The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 116
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the status of slavery, all of which created an image of New Mexico as
being unfit for self-government.
Larson correctly sees the 1872-1876 statehood efforts as paralleling
those in Colorado. Since both parties in New Mexico initially agreed
upon the desirability of statehood, Larson thinks they saw it as a
way to develop the region, but despite proposing a progressive con-
stitution modelled on that of Illinois, the old factionalism and cultural
schisms reappeared to defeat ratification of the state constitution.
The most original part of Quest for Statehood comes in the last
six chapters which carry the statehood story from the abortive effort
in 1889 down to the successful admission in 1912. Playing down the
role of land grants in New Mexico politics as a deterrent to statehood,
Larson concentrates on such neglected factors as the rise of a local
Populist and Free Silver party, the early statehood efforts of Delegate
Antonio Joseph (leader of the Democrats) and, more familiarly, of
Thomas Catron (leader of one of the Republican statehood forces).
Larson also feels that Harvey Fergusson's Land Act of 1898, which
reserved certain public lands for education, "did more than any other
one thing to promote education and prepare the people of New
Mexico for statehood." The final concentrated drive for statehood
between 19o02 and 1912 is described thoroughly, if somewhat
Larson traces the usual reasons Congress and local voters denied
territories admission into the Union: lack of a real drive, anti-
western sentiment in Congress and in the nation, as well as economic
and political reasons. But for New Mexico he concludes that "fac-
tional strife and political discord do not fully account for the fact
that New Mexico was never considered in the same light as the other
territories." Rather it was a strong prejudice against Spanish-speaking
Roman Catholic people. "Nativism in America, sometimes concealed
and at other times brought out into the open, was thus the major ob-
struction to the Territory's statehood aspirations."
One could argue that Larson is too cautious about analyzing under-
lying motives, but the only real quarrel one can have with this
excellent monograph is that it ignores the economic issues which often
played a major role in political decisions. The outcome of the state-
hood efforts of 1847-1850 were affected by Texas bondholders who
wanted the lands of eastern New Mexico as collateral if federal cash
was not forthcoming. The Constitution of 1872 and the statehood ef-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/128/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.