Gadsden Purchase (known in
Mexico as Spanish: Venta de La Mesilla,
"Sale of La Mesilla") is a 29,670-square-mile (76,800 km2)
region of present-day southern
Arizona and southwestern New Mexico
United States purchased via a treaty signed on December 30,
1853, by James Gadsden, U.S. ambassador to
Mexico at that time. The
U.S. Senate voted in favor of ratifying it with amendments on April
25, 1854, and then transmitted it to 14th President Franklin Pierce.
Mexico's government and its General Congress or Congress of the Union
took final approval action on June 8, 1854. The purchase was the last
substantial territorial acquisition in the contiguous United States.
The U.S. sought the land as a better route for the construction of the
southern transcontinental railway line, and the financially-strapped
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna agreed to the sale, which
Mexico $10 million (equivalent to $270 million in
2017). After the devastating loss of Mexican territory to the U.S.
Mexican-American War (1846–48) and the continued
filibustering by U.S. citizens, Santa Anna may have calculated it was
better to yield territory by treaty and receive payment rather than
have the territory simply seized by the U.S.
The purchase included lands south of the
Gila River and west of the
Rio Grande which the U.S. acquired so that it could construct a
transcontinental railroad along a deep southern route, which the
Southern Pacific Railroad
Southern Pacific Railroad later completed in 1881/1883. The purchase
also aimed to reconcile outstanding border issues between the U.S. and
Mexico following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the
Mexican–American War of 1846–1848.
As the railroad age evolved, business-oriented Southerners saw that a
railroad linking the South with the Pacific Coast would expand trade
opportunities. They thought the topography of the southern portion of
the original boundary line to the
Mexican Cession (future states of
California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, western Colorado) of
1848 was too mountainous to allow a direct route. Projected southern
railroad routes tended to veer to the north as they proceeded
eastward, which would favor connections with northern railroads and
ultimately favor northern seaports. Southerners saw that to avoid the
mountains, a route with a southeastern terminus might need to swing
south into what was still Mexican territory.
The administration of President Franklin Pierce, strongly influenced
Secretary of War
Secretary of War
Jefferson Davis (later President of the southern
seceding Confederate States), saw an opportunity to acquire land for
the railroad, as well as to acquire significant other territory from
northern Mexico. In the end, territory for the railroad was
purchased for $10 million (equivalent to $220 million in
Mexico balked at any large-scale sale of territory.
In the United States, the debate over the treaty became involved in
the dispute over slavery, ending progress[clarification needed] before
the American Civil War.
1 Southern route for the Transcontinental Railroad
1.1 Southern commercial conventions
James Gadsden and California
Stephen Douglas and land grants
2 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
2.1 Mesilla Valley
2.2 Indian raids
2.3 Isthmus of Tehuantepec
3 Pierce administration
3.1 Gadsden and Santa Anna
3.3 Post-ratification controversy
4 Growth of the region after 1854
4.1 Army control
4.2 Civil War
4.3 Social development
4.4 Economic development
4.5 Railroad development
7 References in popular culture
8 See also
10.2 Works cited
11 Further reading
12 External links
Southern route for the Transcontinental Railroad
Southern commercial conventions
Lieutenant James Gadsden, U.S. Army (1788–1858), of South Carolina,
later American ambassador/minister to Mexico
In January 1845
Asa Whitney of New York state presented the United
States Congress with the first plan to construct a transcontinental
railroad. Although Congress took no action on his proposal, a
commercial convention of 1845 in Memphis took up the issue. Prominent
attendees included John C. Calhoun, Clement C. Clay, Sr., John Bell,
William Gwin, and Edmund P. Gaines, but it was
James Gadsden of South
Carolina who was influential in the convention's recommending a
southern route for the proposed railroad. The route was to begin in
Texas and end in
San Diego or Mazatlán. Southerners hoped that such a
route would ensure southern prosperity while opening the "West to
southern influence and settlement".
