[page 88]

Collection District Proposed—Improvements on Colorado River Indian Reservation—Delegate Bashford's Speech upon—Debate upon—Amendment to Postal Bill—Delegate Bashford's Speech upon—Acts of Third, Fourth and Fifth Legislatures Legalized—Sixth Legislature held at Tucson.

At the Congressional Session of 1867–68, Coles Bashford, the Arizona Delegate in Congress, introduced a bill to create a collection district for Arizona, which bill was read the first and second time and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, where it remained.

On May 29, 1868, an amendment to the Appropriation Bill was introduced by Mr. Windom, reading as follows:


For completing construction of irrigating canal on the Colorado reservation, breaking and fencing lands, purchase of seeds, teams and tools, construction of agency buildings, subsistence, etc., $84,500.


Upon this amendment Mr. Bashford spoke as follows: May 29, 1868.


Mr. Chairman, I had not intended to say anything upon this amendment proposed by the chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs. That committee made, so far as they were able, a careful examination into this subject, and although there was not a full attendance, the

[page 89]

members present were unanimously in favor of the amendment now offered. Now, Mr. Chairman, as the representative on this floor of Arizona Territory, I wish to state what I know of the Indians of that country after a residence there of some five years.

The amendment proposes to bring together some ten thousand Indians who now have no local habitation, no home, and put them upon the reservation. During the discussion upon this bill I have heard a great deal about our Indian policy. It has been argued that the policy pursued by the Government is unwise. But, sir, can any better Indian policy be adopted than that contemplated by this amendment, which is to give the Indians a home, to put them upon a reservation where they can be self-sustaining?

The principal difficulty in making treaties with the Indians has been that when you have made a treaty, the Indians having no home, you have not been able to enforce it. You cannot punish them when they violate their treaty obligations. But when you put them upon a reservation, where they gather about them their families, their horses, their cattle, where they engage in the cultivation of their fields, they always keep their treaties, because they can be punished when they violate them. Sir, the true Indian policy to be pursued by this Government is to place these Indians upon reservations.

Now, sir, this canal is some thirty miles long, some nine feet deep, and some twenty feet wide. It will irrigate land enough for all these Indians, and some more—not Indians to be

[page 90]

picked, as the gentleman from Massachusetts has said—but some Indians known as the River Indians, who are friendly when they are properly treated; who have always been friendly as a general rule. And, sir, they have only been hostile as the result of such a policy as is contemplated by this bill without the proposed amendment. Ever since the acquisition of this Indian country by the United States the Government has, through its representatives and agents, held out to these Indians the prospect that they should be placed upon reservations and cared for, as contemplated by this amendment. By failing to carry out this policy, you render the Indians hostile; and sir, I say, not for the purpose of affecting this vote, that the safety of the people of the country would be endangered if these ten or twelve thousand Indians should join hands with the Apaches.

Upon this reservation all the Indians of that country can be supported and cared for; and instead of being our enemies they will be our friends. We have heretofore raised companies of Indians to fight the Apaches, who have been our foes, stealing our property and murdering our people. I presume that this amendment was not properly presented and pressed before the Committee upon Appropriation, otherwise they would have been in favor of it. I know that it contemplates the only policy which the United States can wisely pursue in regard to the Indians in that far off country.


Mr. Windom, in support of the amendment, had the clerk read the following:

[page 91]


Plats of survey for canal are on file in the Indian Bureau. Estimated cost about one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, but by Indian labor can be done for much less. The canal, now already under course of construction, is thirty miles in length, twenty feet wide, with an average depth of about nine feet. When completed will irrigate seventy-five thousand acres of land. The work is being prosecuted by the Indians, who work with a will, and it is confidently expected that the entire work will be completed during the present year, affording a home for ten or twelve thousand Indians, and rendering them in the future entirely self-sustaining. Should this appropriation fail fears are entertained that the labor already performed may be lost by reason of rains and overflow of river. This appropriation is asked also for breaking and fencing lands, building of houses, purchase of seed, agricultural implements, etc.

There are but two reservations in Arizona—the one on the Colorado river, for which the appropriation is asked, and the Maricopa and Pima reserve on the Gila river. This latter is now self-sustaining, and with an Indian population of six thousand, whose boast is 'that they do not know the color of the white man's blood,' furnishing statistical returns of products of last year amounting to $200,000, and during the year have furnished corn for supply of contracts to the Government troops in Arizona (Fort Whipple) at a rate one-half less than has ever been furnished heretofore.


