Arizona Territory

Arizona Territory
Territory of Arizona
Organized incorporated territory of the United States



Flag of Arizona Territory


Location of Arizona Territory
A map of the Arizona and New Mexico territories, showing existing counties.
Capital Fort Whipple
Government Organized incorporated territory
 - 1863-1866 John Noble Goodwin
 - 1909-1912 Richard Elihu Sloan
Legislature Arizona Territorial Legislature
 - Arizona Organic Act February 24, 1863
 - Statehood of Arizona February 14, 1912

The Territory of Arizona was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from February 24, 1863 until February 14, 1912, when it was admitted to the Union as the 48th state.

A forerunner, identical in name but largely differing in location and size, was the Confederate Territory of Arizona that existed officially from 1861 to 1863, when it was re-captured by the Union, after which the Union created in 1863 their Territory of Arizona—though the Confederate Arizona government continued to rule in exile until the end of the war in 1865. The two territories played a significant role in the western campaign of the American Civil War.


Civil War

After the expansion of the New Mexico Territory in 1853 by the Gadsden Purchase, proposals for a division of the territory and the organization of a separate Territory of Arizona in the southern half of the territory were advanced as early as 1856. The first proposals for the Arizona Territory divided the territory along a line of latitude rather than the later division along a line of longitude that would divide Arizona from New Mexico.

Wpdms Arizona Territory 1860 ZP.svg
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New Mexico Territory 1866 ZP.svg

The proposals arose from concerns about the effectiveness of the territorial government in Santa Fe to administer the newly acquired southern portions of the territory.

The first proposal dates from a conference held in Tucson that convened on August 29, 1856. The conference issued a petition to the U.S. Congress, signed by 256 people, requesting organization of the territory and elected Nathan P. Cooke as the territorial delegate to Congress. In January 1857, the bill for the organization of the territory was introduced into the United States House of Representatives, but the proposal was defeated on the grounds that the population of the proposed territory was yet too small. Later a similar proposal was defeated in the Senate. The proposal for creation of the territory was controversial in part because of the perception that the New Mexico Territory was under the influence of southern sympathizers who were highly desirous of expanding slavery into the southwest.

In February 1858, the New Mexico territorial legislative adopted a resolution in favor of the creation of the Arizona territory, but with a north-south border along the 32nd meridian west from Washington, with the additional stipulation that all the Indians of New Mexico would be removed to northern Arizona.

In April 1860, impatient for Congress to act, a convention of 31 delegates met in Tucson and adopted a constitution for a provisional territorial government of the area south of the 34th parallel north. The delegates elected Lewis Owings as provisional governor.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, sentiment in the area south of the 34th parallel was in favor of the Confederacy. Territorial secession conventions were called at La Mesilla and Tucson on March 16, 1861, that adopted an Ordinance of Secession that declared itself independent of the United States and established the provisional Confederate Territory of Arizona with Owings as its governor, and petitioned the Confederate Congress for admission. The Confederate Territory of Arizona became officially recognized when President Jefferson Davis signed the proclamation on February 14, 1862. To commemorate this event, February 14, 1912, the fiftieth anniversary, was selected as official date of statehood for Arizona.

On March 30, 1861, there was a small skirmish at Stanwix Station which was the westernmost engagement of the Civil War within the Confederate States of America. Despite losing the engagement the Confederate forces had succeeded in their objective, to destroy supplies of forage prepared by Union forces and delayed the advance of the California Column eastward across the desert from Fort Yuma. In April 1862, a small party of Confederate cavalry moving northwest from Tucson met a Union cavalry patrol from the California Column advancing eastward across Western Confederate Arizona' near Picacho Peak. Confederate forces based in Tucson then retreated to Texas, after holding up the California Column, preventing it from reaching New Mexico and cutting off the rebel forces that were then retreating after being defeated in the New Mexico Campaign.

Early in the war, the Confederacy regarded the territory as a valuable route for possible access to the Pacific Ocean, with the specific intention of capturing California. In July 1861, a small Confederate force of Texans under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John R. Baylor captured Mesilla in the eastern part of the territory, before fighting the Battle of Mesilla against the garrison of Fort Fillmore, just outside of town, which then hastily retreated back to the fort. After John Baylor won the battle, he called for reinforcements and cannon to lay siege to the citadel. Upon hearing of this, commanding Union officer Isaac Lynde abandoned the fortification, Baylor's force cut off the fleeing Union troops and forced them to surrender. On August 1, Baylor issued a "The Proclamation to the People of the Territory of Arizona", taking possession of the territory for the Confederacy, with Mesilla as the capital and himself as the governor.

