Arizona: Modern Development
Irrigation, spurred by the Desert Land Act and by Mormon immigration, promoted farming in the southern part of the territory. By 1900, diverted streams were irrigating 200,000 acres (80,940 hectares). With the opening of the Roosevelt Dam (1911), a federally financed project, massive irrigation projects transformed Arizona's valleys. Although Arizona's mines were not unionized until the mid-1930s, strikes occurred at the copper mines of Clifton and Morenci in 1915 and at the Bisbee mines in 1917.
During World War II, defense industries were established in Arizona. Manufacturing, notably electronic industries, continued to develop after the war, especially around Phoenix and Tucson; in the 1960s, manufacturing achieved economic supremacy over mining and agriculture in Arizona. During the 1970s and 80s the state experienced phenomenal economic growth as it and other Sun Belt states attracted high-technology industries with enormous growth potential.
Arizona has contributed several major figures to national politics. Among them, Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the unsuccessful 1964 Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency, was long the standard bearer for American conservatism. Democrat Stewart L. Udall served as secretary of the interior under presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
With the development of irrigation and hydroelectric projects along the Colorado River and its tributaries, water rights became a subject of litigation between Arizona and California. In 1963 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Arizona had rights to a share of the water from the Colorado's main stream and sole water rights over tributaries within Arizona. In 1968, Congress authorized the Central Arizona Project, a 335-mi (539-km) canal system to divert water from the Colorado River to the booming metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson. The canal, which uses dams, tunnels, and pumps to raise the water 1,247 ft (380 m) to the desert plain, was opposed by environmentalists, who feared it would damage desert ecosystems. Construction was completed in 1991, at a cost of over $3.5 billion.
In the late 1980s and 90s, political scandals tainted Arizona's governors. In 1988, Gov. Evan Mecham, charged with obstructing justice and financial improprieties, was impeached and removed from office. J. Fife Symington 3d, another Republican, won election in 1991 and was reelected in 1994; in 1997, convicted on fraud charges, he too resigned. In 1992 a six-year political controversy ended when Arizona voters approved a proposal to observe an annual state holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 2002, Democrat Janet Napolitano was elected to succeed Hull. She was the first woman to be reelected to the governorship in 2006, but resigned in 2009 to become Homeland Security secretary. Arizona's secretary of state, Jan Brewer, a Republican, succeeded her, and was elected to the office in 2010. The state again became a focus of national (and international) controversy in 2010 when it enacted a law requiring local law officers to check the status of someone stopped for an offense if the person is believed to an illegal alien; although that aspect of the law was upheld in 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court, other aspects were struck down. Current governor Doug Ducey (2015- ) has pursued conservative positions on abortion, same-sex marriage, and other issues, although he has increased the state's support for education.
Following the defeat of President Donald Trump in 2020, the Republican-controlled legislature sponsored an election audit of Maricopa County run by a group called the Cyper Ninjas; although the audit found that Joe Biden indeed had won, it was marred by controversy.
Sections in this article:
- Modern Development
- Territorial Status and Statehood
- U.S. Acquisition and the Discovery of Minerals
- Spanish Exploration and Mexican Control
- Early History
- Government, Politics, and Education
- Facts and Figures
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