On this date in 1861, Arizona seceded from the Union. This event was unique because, at that time, Arizona was still a territory, and didn’t become a state until February 14, 1912. (It became the 48th state, and the last contiguous state.) In March 1861, Colonel John R. Baylor (CSA) defeated Union troops in Arizona and New Mexico. Jefferson Davis then annexed Arizona, making it Confederate territory. Baylor became governor the following January. He established a government with its own constitution. Arizona had requested territorial-ship numerous times, but had been turned down by the U.S. government. However, the Confederacy immediately recognized it. General Carleton (USA) and the California Volunteers recaptured Tucson in June 1862, reclaiming the territory. And on February 26, 1863, Arizona became a territory belonging to the Union.
A major battle between the War Between the States took place between Tucson and Phoenix on April 15, 1862 known as the Battle of Picacho Pass. The site where this battle took place is one of the most endangered battlefields, according to the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT).
Ironically, debate exists as to whether Arizona will be the first state to secede now. This debate centers on the state’s decision to pass their anti-immigration law, which some say is racial profiling. Arizona’s decision takes the initiative for states rights over a unified government. Could Arizona be the first to secede (this time)? We can only wait and see.
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