Arizona History Essay - Essay Prowess

Arizona History Essay

Arizona History


The earliest inhabitants in Arizona were Hohokam, Pueblo, Navajo and Apache. Cabeza De Vaca was the first European (Spanish) explorer to arrive in Arizona in 1536 followed by Marcos De Niza who entered the area in 1939 (Lavin, 5). Other Spanish explorers include Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. But these Spanish did not conduct economic activities in Arizona, since they were fond of areas such as New Mexico. Prior to 1822, Arizona was a part of Sonora, Mexico (Drickamer, 3). Arizona was under the Mexican authority after the Mexican war of independence between 1810 and 1821. Arizona had small population due to very few settlers. The economy of Arizona has grown over the years from mining to agriculture (Lavin, 8). Currently, manufacturing of electronic and defense industries, contribute a high proportion of Arizona’s economy. In addition, Arizona remains one of the highest producers of copper in the United States. This paper focuses on the economical and historical progress in Arizona.

Economy of Arizona Before the arrival of the Railway

The United States signed the Mexican Cession commonly known as Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 that ended the Mexican-American war and gave the U.S. control of Arizona, north of the Gila River (Drickamer, 4). In addition, following the Mexican-American war, Arizona became a part of the Territory of New Mexico in the United States of America in 1950 (Lavin, 10). In 1853, the United States of America used Gadsden Purchase to control the northern territory of the Sonora State (Sheridan, 8).

The U.S bought the territory between Gila River and south boundary of Arizona from Mexico because it wished to build a railway line in the south area of the river. Most of the early explorers were attracted in Arizona because of prospects of minerals (Drickamer, 8). Nevertheless, the area remained a disputed region on the Territory of New Mexico, therefore, mining continued irregularly. Most of the Spanish explorers were crossing Arizona on their way to California in search for gold (Sheridan, 12). But only a few prospectors found neglected minerals, such as copper, silver and gold in Arizona.

After the outbreak of the Civil War, various meetings were held in Mesilla and Tucson in 1861. The conventions declared Arizona part of the Confederate States of America. In the battle of Pikachu Pass, a group of Confederate demonstrators conducted Union cavalry of Tucson (Lavin, 16). Currently, state of Sonora south of Gila River is now in Arizona. Territory of New Mexico split in 1863 to form Arizona Territory with its first capital at Fort Whipple.

In 1865, the capital was moved to Prescott and later transferred to Tucson in 1867 and finally to Phoenix in 1889. During the warfare between U.S soldiers and Apaches between the years of 1861 and 1886, the soldiers held the area insecurely (Lavin, 10). Nonetheless, federal soldiers led by General George Crook in 1885 defeated the Apaches finally. The settlements in the area were abandoned when the Confederate soldiers were engaged in the Civil War (Drickamer, 9). Fortunately, settlements continued following the end of the Civil War and Homestead Act and the Desert Land Act of 1862 and 1877, respectively, encouraged settlers to occupy the land. In addition, Carey land Act of 1894 transformed all the land in Arizona to settlers and encouraged them to initiate developments (Lavin, 33).

Mining companies such as Copper Queen Company increased their activities in the region especially at Bisbee in 1870s because the area had large deposits of copper. Furthermore, other minerals were discovered such as silver at Tombstone in 1877 (Lavin, 16). Consequently, a majority of the prospectors were attracted to the area due to the mineral boom. Nevertheless, the boom lasted less than 10 years because of increased lawlessness cases, particularly in Tombstone (Drickamer, 17). There were increased cases of gunfight in the region, for instance, Wyatt Earp and his brother’s gunfight in 1881 at O.K Corral (Turner, 41).

Economy after construction of railway

In addition, majority of transport stakeholders decided to develop the area. In this regard, companies such as Southern Pacific and Santa Fe Railway Company launched a project to construct the railroads in Arizona (Lavin, 38). After the arrival of railroads in 1880, it marked the beginning of the economic prosperity. Other economic activities began to flourish such as sheep rearing and ranching among the White settlers (Drickamer, 19). Besides, Navajo economic activities developed to large enterprises among white settlers. Moreover, federal institutions such as the United State Forestry Bureau offered grazing notices to safeguard public against threat of depletion.

Prior to 1912, the territory of Arizona remained a frontier territory (Lavin, 23). Later on in 1912, it became a state. It ratified its constitution, which had several radical provisions. For instance, it introduced political provisions such as judicial recall, referendum and initiatives (Drickamer, 28). Nevertheless, President Taft signed Arizona bills after some of the provisions such as recall features were deleted. Besides, it retained its recall provisions after it entered the Union (Turner, 41).

How the country has changed

Currently, the backbone of the economic prosperity in Arizona is backed by development in agriculture, mining and manufacturing industry (Lavin, 40). Major irrigation projects have transformed the Arizona valleys to viable agricultural areas. Additionally, Arizona mines were unionized in the 1930s. Through the Desert Land Act, the majority of the farms are under irrigation (Lavin, 45). By 1900, more than 80 000 hectares of land were irrigated by streams. Other sources of farming water include Roosevelt Dam.

Major federally financed economic projects such as defensive, electronic, and manufacturing industries are located in Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona (Drickamer, 23). Manufacturing sector has surpassed mining and agricultures as the biggest sources of economic prosperity (Drickamer, 18). Due to high demand of technology and manufactured goods, Arizona has experienced rapid economic growth between the 1970s and 80s.

Nonetheless, various controversies arise between Arizona and the neighboring states. For instance, the hydroelectric project in Colorado River sparked conflicts with the State of California due to the issue of water rights (Lavin, 50). A project that uses water from Colorado river was commissioned in order to provide water to dry areas such as Tucson and Phoenix and desert plains. The Central Arizona Water project pumps water for more than 539 kilometers from Colorado River via a canal system to the desert plains (Sheridan, 19).


Arizona has produced key political figures in the American political systems. For instance, Senator Barry Goldwater unsuccessfully ran for U.S presidential election under the Republican Party. In President John F. Kennedys’ and Johnsons’ regime, Stewart Udall was the Secretary of interior (Turner, 41). Arizona, in 1992, approved Martin Luther King, Jr., marking the end of six-year conflict. By 2011, Arizona had a per capital income of $40 800, hence it was at 39th position in the United States of America (Lavin, 33). It has a mean income in the household of the US $50 400 making it the 23rd state in the country.

Work cited

Drickamer, Lee C et al. Northern Arizona University. Tucson [Ariz.]: University of Arizona Press, 2011. Print.

Lavin, Patrick. Arizona. New York: Hippocrene Books, 2001. Print.

Sheridan, Thomas E. Arizona. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012. Print.

Turner, Jim. Arizona. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2011. Print.