¿Cuánto cuesta la parte sur de Arizona y Nuevo Mexico? A question that was easily answered and approved through a treaty acknowledging the new Southern border between Mexico and the United States in today’s #HistoryMonday.
On this day in 1853, James Gadsden the special minister to Mexico met with General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico to sign the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City. Gadsden had been appointed as minister by the Secretary of War Jefferson Davis to negotiate the treaty with Mexico. The parties initially agreed to the price of $15 million, but eventually settled on $10 million for approximately 30,000 square miles of land in what is now New Mexico and Arizona. For Gadsden’s efforts, the treaty and the region became known as the Gadsden Purchase in the United State.
Mexico agreed to the treaty and the sale of land after racking up debt in the Mexican-American War as well as seeing Americans settling in disputed lands without penalty. Agreeing to a new border and settling territorial disputes made much more sense.
From the American perspective, this allowed for more land to be used in a Southern railroad route as well as expand Texan interests. Chief among these interests were the expansion of slave territory. Abolitionists resisted efforts by the U.S. to push for a deeper Southern push into Mexico that would have reached the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Gadsden Purchase was quickly settled by American from the nearby Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico Territories. Central Pacific Railroad authorities established a Southern Pacific branch of their company and began building a railway through the newly purchased region.
Much of the settlement in this region of the Southwestern United States are cities like Yuma and Tucson. With the settlement of these cities and the construction of the railroad, Southern settlers expanded the influence of slavery since the areas were below the 36°30′ N line of longitude that defined the Northern limit of slave states.
After the Civil War, the region became known for much of what we know of Western culture in film. One of the more infamous cities in the Gadsden Purchase is Tombstone, AZ. While Texas beef ranchers drove their herds through the region, outlaws called “cowboys” would rustle the cattle and pick fights with the ranchers. Eventually, a group of these cowboys became embroiled in a battle with the Earp family, a set of deputized gunfighters in the town.
This region also has become strategic in the current Mexican-American border dispute, but even the borders agreed to by the two nations in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo are still dealing with issues such as the City of El Paso.
Mining of precious stones and other minerals in the Gadsden Purchase could provide more funds for the United States, but much of the area of mineral deposits is occupied by Native American territory, so any mining profits are provided to the tribal communities.
Have you traveled to any of the cities in the Gadsden Purchase?