Sat, Dec. 07

It's time for 100 candles -- Happy Birthday Arizona

Arizona has been a land of romance and a land of exploitation since it was first peopled more than 12,000 years ago.

It was the land of the Pueblo civilization (the original “Village People”).

The heyday of these ancient Pueblo People lasted about 500 years, from 700 A.D. to 1200 A.D.

Arizona was believed to be the location of the Seven Cities of Gold where streets were paved with gold plate and buildings were bejeweled.

The king of Spain believed these tales and sent Francisco Coronado off to the New World to find these fabled cities and to bring back the gold. He was not as successful as the later “copper barons” who got rich on Arizona’s mineral wealth.

The entire Southwest, including what is now Arizona and New Mexico, was acquired by the United States after the defeat of Mexico in the 1848 war.

It was known as the New Mexico territory even though it was not an “official” territory. It was one huge blob of land between Texas and California.

The Federal government had been dragging its feet about making Arizona an official territory in its own right.

There had been a heavy settlement of Southern sympathizers in the Tucson and Mesilla areas. Pre-Civil War Congress was loathe to give recognition to additional troublemakers.

At one time the Washington folks had plans to bring both Arizona and New Mexico in as one huge territory, and later as one huge state.

Sharlot Hall was one of the citizens who made sure that every legislator in Congress had a copy of the many objections to that idea.

In 1861, the people of Arizona (mostly around Tucson and Mesilla) passed an “Ordinance of Secession” and seceded from the Union.

On Feb. 14, 1862, the Territory of Arizona was recognized by the Confederate States of America as a Territory.

This got the Feds moving, and on February 14, 1863, they recognized Arizona as an official U. S. territory, with the borders it now has.

It was believed this would deter Johnny Reb from taking the southern route to the goldfields of California (whose citizens were more than a little sympathetic to the Confederate cause.)

In the 20th century, after much politicking, Arizona’s constitutional convention included such novel reforms as initiative, referendum, woman suffrage, recall, and direct election of senators (not in the original U. S. Constitution).

It led the rest of the country in many things. President William Howard Taft (whose dream it was to become a Supreme Court Judge) objected to the recall clause ... it would allow the recall of judges.

It was removed. The Arizona Convention had hoped Mr. Taft (see photo) would sign the statehood bill on Feb. 12, Lincoln’s birthday.

It was not to be. The President was in New York and would not sign the bill until Feb. 14. (It seems Arizona was fated to have things happen on Feb. 14.) Soon after the bill was signed, the recall clause was put back into the state constitution.

Arizona women got the vote in 1912, eight years before the rest of the country.

President Taft’s dream came true. After being one of the few sitting presidents that was defeated in his re-election bid, he was named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

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