established.

The battle at Picacho Pass is also known as the westernmost battle of the Civil War.

California Column occupied Arizona for Union at this time. In fact, the Battle of Apache Pass between California Column and Apaches is the largest in the history of Arizona.

It was in 1863 that the Territory of Arizona was finally established. The capital was constituted at Fort Whipple. It was the then U.S. President Abraham Lincoln who appointed the Arizona Territorial officials.

John A. Gurley was appointed as the Territorial Governor of Arizona. However, unfortunately, he died before taking to the office. Thus, John N. Goodwin became the Territorial Governor.

On 29 December, territorial officials took the oath at Navajo Springs, Arizona.

The period is also marked by gold discoveries in Bradshaw Mountains by the Walker Party, whereas placer gold deposits were found at Rich Hill by the Weaver-Peeples party.

Rich lode was also found at Vulture Mine.

In 1864, the territorial capitol was transferred from Camp Whipple to Prescott, and the original four counties were created. These include the Yavapai, Yuma, Mohave, and Pima.

In 1867, the territorial capitol was again moved- from Prescott to Tucson.

In 1869, the Grand Canyon was explored by John Wesley Powell.

The 1870s-1880s is called the Age of Silver.

Around the same decade of 1870-1880, the open-range cattle industry flourished.

1871 marks the destructive Camp Grant Massacre in the history of Arizona.

A territorial prison was opened at Yuma in 1876.

The territorial capitol was transferred from Tucson back to Prescott in 1877. Moreover, the silver discovery at Tombstone and the copper deposits discovery at Bisbee were two other important incidents.

1881: the City of Phoenix incorporation happened. Southern Pacific Railroad crossed parts of southern Arizona. The Atlantic & Pacific (Santa Fe) railroad crossed parts of northern Arizona in 1883.

Copper replaced gold and silver, becoming more important in Arizona’s economy.

In 1889, the Territorial capitol of Arizona was moved from Prescott to Phoenix, which is also the present-day capital of Arizona. This was done on the accord of the Phoenix City Hall being used as the legislative meeting.

Moses H. Sherman and Marcellus E. Collins, two residents of Phoenix, had donated ten acres of land. This was for building a territorial capitol site in 1891.

Phoenix was linked by rail routes to northern and southern railroad lines in 1895.

In 1898, Rough Riders fought in Cuba in which an Arizona resident, William “Buckey” O’Neill was killed at San Juan Hill.

1899-1900: Construction of the new capitol building in Phoenix began. The overall cost amounted to around $136,000!

On February 25, 1901, the Capitol building was dedicated.

1902: Frank Murphy created the “Impossible Bradshaw Mountain Railroad.

In 1903, the Salt River Water Users’ Association was formed. It was the first of its type to be in the nation.

1906 referendum was rejected in Arizona by majority votes. It was on combined Arizona-New Mexico Statehood.

In 1910, Arizona Enabling Act was passed by Congress (US Parliament) and Constitutional Convention was met.

The Theodore Roosevelt Dam construction was completed in 1911.

President Taft vetoed (against) the admission of Arizona. It was over the recall of judges. This is why Arizona agreed to make all the required changes in its constitution.

The changes were aimed at facilitating the admission of Arizona as the 48th state of the United States of America.

2.5. Arizona’s Statehood/Modern Period [1912-present]

After a long, twisted, and difficult path was traced, Arizona finally acquired the status of a state in 1912.

By now, you have learned about Arizona’s territory and establishment as a state.

This part of the post will take you through some of the specific modern events in the history of the Grand Canyon state of America.

2.5.1. 1912 – the year of Arizona’s Statehood

In 1912, Arizona joined the Union (Federation) of the United States of America as the forty-eighth state on February 14 as a separate state.

when did Arizona became a state
Image by Ralphs_Fotos from Pixabay. American flag.

George W. P. Hunt, President of the Constitutional Convention, became the first Governor of the state.

The first (2) U.S. Senators were Henry F. Ashurst and Marcus A. Smith, and the first U.S. Representative was Carl T. Hayden.

