“They’d probably vote landlocked Arizona a navy if he asked for it.”
The above quote from a 1971 Los Angeles Times article refers to the level of respect with which his fellow members of Congress viewed Arizona’s Carl Hayden, who was born in Tempe on this date in 1877. Hayden, son of Hayden’s Ferry (now Tempe) founder Charles Trumbull Hayden, represented Arizonans in Washington for 56 years and 319 days, a longstanding record now bested only by the many years of service logged by the late Robert Byrd of West Virginia and John Dingell, a still-serving Michigan Democrat who first took office in December of 1955.
Hayden’s birthplace, the National Register-listed adobe home that is now Monti’s La Casa Vieja, stands directly across the street from the Hayden-owned flour mill for which Tempe’s Mill Avenue is named. Indeed, Hayden’s impressive political career began in the then-small town of Tempe, where he served on the town council. Hayden went on to win terms as treasurer and sheriff of Maricopa County prior to being sent to the nation’s capital as Arizona’s first member of the House of Representatives. After fifteen years in the lower chamber, Hayden won election to the United States Senate, where he served for forty-two years. Hayden tirelessly advocated for his home state during his nearly fifty-seven years in D.C., garnering admiration even from those on the other side of the aisle, as evidenced by Republican Barry Goldwater quietly raising funds for Hayden’s final campaign for re-election. In a time now thought of as being relatively free of the partisan rancor plaguing Washington today, Goldwater discreetly supported Hayden because he knew the Tempean passionately and effectively served their shared constituents.
Central among Hayden’s many legislative accomplishments is the 1968 passage of the Colorado River Basin Project Act that authorized the Central Arizona Project. A longtime goal of the then-nonagenarian, this costly and complex endeavor transports Colorado River water to quench the thirst of Phoenicians and Tucsonans, thus facilitating ongoing population growth and economic expansion not possible without the benefit of this far-off water source. Hayden’s greatest legislative victory served as the capstone to his legendary Congressional career. Just months after the bill’s passage, he retired from the Senate, thereby allowing Barry Goldwater to return to the august body as his duly elected successor. Hayden spent much of his final three years of life working at his office in ASU’s Hayden Library, a repository named not for the much-admired public servant, but instead christened in honor of Hayden’s father, Charles Trumbull Hayden. The former Senate president pro tempore passed away on January 25, 1972. His well-attended funeral service was held in ASU’s Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, which later served as the venue for the 1998 funeral of Hayden colleague and friend Barry Goldwater.