The Gadsden Purchase (1854) is considered by most as the beginning of Arizona, having obtained a vast amount of land in the southwest through its acquisition. One of the objectives of the purchase was the need for a transcontinental railroad in the southern part of the United States in order to create more trade and commerce through the southern areas to the pacific. The territory included in the purchase was the southern areas of present day Arizona and New Mexico. Arizona would then be consolidated under the New Mexico Territory. Through this purchase the territory grew substantially and its current inhabitants immediately became a part of the New Mexico Territory in the United States. America during this time was full of growth and development. David Potter accounts this optimism in his book, Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861 that the United States was showing the “faith in American progress.” Although these citizens were beginning to feel a part of the United States they were constantly bombarded with consistent raids from the Apache Indian Tribe. The United States Army came in shortly after the purchase to protect the new lands and its citizens, but soon American found itself in a Civil War. The United States Army quickly abandoned the area leaving the inhabitants alone and once again at the mercy of the Apache raids. This set up a perfect scene for the Confederate Army to gain control of the land as a war tactic and simultaneously saving the inhabitants. Obtaining the land and creating Arizona as a Confederate State was the beginning of the path to territorialism and acknowledgement for the inhabitants of Arizona. Through primary accounts in newspapers, written communication and diary entries, this paper will prove that without the 1861 intervention of the Confederate Army, the Arizona Territory would have remained a part of the New Mexico Territory as the United States Government did not feel Arizona was worthy of its own territory.
I-THE HISTOROGRAPHY OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ARIZONA TERRITORY
The study of the Arizona Territory is limited through specific main focuses such as the railroad, The Gadsden Purchase and the popular western towns of Tombstone and Bisbee. The historiography of the establishment of the Arizona Territory has been undertaken by a select number of historians including Thomas Sheridan, who is professor at the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. He has authored many books centering on Arizona including, Arizona: A History. The book focuses on several themes of history including myths, sacrifice and visions of the state. There is a small section that discusses the short Confederate takeover of the region but the author does not tap into any deep reasons as to why the Confederates entered the region. He does however describe the Union military efforts prior to the Civil War. Sheridan does an effective job of describing the different inhabitants and how they responded to certain military actions, “As the soldiers rode away, the Indians watched them go, and thought they had won their war against the whites.”
In addition to Sheridan, author and state historian Marshall Trimble has written several Arizona accounts. Arizona: A Cavalcade of History gives an overview of the history behind Arizona’s creation through present day. Trimble, a native of Arizona, has traveled every square mile of the state and along the way has written accounts of Arizona’s past. Along with his written accounts, he also focuses on his music and education. His book touches upon the establishment of the Confederate State of Arizona in chapter eight, Turbulent Times, “In July, 1861, three hundred Texans led by Col. John Baylor rode hell-bent-for leather in to New Mexico, taking the sleepy town of Mesilla by storm. On August 1, he declared himself Governor of the Confederate Territory.” He mostly dedicates his chapter to the battles that surrounded Arizona and summarizes the events that led to the Union recognition of the Arizona territory.
Although both authors contribute to Arizona’s rich history and offer specific details regarding the inhabitants of the territory, they do not explore the explicit nature and surroundings of the circumstances that led to the first territorial recognition of Arizona. Most historians emphasize the events that took place encompassing the United States recognition of the territory and not the short study of the Confederate influence. This paper will add to the historiography of the authors above and create a sense of balance of historical scholarship in understanding the circumstances that led to the territory of Arizona.
II- UNITED STATES ABANDONMENT OF ARIZONA
Ruled by the Spanish conquistadors and Mexico until the end of the war between Mexico and the United States (1846-1848), Arizona inhabitants were surrounded by dusty, adobe filled small cities living atop of high desert plains with an annual rain fall of less than ten inches. Arizona in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s had two main cities; Tucson and Yuma which occupied few Anglos and contained several Apache Indians and Mexicans. The small population of people relied on the economic resources of mining, farming and merchant capitalism. During the mid-1800’s the inhabitants were persistently threatened by the Apache tribes including a handful of violent attacks by Mexican dwellers causing Arizona to become a violent and unstable place to live.
