Gov. George W.P. Hunt, Six-term Governor of Arizona

Gov. George W.P. Hunt, Six-term Governor of Arizona

Portrait courtesy of University of Arizona Special Collections (A-Z Photo, Folder 60).

Born November 1, 1859 in Huntsville, Missouri. Died December 24, 1934.

Born in a town named after his grandfather, Hunt left home as a boy and wandered through Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico, prospecting for gold and other minerals. He arrived in Globe in 1881 and worked as a waiter and a laborer in Old Dominion Mine. He drove a delivery wagon for the Old Dominion Commercial Company and, within ten years, became its president. He went on to become a banker and rancher, and the first mayor of Globe following its incorporation. He was first elected to the Territorial Legislature in 1893, where he served until 1900 and again from 1904 to 1910 and campaigned for statehood.

Progressive but not radical, he was elected President of the Constitutional Convention of 1910. While he was known as a friend of labor, he was probably more anti-corporate than pro-labor, the friend of small business, in opposition to large corporate interests headquartered back east. In 1910, he headed off the formation of a labor party by promising to endorse labor's goals, allowing labor to dominate the Constitutional Convention. Among the liberal provisions in the constitution were the eight-hour day, women's suffrage, workmen's compensation, the right to picket, recall of judges, better and safer working conditions, and anti-corporate taxation laws.

He was the first governor of Arizona, elected in 1911. In 1915, corporate interests spearheaded an unsuccessful recall campaign; he was accused of fiscal irresponsibility, catering to radicals, and supporting striking miners at Clifton-Morenci. In 1916, he lost his third gubernatorial campaign by thirty votes and demanded a recount; he was reinstated as governor in December, 1917. Out of office at the time of the deportation, he was appointed federal labor investigator by President Woodrow Wilson and denounced the deportations in Jerome and Bisbee. He was an admirer of President Wilson.

Corpulent, with a huge walrus mustache, Hunt was a populist, considered a demagogue by some; he dominated Arizona politics for many years.

[Sources: James W. Byrkit. Forging the copper collar: Arizona's labor management war of 1901-1921. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1982; John S. Goff, Arizona Biographical Dictionary. Cave Creek, AZ: Black Mountain Press, 1983.]