Meet Arizona’s Territorial Governors – John Goodwin

Arizona Digital Newspaper Program (ADNP) – History at Your Fingertips

-Guest Post from Christopher Sloan of the ADNP


John Noble Goodwin
(b. October 18th, 1824, d. April 29th, 1887)

Newspapers and politics were nearly inseparable in Territorial Arizona.  If they weren’t out-and-out owned by a political actor, they were often owned by a close associate and had a clear, partisan bent.  They did not just endorse candidates for office; newspapers could be the key to making or breaking a politician’s career.  Despite their sometimes libelous content, they were the only sources for information on the workings of their government that Arizonans had. They carried news on legislation, speeches and proclamations, and the comings and goings of elected officials as they traveled the territory. 

The Arizona Digital Newspaper Program (ADNP) is endeavoring to bring these colorful and highly informative papers and their relationship to Territorial politics to an exhibit in the Arizona Capitol Museum. The exhibit will provide users with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the resources provided through the ADNP website and get a deeper look at the political lives of some of the Territorial Governors…

John Noble Goodwin, the first Territorial Governor of Arizona, was not plagued by some of the high-intensity partisan warfare that raged in several of Arizona’s earliest papers (his Territorial Secretary and successor, Richard McCormick, was deeply embroiled in newspaper-related libel and scandals) but neither was he ignored or immune from attack.  A quick search of the ADNP website turns up Goodwin’s territorial proclamation, announcing Arizona’s entry into the Union as territory in the March 9, 1864 issue of the Arizona Miner.



Much of the Miner’s pages for the balance of 1864 carry accounts of the Governor Goodwin’s travels throughout Arizona territory, his communiques regarding war with the Apaches, and of the codification of territorial law.  According to Those Old Yellow Dog Days by William H. Lyon, the Arizona Miner began its existence as an independent news outlet, but that “all of that changed on September 21, 1867, when John Marion announced his association with [the paper]. From that day forward politics became the lifeblood of the Prescott paper.”

Lyon goes on to sum Marion’s positions up as “supporting President Andrew Johnson, attacking radical Republicans, hating blacks, correcting California newspapers that talked down on Arizona, and castigating … Richard McCormick”[1].

After Goodwin’s stint as governor (1863-1866) he became a delegate to Congress, much to the chagrin of Arizona Democrats, of which Marion was the most notorious.  A column titled “The Past and  Present” by “C.J.E.” in the February 1, 1868 edition of the Miner, accuses Goodwin of, among other things, circumventing the democratic process by installing himself as Arizona Territory’s Congressional Delegate when it had already been promised to Colonel Charles Debrille Poston. The column goes on to purport that Goodwin’s aim was selling off the territory to further his business interests while doing absolutely nothing for Arizonans in general.

antiGoodwin1antiGoodwin.jpgCompare this screed to a much more even-handed account from the January 24, 1866 issue of the Miner, before Marion’s arrival:

PostonvsGoodwinPostonvsGoodwinblock.jpgWhile still clearly in support of Poston, the article takes a reasonable position on Poston’s defeat and even chastises Poston for his inability to take the “high road” after his loss by “heartily co-operating with Governor Goodwin on behalf of the Territory.” Surely, if “he had done so he would still have a warm place in the hearts of our people.”

For more information about Arizona’s territorial governors and much, much more, please visit:      Arizona Digital Newspaper Program (ADNP)

[1] Lyon, William H. Those Old Yellow Dog Days: Frontier Journalism In Arizona 1859-1912. (Tucson, AZ: 1994), 22