Phoenicians Celebrated Their First Post-Statehood 4th of July with “One and a Half Beeves”

A 1957 stamp showing the 48-star U.S. flag in use from 1912 to 1959. For more information regarding Arizona’s star and its association with Independence Day, please see

A 1957 stamp showing the 48-star U.S. flag in use from 1912 to 1959. For more information regarding Arizona’s star and its association with Independence Day, please see

How are you celebrating Independence Day?

Phoenicians celebrated July 4th, 1912, Arizona’s first post-statehood Independence Day, with a parade, a feast, outdoor games, a concert, and a late-night dance. As reported in the July 5th, 1912 edition of the Arizona Republican newspaper, there was also a “patriotic talk,” but, “not maddening noise and wild and senseless hurrah.” The talk referenced was given by George P. Bullard, the state’s first attorney general. Bullard’s address, memorialized in full on page five of the following day’s Arizona Republican, began with a section reminding those listening, “This Fourth of July is of especial interest to Arizonians and every Arizonian’s heart should swell with pride because today [from] every national building, from every reservation, from every fort, from the mast of every American vessel in all the ports of the civilized world there will break to the breeze for the first time the beloved flag of our nation emblazoned upon its field of azure blue the forty-eighth star, the star of Arizona.” However, Bullard’s discussion of the Grand Canyon State’s symbolic presence on the American flag seems to have been trumped in importance — at least in the minds of the paper’s reporting staff — by the large feast made available to the many revelers in attendance.

As exclaimed by a front page newspaper headline the following day, “Phoenix Had Best Fourth.” Notably, the city’s first post-statehood 4th of July observance included a food spread of a size, “never before witnessed in [that] city.” Indeed, the gleeful and likely sated reporter proclaimed, “if the barbecue alone had been the sum and substance of the day’s events, the affair would have been a success.” What merits this praise, you ask? A feast consisting of “one and a half beeves, 547 loaves of bread, eight hams, two barrels of pickles and quantities of olives.” How does that compare to your planned menu?

Regardless of whether you’ll be sitting down to hot dogs and hamburgers or sharing a meal of “one and a half beeves” with a large group of friends and neighbors, Happy 4th of July!

Five Years Without An Arizona State Flag

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January 28th, 1917 Tombstone Epitaph headline announcing legislative concern over the proposed state flag design. This design that “looked too much like the Japanese emblem” was adopted as Arizona’s official state flag the following month.

A full five years passed between Arizona’s admission to the Union and its adoption of an official state flag. A variety of factors – legislative bickering among them – led to a half-decade elapsing before the “Baby State” had a standard of its own. While the design approved by state legislators in 1917 is well-regarded today, as evidenced by the North American Vexillological Association honoring it as one of the best flags in North America, it initially faced serious opposition.

A flag very similar to that flown today was first put into service by the Arizona Rifle Team during a 1911 match at Camp Perry, OH. A variation of this same design, although not then the official state flag, was displayed at the 1915 dedication of the U.S.S. Arizona. Despite these and other instances in which the Rifle Team flag or a version thereof served, albeit unofficially, as Arizona’s colors, state legislators remained hesitant to formalize the design. A January 1917 bill proposing adoption of the de facto flag as the state’s official flag met resistance from solons and citizens alike. Los Angeles Times articles documented concern that the rays and copper star featured on the flag under discussion bore a “similitude to the Japanese ensign,” and mentioned talk of including a “Gila monster couchant, within a copper collar” on the flag. A proposal to shift the line dividing the rays from the field of blue below from a horizontal to a diagonal orientation languished due after being unfavorably compared to “an astrological chart.”

In the end, legislators passed a bill adopting a design bearing “the copper star of Arizona rising from a blue field in the face of a setting sun” as the state’s official flag. Though Governor Thomas Campbell declined to sign the bill because, as speculated by the Arizona Republican newspaper, “the flag did not measure up to his ideals of what a state emblem should be,” the bill became law after five days of gubernatorial inaction. Campbell was ousted from office in December of 1917 following a court decision declaring George W.P. Hunt the victor of the contentious 1916 race (Campbell would return to the governorship in 1919). However, the Arizona state flag made official by his inaction flies over the capitol building in which he served to this day.

Arizona’s Difficult Path to Statehood

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“Waiting for Their Stars” by Udo Keppler. Oklahoma gained statehood on November 16, 1907, thereby gaining a place on the flag effective July 4th, 1908. New Mexico and Arizona did not achieve statehood until January 6th and February 14th, 1912, respectively. As such, New Mexico is represented by the 47th star and Arizona is represented by the 48th star.

Arizona became a state on this date 102 years ago. I had the pleasure of discussing our long and arduous path to statehood on today’s edition of 91.5 KJZZ’s “The Show.”

A link to Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez’s “The Show” segment regarding our journey from territory to state can be found below.