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New Mexico's Quest for Statehood, 1846-1912

Robert W. Larson

Publication Year: 2013

Why did New Mexico remain so long in political limbo before being admitted to the Union as a state?

Combining extensive research and a clear and well-organized style, Robert W. Larson provides the answers to this question in a thorough and comprehensive account of the territory’s extraordinary six-decade struggle for statehood.

This book is no mere chronology of political moves, however. It is the history of a turbulent frontier state, sweeping into the current almost every colorful character of the territory. Not only politicians but ranchers, outlaws, soldiers, newspapermen, Indians, merchants, lawyers, and people from every walk of life were involved. This is a book for the reader who is interested in any aspect of southwestern territorial history.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-x

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pp. vii-viii

A study of the movement in New Mexico to achieve statehood is a particularly challenging one, because, of all the contiguous territories of the Union, New Mexico remained a territory the longest. To locate information dealing with this prolonged effort, which spanned parts of two centuries, libraries and archives were searched in Santa Fe, ...

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I. Conquest and Military Rule

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pp. 1-12

It was mid-august, 1846, when Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny led his confident American forces into the ancient capital of Santa Fe, bringing an old era to an end and inaugurating a new one. Since 1610, Santa Fe had been the center of a Spanish civilization established in the Southwestern wilderness ...

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II. First Attempts

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pp. 13-24

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided for New Mexico's incorporation into the Union by stating that it "shall be admitted at the proper time (to be judged of by the Congress of the United States) according to the principles of the constitution."1 ...

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III. The 1850 Constitution

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pp. 25-40

Even before Hugh Smith had reached Washington to plead the cause of New Mexico, events in the Southwest were reaching a climax. Anglo-Americans in California as well as in New Mexico were demanding some clarification regarding their status in the newly acquired lands. ...

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IV. Becoming a Territory

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pp. 41-61

New Mexicans had now framed a constitution, forthrightly denied the legitimacy of slavery in their domain, and, with equal boldness, defied the claims of Texas. Each of these actions was certainly open to serious challenge, but the immediate question was whether the state government created by the convention of 1850 ...

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V. Internal Strife

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pp. 62-74

The 1850’s and 1860’s were the saddest and most disruptive years of America's history. Naturally the myriad problems brought on by slavery, sectional strife, a bloody Civil War, and the controversial years of Reconstruction left little time for the nation to attend to the needs of the Territory of New Mexico, ...

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VI. A Changing Territory

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pp. 75-94

Governor Calhoun found the strain of New Mexico's insoluble conflicts extremely tiring. In poor health and low spirits, he began a trip to the East in May of 1852, accompanied by his two daughters and their husbands. Although his plans were to visit Washington and his family home in Georgia, Calhoun's forebodings were so strong that he took a coffin with him. ...

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VII. The Constitution of 1872

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pp. 95-115

On the first day of September, 1871, a new governor arrived in Santa Fe to succeed William Pile. Marsh Giddings was a prominent and active Republican, whose home state was Michigan. He had been a delegate to the conventions which nominated Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, ...

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VIII. The Fateful Handshake

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pp. 116-134

In 1873, Governor Marsh Giddings again quietly attempted to encourage New Mexicans to pry open the door to statehood. A memorial to Congress in 1874 that requested an enabling act for New Mexico1 may well have been the result of subtle and low-key pressure brought to bear upon the territorial legislature in a speech by the governor. ...

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IX. Statehood and the Santa Fe Ring

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pp. 135-146

Following New Mexico's attempt to achieve statehood in 1875, the Democratic party was understandably reluctant to admit new states to the Union,1 having been badly burned by the admission of Republican Colorado. ...

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X. The Constitution of 1889

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pp. 147-168

Within New Mexico, pressure for statehood was negligible during the late seventies and early eighties. Although members of the powerful Santa Fe Ring were for immediate admission, New Mexicans generally were indifferent to the opportunities supporters claimed statehood would bring. ...

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XI. Free Silver and Populism

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pp. 169-191

The decade of the nineties was a difficult one for the western part of the nation, marked by a serious farm depression and by a money crisis. New Mexico, a silver-producing territory, was inevitably drawn into the conflicts of the Populist era, with its emphasis on reform and unceasing demands for "free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold ...

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XII. A New Era

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pp. 192-204

Wth Fergusson's victory in 1896 came a new political era in New Mexico. Much influence and power slipped from the hands of the Old Guard, still called by its enemies the Santa Fe Ring. An even more severe blow to the Ring and the status quo came when on June 2, 1897, President McKinley unexpectedly appointed Miguel Otero the new territorial governor.1 ...

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XIII. The Knox Bill

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pp. 205-225

With prospects for statehood appearing so bright, the delegates from New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma decided to pool their resources and make the fight together. The result was an omnibus bill which bore the name of William S. Knox of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Committee on the Territories. ...

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XIV. The Jointure Movement

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pp. 226-252

Although the compromise proposal to join Arizona and New Mexico as one state was rejected during the 57th Congress, consideration of jointure subsequently took new forms and dominated the statehood movement for the next four years. ...

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XV. The Enabling Act

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pp. 253-271

New Mexicans might plausibly have been totally discouraged by Arizona's rejection of jointure. But the prevailing spirit after 1906 was one of refusal to surrender hope. Bradford Prince was quick to point out in a letter to Beveridge that the territory gave a majority of more than 11,000 votes to the consolidation proposal. ...

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XVI. The Constitutional Convention of 1910

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pp. 272-286

Almost immediately after New Mexico's enabling act had been signed into law, citizens of the territory began preparations for the election of delegates to a constitutional convention, which according to the act was to be held not less than sixty nor more than ninety days after passage of the bill. ...

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XVII. The Final Steps

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pp. 287-304

New Mexicans considered their conservative constitution a likely candidate for approval despite a national Democratic victory in the 1910 congressional election. At the time the constitution was completed, a "lame duck" Republican Congress was still in session, and a President known to be cautious and scrupulously legal was in the White House. ...

Chapter Notes

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pp. 305-370


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pp. 371-384


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pp. 385-405

E-ISBN-13: 9780826329479
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826329462

Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2013