Johnny Boggs, author of the published article, The Road to Statehood: Southwest Style, describes the settler’s frustrations on what was occurring in Arizona in the 1850’s. He states that the lawless atmosphere was making the settlers less protected, “They had no representation in the legislature and no protection from the Indian raids.” He uses several diary accounts to show the tension of what was happening at the time, describing, “the settlers were very upset, “We had no law but love and no occupation but labor.”” In his article he describes the amount of white men that were affected by the violence in the territory, “Innocent men shot down for pleasure, in the graveyard there were forty-seven graves of white men and of that number only two died of natural deaths.”
The Weekly Arizonian (1859-1871), the first established newspaper in Arizona, published many articles in 1859 which described the violence of the Indian attacks and raids that were occurring in the area. In its first issue the objective of the newspaper stated its mission, “One great objective we shall have is the in view will be to advocate the establishment of law and government in Arizona.” The March 3, 1859 issue lists seventeen incidences of attacks, robberies and murders stating them by the date in which they occurred. Some of the occurrences were quite violent, “December 11-Apaces killed a New Mexico trader, took the mule train, destroyed the goods and escaped, December 25- Attack on Sgt. Berry’s party, Sgt. Berry and Kelly killed.” The March 10th issue also illustrates a story about the threat of Indian interference and violence in the territory explaining how the Chief of an Indian tribe has threatened with disruption to the United States Government services unless they receive more money for the use of their land. The issue states the Indian disruption of mail service, “by filling the Apache Pass with stones and threatening to close the pass altogether.” Furthermore the article also describes the frequent Indian attacks of the area, “Increased Indian hostilities,” and “people of this region are being robbed daily.”
Samuel Robinson (1825-1907) an employee of the Santa Rita Mining Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, as an apparent administrator and accountant, spent several months in south east Arizona in an area known as Tubac. Robinson arrived in the fall of 1860 as a representative of the company which operated several mines in the area. His diary accounts numerous details and document’s the colorful history of the area including the threat of Apache Indians and the abandonment of the United States Army. Robinson writes about the daily events including certain occurrences that took place around his residence. His diary entry on July 5, 1861, records the murders that have taken place by the Apache Indians, “A Mexican came into town yesterday afternoon bringing word that Mr. Rhodes and two others stopping at the Kanoa had just been killed by the Indians.”
The violence in Arizona by the Apache Indians was an everyday occurrence that made the settlers uncomfortable and desperate for law. The United States Army established several forts in the area to protect traders and settlers from Indian Attacks. The presence of the Forts were helpful in only some areas and helped the settlers feel more comfortable. The settlers also felt like they were a part of the United States and with this support they hoped for a recognized territory of their own. However, the amount of Union soldiers that were sent could not distinguish the Indian problem. In 1861 the Union Army needed soldiers for support in the southern battles of the Civil War and virtually abandoned all forts in the area. Robinson describes these scenes in his diary, “Fort Buchanan is to be deserted and burned. This will leave the country in a terrible condition. Everyone will leave the country that can. What few stay, will have to collect in bodies as much as possible. But there can be no business carried on to any extent.” By August of 1861 Robinson who traveled to Tucson, described the desolate area, “I am now in Tucson, the only inhabited place in Southern Arizona except the Patagonia Mine, which is near the Mexican line. All ranches, towns and settlements have been deserted.” Without the protection many settlers had moved on to California or had resentfully joined the Army of the Confederacy.
The few inhabitants that stayed behind after the abandonment of the United States Army felt angry and betrayed. Newspapers across the country published their accounts. In the August 28, 1861 issue of the Daily Nashville Patriot the newspaper describes its environment, “The social and political condition of Arizona being little short of general anarchy and the people being totally destitute of law order and protection.” With these feelings of betrayal along with the Confederate Army beginning to seize control of the southwest region, the people had no choice but to begin to see the benefit of the Confederate Army’s intentions with Arizona.
