7.3.5 Southwest (1900-1930): A Rocky Path to Statehood

  • New Mexico and Arizona remained territories for more than 50 years before being admitted to statehood, although they made several efforts to secure earlier admission.  Efforts in the 1860s 1870s failed due to Northern and Southern uncertainty as to which section the territory would align with. 
  • At the end of the 19th century, both territories renewed their efforts but failed once again due to Congressional concerns that New Mexico was too corrupt and too Hispanic and that Arizona’s population was too small. 
  • After 1900, both became caught between Indiana’s influential senator Albert Beveridge, who wanted both states to incorporate Progressive reforms in their constitutions, and conservatives who did not.  Beveridge’s fellow Republicans eventually wore him down with warnings that he was jeopardizing the party’s cause in the region.  Both territories jumped in population after 1900, with a heavy influx of Anglos into New Mexico, and by 1910 Congress was ready to relent: it passed an enabling law but attached many conditions to statehood, including requirements that school classes be conducted in English and that state officials be English-speaking. 
  • Arizona enacted a constitution similar in many ways to Oklahoma’s progressive 1907 constitution (see § __),, New Mexico enacted a more conservative constitution, and both states were admitted in 1912.  President William Howard Taft refused to sign the law admitting Arizona unless it removed a provision for popular recall of judges.  Arizona voters did so but promptly reenacted the provision after admission.     
 
Progressive-Era Constitutions in the Southwest
 
The chart below contains the same reform categories as the chart for the Great Plains state constitutions of the Granger and Progessive eras (see § __).  A comparison shows that Arizona’s constitution was firmly in the mainstream of Granger and Progressive constitutions; New Mexico’s was more conservative. 

 

 

New

Mexico

Arizona

 

Elective judiciary

X

X

Incorporation must be by general laws

X

X

Homestead exemption (or legislature required to enact such a provision)

 

 

Married women’s property law (or legislature required to enact such a law)

 

 

No imprisonment for debt (with limited exceptions)

X

X

State prohibited from or limited in subsidizing internal improvements

 

 

Municipalities prohibited from or limited in subsidizing internal improvements

 

 

Limits on municipal debt

X

X

Limits on state debt and/or extension of credit

X

X

Railroads must maintain local office and make annual reports

 

 

Competing railroads may not consolidate operations

 

 

Railroads may not dilute stock

 

X

Legislature required to enact or may enact laws regulating railroad rates

 

 

Discriminatory railroad rates prohibited

X

X

Railroads required to provide switching facilities for larger businesses

 

 

Good government:  legislature prohibited from “logrolling” (trading favors in return for votes, putting non-budgetary laws in budget bills)

 

 

Good government:  initiative provision

 

X

Good government:  referendum provision

 

X

Good government:  direct primary

 

X

Anti-competitive behavior:  no interference with existing employment

 

 

Anti-competitive behavior:  no employer blacklisting

 

 

Anti-competitive behavior:  monopolies and price-fixing prohibited

X

 

Public utilities:  State can operate businesses for public purposes

 

 

Department of labor, mining inspector, banking and corporation commission created

 

X (corp, mine) 

Compulsory arbitration of mining and public-service corporation labor disputes

 

 

Child labor restrictions

(1)

X

Eight-hour day on government works

X

X

State board of health, pure food commission

 

 

Women’s rights:

 

 

Women’s suffrage

 

 

Women can vote for school-related offices

 

 

Women can hold school-related offices

 

 

Prohibition adopted

 

 

Explicit declaration that slavery prohibited or black suffrage allowed

X

X

Aliens allowed to vote (if declare intent to become citizens)

 

 

Aliens not allowed to own land

 

 

Segregated schools mandated

 

 

 

 

 

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