See old Arizona, and how it became the 48th state of the United States of America

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Antique Grand Canyon Arizona postcard
Arizona became the 48th state admitted to the Union on February 14, 1912 — the last of the states in the Continental US to be a star on the American flag.

But Arizona — the land of cactus, bees, copper, and great expanses of desert — had been vying for statehood for nearly two decades.

Territory of Arizona in 1899 - Map
Territory of Arizona in 1899 – Map

Statehood for Arizona (1893)

The Morning Call (San Francisco, California) February 10, 1893

Backed by her progressive people, Arizona is trying to add another star to the American flag. She is pining for the honors of statehood and the joys of communion with sister states.

Many reasons are urged by the populace of Arizona in support of the assertion that she is able to go it alone.

The Territory is big enough, being 380 miles long by 350 miles wide, and claims to have a sufficient population to enable her to wear the honors with dignity. It was first settled a matter of 350 years ago when Mr Coronado made an expedition across the deserts.

Grand Canyon of the Colorado, Arizona 1898

Since then, Arizona has been slightly unsettled at times, but now peace and harmony everywhere prevail. Some of her ghost-dancers have been banished to Florida, others are in the regular army, some have joined the police force, and not a few of them are in jail. The white brother is in the ascendency, and it is only natural that he should clamor for statehood.

Situated as it is in the southwestern corner of the United States, and in close touch with two of them, it would be but a matter of small moment, the projectors of the scheme claim, to tack their Territory upon the bunch.

Old Tucson street - 1900s

Wild stories of the Wild West

That this State would shine with a luster equal to the rest the citizens of Arizona have hastened to assure the public both by circular and petition. For years, they candidly admit the name “Arizona” struck terror to the heart of the tenderfoot.

Wild stories of rattlesnakes, bad men in buckskin clothes, bloodthirsty Indians and barren plains were sent broadcast through the land by unscrupulous correspondents.

Illustrated papers printed pictures of hairy cowboys, in ten-pound hats, dancing on the piano or shooting at each other’s boot heels for amusement and recreation.

Old Arizona - Grand Canyon rim trail

Heartrending tales were told of people who set out to visit at the next house, but presumably perished of thirst, as they were never seen again by those who knew them on earth, and reports of stage robberies were as common as donation parties in other sections of the country.

These stories naturally tended to throw the Territory off the trail of the emigrant and the tourist, thereby greatly impeding the progress of Arizona. No Territory thus handicapped could expect to thrive, and the populace complained bitterly.

Gila monsters were magnified to twice their size, and word pictures of sandy wastes where rain never fell were painted in vivid terms by imaginative persons who have never been there, nor would they be tolerated by the respectable element of Arizona should they pay it a visit.

These things the Arizonans are happy to say have no foundation in fact. Of late years, the rush of emigration to their Territory has done much to confirm the truth of this assertion and establish the right of statehood.

Old Arizona hold mine

There are places endowed with more natural advantages that are even worse than Arizona, but they enjoyed immunity from the tongue of slander. In what state of the same area, 113,967 square miles, can a greater variety of climate and scenery be found?

The people of Arizona are justly proud of their climate, and they dote on their scenery. Consumptives who have given up ail hope in other States have gone to Arizona, and by being civil, secured an additional lease on life. The people are uniformly healthy, and deaths from natural causes are of rare occurrence.

No other State or Territory in the union offers greater possibilities in the way of irrigation. Vast tracts of desert lands have been reclaimed by canals and irrigating ditches, and others are in the course of construction.

Fertile ground for agriculture

In some portions of the Territory, semi-tropical fruits are grown, while in others the chill of winter lasts the year ’round. It is in the fertile regions of the south that Arizona is seen at her best, and on which her hopes are based.

Particular attention is directed to the Salt River country, which is poetically alluded to as “The Peerless Valley of the Sun-kissed Land” — a land flowing with milk and honey.

Falls of the Cataract Canon, Arizona 1890

So prolific in cattle is this favored spot that even Texas looks upon Arizona with envious eyes and fain would drive her herds and flocks into the waving fields of alfalfa. Under a mild sky, the modest mesquite rears its head, together with other nutritious food on which livestock is fattened for market.

Weaned from the parent at five months, young horses, calves, sheep and pigs devour the succulent alfalfa and thrive amazingly. They never miss a mother’s fostering care.Old Washington Street, Phoenix, Ariz

How doth the busy little bee improve each shining hour and thus make comb in which to store his honey hour by hour, also obtains in Arizona.

Vast swarms of busy little bees draw sweetness from the blooming cactus, forming a great source of revenue for the farmer and giving him honey for his buckwheat cakes.

In 1890, a beekeepers’ association was formed. During that season, 90,000 pounds of honey were shipped east, and in 1892, the output of the busy workers reached the enormous figure of 200,000 pounds.

But it is in the production of fruit that the valley excels. The richest and rarest fruits are placed on the market far in advance of the California varieties, and the fruit-raising industry is rapidly growing.

