have already seen that New Mexico was kept out of the union
for years largely because the majority of the American people
were convinced that it was an uninhabitable desert and that
the people were unfit for self-government. These misconceptions
were held tenaciously by the people of the East, and gave
way slowly only after a long campaign of advertising. The
Bureau of Immigration had been created by the territorial
legislature in 1880, and charged with the task of disseminating
"accurate information" regarding the resources of
New Mexico and the advantages it offered to immigrants. In
spite of small appropriations, much had been done under the
capable leadership of Max Frost, the masterful editor of the
New Mexican. Literature regarding the territory had been widely
distributed, and the agricultural and mineral products of
the territory had been exhibited at expositions, especially
at Chicago in 1893 and St. Louis in 1904. Both attractive
and unattractive features of the territory had also been advertised
by the coming of a number of visitors in the 1890s. These
included several groups of newspaper people who merely passed
through New Mexico, but many of whom wrote up the territory,
favorably or otherwise, on their return home. Other visitors
during the decade included those attending an irrigation convention
and a Rough Riders' reunion, both held at Las Vegas. If these
were not as inclined to rush into print as the editors, the
publicity attending their meetings in the territory and the
vivid impressions which they carried away with them tended
to make the nation more conscious of New Mexico. And, not
least among those who helped to put the territory on the map
were ardent residents who seldom missed an opportunity to
put in a good word for the land they called home.
seen what New Mexico and her citizens were doing to advertise
their territory, let us now consider what the newspapers outside
New Mexico were doing to aid in the work. It is obviously
impossible to discuss the national press as a whole. Hence
we shall concentrate first on the part played by the newspapers
of the Southwest. Even in dealing with this limited area,
we shall not attempt to generalize, but shall take up each
state separately, "swinging around the circle" from
Texas to California and back to Colorado.1
1890 Texas had four cities with populations ranging from twenty-seven
thousand to thirty-eight thousand.2
All four were located in the eastern part of the
state, far removed from the trade routes to New Mexico. Furthermore,
the Texas War of Independence and the Civil War had prejudiced
the people of the Lone Star State against their neighbors
on the west. Then too, political leaders in New Mexico were
constantly pointing out that the demand of the sheep-raisers
for a tariff on wool would make it a republican state, thus
furnishing the Texans an additional reason for opposing the
aspirations of the territory. The distrust which resulted
between the two peoples may be illustrated by the following
item which appeared in the New Mexican for August
Reagan [of Texas] opposes the passage of the land court bill,
because a Republican president would have the appointment
of the judges of the court, and because New Mexico's prosperity
might hurt the Democratic state of Texas. Great statesmen
those. The Democrats in congress give it to the people of
New Mexico at every possible opportunity."
El Paso straddled the old Chihuahua trade route, and lay only
five miles from the New Mexican boundary line, it had much
closer relations with that territory than did the cities of
east Texas. However, it had a population of only 10,338 and
three small newspapers.3
Had they been interested in boosting New Mexico, their
support would have been of little value. But even that little
was withheld for a time. While not entirely consistent, the
El Paso papers were inclined to be critical of the territory,
to emphasize the opposition to statehood within New Mexico,
and to oppose its admission to the union. Thus, during the
long administration of Gov. Miguel A. Otero, the papers of
the Gate City were much freer in criticizing his actions than
were the great majority of the territorial papers. During
the statehood boom at the turn of the century, when the opposition
had been practically silenced in New Mexico, the El Paso
Herald gave considerable space to these "traitors,"
no matter whether they expressed themselves through petition,
interview, or letter.4
early as Jan. 29, 1890, the Las Vegas Optic complained
that the El Paso Tribune had devoted "nearly
two columns of its territorial space to prove that New Mexico
is not ready for statehood." The only reason given for
this opinion was the statement that "A complete canvass
of the Territory will hardly show any increase of the English
speaking immigrants in the past five or six years." Eleven
years later the territorial press was still complaining of
the hostility of the El Paso papers. Thus, in the spring of
1901, the Albuquerque Citizen, angered because one
of them doubted "that New Mexico has intelligence enough
for statehood," remarked that Texas had seen so much
lawlessness, that it was "not becoming in a resident
of that state to criticize the intelligence of any other community."5
Earlier in the same year, the New Mexican described
the El Paso News, a democratic paper founded in 1899,
as "a vindictive sheet, published, it seems, for the
purpose of harming New Mexico."6
The Santa Fe paper declared that the Texas paper had
assailed it "most bitterly" because it had told
"some unpleasant but plain truths about El Paso and the
land grabbing- ring- down there in endeavoring to have passed
by congress, the so-called Culberson-Stevens bill providing
for the construction of an international dam at El Paso, and
prohibiting the taking of water from the Rio Grande River
in New Mexico for irrigation purposes, . . . "7
A Washington dispatch on the subject appeared in the
New Mexican under the heading "Enemies of New
The Santa Fe paper stated that there was a good deal
of Texas capital "and a couple of democratic papers"
behind "the land grabbing ring" which wished to
rob the territory of the waters of her chief river and its
The New Mexican declared that it was not surprising
that Senator Culberson and Congressman Stephens were expected
to violate the pledge in the democratic platform, and oppose
the admission of New Mexico, since representation in congress
would enable the new state to defend itself to better advantage.10
Naturally, the gentlemen referred to did not give this
reason for their opposition. The Washington dispatch referred
to above stated briefly: "The Texans say the poorer classes
(in New Mexico) are illiterate 'greasers', and not in sympathy
with our institutions."11
It added that Delegate Rodey accounted "for the
opposition in the Texas delegation by charging it to the ill-feeling
that has resulted from the international dam project."
Roosevelt's selection of the slayer of Billy the Kid for an
important post in El Paso threatened to add to the animosity.