Southern interest in railroads in general, and the Pacific railroad in
particular, accelerated after the conclusion of the Mexican–American
War in 1848. During that war, topographical officers William H. Emory
and James W. Abert had conducted surveys that demonstrated the
feasibility of a railroad's originating in El Paso or western Arkansas
and ending in San Diego. J. D. B. DeBow, the editor of DeBow's Review,
and Gadsden both publicized within the South the benefits of building
Gadsden had become the president of the
South Carolina Canal and Rail
Road Company in 1839; about a decade later, the company had laid 136
miles (219 km) of track extending west from Charleston, South
Carolina, and was 3 million dollars in debt. Gadsden wanted to connect
all Southern railroads into one sectional network. He was
concerned that the increasing railroad construction in the North was
shifting trade in lumber, farm and manufacturing goods from the
traditional north–south route based on the
Ohio and Mississippi
rivers to an east–west axis that would bypass the South. He also saw
Charleston, his home town, losing its prominence as a seaport. In
addition, many Southern business interests feared that a northern
transcontinental route would exclude the South from trade with the
Orient. Other Southerners argued for diversification from a plantation
economy to keep the South independent of northern bankers.
In October 1849 the southern interests held a convention to discuss
railroads in Memphis, in response to a convention in
St. Louis earlier
that fall which discussed a northern route. The Memphis convention
overwhelmingly advocated the construction of a route beginning there,
to connect with an El Paso,
Texas to San Diego,
Disagreement arose only over the issue of financing. The convention
Matthew Fontaine Maury
Matthew Fontaine Maury of Virginia, preferred strict
private financing, whereas John Bell and others thought that federal
land grants to railroad developers would be necessary.
James Gadsden and California
Gadsden supported nullification in 1831. When
California was admitted
to the Union as a free state in 1850, he advocated secession by South
Carolina. Gadsden considered slavery "a social blessing" and
abolitionists "the greatest curse of the nation".
When the secession proposal failed, Gadsden worked with his cousin
Isaac Edward Holmes, a lawyer in San Francisco since 1851, and
California state senator Thomas Jefferson Green, in an attempt to
California into northern and southern portions and proposed
that the southern part allow slavery. Gadsden planned to establish a
slave-holding colony there based on rice, cotton, and sugar, and
wanted to use slave labor to build a railroad and highway that
originated in either
San Antonio or the Red River valley. The railway
or highway would transport people to the
California gold fields.
Toward this end, on December 31, 1851, Gadsden asked Green to secure
California state legislature a large land grant located
between the 34th and 36th parallels, along the proposed dividing line
for the two
A few months later, Gadsden and 1,200 potential settlers from South
Florida submitted a petition to the California
legislature for permanent citizenship and permission to establish a
rural district that would be farmed by "not less than Two Thousand of
their African Domestics". The petition stimulated some debate, but it
finally died in committee.
Stephen Douglas and land grants
The Compromise of 1850, which created the
Utah Territory and the New
Mexico Territory, would facilitate a southern route to the West Coast
since all territory for the railroad was now organized and would allow
for federal land grants as a financing measure. Competing northern or
central routes championed, respectively, by U.S. Senators Stephen
Illinois and Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, would still
need to go through unorganized territories. Millard Fillmore
established a precedent for using federal land grants when he signed a
bill promoted by Douglas that allowed a south to north, Mobile to
Chicago railroad to be financed by "federal land grants for the
specific purpose of railroad construction". To satisfy Southern
opposition to the general principle of federally supported internal
improvements, the land grants would first be transferred to the
appropriate state or territorial government, which would oversee the
final transfer to private developers.
By 1850, however, the majority of the South was not interested in
exploiting its advantages in developing a transcontinental railroad or
railroads in general. Businessmen like Gadsden, who advocated economic
diversification, were in the minority. The Southern economy was based
on cotton exports, and then-current transportation networks met the
plantation system's needs. There was little home market for an
intra-South trade. In the short term, the best use for capital was to
invest it in more slaves and land rather than in taxing it to support
canals, railroads, roads, or in dredging rivers. Historian Jere W.
