Hayden Arizona Pioneer Biographies Collection

CARL T. HAYDEN, 1877-1972


Carl Trumbull Hayden, US Representative and US Senator, was born in Hayden's Ferry (now Tempe), Maricopa County Arizona, October 2, 1877. After attending public schools, he graduated from the Normal School of the Territory of Arizona at Tempe in 1896. He attended Stanford University in California, 1896-1900, where he met Nan Downing, later his wife. His family's mercantile enterprises and the flour-milling business in his hometown of Tempe claimed his attention, 1900-1904. He served as a member of the Tempe Town Council, 1902-1904, and as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention at St. Louis in 1904. His first full-time elective office was treasurer of Maricopa County, 1904-1906, followed by sheriff of Maricopa County, 1907-1912.


After admission of Arizona as a state in the Union he was elected as a Democrat to the 62nd and to the next seven Congresses, serving from February 19, 1912 to March 3, 1927. During the First World War he was commissioned a major in the US Army. He was elected to the US Senate in 1926 for the term commencing March 4, 1927 and was reelected in 1932, 1938, 1944, 1950, 1956 and again in 1962 for the term ending January 3, 1969. Hayden was not a candidate in 1968 for reelection to the Senate. The Arizona senator was president pro-tempore of the Senate, January 1957-January 1969.


Carl Hayden, as he was known in politics, was arguably the single most important individual in shaping Arizona's rapid growth from a sparsely settled, arid frontier territory near the beginning of the twentieth century to a modern urban state in the last half of the century.


Hayden's pioneer father, Charles Trumbull Hayden, founded Tempe and was a leader in establishing what is now Arizona State University. His mother, Sallie, was active in the first stirring of women's political activism, and sisters Mary (Mapes) and Sallie were active outside their homes. Carl married Nan Downing, a southern California high school teacher, in 1908.


As a twenty-five-year-old Carl Hayden travelled to Washington to lobby for the Salt River Project as Congress debated the Federal Reclamation Act in 1902. Ten years later he returned as Arizona's first congressman. After election to the Senate in 1926, he became known as the "silent senator", but nonetheless influenced federal policymaking in natural resource development, water reclamation, and land-use management.


Hayden's early education was the beginning of a lifetime spent in public affairs. He characterized his role in the Congress as that of a "workhorse" rather than that of a "show-horse". While his career appears to have been planned in advance, there were roadblocks along the way. One major obstruction occurred when adverse family finances necessitated his dropping out of the university before he could achieve a law degree. On the other hand, Arizona achieved admission as a state at an opportune moment in Hayden's career. He made a political career as a Democrat starting early in a century when that party was to play a dominant role in national politics.


Throughout his public career Carl Hayden exhibited a continuing concern for natural resources. Mining and cattle raising were important in the Arizona Territory when Hayden first entered politics. By the time of Hayden's service as county sheriff, Maricopa County had quieted down and was ready for transformation into irrigated farming-ranching. Carl Hayden's father had inaugurated ferry service across the Salt River at the site of Tempe; the railroad was reality and the new automobile created a need for faster travel and transport via new highways.


The Salt River and Yuma water projects were approved and got underway before the First World War. By the end of the 1920's the flow of the Colorado River itself was divided by Congress, water storage and diversion dams were built on the Gila River, and Congress approved construction of a high storage and hydroelectric dam in Boulder Canyon (now Hoover Dam) after a filibuster by Arizona Senators Henry F. Ashurst and Hayden. The annual floods of the Colorado were near an end.


Senator Hayden co-authored the Hayden-Cartwright Act in the mid 1930's, which was aimed in part at putting unemployed men back to work during the Great Depression. Federal funds were to be used to match funds from the state governments for highway planning and construction. The approach of the Second World War closed the Depression era, and ushered in military and air base construction in the South, the West, and Arizona as well. He staunchly gave support to the war effort in the early 1940's, and was a supporter of US policies in Europe following the Second World War aimed at containing and reversing Soviet strategic intiatives.


Carl Hayden consistently advocated establishing a system of national parks and monuments, protecting national forests, educationl and health programs for Indian peoples, while developing the nation's economy by such programs as water storage and hydropower. He concerned himself with immigration matters and the international border with Mexico, and with wildlife, recreation and wilderness areas. Early in his public life he supported womens' suffrage, but later had reservations about the Equal Rights Amendment. He was a late supporter of civil rights and Medicare.


Bringing water from the Colorado River to central Arizona had assumed increasing priority for the Arizona Congressional delegation for nearly half a century, but first necessitated a US Supreme Court decision and overcoming California's opposition. The legislative climax of Hayden's career was approval in 1968 of the nation's largest water project, the Central Arizona Project (CAP), to transport Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson via a series of aqueducts.


Hayden's political power came from his uninterrupted service (seniority) in the Senate, his committee work, especially for chairing the annual hearings on water reclamation bills, and as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.


From his first election to Congress until his final retirement he never lost an election, and typically faced weak or no opponents at election time. His nearly fifty-seven years in Congress is a record likely to stand. During the first part of his service in Congress Hayden represented one of the nation's least populous states, but Arizona growth surged ahead of the national growth rate following mid-century. Electronics and tourism were new leaders of Arizona's economy.


Retired, he resided in Tempe, Arizona, and died in Mesa, Arizona, January 25, 1972. Following cremation, ashes were interred in the family plot at the Tempe Butte Cemetary, Tempe, Arizona.


Dr. Ross R. Rice


Fall, 1993

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