Throughout the centuries, Europeans, Asians, and Athabascans converged in the Arizona region. While they were not able to occupy Arizona permanently, their presence shaped the history of the region. Biological interchange linked the continents, and conquest linked Asia and Africa. As a result, the history of Arizona is a complex and evolving mosaic.
During the early twentieth century, Arizona became a nexus for great land companies and copper companies. As these companies moved into Arizona territory, ethnic tensions grew. The Arizona Territory legislature approved an eight-hour day for underground workers, mandated workmen's compensation, and required that mining companies pay their taxes. It also prohibited issuance of scrip by mining companies and company stores. Ultimately, this law was struck down by the US Supreme Court.
During the same time, Arizona agriculture flourished. The Salt River Valley became the largest agricultural oasis in the state. This development was fueled by migrations of sheep, which linked uplands with deserts. Agricultural communities like Wickenburg, Florence, and Prescott were the centers of Arizona agriculture. The Arizona Territory also saw a thriving Mexican middle class. A small number of Mexicans lived in Tucson, and intermarriage between the two ethnic groups declined. Mexicans and Anglos had different jobs, and their neighborhoods were largely separate.
In the early 1880s, the US military subdued Arizona's Native peoples. Arizona became less tied to northern Mexico and more tied to the rest of the United States. The US military also used the Arizona Territory as a staging ground for its Mexican campaigns in northern Mexico. In 1886, Geronimo surrendered to General Nelson Miles.
After the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, every white male in Arizona could become a US citizen. This marked a major change in Arizona's history. The state began to be shaped by voters who fought to define Arizona's past.
In 1912, a union coalition led by John Hunt took control of state politics. They mandated workmen's compensation, regulated railroads, and created a state tax commission. They also elected Hunt as the first Governor of Arizona. He was re-elected two years later.
The railroads also moved into the Arizona territory, and the state became an extractive colony of industrial America. The railroads and copper companies controlled the newspapers. The Arizona Territory legislature defeated attempts to regulate underground miners. Unions also controlled both houses of the state legislature. They elected Hunt to the state governorship in 1912 and re-elected him two years later.
The Arizona Territory's history was a series of booms and busts. It also had its share of accommodation and blunders. As a result, Arizona's history is not a linear progression from wilderness to civilization. Instead, the history of Arizona is a series of accommodations and blunders, a series of booms and busts, and a series of advancements and retreats. The history of Arizona has always been a contested ground. As a result, no single group has ever held uncontested sway over the state.
The history of Arizona reflects the transitory nature of human occupation. It conveys the tensions that occur between competing groups as they shape the state's future. It also demonstrates how culture changes do not occur by direct contact between two groups. Instead, one society can transform another generation before it meets.