Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

11-28 NM took 66 years to achieve statehood

112811 NM statehood

SANTA FE – On Aug. 28, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez kicked off our state's centennial celebration. The governor may have been a little early for our Jan. 6 birthday but despite being the Land of Manana, New Mexico seldom is late to start a celebration.
On Sept. 1 Gov. Martinez ordered that all state agencies promote the centennial. One of the first agency promotions we saw was some magnificently large posters documenting New Mexico's significant events from the time the United States occupied our territory in 1846 until today.
One three-foot by two-foot poster tells the story of New Mexico's long, 66-year effort to gain statehood. The other poster chronicles important New Mexico events from our state's past 100 years.
The posters have been produced by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and are targeted primarily at schools libraries and museums. They also are available to the general public by contacting Sarah Ives at the Department of Cultural Affairs, 505-984-2012. You may email her at
The following are some of the important events leading up to statehood that are listed on the chart. (My comments are in parentheses.)
1846 – Mexican American War begins. US Army under Stephen Watts Kearny occupies New Mexico.
1847 – U.S. forces suppress the New Mexico Revolt of 1847. (This often is referred to as the Taos Revolt, in which Gov. Charles Bent was scalped, then killed. The lives of his family and Kit Carson's wife were spared.)
1848 – Mexican American War ends with the signing of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
1850 – In the Compromise of 1850. New Mexico becomes a territory of the U.S. including much of what is now Arizona and southern Colorado. Boundary conflict with Texas is settled and war averted. (Texas always wanted as much of New Mexico as it could get, preferably all the way to the Rio Grande. This agreement gave them about 600,000 acres along the border.
1854 – Gadsden Purchase from Mexico adds 45,000 square miles to New Mexico territory.
1862 – Civil War battles of Valverde, Glorietta Pass and Peralta are fought ending the invasion of New Mexico. The California Column of Union troops arrives in New Mexico.
1863 – U.S, Territory of Arizona is established.
1872 – New Mexico Territorial Legislature approves a constitution.
1875 – Act enabling New Mexico statehood fails in U.S. Congress.
1876 – Another enabling act for New Mexico statehood passes in Senate but dies in U.S. House.
1878 -- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad tracks cross into New Mexico at Raton Pass.
1880 – Railroad reaches Santa Fe , ending commerce on the Santa Fe Trail.
1885 -- New Territorial Capitol Building is completed in Santa Fe.
1889 – Act enabling statehood for New Mexico (which called for a name change to the State of Montezuma) fails.
1890 – Proposed state constitution voted down by New Mexico voters by over 2-1.
1892 – Fire destroys Territorial Capitol Building. Archives Saved.
1895 – New Mexico statehood bill dies in U.S. Senate after passing House.
1901 – Statehood Convention passes resolutions critical of U.S. Congress for not granting New Mexico statehood. Former Gov. L. Bradford Prince delivers famous "Statehood for New Mexico" speech in which he says, "In no part of the nation has there ever been such a protracted struggle for self-government as in New Mexico."
1902 – Omnibus bill enabling Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona statehood passes U.S. House.
1903 – Omnibus bill dies in Senate after long filibuster led by Sen. Albert J. Beveridge.
1905 – Bill to admit Arizona and New Mexico as one state dies in Congressional conference committee.
1906 – Joint Arizona-New Mexico statehood bill (as one state to be called Arizona) passes Congress. People of New Mexico vote yes. Arizona votes no.
1910 – New Mexico constitution is written.
1911 – New Mexico voters approve constitution. Congress accepts.
1912 -- President Taft signs on Jan. 6.
(The New Mexico Blue Book contains a much longer history dating back to the Indian era. It is available from the Secretary of State's Office 505-827-3600.)


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