II-THE CONFEDERACY ADVANTAGES OF CONTROLLING NEW-MEXICO TERRITORY
President Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) President of the Confederacy knew that if they could obtain control of the southwest, including the New Mexico Territory that it would lead to the Pacific. They believed that, “Arizona was a stepping-stone to California.” Arizona at that time was governed by the New Mexico Territory. Furthermore, this intention would block Lincoln’s hope to blockade slavery into the other territories. The Confederacy hoped to use slavery to help obtain the rich natural minerals of the southwest. This would help their cause in a financial manner as the south had less of an economic advantage than the north. The gain of these new territories would help morale of the southern cause and possibly gain support from European allies. With control of the southwest, the railroad expansion to the Pacific would show the Europeans the strength of the Confederacy.
In 1861 Henry Hopkins Sibley (1816-1886) led a Texan Confederate Army into the New Mexico Territory of hopes to seize forts, recruit soldiers and obtain gold in California. The inhabitants of the New Mexico Territory responded loudly with the action. The people of the area waved Confederate Flags and played “Dixie” to show their support. The area of the future Arizona Territory quickly became a pro-Confederate region.
III-INHABITANTS ADVANTAGES UNDER CONFEDERACY CONTROL
Many of the inhabitants of the New Mexico Territory believed that Arizona should be its own territory and many had vocalized this need through the newspaper, several diary entries and letters. The people of Arizona felt that they were already an unofficial territory shortly after the Gadsden Purchase. In Tubac, they began the areas first newspaper, called, The Weekly Arizonian in March of 1859, all the while never receiving official territorial status. They hoped one day they would be granted this status to get them the protection they needed. When the Union Army Forts abandoned Arizona, the threat of the Apaches also increased including the Mexican threat, which made for a more violent area to live. “The Government of the United States abandoned the first settlers of Arizona to the merciless Apaches, and armed Mexicans in considerable numbers crossed the boundary line, declaring that the American government was broken up and they had come to take their country back again.”
The only way to make the inhabitants of Arizona feel safe was to have a government that communicated with them and have them close enough to provide a military for their safety. Settler’s felt that the capital of the New Mexico Territory, Santa Fe, was too far from the inhabitants and as a result the people didn’t feel safe or well governed from that far of a distance. The people of the land needed stronger government for safety against the raids and felt like the current protection was not adequate. With the Union Army abandoning the territory and the New Mexico Capital being too long of a distance to offer proper governing the people began to speak out. In a letter from Samuel Jones (1819-1887) to Brigadier General James Denver (1817-1892) October 1, 1860 Jones explains the justification for a territory, “People here want a territorial organization. They have no sympathy with New Mexico and therefore want to be disconnected from her.” There was not protection and very little communication between the capital city and the inhabitants of present day Arizona. To outline the feelings of the citizens, The Cincinnati Daily Press December 31, 1860 headlined, “Arizona in Favor of Succession,” to illustrate what the inhabitants were experiencing. In the June 30, 1859 issue of The Weekly Arizonian, the newspaper boldly announces its reasons for granting Arizona its own territory, “The people of Arizona are anxious for the establishment of law and civil authority.” For the safety and future of Arizona, a government of laws could not come soon enough.
IV-CONFEDERACY CONTROL LEADS TO TERRITORY STATUS
In July of 1860, the settlers of Arizona were growing impatient and decided to formalize a draft of their own territorial constitution. The delegates elected Lewis Owings (1820-1875), who pushed for Arizona to join the Confederacy. The territory proposal did not pass because United States Congress had fears that Arizona would eventually become a slave state because of southern sympathies brought on by the abandonment of the United States Government.
In March of 1861 the Arizona delegates met in Mesilla, New Mexico to begin the secession process. By August of 1861, Col. John Baylor (1822-1894) and his army acquired the region south of the 34th meridian and declared Arizona part of the Confederate States of America. Shortly after the conquering, Baylor announced himself as the Governor of the territory. The Nashville Patriot (1857-1854) recorded the event,” John Baylor’s prompt action has won for the Confederate States the richest territory belonging to the old government and saved a people threatened with a military despotism which would have long become unbearable.”