Women finally gained the political right to vote in Arizona.

2.5.2. Arizona after 1912

2 years after Arizona became a state, World War I broke out [1914-1918].

WWI brought an economic boom to Arizona in 1917. The Bisbee Deportation took place in the same year.

The territory of the Grand Canyon was designated as a national park. It was created by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919.

In 1922, the Colorado River Compact established state allotments to share Colorado River water. however, Arizona refused to ratify.

Route 66 was completed in Arizona in 1926.

1929: Great Depression – a period of economic depression in the U.S.

Pluto was discovered at Lowell Observatory in 1930 in Flagstaff.

In 1936, Hoover Dam was dedicated to being built on the Colorado River.

Luke Air Force Base was named in honor of a Phoenix native Frank Luke Jr., a fighter pilot who was killed in action during World War I.

1942: Poston and Gila River Japanese Internment camps were established.

1946 Arizona’s right-to-work becomes effective.

This period has a separate importance because of the growing importance of industrial development and manufacturing.

Post-WWII brought a surge in the population to Arizona.

1948: The first plant was built by Motorola in Phoenix. It marked the beginning of the high-tech industry in Arizona.

Moreover, Arizona Indians gained the right to vote in the same year.

In 1950, An impetus was acquired by the Republican Party through the election of Governor Howard Pyle.

1960: Arizona’s population exceeded the 1 million mark.

In 1961, Stewart L. Udall became the first Arizonan to serve on the Cabinet. He was the Secretary of the Interior.

In 1963, Arizona won the contest with California over the share of Colorado River water as the Supreme Court decision came in its favor. This raised hopes to revive the Central Arizona Project to bring water from Colorado to central Arizona.

Arizona’s U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater became the Republican Party candidate for the U.S. President in 1964.

Legislative reapportionment, intending at the one man, one vote policy, took place in 1966. Legislative districts were reconstituted to represent equal numbers of people.

The Republican Party, one of the two main parties of the U.S., rose to power in the American legislature for the very first time in history.

The Miranda vs. Arizona Supreme Court Case of 1966 ended with the “Miranda Warning.” According to this, the police were asked to exclusively inform criminal suspects of their right to not speak or remain silent before questioning.

In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill that authorized the construction of the Central Arizona Project. Its construction began in 1973.

Raúl Héctor Castro became the first Latino elected Governor of Arizona in 1975.

Sandra Day O’Connor held the position of the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court. (1981)

1984: The population of Arizona exceeds the 3 million mark.

First water deliveries from the Central Arizona Project reach Harquahala Valley in 1985.

Evan Mecham, Governor of Arizona, was impeached! It was in 1988 that this happened.

In the same year, Rose Mofford acquired the position to become Arizona’s first female governor.

Arizona voters approved Martin Luther King Jr./Civil Rights Day as a paid state holiday in 1992.

In 1997, Governor Fife Symington resigned after a bank fraud conviction (It was later overturned). President Bill Clinton later pardoned Symington.

It was way back in 2001 that Arizona’s team known as the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series playing against the New York Yankees in Game 7.

Seven years later in 2008, Senator John McCain won the nomination from the Republican Party for the position of President but he was defeated in the general elections by Barack Obama.

U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords with eighteen others was shot during a “Congress on Your Corner” outreach event in 2011.

2012: Arizona celebrated its statehood centennial (100 years anniversary).

Lightning ignites a wildfire in Yarnell in 2013. The lives of more than 15 wildland firefighter team members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were lost.

Arizona recognizes same-sex marriage in 2014.

Arizona’s 2019 GDP growth was among the top states in the country.

In 2021, Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, became one of the fastest-growing tech hot spots in the United States of America.

Industrial development in Phoenix has been tremendous in 2022.

Summing it up for you

Arizona, which was originally part of New Mexico, acquired the status of the 48th state of the United States of America on 14 February 1912 after following a tough path filled with numerous trials and tribulations.

Since its statehood in 1912, and evident from the modern-period discussion of the state, Arizona has grown culturally, socially, and economically as a part of the United States of America to become a developed and growing state as we see it today.

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