On February 14, 1912, Taft signed the proclamation making Arizona the 48th state, and the last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the union. It was the last of the 48 contiguous states to be admitted to the union.
It took more than 50 years for Arizona to be granted statehood by the U.S. Congress; it was a long and difficult road. Finally, on August 11, 1911 the House of Representatives submitted H.J. Res. 14, to admit the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona as States into the Union, to be recognized on equal footing with the existing 46 states. President William H. Taft vetoed the bill four days later. The controversy related to the fact that Arizona's constitution allowed for the recall of judges. Since he believed in an independent judiciary.
On the very next day, Congress passed S. J. Res. 57, admitting the territories of New Mexico and Arizona as states conditioned upon Arizona voters' adoption of an amendment to the constitution removing the judiciary recall provision. President Taft approved the resolution on August 21, 1911. Arizona voters removed the recall provision. (Source: National Archives.)
The first Governor of Arizona was George W.P. Hunt. He came to Globe, Arizona in 1877 at the age of 18 and later became the first mayor of Globe. he served seven terms as Governor. More about George Hunt from the National Governors' Association.
The history of territorial Arizona, as well as its rise to statehood and beyond, is engagingly presented at the Arizona Capitol Museum in the Downtown Phoenix government complex. Here is a map. It is free to visit! and I highly recommend it! While you are there, you may also stop across the street at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, dedicated to many individuals who made significant contributions to the state. The Arizona 9-11 Memorial is also located there.
In 2012 Arizona's centennial was celebrated all year long, with programs, exhibits and events for all ages relative to the heritage, arts and culture of the state.
As we celebrate Valentine's Day each February 14, we also say "Happy Birthday" to our state on Arizona Statehood Day!