Dear Readers, this is one of my favorite postcards and one of the most expensive I purchased. I had a self-imposed limit of a few dollars per card when I started my project, but this one seduced me into spending more. I saw this and looked at it over a period of weeks and finally concluded that I would pay whatever it was – at this moment, I don’t recall, but it was more than normal.
This picture is in front of a building. I assume it is the state capital, but other postcards of the time do not have the palm trees in front, nor is there a turret as seen in this card. However, this could have been taken from another angle entirely. In any case, it was clearly a time of great excitement and celebration.
Arizona ultimately became the last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the United States of America after a somewhat circuitous route. This postcard is not the date of admission to the Union, but is the date of the Ratification of its Constitution. The actual date of admission to the Union was two years later, on Valentine’s Day, which makes the name of this blog even more appropriate. As a note, I didn’t know this when I called my blog A Love Letter to Arizona
A Washington politician had written off both Arizona and New Mexico, saying the mines were depleted, nothing could be grown and people would leave, therefore, the two territories should be just one, since they were worthless alone. Little did those legislators know that Phoenix itself would grow to be the 6thlargest city in the US, that it would become the mecca for baseball’s spring training and that people from everywhere in the world would travel to remote areas of the state to see its geologic and native wonders.
The back and forth regarding statehood and Arizona’s Constitution took more than a few years, many decisions about how to make it and New Mexico separate – perhaps North/ South, instead of the East/West divide that exists. The proposal was to make the Southern part of both states into one state and the northern half of both into another. That would have made both states completely different culturally.
A Territorial couple waited to get married until the day of actual Statehood and Arizona’s admittance to the United States. They had a ring-bearer, 3 years old – Barry Goldwater, who later became a 5 term US Senator. As I freely wander down memory lane, this brings me to my very first credit card at the age of 16 – from Goldwater’s Department Store, which was founded by Barry Goldwater’s father. The credit card was, of course, Arizona themed, gold background, with a Saguaro Cactus.
The card is dated June 24, 1910 and is postmarked the same day. It reads, “Dear Friend, Received your most welcome letter. Gussie is about the same. Nice Weather. Come to the State of Arizona. Hastily JHS”
I have a friend, who is an amateur historian and collector who is fascinated by Arizona history. In a conversation with him, he remarked that during the Territorial Days and early Statehood days of Arizona, people KNEW something special was happening. As I read postcards like this, I feel it and I see it. Politicians were working toward statehood from 1856 to 1912. Legislators considered parts of Arizona’s proposed Constitution “radical”. Mr. Robert A. Turnbull, the photographer who capture this photo has the presence of mind to be in the right place, with the right equipment to capture what seems to have been a night time celebration. Perhaps our couple, who would be married two years later is in this picture. I hope so.
Here’s to Ratification and Valentine’s Day!