Geo. W.P. Hunt walked to his inaugural

State's 1st Governor, dogged by job seekers, insisted stand be union-built
2012-02-05T00:00:00Z Geo. W.P. Hunt walked to his inaugural Arizona Daily Star
February 05, 2012 12:00 am

Arizona Daily Star

The governor-elect was primed and his inaugural ceremony arranged, when, at 10 a.m. on Feb. 14, 1912, a telegram was received in Phoenix announcing President William Howard Taft had, at long last, signed the proclamation making Arizona the 48th state.

Receipt of the telegram was the signal for George W.P. Hunt and other previously elected state officials to start their one-mile trek from downtown Phoenix to the Capitol building. A Democrat, Hunt not only became Arizona's first governor, he was to serve more terms than any other chief executive of the state, seven to be exact.

The telegram also set in motion the machinery whereby the newly elected county officials also were sworn into office, but in the case of Pima County some didn't qualify for several days.

And Pima County remained faithful to the Republican Party, whereas the state - considered predominantly Republican during territorial days - rebuked President Taft by going solidly Democratic. Taft had ired the framers of the constitution by withholding approval of that document until a provision for the recall of judges was removed. Once statehood was attained, the voters re-inserted the provision and there was nothing the president could do about it.

Forty years of striving for statehood lay back of the mile-long parade that preceded Hunt's inaugural ceremonies. He was sworn into office promptly at noon by Arizona Supreme Court Justice Alfred Franklin. The latter had been in office for exactly one hour.

The parade was a combination of pedestrians - including all major electees - automobiles, floats and horses.

While the ceremony itself came off without a hitch, Hunt had to act fast the morning of the inauguration to keep from being caught in a squeeze between organized and unorganized labor.

In fact, it required 20 union carpenters to build a new parade reviewing stand after Hunt was informed that the original stand had been erected, on instructions from the parade committee, with "scab" labor.

Hunt, himself, used the union-built stand. Some lesser dignitaries were relegated to the non-union edifice.

Hunt's inaugural speech was brief, but William Jennings Bryan talked for two hours to the crowd of 8,000.

All of this was accomplished while Hunt was trying to ward off scores of job seekers.

Meanwhile, Carl Hayden, previously Maricopa County sheriff and who had been elected as the state of Arizona's first member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was making a fruitless dash to be in on the signing of the proclamation by the president.

Hayden had to go by the way of New Orleans, where he, his wife, and Andrew P. Martin of Tucson, his first private secretary, missed their connection so didn't get to the Capitol for the signing.

Numerous others did, including Ralph Cameron, the territorial governor; Robert Kirk, territorial secretary; Bernard "Trapper" Zacheau, Cameron's secretary; Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Molloy, Yuma, (parents of John Molloy, who was a Pima County Superior Court judge many years later); J. Lorenzo Hubbell of Ganado, a noted Indian trading post operator; George S. Babbitt, pioneer Flagstaff merchant; Robert Kirk, who subsequently became assistant secretary of state; Ira M. Bond, a reporter for the Tucson Daily Citizen; Robert L. Long, territorial superintendent of public instruction; James H. McClintock, who later became the official state historian; George Curry, former New Mexico congressman; Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock, one-time publisher of the Citizen; William Atherton Du Puy, Arizona author; and Sol Luna.

On the proclamation signing in Washington, a wire story said it was the first event of its kind of which "movies" were taken. The film first was seen by the president's Cabinet, at a private showing, and then released to the public.

Newspaper stories of the era said the inaugural parade was lacking in military flavor "because the new governor is adverse to ostentation."

And the Star remarked editorially that:

"The last vestige of territorial government within the U.S. proper disappeared at two minutes past 10 yesterday morning by the stroke of a pen." (The president's proclamation signature).

Preceding all of this was the lengthy convention at which a state constitution was drafted.

Delegates to the convention were chosen following a spirited campaign culminating in a 41-11 victory for the Republicans.

Source: The Arizona Daily Star, Feb. 14, 1962

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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