[page 92]

The following debate then took place in regard to this amendment:

MR. WINDOM (Wm. Windom of Minnesota) :—‘‘These facts were presented to me by Superintendent Dent. I laid them before a minority of the Committee on Indian Affairs—there were no more present—and they unanimously directed me to offer this amendment. I believe it to be good policy, and that the Government would save money by completing this work, because it would furnish employment to the Indians in the Territory, tending to civilize them, for if they are kept at work, enabled to raise corn, etc., they will be able to take care of themselves, and we would save the cost of keeping a military force there. If this amount, or a portion of it, is not now appropriated, it is said that what has already been appropriated will be lost.’’MR. MILLER (George F. Miller of Pennsylvania) :—‘‘How much has been already appropriated?’’MR. WINDOM:—‘‘About fifty thousand dollars.’’MR. BUTLER (Benjamin F. Butler of Massachusetts) :—‘‘I will read to the Committee of the Whole all the information upon this subject which was sent to us by the Secretary of the Interior to justify this appropriation. It is from a letter written by Superintendent Dent, of Arizona Territory: ‘‘

Referring to the estimate of $84,500 for completing the irrigating canal of the Colorado reservation, I again invite your attention to the

[page 93]

insufficiency of the appropriation of $50,000 current this year to accomplish the whole work.

The amount above stated, in addition, I think, will complete the ditch, buildings, etc. I trust that you will concur in this sum, and effect its being appropriated.

Item No. 7, relating to the sum of $20,000 for maintaining Indians on the reservation that may be turned over by the military, I regard as very important. There can be no reasonable doubt but that the considerable force now engaged against the hostiles will conquer bands or tribes during the coming year, and it is highly proper that they should be immediately brought on the reservation, kept there by force, if necessary, and maintained until they can be made self-sustaining.


The proposition, therefore, is to appropriate $84,000, in addition to the $50,000 already appropriated, for the purpose of building an irrigating canal for Indians, a large portion of whom are yet to be caught, and brought in and set to work on the land which is to be thus irrigated.

’’MR. WINDOM:—‘‘The gentleman is mistaken on that point. There are several tribes of Indians there, two of them the largest in the Territory, I believe. They are now industrious, and have never been at war with the whites at all. Only a portion of the Indians, one tribe, is warlike.’’MR. BUTLER:—‘‘Upon examining the whole matter as well as we could the committee came to the conclusion that this was an expenditure that could wait, and hence struck out the appropriation.

[page 94]

The gentleman now proposes to put it in.

I want to call the attention of the committee to the fact that in this bill we appropriate $35,000 to take care of the Indians of this Territory. According to the official returns there are seven thousand of them. We appropriate $15,000 to take care of ninety-three hundred and thirty Indians in Idaho. Now, the amendment asks an appropriation to build a canal. A canal nine feet deep, instead of being merely for purposes of irrigation, looks to me like a manufacturing project. Somebody, I imagine, wants to get water power. It is an immense work, and must cost quite a large amount. I think it had better wait a year. The Indians always have been without it, and in my judgment they can live without it another year. I hope the amendment will not prevail.


The amendment was rejected.

The canal in question was never built. The $50,000 which was said to have been appropriated before for this purpose was used, just how no one knows, for according to Genung, there was less than one-half a mile of the canal built and the River Indians were never collected upon this reservation. A part of the Mohaves were gathered there, but the most of them were on the war-path in 1868, as will be seen further on in this history.

At this session of Congress an amendment was passed to the postal bill, which bill was entitled "An Act to provide for carrying the mails from the United States to foreign ports, and for

[page 95]

other purposes," approved March 25th, 1864. The fourth section of this law was as follows:

‘‘And be it further enacted, That all mailable matter which may be conveyed by mail westward beyond the western boundary of Kansas, and eastward from the eastern boundary of California, shall be subject to prepaid letter postage rates; Provided, however, That this section shall not be held to extend to the transmission by mail of newspapers from a known office of publication to bona fide subscribers, not exceeding one copy to each subscriber, nor to franked matter to and from the intermediate points between the boundaries above named at the usual rates: Provided further, That such franked matter shall be subject to such regulations as to its transmission and delivery as the Postmaster General shall prescribe.’’

