Today, the Arizona State Quarter Coin tells of the new territory approved by Congress 152 years ago and of six of the men from the initial government.
Though Col. Charles D. Poston had lobbied Congress for several years to create the Arizona Territory, it took the onset of the Civil War to gain their interests.
When the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, took an interest in the area, Congress took action to make the area a territory even though its population did not meet their criteria for a territory.
On February 24, 1863, Congress approved:
“An act to provide a temporary Government for the Territory of Arizona, and for other Purposes.
“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representative of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all that part of the present Territory of New Mexico situate west of a line running due south from the point where the southwest corner of the Territory of Colorado joins the northern boundary of the Territory of New Mexico to the southern boundary line of said Territory of New Mexico be, and the same is hereby, erected into a temporary government by the name of the Territory of Arizona : Provided, That nothing contained in the provisions of this act shall be construed to prohibit the Congress of the United States from dividing said Territory or changing its boundaries in such manner and at such time as it may deem proper : Provided, further, That said government shall be maintained and continued until such time as the people residing in said Territory shall, with the consent of Congress, form a State government, republican in form, as prescribed in the Constitution of the United States, and apply for and obtain admission into the Union as a State, on an equal footing with the original States.”
The bill went on to define the territory’s new government.
One of the images below shows the city of Prescott, circa 1877, that served as the territory’s capital.
In June 1928, the Prescott Evening Courier ran an article providing information of six of the men in the Arizona territory’s new government.
The second image below shows the six men from left to right: H. W. Fleury, Joseph P. Allyn, Milton B. Duffield, John N. Goodwin, Almon Gage and R. C. McCormick.
John N. Goodwin—First governor of the territory of Arizona, 1863, and a native of the state of Maine, where he was educated as a lawyer. When the bill was passed by Congress creating the territory of Arizona, Goodwin, who had just completed a term in Congress from his native state, was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as chief justice of the new territory. John A. Gurley was appointed as governor of Arizona, but he died a short time afterward, when Goodwin was commissioned and became Arizona’s first governor. Goodwin was elected to Congress at first regular election after his arrival in Arizona and left the territory in 1895, never returning.
Richard C. McCormick—First secretary of Arizona territory, was a native of the state of New York. He was appointed as governor of Arizona to succeed John N. Goodwin. Later he was twice elected to Congress from Arizona. McCormick was with the Arizona official party when it made the trip to the new territory to institute the new government. He brought a printing press with him, and at once began the publication of the Arizona Miner.
Almon Gage—First United States District Attorney of the territory of Arizona, 1863. In the organization of the first Arizona territory legislature, Mr. Gage was elected as secretary of the council; Judge E. W. Wells, now a resident of Phoenix, was chosen as assistant to Mr. Gage.
Milton B. Duffield—First United States Marshal in Arizona, 1863. He came west with the territory’s official party. Later, after his term of US Marshal had ended, Duffield went to Tucson where he held the position of post office inspector.
He was a man without fear, and of powerful strength and physique, and was often engaged in fights and quarrels. He was finally killed in Tombstone by a man with whom he had a controversy over a mining claim.
Joseph P. Allyn—A native of the state of Connecticut, was one of the first associate justices of the supreme court to serve Arizona territory. In 1886, he was a candidate for Congress. Being defeated, he resigned his judgeship.
Henry W. Fleury—Private secretary to Gov. John N. Goodwin, 1864, also chaplain of both the council and house of the first Arizona territorial legislature in the same year. Judge Fleury resided in the building known as Governor’s Mansion, in Prescott, continuously from 1864 to the time of his death in 1896. It is related that during all these years Judge Fleury slept every night in the old building.
Almost 49 years after becoming a territory, Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912.
The Arizona State Quarter Coin shows with the city of Prescott, circa 1877, and six of the men of the first territorial government.