Arizonans were stubborn from the start.
Eleven of the 52 delegates participating in the two-month convention that produced the Arizona Constitution refused to sign the final 69-page typed document, and Arizonans within two years added a provision they omitted only to get President William Howard Taft to sign a statehood law.
“Today we celebrate the rebellious spirit of this place,” said Secretary of State Ken Bennett said Thursday as he addressed an Old Capitol ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Constitution’s signing on Dec. 9, 1910.
“When it comes to resisting the federal government — go governor — perhaps the state owes it to its founders,” Bennett added, giving a political nod to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer in a reference to her clashes with Washington over immigration enforcement and health care mandates.
The Constitution, Bennett said, protects individual freedoms, standing on a principle “that power flows from the people to government, not the other way around.”
The original Arizona Constitution was on display Thursday — the 100th anniversary of its signing — for a day to mark the opening of an Arizona Capitol Museum display on the 21,603-word document that gave the 48th state its legal and policy framework.
Or at least its starting point.
There have been 143 amendments to the original, starting with five in 1912 and most recently with three approved Nov. 2.
The 1912 amendments included an initiative that gave women the right to vote, making Arizona the sixth state to approve that change. They also included a referendum applying voters’ power to recall public officials to include judges.
Taft had balked at approving statehood if Arizona was going to allow voters to recall judges.
The most recent amendments took conservative stances on affirmative action, health care rights and union elections.
In contrast, the original Arizona Constitution was drafted in the Progressive Era. It drew many provisions from other states, particularly those in the West such as Washington, on issues related to labor and business.
Archivists said the delegates who refused to sign the Constitution didn’t like some of its provisions. All but one Republican balked at signing, while only Democrat refused as the others signed it, the archivists said.
Before and after the ceremony in the old Senate chamber, the Constitution was displayed in the old House chamber in a waist-high glass cabinet. The Constitution is kept in a bright red box made of acid-free material.
John Arnold, a Tempe attorney and history buff, was one of the first visitors to view it.
“It’s fascinating to think that they actually sat in this room,” Arnold said of the drafters.
Some of the drafters had names familiar to many Arizonans.
The convention’s chairman was George W.P. Hunt, who became the state’s first governor. The co-chairman was Morris Goldwater, uncle to the late Sen. Barry Goldwater.