Southerners might have gained a great deal under the 1850 land grant
act had they concentrated their efforts. But continued opposition to
Federal aid, filibustering, an unenthusiastic President, the spirit of
"Young America", and efforts to build railroads and canals across
Central America and the
Isthmus of Tehuantepec
Isthmus of Tehuantepec in
Mexico divided their
forces, leaving a lot of time for the Pacific railroad. Moreover, the
Compromise of 1850
Compromise of 1850 encouraged Southerners not to antagonize opponents
by resurrecting the railroad controversy.
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Main article: Mexican Cession
President and General Antonio López de Santa Anna, photo circa 1853
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) ended the Mexican–American
War, but left issues affecting both sides that still needed to be
resolved: possession of the Mesilla Valley, protection for
Indian raids, and the right of transit in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
The treaty provided for a joint commission, made up of a surveyor and
commissioner from each country, to determine the final boundary
United States and Mexico. The treaty specified that the
Rio Grande Boundary would veer west eight miles (13 km) north of
El Paso. The treaty was based on the attached 1847 copy of a
twenty-five-year-old map. Surveys revealed that El Paso was 36 miles
(58 km) further south and 100 miles (160 km) further west
than the map showed.
Mexico favored the map, but the
United States put
faith in the results of the survey. The disputed territory involved a
few thousand square miles and about 3,000 residents; more
significantly, it included the Mesilla Valley. Bordering the Rio
Grande, the valley consisted of flat desert land measuring about 50
miles (80 km), north to south, by 200 miles (320 km), east
to west. This valley was essential for the construction of a
transcontinental railroad using a southern route.
John Bartlett of Rhode Island, the
United States negotiator, agreed to
Mexico to retain the
Mesilla Valley (setting the boundary at
32° 22′ N, north of the American claim 31° 52′ and at the
easternmost part, also north of the Mexican-claimed boundary at 32°
15′) in exchange for a boundary that did not turn north until
110° W in order to include the Santa Rita Mountains, which were
believed to have rich copper deposits, and some silver and gold which
had not yet been mined. Southerners opposed this alternative because
of its implication for the railroad, but President Fillmore supported
it. Southerners in Congress prevented any action on the approval of
this separate border treaty and eliminated further funding to survey
the disputed borderland. Robert B. Campbell, a pro-railroad politician
from Alabama, later replaced Bartlett.
Mexico asserted that the
commissioners' determinations were valid and prepared to send in
troops to enforce the unratified agreement.
U.S. Secretary of State
U.S. Secretary of State
James Buchanan (1791–1868), who later
became 15th President of the
United States (1857–1861)
Article XI of the
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo contained a guarantee
United States would protect Mexicans by preventing
cross-border raids by local
Apache tribes. At the time
the treaty was ratified, Secretary of State
James Buchanan had
believed that the
United States had both the commitment and resources
to enforce this promise. Historian Richard Kluger, however,
described the difficulties of the task:
Comanche, Apache, and other tribal warriors had been punishing
Spanish, Mexican, and American intruders into their stark homeland for
three centuries and been given no incentive to let up their murderous
marauding and pillaging, horse stealing in particular. The U. S. Army
had posted nearly 8,000 of its total of 11,000 soldiers along the
southwestern boundary, but they could not halt the 75,000 or so native
nomads in the region from attacking swiftly and taking refuge among
the hills, buttes, and arroyos in a landscape where one's enemies
could be spotted twenty or thirty miles away.
