Arizona Becomes Its a Recognized Territory

Arizona, formerly part of the Territory of New Mexico, was organized as a separate territory on February 24, 1863.

The U.S. acquired the region under the terms of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the 1853 Gadsden Purchase. Arizona became the 48th state in 1912.

By the 1880s, the Arizona Territory was bustling with fortune seekers hoping to strike it rich mining gold, copper, and silver. The town of Prescott was founded in 1863 by New Englanders searching for gold. Nearly 7,000 people came to southeastern Arizona in the wake of Ed Schieffelin's 1877 discovery of silver at Tombstone, near Tucson.

Marcos de Niza, a Spanish Franciscan, explored the area in 1539 and met its original native inhabitants, probably the Sobaipuri. The expedition of Spanish explorer Coronado entered the area in 1540–42 during its search for Cíbola. Society of Jesus Father Kino developed a chain of missions and taught the Indians Christianity in Pimería Alta (now southern Arizona and northern Sonora) in the 1690s and early 1700s. Spain founded presidios (fortified towns) at Tubac in 1752 and Tucson in 1775. When Mexico achieved its independence from Spain in 1821, what is now Arizona became part of the Mexican Territory Nueva California, also known as Alta California. In the Mexican–American War (1847), the U.S. occupied Mexico City and forced the newly founded Mexican Republic to give up its northern territories, including what later became Arizona. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) specified that the sum of $15 million US dollars in compensation (an extraordinarily large sum at the time) be paid to the newly formed Republic of Mexico. The purchase of the area formerly ruled by Spain, then briefly Mexico, almost bankrupted the United States. As a result, the land was offered back to the Mexican Republic. In 1853 the land below the Gila River was acquired from Mexico in the Gadsden Purchase. Arizona was administered as part of the Territory of New Mexico until southern New Mexico seceded from the Union as the Confederate Territory of Arizona on March 16, 1861. Arizona was recognized as a Confederate Territory by presidential proclamation of Jefferson Davis on February 12, 1862. This is the first official use of the name. A new Arizona Territory, consisting of the western half of New Mexico Territory was declared in Washington, D.C. on February 24, 1863. The new boundaries would later form the basis of the state.

Americans, Mexicans, Germans, Russians, Italians, Austrians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Greeks, the Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, the African, Irishman, and Sandwich Islander are all here, being drawn to the spot by the irresistible mining influence.”

— To and Fro in Southern California By Emma H. Adams, 1976 [c1887], pp.55-56.