Creation of Arizona Territory

Undoubtedly the Confederate invasion of Arizona and New Mexico, and the organization of Arizona into a separate Territory by the Confederates, which was acknowledged by the Confederate Government, with the discovery of gold in large quantities in Arizona, of which the Government at that time stood in great need, were the real causes of the passage of the bill through Congress in the session of 1862-63 for the creation of the Territory of Arizona.

Charles D. Poston, who was in Washington at that time, aided by General Heintzelman, was active in promoting the measure, which had the support of Ben Wade of Ohio, in the Senate and Ashley, of Ohio, in the House.

On March 12th, 1862, Mr. Ashley introduced a bill for the organization of the Territory of Arizona, which was referred to the Committee on Territories. This bill, adopting the suggestion of New Mexico, fixed the north and south eastern boundary line of the new Territory on the meridian of 32 degrees west of Washington, which is 109° 2′ 59″ 25 thirds west of Greenwich, and included the area as at present included within the boundaries of the State of Arizona, with the exception of about 12,000 square miles lying west of the Colorado River, which was subsequently annexed to the State of Nevada.

This bill, after a lively debate, was passed through the House by a small majority on May 8th. 1862. Watts, the Delegate from New Mexico, and Ashley, from Ohio, were its chief advocates in the House, and Wheeler of New York, led the opposition. It was argued that Arizona’s white population of 6500 evidently included the Mexican population, for, at that time, by the best accounts, the native born American population was not over 600, and they, and the four thousand civilized Indians were entitled to a civil government and protection as citizens of the United States, which it was contended they could not receive as long as it was under the territorial government of New Mexico. It was also argued that the great mineral wealth of the country was ample justification for the necessary expenditure in creating a new Territory. The opposition claimed that the population never had been sufficient for a territory; that the 6500 population shown in the census included Mexicans and half breeds, totally unfit for American citizenship, that the American population as enumerated at that time had been driven out and that the territory was in the possession of rebels and hostile Indians. Under such conditions it was contended that no real protection could be given, and that a territorial government would be a mere farce; that the bill was intended to benefit office seekers, and that in view of the great expenses of the government, Congress had no right to divert any portion of the public monies for their benefit, but should conserve it all for the protection of the country against its rebel and savage foes. By this bill slavery was prohibited and the Capitol was located at Tucson.

In the Senate the bill was supported by McDougal of: California and Wade of Ohio. After some debate the bill was postponed from June, 1862, to December of the same year. Final action was taken on the 20th day of February,

1863, when the clause designating Tucson as the capitol was removed, and, under the championship of Senator Wade, the bill was finally passed by a vote of twenty-five to twelve and signed by President Lincoln on the 24th day of February, 1863.

Charles D. Poston, in giving his connection with the final passage of this bill says: “At the meeting of Congress in Dec. 1862 I returned to Washington, made friends with Lincoln, and proposed the organization of the terr. of Arizona. Oury (who I suppose had been elected delegate in ’62 to succeed McGowan) was in Richmond, cooling his heels in the antechambers of the confederate congress without gaining admission as a delegate from Arizona. Mowry was a prisoner in Yuma, cooling his head from the political fever which had afflicted it, and meditating on the decline and fall of a West. Point graduate. There was no other person in Washington, save Gen. Heintzelman, who took any interest in Arizona affairs. They had something else to occupy their attention, and did not even know where Ariz. was. Old Ben Wade, chairman of the senate com. on territories, took a lively and bold interest in the organization of the territory, and Ashley, chairman of the com. in the house, told me how to accomplish the object. He said there were a number of members of the expiring congress, who had been defeated in their own districts for the next term, who wanted to go west and offer their services to the ‘galoots’ and if they could be grouped and a satisfactory slate made, they would have influence enough to carry the bill through congress. Consequently an ‘oyster supper’ was organized, to which the ‘lame ducks’ were invited, and then and there the slate was made, and the territory was virtually organized. So the slate was made and the bargain concluded, but toward the last it occurred to my obfuscated brain that my name did not appear on the slate, and in the language of Daniel Webster I exclaimed: ‘ Gentlemen, what is to become of me?’ Gurley politely replied, ‘O, we will make you Indian Agent.’ So the bill passed, and Lincoln signed all the commissions, and the oyster supper was paid for, and we were all happy, and Arizona was launched upon the political sea.”

In March following President Lincoln made appointments for the territory as follows:

Governor: John A. Gurley of Ohio, who died August 18th, and, on the 21st, John N. Goodwin, of Maine, was appointed in his place.

Secretary: Richard C. McCormick, of New York.
Chief Justice: Wm. F. Turner, of Iowa.
Associate Justices: William T. Howell of Michigan, and Joseph P. Allyn, of Connecticut.
District Attorney: John Titus of Pennsylvania, whose place, however, was taken by Almon Gage, of New York, before starting.

Surveyor General: Levi Bashford, of Wisconsin, was appointed May 26th.
Marshal: Milton B. Duffield of New York.
Supt. of Indian Affairs: Chas. D. Poston, of Kentucky.

The newly appointed statesmen started overland in August for Arizona, except Chas D. Poston, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, J. Ross Browne, Agent for the Department of the Interior, Milton B. Duffield, U. S. Marshal, and Robert P. Greely, Deputy Marshal for the Territory, who came by way of California, under the military escort of Capt. S. A. Gorham, who conducted them to Tucson on January 17th, 1864.

Notes About Book:

Source: History Of Arizona Volume 2, By Thomas Edwin Farish, 1915, Printed and Published by Direction of the Second Legislature of the State of Arizona, A. D.

Notes about Online Publication: This manuscript has been ocr’d and heavily edited. Many of the Native American words have been reproduced as clearly as online publication will allow us, but not all are exactly the way they were in the original work. The structure of this manuscript has been changed to allow better online presentation.

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