The Albuquerque Citizen for Dec. 16, 1901, said:
Congressmen assert that they will fight statehood for New
Mexico if [Pat] Garrett is appointed collector of customs.
Then it will be in order for the people of New Mexico to
boycott El Paso."
a matter of fact, however, this ill feeling was already giving
way to a realization that New Mexico and Texas belonged to
the same section, and possessed common interests and problems.
Consequently, in May, 1902, when the house passed a bill to
admit New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma, the El Paso Herald
greeted the announcement as "good news for the territories,
and for lovers of fair play everywhere."12
Herald declared that the west was "solid for
statehood." Among the reasons given for this attitude
the most striking was "the increased weight that the
west would have in both houses with these additions to the
union of states."
El Paso News, which had so recently been denounced
by the New Mexican, exhibited a striking change of
heart in the fall of 1901. It advocated, not only the admission
of New Mexico to the union, but everything else the editor
thought the people of the territory wanted. In urging the
importance of statehood for its neighbor, the News
"New Mexico ought
not to be handicapped in congress by reason of having no
vote, when the land lease law comes up. It is proposed
to lease the public range. The shepherds and the cattle
owners whose fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers
lived in the hills before the coming of the people from
the states, would have little chance to enjoy their heritage
when penned in by corporation fences, and the men who have
secured homesteads with the implicit promise of range for
their little herds would be "run put" by a lease
system. A lease law would be unjust to the settlers, and
congress may not enact such legislation. But if the territory
had two senators and a congressman at work, the danger would
be less. The growing disposition to regard the new territories,
as mere colonies, with less privileges than the people need,
may yet seriously affect New Mexico."13
in the following year the News gave its editorial
support to a protest which the republicans of Lincoln County
had sent to Washington against the proposed change of name
of New Mexico to Montezuma, Roosevelt, McKinley, or anything
else. The El Paso Journal declared that if eastern
people did not know "that New Mexico is in the United
States/' they could learn, and that the sentiment against
changing the name was "general throughout New Mexico
among the Americans as well as the Mexicans." 14
June, 1902, the News supported the demand for "another
judicial district to include Chaves, Lincoln, and Eddy counties."
the territory becomes a state, she can arrange matters as
the people wish, without having to beg a representative
from Timbucktoo and a senator from Jingoville to please
let 'em have what may be needed."15
months later, the El Paso paper declared that the White
Oaks Eagle was the only newspaper in New Mexico still
opposed to statehood, and suggested that the Lincoln
County Journal should fall in line with the other papers
of the territory.16
Early in January, 1903, the News noted that
"New Mexico seems not to be displeased" with the
proposed merging of the territories of New Mexico and Arizona
into one state. Accordingly the editor, after discussing the
objections to this solution from the standpoint of the experience
of "Loyal West Texas," concluded by advising the
people of the two territories to cultivate a friendship for
one another, and to regard with pride the proposal to create
a state which would rank second in size to the Lone Star State.17
1890 California was a prosperous commonwealth with a population
San Francisco was the largest city in the Southwest,
while Los Angeles was the third largest Denver being second.19
Serving rapidly growing communities and separated by
the desert and hundreds of miles from the Rio Grande valley,
their editors did not take a very active interest in the affairs
of New Mexico. If they were not as antagonistic toward that
territory as some of the El Paso papers were at times, neither
were they steady boosters like the Denver papers. Naturally
they were more interested in the neighboring territory of
Arizona, but not infrequently the two territories were discussed
together. Judging from the available data, the newspapers
of the Golden State were slow to admit that there was any
special bond between the prosperous state and the struggling
territory. Both had been acquired at the same time through
the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and New Mexicans constantly
based their right to admission to full citizenship in the
American union on a section of that treaty. California editors,
however, gave no outward sign of ever having heard of it.
Their state had a large Spanish- American population, but
the editors were Anglos, who had no word of sympathy for the
native population of the territory.
disinterested, detached manner in which some of the California
editors viewed the struggle for statehood for New Mexico may
be illustrated by the San Francisco Chronicle. In
the fall of 1891, when that journal took notice that statehood
was "being vigorously agitated" in New Mexico, the
question was considered on constitutional grounds. The Chronicle
predicted that probably the time was "not far distant"
when Alaska and possibly Utah would be the only territories
left. There was no good reason for keeping the others out
very long. The argument of small population was invalid, since
a real believer in the federal system saw "no inequality
in Rhode Island having as many senators as New York or Delaware
as Pennsylvania, . . ."20
years later, when the Chronicle advocated the admission of
Arizona to the union, the Optic reprinted the editorial
with the comment: "Substitute New Mexico for Arizona
in the following editorial . . . and it is equally as applicable
to us as to them." In form, the argument was still along
constitutional lines. The Chronicle said:
exclude a properly equipped territory from statehood for
fear its senators and one or more representatives may disturb
the status of congress is not within the purview of the
between the lines, however, it is easy to see that the San
Francisco journal recognized that California and Arizona were
linked together by a common interest in the silver movement.
economic ties which linked California and the two southwestern
territories were well expressed by the San Diego Union
in the fall of 1891. The Union said:
future of New Mexico and Arizona is and must always continue
to be of much interest and concern to the people of San
Diego. Providence has established here the natural gateway
through which a vast amount of exportable production of
the two territories shall find egress to the markets of
the world. In topography, in character of the soil and productions,
and, in some respects, in climate, Arizona, New Mexico and
California are similar."
a large part of the area between the Colorado river and the
Rio Grande, irrigation must be practiced to obtain the best
results, or any results, indeed, from agriculture and horticulture,
and already capital is engaged in the construction of dams,
reservoirs, distributing systems, etc., to an extent which
presages abundant prosperity for the region. Our people are
familiar with the desire which territorial residents especially
those of Arizona, have expressed for direct rail communication
with the bay of San Diego, and with the projects which have
from time to time been suggested to effect the building of
such a road. It must come. It will come. The commercial necessities
of both regions demand it, and the geography of the southwest
makes it inevitable; and when it does come the industrial
pulse of both countries will beat fuller and with wholesome
of the California newspapers seem to have won recognition
as loyal friends of the territories. If it was not very hearty
in its support, however, the Los Angeles Express
did claim consistency. In June, 901, it declared that, if
New Mexico and Arizona would adopt "proper constitutions,"
and were "willing to pay increased expenses of state
government," there was "no good reason why they
should not be admitted to full fellowship in the union."
