Arizona Statehoodv and Constitution

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Corrie Biles-Brown
POS-301 Arizona/Federal Government
09 June 2011

Once Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 the race began for European countries to claim their territory in the new land. This struggle to claim territory created a unique history for many of the Southern and Western states. A prime example of this is Arizona. While Arizona is now one of the fifty states that comprise the United States of America, it has not always been a state or territory of the U.S. Instead rather, Arizona has a unique history of territorial struggles on its way to become a state.

When looking at the history of Arizona it can be broken down into different periods: pre-territorial, territorial, and becoming a state. First, let us look at the pre-territorial period, during which Arizona belonged to the Spanish, Mexican and the U.S. Expeditions by Spanish explorers Marcos de Niza and Franciso Vasquez de Coronado helped establish Spanish qualities in the area that is now known as Arizona in the early 17th Century (Massey, & Wilson, 2002). These colonies sprung up in Arizona so that colonists could take advantage of the area’s natural resources such as silver. Once it was discovered that extensive mining would need to be done to extract the silver many colonists either went back to Spain or turned to farming.

Up until 1821 the Spaniards in Mexico gained their independence from Spain. This caused the area of land to no longer be ruled by Spain, but rather Mexico. The war between Spain and Mexico was expensive, taking a significant toll on the silver mining industry in Arizona. As Mexico’s funds continued to dwindle the borders of the territory began to shift, due to Mexico’s selling of land and conflict with the native tribes of the area. During the time that Arizona’s borders were changing Texas declared independence from Mexico, circa 1836 (Winders, 2002). Approximately ten years later the United States annexed Texas, igniting the fire that started the two year Mexican-American War. As a result of this war Mexico gave up its northern land, changing the ownership of Arizona to the U.S.

This is where the territorial period begins. When the U.S. began to control Arizona it was not known by this name, rather, it was part of the New Mexico territory (a combination of what is known today as Arizona and New Mexico). During the civil war the New Mexico territory divided to become the Arizona territory and the New Mexico territory. Both of these territories declared independence from the U.S. so that they could join the confederacy. A year later the Union re-captured Arizona territory and combined it with New Mexico territory again. However, this was short-lived and the two territories were again divided the following year. After the Union won the Civil War it embarked upon the process of declaring territories as states within the country of the United States. When it came to the Arizona territory and the New Mexico territory, the two were almost combined again to create one singular state. This idea was strongly opposed by the citizens of Arizona and the territory became its own state. In order to become a state, Arizona was required to submit a state constitution to President Taft for approval. During the same time the Progressive Era was in full swing and the Progressives had a strong influence over what was included in the state constitution that was submitted to President Taft. The Progressives wanted to limit the power of ‘big government’ and wanted to give the people as much power as possible. This led legislators to include initiative, referendum, recall, the direct election of senators, woman suffrage and many other reforms. One of the largest impacts of this progressive state constitution as that it laid out a Declaration of Rights for the citizens of Arizona. This was done before it was decided that the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution was to be upheld in all states. The Declaration of Rights found...
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