The bill was first considered in the House and an amendment striking out this section was passed, causing it to take effect immediately. In the Senate this amendment was inserted: ‘‘

Strike out all after the enacting clause, and in lieu thereof insert the following:

‘‘'The operation of the fourth section of an act to provide for carrying the mails of the United States to foreign ports, and for other purposes, approved March 25, 1864, shall cease and determine on and after the 30th day of September, 1868,'’’ the Senate fixing the time when the amendment should go into effect, as will be seen, on the 30th of September, 1868, when the contracts for carrying the mails would cease. The bill came back, as amended by the Senate, for concurrence in the house. A lively

[page 96]

fight was had upon the amendment. The Chairman of the Committee on Post Office and Post Roads, Mr. Farnsworth of Illinois, endeavored to have it referred to his committee, with the intent, as charged by some of the friends of the bill, upon the floor of the House, to kill the bill. The ensuing debate was participated in by the Delegates from Colorado, Montana and Arizona, and Mr. Ashley, Representative from the State of Nevada, in which it was shown that newspapers only forty and fifty miles from the railroad which was built at that time, had to be sent by express, and cost seventy-five cents a pound; that newspapers printed in San Francisco and in the East were sold at twenty-five cents a copy by the news agents on account of this excessive tariff; that periodicals and magazines were sold at a dollar and a half a copy; that books which cost probably at wholesale by the publishers fifty cents a copy, were sold at two and three dollars. This, it was contended, was a tax upon intelligence. The populations of these Territories, amounting in the aggregate to between two and three hundred thousand people, pioneers in these localities, could not afford reading matter on account of the excessive tariff.


The debate was a long one, and the representative from the State of Nevada, and the Delegates from the Territories affected, were heard. Mr. Bashford, Delegate from Arizona, spoke as follows in favor of the amendment and its immediate passage:


Mr. Speaker, this bill has been deliberately considered in this House. All the objections

[page 97]

made to it were met at the time when it passed. It was deliberately considered in the Senate, and they put an amendment upon the bill fixing a future day for it to go into operation. No one can object to that except the friends of the bill. Instead of going into effect immediately it is to go into effect at a future day. We make no objection to that. If I understand the chairman of the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads he does not go back and renew the objections made here at the time the bill was passed, but says that since that time there have been contracts entered into, and this would affect those contracts, and those contractors would come here and charge the Government more than they otherwise would if we should take this restriction off of printed mail matter. Now, this question has been before Congress for the last year and more. This bill was introduced a long time before; and, sir, if it had been desirable, if the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads had wished this bill to pass, how easy it would have been for them to suspend, by joint resolution, the letting of these contracts until the bill was passed, and then urged the bill through the House, putting our people upon equal footing in all respects with other people of the United States. The pioneers who go into our remote Territories have hardships enough to endure. They have dangers and troubles to meet from the Indians. You have collectors and receivers of public money among us. You make us help bear the burdens of Government, and yet deny us the

[page 98]

right to send newspapers and other printed matter through the mails. I think it would be a great injustice not to pass this at once. I hope, therefore, it will not be referred to the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads.


As I have said, it was hotly contested by the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads, but finally the House concurred in the amendment of the Senate, and the bill was passed. Thereafter all printed matter was carried through the mails and not by Wells, Fargo & Company.

Wells, Fargo & Company, upon the building of the Central Pacific, by some agreement with that corporation, took over the exclusive right to forward express matter over their lines, and, therefore, there was an alliance between this corporation and that of the Pacific Railroads which made a strong combination in Congress. It is the first and for many years the only time in Congress when a combination of the Express and Railroad Companies was defeated in any measure they wished to pass.

In 1867 a decision was handed down by Judge Backus declaring that the Third, Fourth and Fifth Legislatures of Arizona were illegal, the apportionment for which was made by the Governor instead of by the Legislature, as required by the Organic Act. This decision threw everything into confusion. Laws passed during these sessions and criminals convicted, were all declared illegal, and Congress was called upon and did, in the session of 1869–70, pass a bill, legalizing the action of these Legislatures. There was

[page 99]

no Territorial Legislature called here in 1869, for the reason that Mr. McCormick, the Governor, was elected to Congress and took his seat in 1868, while his successor, Gov. Safford, did not arrive in the Territory until after the time had elapsed for the calling of the Legislature, and the Secretary for some reason or other failed to do so.

The next Legislature of Arizona was held in 1871 at Tucson, and thereafter sessions were held biennially instead of annually.


© Arizona Board of Regents