Agriculture and stock-raising are also sufficiently developed to show the resources of the country in that direction. The mining interests give great promise, though yet in their infancy, but there have been some late discoveries that may be of value.

One item in the fruit line worthy of special mention is a brand of strawberries six inches in diameter. They have to be quartered for table use, an operation which causes the housewife no little annoyance, but no process has been discovered by which the berries can be induced to grow any smaller.

Peaches, pears, figs and melons grow in abundance, and the value of available orange land is rapidly doubling. The oranges are noted for their size and flavor.

Antique Grand Canyon Arizona postcard

The climate and other advantages

All these things and many more the good people of Arizona fully set forth in a recapitulation of the advantages their Territory offers in return for the distinction of statehood. The climate is equable, the cyclone never strolls that way, and the refuge cellar, common to Kansas, is totally unknown.

Cattle graze unsheltered throughout the year, and the farmer has no dread of hail or hopper, drought or mildew, frost or any of the ills that beset the honest agriculturist.

Special attention is directed to the fact that Arizona is the home of an enterprising and progressive people, and that it offers inducements to enterprising and progressive persons in other States.

Rich in soil for fruit culture, pure mountain air and mineral springs, rich in grazing and timber lands, brightened by perpetual sunshine, she offers home inducements hard to resist. They would be still harder to resist were Arizona a State with a star on the flag indicating that fact.

Old Arizona cowboy


Statehood is achieved

Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, Ariz.) February 15, 1912

President Taft signs proclamation admitting Arizona into the union

At 10:02, signature of executive is affixed while moving picture machines make an accurate record for future generations of historic event that makes continental United States a completed sisterhood to commonwealth.

The dear old flag of the USA 1918

Washington, Feb. 14, 1912 – To the accompaniment of the whirr of three moving picture machines that faithfully recorded the historic incident and the clicking of a battery of cameras lined along the walls of his executive office, President Taft at 10 o’clock this morning attached his name to the proclamation admitting Arizona into the union as the forty-eighth and probably last state for at least half a century to join the sisterhood of states. The only bit of territory now remaining in the confines of the continental United States is the District of Columbia.

After signing a duplicate which will be sent to Arizona, the president looked up with a smile and said, “there you are.” He used a gold pen in signing which he later presented to Postmaster General Hitchcock. The room was crowded during the ceremony by all the Arizonans in Washington, numerous officials and many newspapermen.

Old downtown Phoenix Arizona - 1900s

Arizona statehood - Feb 14 1912 - Newspaper front page headlines

After the signing, it was announced that Taft will send the nomination of Richard E. Sloan to the senate to be U.S. District Judge in the new state. Taft sent a telegram to Sloan announcing the completion of the statehood preliminaries.

The moving pictures taken today may go into the records of the government to be handed down to future generations. From the time Taft signed the proclamation admitting Arizona to the hour when he took a short stroll through the White House grounds with Mrs. Taft, the moving picture men were busy.

As a wind-up scene of the executive officers they took an “action picture” of the newspaper men stationed at the offices as they talked to visitors who came to see Taft. They will be submitted to the president for his approval in a few days.

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Sunset over the Grand Canyon of Arizona

Proclaims Arizona a state

The proclamation of the admission of Arizona as a state, issued by President Taft, was as follows:

By the President of the United States of America.

A proclamation: Whereas, the congress of the United States did, by an act approved on the twentieth day of June, one thousand, nine hundred and ten, authorize the people of the territory of Arizona to form a constitution and a government, and provide for the admission of such state into the union on an equal footing with the original states, upon certain conditions in said act, specified, and whereas, said people did adopt a constitution and ask admission into the union.

And, whereas, the congress of the United States did pass a joint resolution, which was approved on the twenty-first day of August, one thousand, nine hundred and eleven, for the admission of the state of Arizona into the union, which resolution required that, as a condition precedent to the admission of the said state, the electors of Arizona should, at the time of the holding of the state election as recited in said resolution, vote upon and ratify and adopt an amendment to section one of article eight of their state constitution, which amendment was proposed and set forth at length in said resolution of congress.

And, whereas, it appears from information laid before me that the first general state election was held on the twelfth day of December, one thousand, nine hundred and eleven, and that the returns of said election upon said amendment were made and canvassed as in section seven of said resolution of congress provided. And, whereas, it further appears from information laid before me, that a majority of the legal votes cast at said election upon said amendment were in favor thereof, said that the governor of said territory has, by proclamation, declared the said amendment a part of the constitution of the proposed state of Arizona. And, whereas, the governor of Arizona has certified to me the result of said election upon said amendment, and of the said general election.

And, whereas, the conditions imposed by the said act of congress, approved on the twentieth day of January, one thousand, nine hundred and ten, and by the said joint resolution of congress, have been fully complied with.

Now, therefore, I, William Howard Taft, president of the United States of America, do, in accordance with the provisions of the act of congress and the joint resolution of congress herein named, declare and proclaim the fact that the fundamental conditions imposed by congress on the state of Arizona to entitle that state to admission, have been ratified and accepted, and that the admission of the state into the union on an equal footing with the other states is complete. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this fourteenth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and twelve, and of the independence of the United States of America, the one hundred and thirty-sixth.