In the five years after approval of the Treaty, the United States
spent $12 million (equivalent to $270 million in 2016) in this
area, and General-in-Chief
Winfield Scott estimated that five times
that amount would be necessary to police the border. Mexican
officials, frustrated with the failure of the
United States to
effectively enforce its guarantee, demanded reparations for the losses
inflicted on Mexican citizens by the raids. The
United States argued
that the Treaty did not require any compensation nor did it require
any greater effort to protect Mexicans than was expended in protecting
its own citizens. During the Fillmore administration,
damages of $40 million (equivalent to $900 million in 2016)
but offered to allow the U.S. to buy-out Article XI for $25 million
(equivalent to $540 million in 2016) while President Fillmore
proposed a settlement that was $10 million less (equivalent to
$220 million in 2016).
Isthmus of Tehuantepec
Shaded relief map of Arizona
During negotiations of the treaty, Americans had failed to secure the
right of transit across the 125-mile-wide (201 km) Isthmus of
Tehuantepec in southern Mexico. The idea of building a railroad here
had been considered for a long time. In 1842 Mexican President Antonio
López de Santa Anna sold the rights to build a railroad or canal
across the isthmus. The deal included land grants 300 miles
(480 km)-wide along the right-of-way for future colonization and
development. In 1847 a British bank bought the rights, raising U.S.
fears of British colonization in the hemisphere, in violation of the
precepts of the Monroe Doctrine.
United States interest in the
right-of-way increased in 1848 after the gold strikes in the Sierra
Nevada, which led to the
The Memphis commercial convention of 1849 recommended that the United
States pursue the trans-isthmus route, since it appeared unlikely that
a transcontinental railroad would be built anytime soon. Interests in
Louisiana were especially adamant about this option, as they believed
that any transcontinental railroad would divert commercial traffic
away from the Mississippi and New Orleans, and they at least wanted to
secure a southern route. Also showing interest was Peter A. Hargous of
New York who ran an import-export business between New York and Vera
Cruz. Hargous purchased the rights to the route for $25,000
(equivalent to $600 thousand in 2016), but realized that the
grant had little value unless it was supported by the Mexican and
In Mexico, topographical officer George W. Hughes reported to
Secretary of State
John M. Clayton
John M. Clayton that a railroad across the isthmus
was a "feasible and practical" idea. Clayton then instructed Robert P.
Letcher, the minister to Mexico, to negotiate a treaty to protect
Hargous' rights. The United States' proposal gave Mexicans a 20%
discount on shipping, guaranteed Mexican rights in the zone, allowed
United States to send in military if necessary, and gave the
United States most-favored-nation status for Mexican cargo fees.
This treaty, however, was never finalized.
Clayton–Bulwer Treaty between the
United States and Great
Britain, which guaranteed the neutrality of any such canal, was
finalized in April 1850. Mexican negotiators refused the treaty
because it would eliminate Mexico's ability to play the US and Britain
against each other. They eliminated the right of the
United States to
unilaterally intervene militarily. The
United States Senate approved
the treaty in early 1851, but the
Mexican Congress refused to accept
In the meantime, Hargous proceeded as if the treaty would be approved
Judah P. Benjamin
Judah P. Benjamin and a committee of New Orleans
businessmen joined with Hargous and secured a charter from the
Louisiana legislature to create the Tehuantepec Railroad Company. The
new company sold stock and sent survey teams to Mexico. Hargous
started to acquire land even after the Mexican legislature rejected
the treaty, a move that led to the Mexicans canceling Hargous'
contract to use the right of way. Hargous put his losses at $5 million
(equivalent to $116 million in 2016) and asked the United
States government to intervene. President Fillmore refused to do
Mexico sold the canal franchise, without the land grants, to A. G.
Sloo and Associates in New York for $600,000 (equivalent to
$14 million in 2016). In March 1853 Sloo contracted with a
British company to build a railroad and sought an exclusive contract
from the new
Franklin Pierce Administration to deliver mail from New
York to San Francisco. However, Sloo soon defaulted on bank loans and
the contract was sold back to Hargous.
The Pierce administration, which took office in March 1853, had a
strong pro-southern, pro-expansion mindset. It sent Louisiana Senator
Pierre Soulé to Spain to negotiate the acquisition of Cuba. Pierce
appointed expansionists John Y. Mason of
Virginia and Solon Borland of
Arkansas as ministers, respectively, to
France and Nicaragua.