The editor added:
position has been steadily maintained by the Express, and
nothing has happened to cause any change in this opinion."
Los Angeles Times was less consistent and excited
the suspicions of the territorial press. In 1892 and in 1895
the Times predicted that Arizona and New Mexico would
"soon be full stars in the union banner."23
that their knocking at the doors of congress would not
be in vain.24
The territorial papers that reported these predictions
failed to say whether or not the Los Angeles paper was happy
at the prospect. A special mining number of the Times which
appeared late in October, 1901, won the praise of the Lordsburg
Western Liberal. It declared that this was "the
best presentation" of the mining industry of the territory
"ever put in print."25
The editor added that it was "bound to do a great
deal of good," since it would "be distributed all
through the East, where people are looking for investments."
Times, however, admitted that an occasional territorial
paper failed to appreciate the efforts of "this stalwart
champion of the Great Southwest."26
A few days later both the New Mexican and the
Citizen declared that the Times was opposing statehood
for Arizona and New Mexico because it feared that the two
states would become rivals of California. The New Mexican
spirit should be resented by the people of the two territories
and although the circulation of the Los Angeles Times
is limited, very limited in New Mexico and Arizona, even
that limited circulation should be cut off so as to show
the management of the Times that the people of New Mexico
and of Arizona will resent any attack upon their commonwealths."27
Times should be a good friend of the two territories.
If they grow and prosper, they will help build up the coast
Los Angeles paper denied that it was opposed to the admission
of the territories, and accused the New Mexican of
a malicious and absurd falsehood. It added that the attempt
of the Santa Fe paper "to misrepresent the Times on this
question is a lurid example of cowboy, picker-pin and riata
the Times did not say in so many words that it was
opposed to the admission of Arizona and New Mexico, but the
territorial editors sensed the hostility of this conservative
journal. The unpardonable sin committed by the latter was
to refer to the opposition within the territories.
summarizing a memorial which citizens of New Mexico had sent
to congress, asking for statehood, the Los Angeles paper added:
the territory, however, as in Arizona, there is a considerable
element of the population opposed to statehood."30
was true, as we have already seen, but statehood workers chose
to ignore it.
lack of sympathy with which the Times viewed the
statehood agitation in both territories was revealed conclusively
by an editorial which appeared on Nov. 15, 1901. The article
was entitled "Unreasoning Shouters for Statehood."
While it dealt with the movement in Arizona, it is worth careful
consideration here. The editorial said:
a renewed campaign for Statehood is under way in the Territory,
. . . and certain Arizona editors are riding around upon
wild broncos, hurling violent "langwidge" and
other things at the Times, because this journal
ventured to give the people of Arizona a suggestion as to
the best manner in which the ambition entertained by some
of them might be realized."
Los Angeles paper, "not disconcerted by the attacks of
the Arizona rough riders," addressed an inquiry to:
prominent, independent and well informed long resident of
the Territory. This enquiry was made because the Times does
not repose entire confidence in the shouting and wrangling
journalists of Arizona, nor in the equally noisy politicians
of both parties, nor yet in a Governor whose motives are
not difficult to divine."
reply, dated, Tucson, Arizona, Nov. 13, 1901, was printed
This stated that, while the whole territory was for statehood
according to the democratic newspapers and politicians, there
were "many doubters in Arizona, who look at the question
in a business way." These saw that the admission of the
territory "would assure the election of democrats to
offices now held under presidential appointment"; and
that there would be added expense, since "the people
would be compelled to pay salaries now paid by the United
States government." Furthermore, they feared "that
Arizona would become a rotten borough like Nevada, especially
since the leading candidates for the senate in the event of
statehood were corporation men. The writer admitted that many
of the Arizona republicans who favored statehood were sincere.
have the idea that life is better worth living in a State,
and are willing to pay for it. They believe that capital
and population will rush into the new State, and that the
railroads and mines will be compelled to pay nearer their
proper proportion of taxes. No doubt Murphy believes all
he says on the subject. He has hammered away on it for years.
Of course, he, too, would like a senatorial toga; that is
a laudable ambition."
wonder the New Mexican and the Citizen regarded
the Times with distrust, even though the editorial
did not mention New Mexico, and no one could say that it was
equally applicable to that territory. The author of the letter
admitted that Arizona was "Democratic beyond a doubt,"
while Catron and Rodey claimed that New Mexico would be a
republican state. Consequently, the Times had less
reason to fear that the admission of New Mexico would mean
the election of democrats to office. Nor was there so much
reason to fear that the politics of New Mexico would be controlled
by corporations. From the standpoint of statehood workers
in New Mexico, however, the article was full of dynamite.
If it was not reprinted in any of the papers of that territory,
it is not surprising.
had been a state for only fourteen years in 1890. It had a
population of 412,198. Nearly one fourth of this number lived
As might be expected, the newspapers of the young commonwealth
and its rising city were to take a strong interest in the
destiny of New Mexico. Yet a number of them declared themselves
opposed to the admission of that territory in 1889 and 1890.
