CHAPTER XIX. EARLY SETTLEMENTS AND FIRST ATTEMPTS AT ORGANIZATION OF TERRITORY.
Survey and Location of Town of Yuma—Establishment of Fort Buchanan—Establishment of Forts Mohave and Breckenridge—Tucson—New Mexico Memorializes Congress for Organization of Territory of Arizona—Convention at Tucson—Nathan P. Cook Elected Delegate—President Buchanan Recommends Territorial Government for Arizona—Senator Gwin Introduces Bill—New Mexico Passes Resolutions in Favor of Bill—Various Petitions—Election at Tucson—Sylvester Mowry Elected Delegate—Congress Again Memorialized—Mowry Again Elected Delegate—Constitutional Convention at Tucson—Provisional Government Established—Officials Chosen—Edward McGowan Elected Delegate—Senator Green Introduces Bill.
The town of Yuma was surveyed in 1854, one year after the sale of the territory embraced in the Gadsden Purchase had been agreed upon between the two governments. In reference to this survey, Colonel C. D. Poston, in an article printed in the Overland Monthly, July, 1894, says:‘‘
The boundary line between Mexico and the United States under the treaty of 1848, was run in 1850, and monuments erected on the southern bank of the Colorado, to indicate the possession of the United States.
While we were encamped on the banks of the Colorado River, in the hot month of July, 1854, we concluded to locate a town site on the slip of land opposite Fort Yuma, and as we were well provided with treaties, maps, surveying instruments, and stationery, there was not much difficulty in making the location. The actual survey showed 936 acres within the slip, and this was quite large enough for a 'town-site.' A town-site is generally the first evidence of American civilization.
The townsite was duly registered in San Diego, which could not have been done if both banks of the Colorado River just below its junction with the Gila had not been recognized as being within the jurisdiction of the State of California. The county of San Diego collected taxes from there for many years. After the organization of the Territory of Arizona in 1863, Arizona assumed jurisdiction over the slip, and built a prison there. Congress subsequently made a grant of land included in the slip to the 'Village of Yuma' so that it is a mere question of jurisdiction, not involving the validity of any titles. The question of jurisdiction still remains unsettled, as it requires both an Act of Congress and an Act of the State Legislature to change the boundary line of a sovereign state.’’
Yuma was the only American occupation within what is now the State of Arizona in 1854. The United States did not take formal military possession of the Gadsden Purchase until 1856, at which time four companies of the First United States Dragoons were stationed at Tucson, and afterwards at Calabazas, some fifteen miles above Tubac on the Sonoita, a stream flowing into the Santa Cruz river from the east. Fort Buchanan was established in 1857. It was selected because it was the center of a fine grazing country, but was found to be unhealthy on account of malarial fevers which prevailed in
Tucson was the most populous town in Arizona, but was without any civil government, Arizona, at that time, being a portion of Dona Ana County, New Mexico, the county seat of which was several hundred miles distant. Being thus left without courts or judicial or civil officers, the necessity for a separate territorial government was urgent. In 1854, New Mexico memorialized Congress for the organization of the territory of Arizona. There were three names suggested, namely Pimeria, Gadsonia and Arizona. The latter was adopted because it was supposed to be the most euphonious. Nothing was done by Congress in reference to this memorial.
Futile attempts were also made by a few citizens of Arizona to have Congress organize a territorial government, the first of which was in 1856, shortly after the United States had taken formal possession of the territory. On August 29th, 1856, a mass meeting or convention was
In February, 1858, the Legislature of New Mexico passed resolutions in favor of this measure, but recommended a boundary line north and south on the meridian of 109° west from Greenwich, and the removal of all New Mexican Indians to Northern Arizona. Evidently New Mexico had but little use for the Apaches, and
In September, 1857, the people of Arizona had gotten up a new petition, and, in an election held at Tucson, Sylvester Mowry was chosen Delegate to Congress. Mowry was not admitted to a seat in Congress, and the bill of Senator Gwin for territorial organization, failed of its passage. Under this bill, the northern line for the Territory of Arizona extended north to 33° 45', and included all southern New Mexico up to the parallel through to the western line of Texas. In 1860 Mowry got out a map of this Arizona, dividing it into four counties, not, however, attaching to them the names by which they are now designated. On the west, what is now known as Yuma County, was called Castle Dome County; Pima County was called Ewell County, and extended east to the western base of the Chiricahua range of mountains, at Apache Pass. Mesilla County extended eastward to the Rio Grande, and Dona Ana County eastward to the line of Texas. The remainder of what is now embraced in Arizona north of 33° 45', was left to New Mexico, and to the savages inhabiting that wilderness.
If this bill had passed it would have been a very expensive affair, the territorial limits extending from Yuma to the border of Texas, a distance, I think, of something like six hundred or seven hundred miles. Evidently neither New
In 1860 an unauthorized Constitutional Convention met in Tucson, which held its session from April 2nd to and including April 5th. It was composed of thirty-one delegates, who proceeded ‘‘to ordain and establish a provisional constitution to remain in force until Congress shall organize a Territorial Government, and no longer.’’ This convention chose as Governor, Dr. L. S. Owings of Mesilla, and three judicial district were created. Judges were to be appointed by the Governor, as were also a Lieutenant-Governor, an Attorney-General, and some other officials. A Legislature, consisting of nine senators, and eighteen representatives, was to be elected and convened upon the proclamation of the Governor. Measures were taken for organizing the militia, and a general election for county officers was called to be held in the month of May. The laws and codes of New Mexico were adopted. The proceedings of the convention, schedule and constitution, and the Governor's inaugural address, were printed in Tucson in what was, so far as known, the first book ever published in Arizona.
In 1859, another bill was introduced to organize the territory of Arizona, the name having been changed to Arizuma, presumably to satisfy some element in Congress. This bill was reported from the Committee of Territorials in 1860. There was much debate upon it, the most of it being in reference to the slavery question, and the bill, like its predecessors, failed of passage.
Bancroft says Jeff Davis introduced this bill, which is an error. The bill was introduced by Senator Green of Missouri. Davis at no time fathered a measure to give a territorial government to Arizona.