On August 28, a convention met again in Tucson and declared that the territory formed the previous year was part of the Confederacy. Granville H. Oury was elected as delegate to the Confederate Congress. Oury drafted legislation authorizing the organization of the Confederate Territory of Arizona. The legislation passed on January 13, 1862, and the territory was officially created by proclamation of President Jefferson Davis on February 14.

The following month, in March 1862, the U.S. House of Representatives, now devoid of the southern delegates and controlled by Republicans, passed a bill to create the United States Arizona Territory using the north-south border of the 32nd meridian west from Washington. The use of a north-south border rather than an east-west one had the effect of denying a de facto ratification of the Confederate Arizona Territory. The house bill stipulated that Tucson was to be capital. It also stipulated that slavery was to be abolished in the new territory, although it never existed there in the first place. The Arizona Organic Act passed the Senate in February 1863 without the Tucson-as-capital stipulation, and was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on February 24, the date of the official organization of the US Arizona Territory. The first capital was at Fort Whipple, which served until the founding of Prescott, in the northern Union-controlled area. In 1867, following the end of the Civil War, the capital was moved to Tucson. In 1877 the capital returned to Prescott and in 1889 it was moved to Phoenix.

The early mining frontier

Flag of Arizona
History of Arizona
European Colonization
Spanish Period
Mexican Period
Territorial Period
  The Depression and World Wars  

One result of the steamboat trade was the establishment of ports and landings up and down the Colorado. Most were ramshackle affairs that served local mines, but a few developed into small towns: Yuma, La Paz, Ehrenburg, and Hardyville (now Bullhead City). No other stretch of Arizona was as hot, and the communities themselves offered few luxuries to weary travelers who pulled up there, but the ports had strategic importance. Steamboats deposited shipped goods along the riverbanks, where wagons freighted them to forts, mines, and ranches of the interior. With the aid of steamships and freight wagons, 19th century industrial America conquered Arizona in three and a half decades for the sole purpose of obtaining silver and gold.

Jacob Snively made the first big strike in 1857 when he discovered gold along the Gila River about 20 miles (30 km) upstream from the junction with the Colorado. A year later more than a thousand people were panning for coarse grains in placers or robbing those who did in Arizona's first boomtown, Gila City. It set the pattern for the boomtowns to come. Although a few prospectors became wealthy, most barely found enough gold to purchase food at the inflated prices, bread for a dollar a loaf and beans at 50 cents a pound ($1.1/kg). In 1864, according to journalist John Ross Browne, the "promising Metropolis of Arizona consisted of three chimneys and a coyote."

Another type of mining community, the company town, also developed, that were fueled by corporate ventures. Most did not appear until railroads and a revolution in technology made large-scale copper mining feasible, but a few such as the Sonora Mining and Exploring Company represented corporate capitalism's first foray onto the Arizona frontier. Two partners, Samuel Heintzelman (a hard-nosed Pennsylvania German) and Charles Debrille Poston [1] started the company in Cincinnati in 1856. Poston and a German mining engineer named Herman Ehrenburg established the company's headquarters at the abandoned presidio of Tubac and purchased the 17,000 acre (69 km²) ranch of Arivaca from Tomás and Ignacio Ortiz. Poston and Hientzelman established the town of Cerro Colorado. The following spring, another German engineer, Frederick Brunckow, discovered silver in the Cerro Colorado Mountains just north of Arivaca. Soon advertisements were trumpeting Poston and Heintzelman's venture as "the most important Mining Company on this Continent."

Heintzelman left Poston in charge of the mines while he attempted to raise money back east. More interested in self-promotion than production, Poston allowed his engineers to open too many mines without developing any of them and never completed the smelting works at Arivaca, and he spent much more than he made. The Panic of 1857 swept across the financial centers of the United States and the business unraveled. While Heintzelman tried to entice investors, banks failed, debts mounted, and work in the mines themselves proceeded at a snail's pace. In December, Heintzelman persuaded firearms inventor Samuel Colt to invest $10,000 in the company. By 1859, Colt had seized control of the company. Colt imported new boilers, lathes, and steam-powered crushers and amalgamators, but ore still had to be shipped out by wagon across southern Arizona and loaded onto steamboats near Fort Yuma.