These included the Denver Republican, the Pueblo
Chieftain, the (Denver) Colorado Journal, the
Leadville Dispatch and the Denver Field and Farm.
Two of the editorials were written by men who had formerly
been connected with newspapers in New Mexico.33
The last named paper declared that it was receiving many
letters, all of which indicated that "the solid men of
the territory" agreed that "the time has not yet
come." They argued that New Mexico was prospering and
making enormous strides in settlement," and a change
to a new system was likely to retard development. While "the
Mexicans" were "good, law-abiding citizens,"
the progress of the territory was due to the American population.
The creation of a state out of New Mexico would "practically
mean the creation of a foreign country within the borders
of the United States, and the disfranchisement" of the
American population. Hence it would be better to wait a few
years until the American population had acquired the ascendancy.34
The immediate purpose of the editorial was to prevent
the legislature of Colorado from passing a resolution urging
the admission of New Mexico to the union.
Colorado Journal took a more extreme position in
the spring of 1890. It exclaimed:
Mexico a state! It is not fit to become a state. Fifty per
cent of the inhabitants of New Mexico are like the Lee White
band, and twenty-five per cent are even worse."35
as late as the summer of 1901, the New Mexican complained:
Pueblo Chieftain says that when Statehood for New
Mexico is mentioned, somebody objects to the presence of
so many Mexicans of the bad man class."36
following February, the Denver News contained a sensational
write-up of Cora Chiquita, "the Pretty Cow Girl of Santa
Rosa." She was described as "a quarter blood Cherokee
Indian," twenty-three years of age, who wore male attire,
drank heavily, was a dead shot and who was in the habit of
riding her horse into saloons and shooting up the town.37
the Las Vegas Record and the Albuquerque Citizen
agreed that such publicity was injuring New Mexico.38
The territorial press was inclined to take their brother
editors in Colorado to task, not only for "atrocious
falsehoods about the territory," but also for their failure
to champion statehood for their neighbor. Thus the Optic
for Jan. 25, 1890, complained that: "The Denver Republican
warmly urges the admission of Arizona into the union, but
is unable to find a good word to say for New Mexico as an
eligible candidate for the sisterhood." "It is hard
on us," the editor added, "but we will endeavor
to pull through without the tow line of the Republican."
About the same time, the Republican urged that congress
establish a land court to end the uncertainties regarding
Spanish and Mexican land grants which were retarding the settlement
and development of New Mexico.39
The Denver paper predicted that the territory would have
a "great boom if this obstacle were removed."40
In quoting this editorial, the New Mexican said:
Denver Republican is helping our territory in many
ways and often, and the people of New Mexico should bear
this in mind."
the Colorado paper could not stand out against the protests
of the Optic and the words of appreciation of the
New Mexican, since an editorial soon appeared in
the Republican which favored the admission of New
It is interesting to note the way in which the New
Mexican used the trade relations between Colorado and
the territory to win the Colorado papers over to the support
of statehood. Thus the New Mexican for Dec. 10, 1890,
first quoted the Pueblo Chieftain, and then presented
its argument. The editorial read as follows:
to her central location and the push and enterprise of her
merchants Pueblo enjoys a large wholesale trade in many
kinds of goods in southern Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.
This business is being vigorously pushed and every month
it increases in volume," says the Pueblo Chieftain.
And, pray, while this is so, possibly, has ever Pueblo,
its press or its people had a friendly word for New Mexico?
On the contrary, has it not always spoken disdainfully of
this territory and belittled in the smallest way possible
every New Mexican interest? When the Chieftain
shall have attempted honestly to answer these interrogatories,
and shall have shown its good will toward New Mexico that
common justice demands, possibly it itself will be able
to secure some of the business down here that now goes to
Denver and Kansas City. As it is, it simply amounts to a
narrow-gauge paper attempting to speak for a town that would
be broad-gauged in its treatment of neighboring localities--if
it had half a chance."42
the 1890s, the newspapers of Colorado and especially those
of Denver were doing much to give New Mexico the right kind
of publicity and to aid her in the long struggle for statehood.
The Denver Republican and the Rocky Mountain
News, published in the same city, were among the staunchest
champions of the cause. The establishment of better railroad
connections with Albuquerque, the growth of trade between
the two centers, and their increased circulation in New Mexico
prompted both papers to show great interest in the economic
development of their southern neighbor. The realization that
the growth of Denver was tied up with that of the whole Rocky
Mountain region, and the fact that citizens of Colorado were
using their mining experience and capital to good advantage
in numerous projects in New Mexico led to detailed accounts
of such developments in that territory. The people of the
state were urged to attend the fairs held in Albuquerque in
order that their knowledge of the products of New Mexico might
enable them to get in on the ground floor in its development.
Convinced that the progress which Colorado had made in twenty-five
years of statehood was due largely to its admission to the
union and that statehood would promote the material progress
of New Mexico likewise, the Denver press seldom lost an opportunity
to say a good word for the territory. Furthermore, Colorado
editors saw that the admission of New Mexico would strengthen
their section in the councils of the nation. Thus in the spring
of 1890 the Denver Field and Farm said:
a neighbor we would be glad to see that territory [New Mexico]
admitted to the union. It would be a benefit to it and its
industries. It would benefit Colorado, since we could rely
on its senators to stand with us in all matters where the
east domineers over the west."43
of the older citizens of the state had a sentimental reason
for wishing to see New Mexico a state. The appointment of
Stephen B. Elkins as secretary of war "recalled to many
in Colorado and New Mexico"--so the Denver Sun declared
in December, 1891 "an interesting chapter of curious
and almost forgotten political history." The Sun
stated that the delegate from Colorado, Jerome B. Chaffee,
had worked in vain for the admission of that territory.
during the winter of 1874-75, Elkins, the delegate from New
Mexico, had presented the claims of his territory in a speech
which had made a very favorable impression in the house, and
had "also attracted the attention of the entire country.