Pierce's Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, was already on record as
favoring a southern route for a transcontinental railroad, so southern
rail enthusiasts had every reason to be encouraged.
The South as a whole, however, remained divided. In January 1853
Thomas Jefferson Rusk
Thomas Jefferson Rusk of
Texas introduced a bill to create two
railroads, one with a northern route and one with a southern route
starting below Memphis on the Mississippi River. Under the Rusk
legislation, the President would be authorized to select the specific
termini and routes as well as the contractors who would build the
railroads. Some southerners, however, worried that northern and
central interests would leap ahead in construction and opposed any
direct aid to private developers on constitutional grounds. Other
southerners preferred the isthmian proposals. An amendment was added
to the Rusk bill to prohibit direct aid, but southerners still split
their vote in Congress and the amendment failed.
This rejection led to legislative demands, sponsored by William Gwin
Salmon P. Chase
Salmon P. Chase of
Ohio and supported by the
railroad interests, for new surveys for possible routes. Gwin expected
that a southern route would be approved—both Davis and Robert J.
Walker, former secretary of the treasury, supported it. Both were
stockholders in a Vicksburg-based railroad that planned to build a
Texas to join up with the southern route. Davis argued that
the southern route would have an important military application in the
likely event of future troubles with Mexico.
Gadsden and Santa Anna
Gadsden Purchase historical marker near Interstate 10
On March 21, 1853, a treaty initiated in the Fillmore administration,
that would provide joint Mexican and
United States protection for the
Sloo grant was signed in Mexico. At the same time that this treaty was
received in Washington, Pierce learned that
New Mexico Territorial
Governor William C. Lane had issued a proclamation claiming the
Mesilla Valley as part of New Mexico, leading to protests from Mexico.
Pierce was also aware of efforts by France, through its consul in San
Francisco, to acquire the Mexican state of Sonora.
Pierce recalled Lane in May and replaced him with David Meriwether of
Kentucky. Meriwether was given orders to stay out of the Mesilla
Valley until negotiations with
Mexico could be completed. With the
encouragement of Davis, Pierce also appointed
James Gadsden to
Mexico over the acquisition of additional territory.
Secretary of State
William L. Marcy
William L. Marcy gave Gadsden clear instructions:
he was to secure the
Mesilla Valley for the purposes of building a
railroad through it, convince
Mexico that the US had done its best
regarding the Indian raids, and elicit Mexican cooperation in efforts
by US citizens to build a canal or railroad across the isthmus of
Tehuantepec. Supporting the Sloo interests was not part of the
The Mexican government was going through political and financial
turmoil. In the process, Santa Anna had been returned to power about
the same time that Pierce was inaugurated. Santa Anna was willing to
deal because he needed money to rebuild the
Mexican Army for defense
against the United States, but he initially rejected the extension of
the border further south to the Sierra Madre Mountains. He initially
insisted on reparations for the damages caused by American Indian
raids, but agreed to let an international tribunal resolve this.
Gadsden realized that Santa Anna needed money and passed this
information along to Secretary Marcy.
Marcy and Pierce responded with new instructions. Gadsden was
authorized to purchase any of six parcels of land with a price fixed
for each. The price would include the settlement of all Indian damages
and relieve the
United States from any further obligation to protect
Mexicans. $50 million (equivalent to $1.2 billion in 2016)
would have bought the Baja
California Peninsula and a large portion of
Mexican states while $15 million (equivalent to
$350 million in 2016) was to buy the 38,000 square miles
(98,000 km2) of desert necessary for the railroad plans.
"Gadsden's antagonistic manner" alienated Santa Anna. Gadsden had
advised Santa Anna that "the spirit of the age" would soon lead the
northern states to secede so he might as well sell them now. The
Mexican President felt threatened by William Walker's attempt to
California with 50 troops and annex Sonora. Gadsden
disavowed any government backing of Walker, who was expelled by the
U.S. and placed on trial as a criminal. Santa Anna worried that the US
would allow further aggression against Mexican territory. Santa Anna
needed to get as much money for as little territory as possible.