Although the South’s response showed the excitement of the Confederate takeover, the people of the Union did not seem bothered by the loss of the region and remained steadfast in the belief that Arizona was a waste of time. The National Republican (1860-1862) reports, “Arizona has cost us today not a farthing less than twenty millions of dollars and the result is a territory so completely overrun and honeycombed by nullifying officials who will turn traitors upon the instant that they lose their places, that it will be a work of time and difficulty to restore a substantial national authority over it.” Another newspaper, The Daily Ohio Statesman (1855-1870) also displayed their dissatisfaction in the region, “This region is as of yet of very little account, except for its mining facilities.”
Abraham Lincolns’ lack of response to this event is revealing. There was no correspondence found concerning Arizona and its addition to the Confederate States of America and according to historians it seemed as though Lincoln was unaware of the event along with many of the military events occurred, leaving most of the decisions up to the military leaders. After the Confederate Congress passed the proposal, President Davis, officially proclaimed the Confederate Territory on February 14, 1862.
With the lack of response from the United States Government and President Lincoln along with the newspaper accounts of what citizens felt about Arizona, the region of Arizona was not a priority to the United States Government. Their lack of response and abandonment of the region shows that the area was not important to their cause or the future of the United States of America. For the settlers of Arizona, they finally received their acknowledged territory status.
Arizona’s Confederate status did not last long as the Union Army eventually caught up with the Confederates. Many small battles occurred directly after the proclamation of Arizona’s new territory status including the Battle of Picacho Pass and the Battle of Glorietta Pass where Baylor was forced to retreat from the area. In July of 1862, the Union Army approached Mesilla and the Confederate Army was forced to escape the region.
V-ARIZONA BECOMES A UNITED STATES TERRITORY
Nearly a month after Arizona became a Confederate Territory the United States government created the territory of Arizona at the 107th meridian. This event begs several questions as to why the Union Army quickly decided to obtain the land north of the 34th parallel and call it, Arizona. Was it a strategic war move? Did the United States Government finally realize how significant the region of Arizona really was? Did they do it out of spite? Did they realize the Confederates were on their way to obtaining the pacific? Arizona was not an area the United States Government was interested in. They abandoned the region and had little sympathy for its circumstances. The United States Government believed the area was not ready for Territorial status. The population was not abundant enough and there was too much concern over a possible expansion over slavery. Never the less, on February 24, 1863, President Lincoln finally adopted and signed the statute that created the official Arizona Territory that exists today. Statehood would not come until four decades later, on February 14, 1912 on the fiftieth anniversary of the first official territory of Arizona.
In summation, the United States Government was not eager to obtain Arizona as a territory because of the small number in population and the worry that the territory would eventually become a slave state. When the Confederacy obtained the land and claimed Arizona as their territory, the United States Government decided to bounce back into the ring in fighting for Arizona. The involvement whether it was for spite, war maneuvers or a fear of the Confederate control to the Pacific, the territorial status occurred. The Arizona Territory was a territory in which Congress strongly disagreed, however, The United States had to see clearly that if the Confederates would see their way to the Pacific the war would have been drastically different. Therefore, the United States Government needed to obtain the land completely in order to prevent the Confederate move west.
The Confederate States of America was the reason for the move toward acknowledgement of Arizona. The United States Government was well aware of the problems the settlers were having with the Indian raids and the violence, yet they abandoned the territory for a more significant war raging in the east. They ignored the settler’s petitions for a separate region and denied their push for their own territory. The settler’s strong willed passion of their territorial status was undeniable. Their fight for acknowledgement never wavered.
When the Confederacy jumped in to save the region, the United States was immediately back in Arizona attempting to acquire its locality. The years of 1862-3 were a drastic time during the war when battles in the east were showing that the war would not end anytime soon, the United States could not afford another set-back including the Confederacy involvement in the west. The intervention of the Arizona region by Baylor’s Confederate Army was the reason for the acknowledgement of Arizona. If it were not for the South’s involvement, Arizona’s territorial status would have been considerably delayed or more drastically, the Arizona Territory may never have been established.
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