Mexican labor

Heintzelman and Poston's most immediate problem was the labor. Like Sylvester Mowry's Patagonia mine, the Sonora Mining and Exploring Company relied heavily on Mexican labor, a precedent that would be followed by most of Arizona's extractive industries for years to come. There were 231 males living at Tubac in 1860, only 23 of whom had been born outside Mexico or the territory of New Mexico. In the mining communities of Santa Rica, Arivaca, and Cerro Colorado, Mexicans constituted 70 percent of the labor force (67 of 96). Poston bragged of his paternalism and claimed that he married Mexican couples and baptized their children. Other managers despised their Mexican employees and never understood the fluid work patterns of the frontier. When Mexicans left the mines in late August for the fiesta of San Augustín in Tucson or made their annual pilgrimage to Magdalena, Sonora, to pay homage to San Francisco in early October, Heintzelman and his German engineers complained about Mexican laziness and unreliability, not understanding how fiestas maintained bonds between people and powerful saints and made life more bearable and knit families together on the frontier.

More serious was the exploitation of Mexican labor itself. According to mining engineer Raphael Pumpelly, Mexican workers received 12 to 15 dollars per month, compared to 17 to 30 dollars for Anglo workers. The mining companies often paid them "in cotton and other goods, on which the company made a profit from one hundred to three hundred percent." Differential wage scales, combined with late pay, lead poisoning, malarial fevers, and abusive overseers prompted Mexicans to strike for better conditions or to simply walk off the job.

On May 1, 1859, in an event known as the Sonoita Massacre, a ranch foreman named George Mercer whipped and shaved the heads of seven Mexican workers. Five days later, one of Mercer's friends was murdered at his ranch near Tumacacori. Enraged, Mercer and seven other armed men vowed to drive all Mexicans from the region. They rode up to a mescal distillery in the Sonoita Valley and opened fire, killing four Mexicans and one Yaqui Indian.

News of the attack spread rapidly, and many Mexicans fled to Sonora. Watching their workforce evaporate, mine owners condemned the massacre and some workers came back to the mines. Acts of violence escalated. During the late 1850s and early 1860s, Mexicans murdered 25 people in Arizona, yet Anglos, the minority, killed 39 people in the same period, 23 of whom were Mexicans. It must be remembered that the Mexican population was very small. Other than Tucson and Nogales, which were nothing more than towns, the latter being on the current border, Arizona was a vast frontier. Mexico did not begin colonizing their Northern frontier until after the Mexican/American war and the treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo in 1848. Mexico intended to enlarge their population in the north in order to help prevent further territorial losses. In a few ways Arizona is like the Texas and New Mexican border region, but only because of Mexico and the relations with Mexicans. All three were regions where Anglos and Mexican desperadoes slipped back and forth across the border to commit crimes.

Expansion of the mining industry

Prescott's first courthouse, 1885

When the party of gold seeker Joseph R. Walker called on Brigadier General James H. Carleton in New Mexico in 1862, Walker may have offered Carleton an unofficial partnership in exchange for military protection. Walker left for Arizona with Carleton's blessings, and in 1863 he and his men discovered gold along the north bank of the Hassayampa River five miles (8 km) south of Prescott. Other prospectors made strikes along Lynx, Weaver, and Big Bug creeks, which soon became known as the Walker Mining District. Carleton established Fort Whipple in Chino Valley later that year.

For the first time in Arizona's history, non-Indians came to the mountainous interior and stayed. After Ohio mining interests led by Samuel Heintzelman pushed the Arizona Organic Act through Congress in 1863, Fort Whipple even became the first capital of the new Arizona Territory. Then the following year, both fort and capital were moved south to a new town named after William Hickling Prescott, author of History of the Conquest of Mexico. A community of miners, merchants, and territorial officials sprang up in the middle of Yavapai and Apache country, and one bonanza generated ripples of exploration that led to other bonanzas. Soon mines tunneled into some of the driest country in North America, and names like Hassayampa, Haquahala, and Castle Dome entered the geography of the mining frontier. Like most features of that geography, Arizona's early mines rarely developed into permanent communities, because the miners tended to leave after stripping away all of the gold.

The prospectors pioneered hundreds of miles of mule trails and wagon roads across the western Arizona desert. The first route embarked from La Paz, the second from Fort Mohave, the third from Hardyville over a toll road that enabled great high-wheeled freight wagons to carry loads as heavy as 15,000 pounds (7,000 kg). For six months of the year, temperatures could rise above 100 °F (38 °C) as the sun reflected off the desert pavement and the rocks of the low western mountains. The freighters had to double- or triple-team their wagons up inclines like Yarnell Hill to reach ore-bearing high-country of the interior. Steamships on the Colorado and freight wagons straining across the basins and ranges of the Harcuvar, Aquarius, and Vulture mountains made Prescott the most important center of settlement north of the Santa Cruz Valley. They also led to the escalation of Arizona's Indian wars.