It is, perhaps, not too much to say," the Sun
ventured, "that he made a national reputation by that
one speech." The Denver banker had then promptly offered
an amendment to include Colorado in the bill and the two delegates
had "commenced a determined fight for their territories."
Colorado had been admitted, while New Mexico remained a territory.
The Sun concluded:
Colorado had not been admitted at that time, she would likely
have been compelled to have stayed out in the cold, dependent
territorial condition until the Dakotas, Washington, Montana,
Wyoming and Idaho were finally let in. That would have had
much of injurious effect upon the material growth of the
commonwealth and would have seriously affected a good many
political fortunes. Therefore, this state is not free from
obligation to the new secretary of war."44
influential citizen of the "Centennial State" who
liked to recall the old days when Elkins had nearly gotten
New Mexico into the union was Thomas MacDonald Patterson,
who served as the last delegate of the Territory of Colorado
During a good part of the last two decades of New Mexico's
struggle for statehood, he was a dominant figure in the newspaper
field in his state. He had full control of the Rocky Mountain
News from 1892 until 1913, and he also bought the Denver
Times. A man of strong convictions, he was always ready
to fight for the causes in which he was interested. As a member
of the United States senate from 1901 to 1907, he earnestly
championed the cause of New Mexico. As he was a man of great
honesty and sincerity, it is not surprising to find that the
papers he controlled gave strong support to the statehood
at the risk of some repetition, it may be worth-while to indicate
briefly the way in which the Colorado papers dealt with the
question of statehood for New Mexico and her sister territories.
Usually they showed a real understanding of the statehood
movement and of the opposition, but there were exceptions.
Thus the Denver Republican in January, 1892, expressed
surprise that anyone in New Mexico should oppose statehood,46
and in October, 1901, it declared that there was no reason
why any man living in New York or Massachusetts should object
to the admission of New Mexico or Arizona.47
The Colorado papers paid slight attention to opposition
within the territories, but they gave frequent, if somewhat
contradictory opinions as to the opposition in the nation.
Thus the Denver Times of Jan. 25, 1894, concluded:
objection to the admission of New Mexico has been that her
population is essentially foreign, Mexican in language,
ideas and affiliation."
argument evoked a variety of answers in the Colorado press.
The Denver Republican for Jan. 19, 1889, declared
that Congressman Reed of Maine was mistaken in assuming that
the population of the United States should necessarily be
homogeneous. The Colorado paper admitted that, if New Mexico
became a state, she would differ very much from Maine or Massachusetts
in the characteristics of her people and in her laws, especially
since the old law of Spain was the foundation of the probate
law of the territory. The Republican cited the fact
that the laws of Louisiana were not based on the English common
law, but on the Code Napoleon. It concluded that such local
differences would not affect the working of our federal system.
Following the same line of argument, the same paper of Sept.
16 declared that the ability to speak English was not a prerequisite
for American citizenship.
the fall of 1892, the Denver Sun declared that the
"principle objection heretofore" to the admission
of New Mexico had been that the population was chiefly Mexican
peons, but that this argument was no longer valid, since there
had been "a wonderful change for the better in the social
conditions of the Territory during the last ten years,"
due to a large influx of Americans and an improvement in the
Mexicans who had just attained manhood. Referring to the rapid
development of the material interests of the territory, the
Sun predicted that the Denver and El Paso railroad
would be constructed "within a very short time *** through
an entirely undeveloped section of the territory, . . ."
The Sun added the rather doubtful "fact"
that "the entire population is in favor of statehood
. . ,"48
before this, the Denver News had published an editorial
somewhat along the same line. This emphasized the growth of
the American population, the establishment of a public school
system, and the progressive sentiment developing among the
native people. It declared that this progress was due to the
territory itself, not to the government of the United States.
It further charged that, if the territory was at all backward
in American ways and ideas, "the federal government is
wholly to blame." Coming into the "United States
as New Mexico did, its native Spanish-speaking people ought
to have been the object of special consideration on the part
of the nation, and ought to have been supplied with a school
system forty years ago, at government expense. To have taken
no pains to Americanize these people and then to refuse the
Territory admission as a state because it has not progressed
as rapidly as other western Territories have, is the height
of national injustice."49
the war with Spain, this line of argument was strengthened
by the concern of the federal government for for its new island
possessions. Thus the Denver News for May 23, 1902,
teachers were being sent by the shipload to Porto Rico and
the Philippines, New Mexico, although for more than 50 years
a territory of the United States, had never received any
aid in the way of public education. .
. When this territory passed under the dominion of the United
States it was as thoroughly foreign in customs and language
as Porto Rico is today. Yet the United States has taken
no special pains to educate the people of that Territory,
and what they have accomplished is due to their own splendid
when emphasizing the "remarkable advancement in education"
in the territory, the Colorado press went on to distinguish
between the "alleged reason" and "the true
reason" for keeping New Mexico out of the union. The
latter was to be found, it declared, not in "the backwardness
of the territory," but in certain political and sectional
considerations. There was fear that New Mexico would prove
a democratic state, and that its admission and that of other
territories would add to the strength of the west in the senate.51
Thus in the spring of 1890 the Trinidad Advertiser
Mexico is clamoring for statehood, but it hardly seems probable
that the Republican administration will hurl a boomerang
and upset its safe majority which it secured by the admission
of the Dakotas, Washington and Montana."52
some of the Colorado papers were sometimes a little too bold
in emphasizing the effect which the admission of the territories
would have on the relative strength of the sections in congress.
Thus in December, 1893, the Denver News said:
New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Oklahoma have been admitted
to statehood the states west of the Mississippi will lack
only six votes of a majority in the United States senate.
