Most people think of February 14th as a day of roses and chocolate for their special someone, but it's also special day for Arizonans. On this day in 1912, President Taft signed the Arizona Statehood Act which admitted the Arizona Territory as the 48th state to join the United States of America.
The history of how Arizona became the 48th state is pretty interesting. The Arizona Republic says that Arizona was originally supposed to become a state on February 12th in honor of Lincoln's birthday, but President Taft had to delay signing the bill because of a trip to New York.
The Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records website tells a different tale. According to their article The Road to Statehood, President Taft initially refused to sign the Arizona Statehood Act because of a clause in the state's constitution about permitting the recall of judges. With the clause removed, the president then signed the bill into law.
Once Arizona was officially a state, an election was held and the clause about permitting the recall of judges was added to the State Constitution anyway! Talk about sticking it to the man!
While our state may be just 98 years young, I want to remind you that the history of Arizona Territory stretches far beyond 1912. Here are a couple of interesting facts about Arizona that most people do not know:When Arizona was still a territory, the original capital city was Prescott, then Tucson, then Prescott again before finally being moved to Phoenix in 1889.
Although this is not common knowledge, Arizona Territory was once a part of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865! This website has more information about it in their article: A Short History of the Confederate Territory of Arizona.
Arizona Territory was also home to the western-most battle of the Civil War. In 1862, the Battle of Picacho Pass took place near Picacho Peak, 50 miles northwest of Tucson, Arizona. Today, the site is home to Picacho Peak State Park, where a memorial commemorates Arizona's only Civil War battle site. Enthusiasts re-enact the Battle of Picacho Pass every year, mounted on horseback and dressed in period-appropriate clothing.
The history of how Arizona Territory became a state is filled with interesting tidbits such as this. While they are all but forgotten today (except by historians), it is interesting to learn about events that shaped Arizona's history.
Like many Arizona residents, I am excited that we are just two years away from celebrating Arizona's Centennial anniversary, which will take place on February 14th, 2012. Hopefully the centennial celebration will spark a renewed interest in people learning about and appreciating the amazing place that Arizona truly is.
Happy Birthday, Arizona!