Mormon settlement

Under the direction of Brigham Young, Mormon settlers were sent to colonize the area that became the Arizona Territory as early as the 1850s. A provisional government, the State of Deseret operated for a few years following U.S. acquisition of this area, and it included much of northern Arizona. Most Mormon settlers were recalled to the Utah Territory during the Utah War.

A second wave of Mormon settlers was sent to Arizona by Young in the 1870s. Major Mormon settlements included St. Johns, Snowflake, Pine, and Jonesville.

During the U.S. government's crackdown on polygamy, many Mormons used the Arizona Strip to hide from authorities. The Grand Canyon separates the northern half of Mohave County from the county seat of Kingman, making it more difficult for law enforcement to operate there, even into the 21st century. John D. Lee successfully evaded authorities for years while operating Lee's Ferry there. Colorado City, Arizona, continues to have a reputation as a haven for polygamists.

Conflict with Native Americans

Fort Bowie site near Apache Pass.

The first round of hostilities towards native American groups during and just after the American Civil War involved Carleton's California Volunteers and Pima, Maricopa, Mexican and American civilian militias. Carlton's California Column established Camp Lowell in Tucson in 1862 after Captain Sherod Hunter evacuated his Confederates. They also founded Fort Bowie near Apache Pass and Fort Whipple near Prescott. Even though Carleton and his Confederate counterpart, John Baylor, ordered the extermination of all hostile Apache men in Arizona, the California Volunteers were spread too thin to conquer the Yavapais and Apaches or protect the settlers in outlying ranches and mines. They were supplemented by local militias.

The most famous civilian fighter of the 1860s was King S. Woolsey, a man from Arizona who sold hay and other supplies to federal troops. He made money off the government, lost money in mining, and established two ranches, one of which was east of Prescott on the Agua Fria River. Woolsey hated the Yavapais and Apaches who ran off his stock, but he was a close friend of Juan Chivaria, the Maricopa war leader, who fought alongside him. The old pattern of military alliances forged by the Spaniards of the Santa Cruz Valley prevailed. During the 1860s and late 1870s, Maricopas and Pimas often joined Anglos and Mexicans in short, savage campaigns against their Apache and Yavapais enemies.

After a series of raids around Prescott in January 1864, Woolsey and 69 other Anglos, Maricopas, and Gila Pimas pursued the attackers across the Agua Fria and Verde drainages to Fish Creek Canyon in the Salt River country. There they encountered about 200 Apaches or Yavapais. Woolsey touched his left hand to his hat and his party opened fire. According to one eyewitness, 24 Indians died. Many Indians died, but not enough to change the balance of power in the territory. Atrocity bred atrocity as the body count on both sides climbed into the hundreds.

With the Civil War still going on and Carleton still fighting the Navajos, the U.S. War Department therefore authorized Governor John Noble Goodwin of Arizona to raise five companies of Arizona Volunteers in 1864. Recruitment was delayed for a year, but by the fall of 1865, more than 350 men had been issued into service under the command of nine officers. The overwhelming majority were Mexicans, many of them from Sonora, or O'odham and Maricopas from the Gila River villages, who had grown up fighting Yavapais and Apaches, as had their fathers and grandfathers. Many never received shoes or warm clothing. They lived in hovels and marched for days on beef jerky and parched cornmeal. They carried .54-caliber (14 mm) rifles with plenty of ammunition, in addition to bows, arrows, and war clubs. For the next year, these frontiersmen guarded wagon trains between Prescott and La Paz and campaigned relentlessly across central Arizona.

Their officers permitted them a few freedoms that made enlistment more tolerable. At the largely Mexican company at Camp Lincoln on the Verde River, 16 women joined the men. These women created a sense of community at the outpost, marching in procession behind an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe to meet the volunteers whenever they returned from the field. According to the Third Arizona Territorial Legislature, the volunteers inflicted "greater punishment on the Apaches than all other troops in the territory." Traveling "barefoot and upon half rations", they killed 150 to 173 Apaches and Yavapais while losing only ten men in combat themselves. Many territorial officials and militia officers requested their re-enlistment, but the end of the civil war brought federal troops back into the territory in large numbers and assumed federal military authority.

See also


External links


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Coordinates: 34°02′53″N 111°05′35″W / 34.048°N 111.093°W / 34.048; -111.093

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