The west and south will then be in a position to dictate
to the eastern money power. That is what is chafing and
worrying the effete east.53
Colorado press continually elaborated upon the statehood argument.54
The growing population, the wealth of resources, the
advancement in education, and the injustice done to the people
through the denial of home-rule were all emphasized. While
the argument was usually quite factual and matter-of-fact,
at times it bordered on eloquence. Thus the following "very
eloquent appeal" from the Denver Post was reprinted
in the New Mexican for Jan. 27, 1897:
years have elapsed since New Mexico became a part of our
common country. Its progress for the first half of the period
was slow. It was treated as a conquered province. It had
first to be Americanized before progress could begin. The
wreck of the civilization of the fifteenth century had to
be cleared away before the spirit of the nineteenth century
could possess the land. The process required time, but the
problem has worked itself out and the new towns and cities,
the new railroads, the new enterprises and the new schoolhouses
are ample evidence of the spirit that now animates the people
of New Mexico. Today it stretches forth its hand to the
nation and asks for immigration, for capital, for men and
women able to invest and work and to transform its material
resources into active producers of wealth and prosperity.
It appeals for statehood as an assurance of the rights which
belong to all citizens of the republic. These appeals are
just and should be granted by the nation to a brave, enterprising,
patriotic and intelligent people who opened a wilderness
to civilization and pointed out the pathway to material
Colorado editors kept a watchful eye on what their brethren
further east had to say about New Mexico, and did not hesitate
to set them straight. Thus in the spring of 1889, when it
was rumored that the territory would be divided, the Denver
Republican declared that there was not "the slightest
probability of this taking place."55
The same editorial also denied the statement of a Chicago
paper "that the wealthy Mexicans dominate the country
like feudal lords."
have a great deal of influence, but so have certain Americans.
Probably at one time a few Mexican families controlled the
politics and, to a large extent, the business of the territory,
but this is not so now. It is becoming less and less so
a westerner contributed something to an eastern journal, the
Republican was likely to endorse what he said. Thus,
Gov. N. O. Murphy of Arizona wrote in the New York Independent
for Jan. 23, 1902, that "occasionally misinformed citizens
of the territories" opposed statehood on grounds of economy,
whereas in reality it was to be expected that all kinds of
property would increase in value with statehood. The Republican
declared editorially that unquestionably the governor "echoes
the sentiments of a majority of the citizens of the territories
...” although prior to this "the chief stumbling
block in the way of the territories" had been "the
indifference of their own residents to the question of statehood."56
that the Independent had gotten a false impression
of the west from In the Country God Forgot: A Story of
Today by Francis Asa Charles, the Republican
promptly expressed its disapproval in an editorial headed
"Misunderstanding the Southwest." The Denver paper
said that the novel was "supposed to depict conditions
in Arizona and New Mexico," but that "the Independent
would do well to make investigations at first hand."57
territorial editors protested against "the information"
regarding the territory spread by the Colorado papers. Thus,
during the first half of the year 1892, the Optic
felt it necessary to defend the native people and the federal
office-holders of the territory from unjust criticisms which
appeared in the editorial columns of the Denver News.
In the first case, that journal not only stated that New Mexico
was the most illiterate region in the United States in 1880,
but that since then she had showed the greatest hostility
toward the public school.58
Admitting that "we may be very illiterate, down
here," the Optic protested that the Kistler
school bill of 1889 "was not defeated by the native influence,
as the News clearly intimates," but was due to "certain
Americans, having large landed interests, who objected to
school districts having the right to vote a special school
tax on lands."59
Optic concluded :
is an altogether mistaken idea that the native people of
New Mexico are opposed to public schools, and the sooner
our friends abroad disabuse themselves of the thought, the
better it will be."
than two months later, the News declared that the
average territorial office-holder "does not know what
a principle is, and his interest in the territory consists
only in retaining the position he may be filling."60
Declaring that this was unjust to officeholders in New
Mexico, the Optic said:
the News has its ideas of the Territorial appointee from
the days and men when the Territories were the dumping ground
for broken down political hacks, sent out from all parts
of the union. . . . Nearly all those filling federal offices
here were citizens of the Territory at the time of their
appointment and are as truly, deeply and widely interested
in New Mexico, as it is possible for any citizen of Colorado
to be interested in that state. In fact, it would be difficult
for friend or foe, for democrat or republican, for mug-wump
or granger, to imagine how any official could more untireingly
[sic] and sagaciously labor for the good of the Territory
than the present governor has done and is still doing."61
the last two decades of New Mexico's struggle for statehood,
the Colorado papers were always ready to advise as to the
fate of their southern neighbor. They did not hesitate either
to censure what had been done, or to counsel as to what should
be done. Their words of admonition and advice were sometimes
directed toward the New Mexicans themselves, sometimes toward
the senate or others in authority in national affairs. During
the critical year of 1889 three Denver papers strongly suggested
that the opportunity of coming into the union along with the
northwestern territories was being jeopardized or lost through
the actions of the New Mexicans. Thus the Denver Republican
for March 4 declared that the adjournment of the territorial
legislature without enacting the public school law was "a
very serious blunder." The Republican pointed
out that the proportion of illiteracy in the territory was
high, and that public school money was divided among certain
sectarian schools. Having expressed a doubt as to whether
there were "more than six public schools in the Territory,"
the editorial predicted that Americans would hesitate to make
their homes in the territory as long as such conditions prevailed.
