Mexico's Struggle for Statehood
by David V. Holtby
of Oklahoma Press,
in Out of the Past
N ew Mexico was ceded to the United States in 1848, at the end of the
war with Mexico, but not until 1912 did President William Howard Taft
sign the proclamation that promoted New Mexico from territory to state.
Why did New Mexico’s push for statehood last sixty-four
years? Conventional wisdom has it that racism was solely to blame. But
this fresh look at the history finds a more complex set of obstacles,
tied primarily to self-serving politicians.
Forty-Seventh Star, published
in New Mexico’s centennial year, is the first book on its
quest for statehood in more than forty years.
closely examines the final stretch of New Mexico’s tortuous
statehood, beginning in the 1890s. His deeply researched narrative
juxtaposes events in Washington, D.C., and in the territory to present
the repeated collisions between New Mexicans seeking to control their
destiny and politicians opposing them, including Republican U.S.
senators Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana and Nelson W. Aldrich of Rhode
Holtby places the quest for statehood in national perspective
while examining the territory’s political, economic, and
development. He shows how a few powerful men brewed a concoction of
racism, cronyism, corruption, and partisan politics that poisoned New
Mexicans’ efforts to join the Union. Drawing on extensive
Spanish-language and archival sources, the author also explores the
consequences that the drive to become a state had for New
Euro-American, Nuevomexicano, American Indian, African American, and
offers a compelling story that shows why and how home rule
mattered—then and now—for New Mexicans and for all