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First gov was a man for his time and ours

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By Sherry Robinson

We’ve spent this past year celebrating the centennial of New Mexico’s hard-won statehood.
As we say goodbye to 2012 and the centennial, let me introduce you to James Silas Calhoun, the first governor appointed after New Mexico became a U. S. Territory.
Calhoun was the right man for the job, and if he were around today, he would have something to say about our current problems.
My own celebration of the centennial involved studying Calhoun in detail and I can now declare myself the state’s only Calhoun expert, only because nobody else found him a worthy subject.
Congress in 1849 makes today’s standoff look like a lawn party. Lawmakers fought sharply over each state proposed for admittance to the union.
Would it be a free or slave state? Talk of rebellion hung in the air with the cigar smoke. President Zachary Taylor wanted California and New Mexico to become states and tried to help the process along by sending secret agents.
One was James S. Calhoun, of Georgia, who arrived that spring as New Mexico’s first Indian agent. Calhoun was an ardent Whig, as was another politician from Illinois, Abe Lincoln.


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