Each county, the Republican concluded, should see
to the organization of genuine public schools. Practically
the same advice was given by the Denver News on March
10. Meanwhile the Denver Times had spoken even more
bluntly. The Times said it was charged that the territorial
legislature which had just adjourned "has made more blunders
and passed more pernicious laws and fewer good ones than any
of its predecessors." If this indictment was true, the
Times opined, "the legislature has certainly
not improved the prospects of the Territory for admission
as a state."62
The Denver papers frequently warned the New Mexicans
against the folly of "divided counsels," declaring
that it would defeat statehood.63
The Colorado press, however, did not direct all its censure
and advice at the citizens of New Mexico. During the 1890s
the United States senate was repeatedly criticized by both
Republican and Democratic papers in Colorado because it had
postponed statehood for the territory. Thus in July, 1892,
the Denver Times declared that that body had been
guilty of "a rare piece of political cowardice"
because it had postponed consideration of a statehood bill
until after the elections.64
Early in 1895 the Denver Republican took the
senate to task, declaring that another postponement of the
enabling act had "delayed prosperity."65
Council was also freely given to both individuals and
organizations that had to make any decision regarding the
admission of New Mexico to the union. Thus some months before
the meeting of the Republican national convention of 1896,
the Denver Republican said, editorially: "The
Republican party will not gain strength in these Rocky Mountain
states by excluding New Mexico and Arizona from their just
claims to statehood."66
attitude of the Colorado press was set forth a little more
fully, however, by the Denver Republican for July
12, 1902, in its advice to the man who was to hold the destinies
of New Mexico in his hand for a decade. The Republican
Senator Beveridge, chairman of the senate committee on territories,
is in Colorado, he should take note of the fact that the
sentiment of the Republican party in this state is strongly
in favor of the admission of Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.
We who live here ought to know better than most Republicans
east of the Mississippi what the sentiment of the Far West
is on the subject, and also what the qualifications for
statehood of the three Territories are"
we shall see, the Indiana senator turned a deaf ear to these
words of advice. There can be no doubt, however, that the
Colorado press rendered effective aid, not only in boosting
the territory but also in the statehood fight. The Denver
papers, especially with their wider circulation, served as
a clearing house for information regarding New Mexico. Their
regular issues frequently mentioned mining prospects in the
territory, and they also issued special New Year's Day editions
which gave a resume of the progress made in the Rocky Mountain
region during the past year. It is true that New Mexico editors
sometimes complained of the inadequate space given their territory,67
but such grumbling should not lead the student to ignore
the advertising value of these special issues to New Mexico.
Furthermore, as we have already seen, the Colorado papers
gave much space to defending the native people from attack
and to elaborating on the argument for statehood. In addition,
they frequently made practical suggestions as to how the state
and its citizens might aid in the statehood crusade. Thus
the New Mexican for Jan. 30, 1889, said:
Denver Times and the Republican of the
same city are advocating that the Colorado legislature shall
memorialize congress to admit New Mexico as a state. The
ground of the proposed action ... is that the Centennial
state was admitted largely through the efforts of S. B.
Elkins, when that gentleman was delegate from New Mexico."
years later, during the momentous statehood fight of 1902,
the Denver Republican published the names of the
members of the senate committee on territories at least twice,
and urged its readers to write these gentlemen in behalf of
New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma.68
Readers were also urged to write any other members of
the senate with whom they were acquainted.
the editors of New Mexico complained from time to time of
the hostility or indifference of this or that paper in Texas,
California or Colorado, there can be no doubt that the Southwestern
press did much to advertise the territory and to aid her in
her struggle for statehood. The Colorado papers gave the strongest
support, and especially those of Denver. Political leaders
of New Mexico were most lavish in their praise of the Republican.
While on a visit to Colorado's capital city in the fall of
1897, Gov. Miguel A. Otero told a reporter for that paper:
am particularly grateful to the Republican for
the help that it is constantly giving to the interests of
New Mexico. Your paper has always been a good friend to
the Territory, and is doing all that it can to further our
development. We have no complaint to make of Colorado people.
Their interests are in many respects identical with ours,
and they have always been generous in extending their help,
as they have some idea of the great wealth which we have
that only needs capital for its development. It is the Eastern
people who do not understand the extent and variety of our
resources and persistently misunderstand the character of
our Mexican population, who are as loyal, as industrious
and progressive as the people of any state if they have
the time and opportunity for development.69
the little governor made no reference to aid given in the
statehood struggle, this was undoubtedly due to the fact that
he had been in office for only a few months and had not thoroughly
identified himself with that movement at that time. When,
however, Delegate Bernard Rodey wrote the Republican in June,
1902, he thanked the Denver paper particularly for services
rendered along that line.70
Commenting on the letter the following day, the editor
service thus acknowledged was no departure on the part of
the Republican from the course pursued for years.
We have always recognized the claims of New Mexico upon
the favor and good will of the public, and particularly
of the National Congress."71
next article in this series will consider the attitude of
the eastern papers, particularly as illustrated by the St.
Louis Globe-Democrat and the Washington Post.
At the same time, we shall identify some of the correspondents
in the territory and in the national capital who furnished
publicity for New Mexico to the press of the nation.
The second article in this series dealt with the attitude
of the New Mexican press. See the Review, vol. XIV, pp. 121-142.
The aid given by other territories will be omitted here.
Eleventh Census of the United States: 1890 (Government
Printing Office. 1895), Part I, pp. 370-373.
Ibid., p. 382; Ayers, American Newspaper Annual (Philadelphia,
1896). p. 751.
El Paso Herald, Jan. 18, 19, 1901. See also the Review,
XVI, pp. 391-393.
Albuquerque Citizen, April 30, 1901.
Santa Fe New Mexican, Jan. 13, 1901.
Ibid., Jan. 10, 1901. For a discussion of this controversy,
see chapter 2 of Otero, Miguel A., My Nine Years as Governor
of the Territory of New Mexico, 1897- 1906 (Albuquerque, 1940).
Ibid., Dec. 9, 1901.
Ibid., Jan. 7, 1901.
