The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 36, July 1932 - April, 1933 Page: 173
VOL. XXXVI JANUARY, 1933 No. 3
The publication committee and the editors disclaim responsibility for views expressed
by contributors to THa QUARTaRLY
FRONTIER LIFE IN SOUTHERN ARIZONA, 1858-1861
W. CLEMENT EATON
In 1858 the reputation of southern Arizona for superlative
wickedness was just beginning. By the Gadsden Purchase this
border territory had recently been acquired from Mexico.' The
tradition of mines of fabulous richness, abandoned by the Span-
iards, made this remote country a new El Dorado. The sudden
influx of Americans, seeking to exploit its mineral treasures, pro-
duced a society that was without parallel in the world. An ex-
perienced traveller who had visited the rough mining towns of
the West described Tucson as "a city realizing, to some extent,
my impression of what Sodom and Gomorrah must have been be-
fore they were destroyed by the vengeance of the Lord."2 Later
communities were to arise and flourish in iniquity, as the great
cow towns, Abilene and Ogallala, but in the period before the
Civil War only Natchez-under-the-hill could rival Tucson in
crime. For in the Gadsden Purchase were gathered the worst
elements of two civilizations.
When the United States acquired this strip of land below the
Gila River, it was nearly deserted on account of the ravages of
the Apache Indians.3 Ranchos and missions had been aban-
'The Gadsden treaty was ratified in 1854, but not until two years later
did the United States actually take possession. Bancroft, H. H., History
of Arizona and New Mexico (San Francisco, 1889), p. 496. See also
Garber, P. N., The Gadsden Treaty (Philadelphia, 1923), Chap. V.
2Browne, J. Ross, Adventures in the Apache Country; a Tour Through
Arizona and Sonora (New York, 1869), p. 131. In company with Colonel
Charles D. Poston, Browne made an expedition through Arizona in 1863-
'Mowry, Sylvester, Arizona and Sonora: The Geography, History and
Resources of the Silver Region of North America (New York, 1864), p. 17.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 36, July 1932 - April, 1933, periodical, 1933; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101093/m1/193/ocr/: accessed September 26, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.