Arizona became a state through a series of historical events and political decisions.
Here’s an overview of the process:
- Early history: The region that is now Arizona was home to various Indigenous peoples, including the Hohokam, Mogollon, and Ancestral Puebloans, for thousands of years. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers, including Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, arrived in the area in search of the legendary Seven Cities of Gold.
- Spanish colonization: The region became part of the Spanish Empire in the late 1600s, with Spanish missionaries and soldiers establishing settlements and missions throughout the area. The present-day Arizona was part of the Spanish colonial province of Las Californias and later became part of the Mexican territory of Alta California.
- Mexican-American War: In 1846, the Mexican-American War broke out, and the United States eventually emerged victorious. As a result, Mexico ceded a large portion of its northern territories to the U.S., including present-day Arizona, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.
- Gadsden Purchase: In 1853, the United States acquired the remaining southern parts of present-day Arizona and New Mexico through the Gadsden Purchase. The purpose of this acquisition was to secure land for a southern transcontinental railroad route.
- Arizona Territory: The Arizona Territory was established on February 24, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln, separating it from the New Mexico Territory. The new territory initially included the western half of New Mexico, and the capital was first established at Fort Whipple (now Prescott) before being moved to Tucson and eventually settling in Phoenix.
- Statehood: As the population of the Arizona Territory grew, residents began to push for statehood. Several attempts were made to achieve statehood, but these efforts were often delayed by political disagreements and concerns about the territory’s population size and economic stability.
Finally, on February 14, 1912, President William Howard Taft signed the Arizona Statehood Act, making Arizona the 48th state to join the United States. The state’s constitution established a progressive government with initiatives like women’s suffrage and the recall of elected officials, reflecting the reformist spirit of the time.
In summary, Arizona’s journey to statehood was shaped by centuries of Indigenous history, Spanish colonization, the Mexican-American War, territorial organization, and a growing population that eventually led to its admission as the 48th state in the United States.