Ibid., Dec. 9, 1901.
Ibid The New Mexican for April 25, 1901, said: "The
Texas delegation in congress is opposed to New Mexico's desire
to become a state. Of course it is. Two Republican senators
and one Republican representative in congress from the state
of New Mexico would see to it that no land stealing and no
water robbing Texas schemes would pass."
El Paso Herald, quoted by Albuquerque Citizen, May 12,
El Paso News, quoted by Albuquerque Journal Democrat,
Oct. 10, 1901.
Albuquerque Citizen, Feb. 15, 1902. See also issue for
Jan. 1, 1903.
El Paso News, quoted by Albuquerque Citizen, June 10,
El Paso News, quoted by Albuquerque Citizen, Sept. 29,
El Paso News, quoted by Albuquerque Citizen, Jan. 7,
Eleventh Census of the United States, Part I. p. 11.
Ibid., p. LXVI.
San Francisco Chronicle, quoted in Silver City Enterprise,
Oct. 30, 1891.
San Francisco Chronicle, quoted in Las Vegas Optic, Jan.
San Diego Union, Oct. 24, 1891.
Los Angeles Times, quoted in Optic, June 20, 1892.
Los Angeles Times, quoted in Albuquerque Citizen, April
Lordsburg Western Liberal, quoted in Los Angeles Times,
Oct. 31, 1901.
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 81, 1901.
New Mexican, Nov. 6, 1901.
Albuquerque Citizen, Nov. 7, 1901.
Los Angeles Times, Nov. 12, 1901.
Ibid., Nov. 6, 1901.
Ibid., Nov. 15, 1901.
Ibid., p. LXVII.
Lute Wilcox, "for quite a while connected with the
press of this Territory" and Lou Hartigan, "late
of the Gallup Gleaner." Optic, Feb. 14, 1889; Jan. 20,
Denver Field and Farm, quoted in Optic, Feb. 14, 1889.
San Marcial Reporter, April 5. 1890.
New Mexican, August 7, 1901.
Denver News, Feb. 21, 1902.
Albuquerque Citizen, Feb. 26, 1902.
Denver Republican, Dec. 5, 1889.
Ibid., quoted by New Mexican, April 19, 1890.
Omitted in original document
The Trinidad Advertizer had already seen the wisdom of
boosting its neighbor to the south. It declared in the spring
of 1890 that, while it was not probable that the Republican
administration would upset the safe majority which it had
secured by the admission of the Dakotas, Washington and Montana,
New Mexico was "ten times more deserving to be a state
than Idaho," which would not be able to maintain statehood.
The Advertizer predicted that Southern New Mexico, next to
California, would be "the greatest fruit growing country
in the United States." And that in time "the territory
would rival Texas as a sheep and cattle growing country."
Trinidad Advertizer, quoted by New Mexican, May 8,
Denver Field and Farm, quoted in New Mexican, March 28,
1890. Early in December, 1901, the Denver Republican said:
"Justice and the interests of the trans-Missouri region
alike demand that these three territories (New Mexico, Arizona,
and Oklahoma) be admitted." (Denver Republican, quoted
by New Mexican, Dec. 9, 1901.)
Denver Sun, quoted by New Mexican, Dec. 23, 1891.
The enabling act had been passed on March 3, 1875 the
last day of the life of the Forty-third Congress. Patterson
served as delegate from March 3, 1875, to Aug. 1, 1876, when
the territory became a state.
Denver Republican, quoted in Optic, Jan. 20, 1892.
Denver Republican, quoted in New Mexican, Oct. 4, 1901.
Denver Sun, quoted in Optic, Nov. 30, 1892.
Denver News, quoted in the Optic, July 1, 1892.
The New Mexican for May 24, 1902, reprinted an extract
from an editorial in the Rocky Mountain News which gives the
same line of argument.
Rocky Mountain News, quoted in New Mexican, May 24, 1902.
Trinidad Advertiser, quoted in New Mexican, May 8, 1890.
Denver News, quoted in New Mexican, December 27, 1893.
See also the Denver Republican, November 16, 1889.
Commenting on the statehood convention held in Albuquerque,
the Denver News for Oct. 26, 1901, said: "The rightfulness
of the claims of New Mexico for admission as a state has been
so often presented in these columns that it is necessary only
to approve and applaud the work of the convention .... and
again urge that congress pay heed to the request of her people."
Denver Republican, April 11, 1889.
Denver Republican, Jan. 26, 1902.
Ibid., July 80, 1902. On the other hand, the Republican
recommended a series of articles on "The Great Southwest'"
written by Ray Stannard Baker. These appeared in the Century
from May to August, 1902.
Denver News, quoted by Optic, Feb. 29, 1892.
Optic, Feb. 29, 1892.
Denver News, quoted by Optic, April 18, 1892.
Optic, April 18, 1892. 70. Ibid,, June 12, 1902.
Denver Times, quoted by Optic, March 6, 1889.
See, for example, Denver Republican, Oct. 30, 1889 ;
and Denver News, quoted by Optic, July 1, 1892.
Denver Times, quoted in Optic, July 21, 1892. See also
Optic, Feb. 4, 1895.
Optic, Feb. 4, 1895.
Denver Republican, quoted by Albuquerque Morning Democrat,
Jan. 22, 1896.
New Mexican, Jan. 3, 1903.
Denver Republican, May 13, 1902; June 1, 1902.
Denver Republican, Oct. 6, 1897.
Ibid., June 12, 1902.
Ibid., June 13, 1902.
Dargan, “New Mexico’s Fight for Statehood (1895-1912):
The Part Played by the Press of the Southwest." New
Mexico Historical Review 18, no. 2 (1943): 148-175. Copyright
by the University of New Mexico Board of Regents. Posted electronically
by permission. All rights reserved.