Arizona Statehood and Constitution

Part I

The Preterritorial Period

Archeological evidence of Arizona shows that nomadic people lived in this state area a long time before cultivation was even possible, dated back more than 11,000 years ago, to the time when Paleo-Indians located Southeastern Arizona. Soon more permanent settlers came to stay as the agriculture became more cultured.

The Spanish Period

The very first Spaniard that investigated the Southwestern United States has experienced a shipwreck in 1528 off the Gulf Coast, which is Texas coast, with other three people. The first one was named Estevan – the North African that joined the expedition with Marcos de Niza into what is called now Arizona. Soon, they were enslaved by locals.

In the beginning of 1600's the missionaries arrived. Spanish Jesuits that came from Mexico in order to convert the local people to Christianity establish their missions. Later there were led nearly 250 settlers across mountain ranges and deserts for the first route by land to California.

The Mexican Period

The Southwest Spanish domination ended up in 1821. After a great Mexican revolt that was against the Spanish, Arizona became Mexican territory. Arizona began to develop ties to the United States. Despite the danger, other areas were explored by the Apache - culturally related groups of Native Americans.

President James Polk started a war with Mexico in 1846 and Arizona later became the 48th state of the American Union. Then in 1846, General Stephen Watts Kearny successfully formed American civil government in the Arizona area. After the Mexican war in 1848, the area stretched from California to Texas and was added to the United States. The new territory was called New Mexico, with the capital of Santa Fe. This territory comprehended most of Arizona.

U.S. Controlled Period

The gold discovery made the importance for California seaports. Soon was realized the value of travel routes, therefore, East and West were connected with railroads.

When the Civil War was intensified in 1861 the troops were withdrawn by the cavalry who had guarded against the Apaches. Although the Apaches were held in check and were far from being subdued at the time of Civil war. Colonel Kit Carson, in the year of 1864 led the subdue campaign against the Navajo. Many U.S. settlers had come to the Gadsden Purchase area from the Southern states and the Confederate Congress proclaimed Arizona as a separate territory in the year of 1862. Confederate forces and Union had fought for a little time and was considered a part of the Civil War. In the summer of 1862 the Tucson was occupied by Union forces and ending Confederate rule.

The Territorial Period

After the President Abraham Lincoln Organic Act passed Organic Act in 1863, the Congress of the United States proclaimed it a Territory of Arizona. The first territorial governor John A. Gurley was selected by the President, but he died before the new Government could start working. Then John N. Goodwin was appointed as a territorial governor. At that time Arizona had a population of over a 4 thousand people.

In 1910 The Congress allowed the territorial government to establish a State Constitution. Territorial legislators in Arizona were progressive thinkers, so the document of the State Constitution had articles that stated the recall of elected officials. There was also a referring to legislation method amending called a ballot proposition. It was a proper legislative process regarding amendments for the State Constitution. 

Part II

The constitution of Arizona was established on December 9, 1910, approximately a year ahead of becoming a state. The government divided the Constitution of Arizona into three main branches - legislative, judicial, and executive.


The Constitution in Arizona has been amended about 125 times since the year of 1912 comparing to the U.S. Constitution which has been amended only 27 times. Arizona's Legislature or citizens may propose amendments and the voters must approve all changes. Such system enables local people to be more powerful. . It has about 28,000 words that define great framework for the operations made by government and outlines rights for individuals. Also many constitutional propositions, like one for limiting bail eligibility, are very specific attempts to determine public policy. In the same time, Arizona's Legislature should be more decisive and effective, especially in its leadership. It should be done more sensibly with the highest respect to Arizona laws, people and their future. Very often it is represented as populist as its framers constantly insisted on including the right to amend the document through referendum and initiative. Citizens of Arizona always have the right to approve and propose constitutional changes with the help of the initiative process. For example, to suggest a law, it is required to gather signatures in order to pass it on the ballot for all the voters, and then to consider with it. They have constitutional convention and it is called statewide vote of the people. Sure, the Arizona's participatory and populist spirit is embraced, but a lot of the initiatives were the result of true legislative indecisiveness. For now, people who live in Arizona consider their collective future without the advantage of action and representation that their Legislature owes them.

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