William Howard Taft
By the President

Huntington Wilson
Acting Secretary of State

Arizona becomes a state - Feb 14 1912 - Newspaper front page headlines


Statehood is perfected by the inauguration of officials at Phoenix

Bisbee Daily Review (Bisbee, Ariz.) February 15, 1912

Governor takes oath and delivers address before great throng that cheers first executive of forty-eighth state — business administration and democratic equality are keynotes of the inaugural address — others also installed

48-star United States flag - Virginia Historical Society

Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 14 – In the presence of an immense crowd of citizens of the state, many of whom had come from without the city, George W P Hunt was inaugurated governor at noon today. In keeping with his expressed wish the ceremony was a simple one. Oath was administered by Alfred Franklin who but an hour previous had taken his oath as chief justice of the supreme court.

President William Howard Taft signing the Arizona Statehood Bill (February 14, 1912)

1912 President Taft signing Arizona Statehood Bill

Following this ceremony, a prayer was offered by Reverend Seaborn Crutchfield, after which Governor Hunt delivered his inaugural address. During its delivery he was frequently interrupted by applause.

At its conclusion and when he was introduced to the assemblage by Justice Franklin, he was cheered for several minutes. There was every indication that those who were present not only approved of the thoughts expressed by the governor but wished him success in their execution. Then, too, they were cheering their first state governor.

Arizona statehood ceremony 1912

With the simplicity that in matters official has come to be designated as “Jeffersonian” — characteristic of that part of the west that was last to be surrendered to civilization by the red man — George W P Hunt was inaugurated as the first state governor of Arizona today.

A few hours earlier in the day, word had come by telegraph from the national capitol that President Taft had signed the proclamation admitting Arizona into the Union — the last of the territories on contiguous soil and the forty-eighth state of the union.

The ceremonies attendant upon the birth of the state and the induction into office of its first executive were entirely devoid of pomp and display that usually accompany inaugurations. No uniforms glittering with gold lace were in evidence.

The military was conspicuous by its absence, for the new governor is averse to ostentation. There was but a meager display of even the silk hat and the frock coat, which only a few years ago invaded Arizona. It was a simple affair throughout — Phoenix has witnessed much more ceremonious functions.

Court House, Phoenix, Ariz - vintage postcard

Walks to the capitol

Accompanied by a number of the newly elected state officers and a few close friends, Governor Hunt, who began life in Arizona a quarter of a century ago as a waiter in a small mining camp restaurant at Globe, walked to the capitol building.

It is just about a mile from the center of the city out broad Washington street, flanked on either side by unbroken lines of palms to the white stone capitol, which looks out over the city.

Others rode in streetcars, automobiles, carriages, or on horseback to the scene of the inauguration and when the governor and his escort arrived afoot, the lawn and flower-lined walks of the capitol grounds were crowded with cheering Arizonans, joyous in the first flush of complete citizenship. The large majority of them will this year, for the first time in their lives, cast their votes for the president of the United States.

Arizona 1881 - Antique map

Oath is administered

The inauguration ceremonies were brief. After a prayer by Rev Seaborn Crutchfield, who was chaplain of the constitutional convention over which Mr. Hunt presided, the oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Edward Kent, of the territorial supreme court, his last official act in that capacity.

Richard E Sloan, Arizona’s last territorial governor stood beside his successor. Then followed the inaugural address in which Governor Hunt promised the new state a “golden rule” administration and pledged anew his fealty to the constitution which he helped to frame.

California Limited crossing Johnson's Canyon, Arizona The California Limited on the desert 1909 Canyon Diablo, Ariz The Needles, Colorado River, Arizona The Grand Canyon of Arizona

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Two stars added to nation’s flag in states’ honor

The Washington Times (Washington, D.C.) July 4, 1912

New Mexico and Arizona now represented in blue field of Old Glory

Denoting the addition of Arizona and New Mexico to the sisterhood of States, two stars were today added to the national flag. Although the two Territories became States some time ago, under the law, the changes could not be made in the flag until today, the first Independence Day following their admission to Statehood.

Not since 1890 had two stars been added to the flag on July 4. In that year stars representing the States of Idaho, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota were added.

1918 Star spangled banner Flag

After July 4, 1896, when Utah was admitted to the Union, the forty five stars in the flag were arranged in six rows, the first, third, and fifth rows having eight stars each, and the second, fourth, and sixth rows seven stars each.

A rearrangement was made four years ago by a joint board of army and navy officers to meet the admission of Oklahoma’s star, and the arrangement remained until today, eight stars being in the first, third, fourth, and sixth rows and seven stars in the second and fifth rows.

For Arizona and New Mexico, a star each was added to the second and fifth rows, which makes six rows of eight stars each.

Inasmuch as the admission of the other territorial possessions to Statehood is a matter of the distant future, it is likely the flag becoming effective today will remain unchanged for quite a number of years.

The President’s flag, which has heretofore had a red field, will have a blue field after today.

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