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Arizona Statehood Anniversary

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Today, February 14, you might be thinking about getting flowers for your sweetheart, or birds picking their mates, or buying marked-off chocolate tomorrow. You may not have realized that today is the 110th anniversary of Arizona’s statehood. New Mexico and Arizona were admitted to the union in 1912, after a long delay; Arizona was the last contiguous state to join the United States.

Arizona’s history extends back to 10,000 BCE with the prehistoric residents of the land mass; the Anasazi settled in Four Corners ca. 1200 BCE. Indigenous people have been living there continuously since that time at least. Today 22 Indigenous sovereign nations live on their traditional lands in the area called Arizona, which likely takes its name from the O’odham name Alĭ ṣonak (place of small spring). Coronado claimed these lands for Spain in the 1540s; New Mexico and Arizona remained part of the Spanish empire until 1822 when Mexico declared its liberation from Spain.

Photograph looking down across the Grand Canyon which is shrouded in clouds
A storm brews over the abyss in Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona. Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Mexico ceded the land to the United States with the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo in 1848, and the United States procured the rest of the territory with the Gadsden Purchase, which added land below the Gila River. Arizona split into a separate territory in 1863. Arizona drew settlers with stories of gold, but the settlers’ focus shifted when silver was discovered at Tombstone and copper deposits were found at Bisbee in 1877. By 1888, copper was so important to the territory’s economy that the design of the flag includes a copper-colored star. The state continued to develop its mining economy and produced a great deal of cotton, and settlers flocked to increase the population.

The Arizona statehouse was dedicated in 1901, as residents continued to push for statehood. In 1906, the Hamilton Joint Statehood Bill proposed the statehood of a united New Mexico and Arizona that would be called Arizona with a capital of Santa Fe. Arizonans rejected this idea of joint Arizona-New Mexico statehood in the November 1906 referendum by a vote of 16,265 to 3,141. The Arizona Constitutional Convention met in 1910 and wrote their constitution. In 1911, President Taft vetoed its admission because their constitution included a provision for the recall of judges, which “he stated went against the need for an independent judiciary.” Arizona voters removed the recall provision and on February 14, Taft signed the statehood bill. A little over a century later, a good way to remember the state’s anniversary would be a visit to its most famous landmark, the Grand Canyon.


Arizona / Hoozdo Hahoodzo (Diné Bizaad) / Alĭ ṣonak (O’odham)

Guide to Law Online, Arizona.

Center for Legislative Archives. New Mexico and Arizona Statehood Anniversary (1912-2012). Accessed January 4, 2022.

Territories to Statehood, the Southwest: Topics in Chronicling America. Access February 11, 2022.

Hispanic Reading Room. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  Accessed January 5, 2022.

KFA2430 1871 .A214 Arizona (Ter.). Laws, statutes, etc. The compiled laws of the Territory of Arizona, including the Howell code and the session laws from 1864 to 1871, inclusive: to which is prefixed the Constitution of the United States, the mining law of the United States, and the organic acts of the Territory of Arizona and New Mexico / compiled by Coles Bashford.

KFA2430 1901 .A22 Arizona (Ter.) Laws, statutes, etc. The revised statutes of Arizona territory; containing also the laws passed by the twenty-first legislative assembly, the Constitution of the United States, the organic law of Arizona and the amendments of Congress relating thereto.

KFA2790.A333 A2 1893 Arizona (Ter.) Laws, statutes, etc. The school laws of the territory of Arizona.

KFA2445 .A2 Arizona. Supreme Court. Reports of cases argued and determined in the Supreme Court of the territory of Arizona.

KFA2655.A333 A2 1864 Arizona (Ter.) Laws, statutes, etc. Mining law of the territory of Arizona.

KFA2840 .A5535 Arizona. Attorney General’s Office. Report of the Attorney General of Arizona Territory.

KFA2958.A4324 A2 1903 United States. Arizona. (Amended) rules of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Arizona.

JK2411 .W6 Wickersham, George W. (George Woodward). New states and constitutions / address by Hon. George W. Wickersham, attorney general of the United States, before the Law school of Yale university, Monday, June 19, 1911 …

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