McCormick was governor of Arizona when Tucson was the capital

2013-09-10T00:00:00Z 2013-09-11T13:19:02Z McCormick was governor of Arizona when Tucson was the capitalBy David Leighton Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

McCormick Street, which is downtown just north of the Tucson Police Station, honors Arizona’s second territorial governor.

Richard C. McCormick was born on May 23, 1832, in New York City to Richard C. and Sarah (Decker) McCormick. At age 20, he started working on Wall Street and a half decade later, he became a journalist. While working for the New York Evening Post he spent some time as a correspondent with the Army of the Potomac in the early part of the Civil War. He was a member of the Republican State Committee and took an active role in the election of Abraham Lincoln.

In 1863, after Lincoln signed the Arizona Organic Act creating the Arizona Territory out of the western half of the New Mexico Territory, McCormick was appointed secretary of the territory. On Jan. 22, 1864, after traveling the Santa Fe Trail, he and the other territorial officials arrived at the territory’s first capital, Fort Whipple. He brought a printing press with him, and that same year started the Arizona Miner newspaper. The next year he penned a book, “Arizona: Its Resources and Prospects.”

In 1866, President Andrew Johnson appointed McCormick the second governor of the Arizona Territory, an office he held until 1869. From 1867 through 1869 he served as governor in Tucson, which was the capital of Arizona from 1867 to 1877.

During his time in office, a law was passed creating school districts. The first one set up was in Tucson. Arizona’s Public School District No. 1 was organized by the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 18, 1867. The board appointed John “Pie” Allen, William S. Oury and Francisco S. Leon to the first public school board in Arizona. In an old adobe building rented for the purpose, Augustus Brichta became Tucson’s first public school teacher.

In 1870, McCormick founded the Arizona Citizen, which later became the Tucson Citizen. His next political role was as territorial delegate to Congress, where he was elected to three two-year terms from 1869 to 1875. He also designed the first seal of the territory, adding the Latin motto Ditat Deus (God enriches), which is still part of the Arizona State Seal. Eventually, McCormick returned to New York. He died in 1901 at his home in Jamaica, Long Island.

Note: Jackson Street, a couple of blocks north of McCormick Street, was named in 1872 in honor of early pioneer Jarvis Jackson, who was killed by Apaches in 1870.

Sources:

Special thanks to Delia Badachi of Nippon Motor.

Jay J. Wagoner, “Arizona Territory 1863-1912: A Political History,” The University of Arizona Press, 1970

C. L. Sonnichsen, “Tucson: The Life and Times of an American City,” University of Oklahoma Press, 1987

Leander James McCormick, “Family Record and Biography,” self-published, 1896

“Richard C. McCormick Dead: Ex-Governor of Arizona and ex-congressman from this state,” The New York Times, June 3, 1901

“Old Tucson Fast Disappearing Will Be Perpetuated in the Names of City Streets,” Tucson Daily Citizen, June 1919

“Preserve The Old Landmarks,” Arizona Daily Star, Dec. 29, 1910

Richard McCormick (AHS Hayden File)

J.C. Martin, “First it was Calle de la Guardia, Then it was Cemetery (or Campo Santo) and now its called Alameda Street, “ Arizona Daily Star, Sept. 3, 1972

History of the AZ State Seal: www.azsos.gov/info/state_seal/State_Seal_History.pdf

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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