When Great Britain rejected Mexican requests to assist in the
negotiations, Santa Anna opted for the $15 million package (equivalent
to $325 million in 2016).
Pierce and his cabinet began debating the treaty in January 1854.
Although disappointed in the amount of territory secured and some of
the terms, they submitted it to the Senate on February 10.
Gadsden, however, suggested that northern senators would block the
treaty in order to deny the South a railroad.
Although signed by Pierce and Santa Anna, the treaty needed a 2/3 vote
in favor of ratification in the US Senate, where it met strong
opposition. Antislavery senators opposed further acquisition of slave
territory. Lobbying by speculators gave the treaty a bad reputation.
Some senators objected to furnishing Santa Anna financial assistance.
The treaty reached the Senate as that body focused on the debate over
the Kansas–Nebraska Act. On April 17, after much debate, the Senate
voted 27 to 18 in favor of the treaty, falling three votes short of
the necessary two-thirds required for treaty approval. After this
defeat, Secretary Davis and southern senators pressed Pierce to add
more provisions to the treaty including:
protection for the Sloo grant;
a requirement that
Mexico "protect with its whole power the
prosecution, preservation, and security of the work [referring to the
permission for the
United States to intervene unilaterally "when it
may feel sanctioned and warranted by the public or international law";
a reduction of the territory to be acquired by 9,000 square miles
(23,000 km2) and dropping the price from $15 million (equivalent
to $325 million in 2016) to $10 million (equivalent to
$217 million in 2016).
This version of the treaty successfully passed the
US Senate April 25,
1854, by a vote of 33 to 12. The reduction in territory was an
accommodation of northern senators who opposed the acquisition of
additional slave territory. In the final vote, northerners split 12 to
12. Gadsden took the revised treaty back to Santa Anna, who accepted
the changes. The treaty went into effect June 30, 1854.
While the land was available for construction of a southern railroad,
the issue had become too strongly associated with the sectional debate
over slavery to receive federal funding. Roberson wrote:
The unfortunate debates in 1854 left an indelible mark on the course
of national politics and the Pacific railroad for the remainder of the
antebellum period. It was becoming increasingly difficult, if not
outright impossible, to consider any proposal that could not somehow
be construed as relating to slavery and, therefore, sectional issues.
Although few people fully realized it at the close of 1854,
sectionalism had taken such a firm, unrelenting hold on the nation
that completion of an antebellum Pacific railroad was prohibited.
Money, interest, and enthusiasm were devoted to emotion-filled topics,
not the Pacific railroad.
— Jere W. Roberson, The South and the Pacific Railroad,
The effect was such that railroad development, which accelerated in
the North, stagnated in the South.
As originally envisioned, the purchase would have encompassed a much
larger region, extending far enough south to include most of the
Mexican states of Baja California, Baja
Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. The Mexican
people opposed such boundaries, as did anti-slavery US Senators, who
saw the purchase as acquisition of more slave territory. Even the sale
of a relatively small strip of land angered the Mexican people, who
saw Santa Anna's actions as a betrayal of their country. They watched
in dismay as he squandered the funds generated by the Purchase.
Contemporary Mexican historians continue to view the deal negatively
and believe that it has defined the American–Mexican relationship in
a deleterious way.
The purchased lands were initially appended to the existing New Mexico
Territory. To help control the new land, the
US Army established Fort
Sonoita Creek in present-day southern
Arizona on November
17, 1856. The difficulty of governing the new areas from the
territorial capital at Santa Fe led to efforts as early as 1856 to
organize a new territory out of the southern portion. Many of the
early settlers in the region were, however, pro-slavery and
sympathetic to the South, resulting in an impasse in Congress as to
how best to reorganize the territory.
The shifting of the course of the
Rio Grande would cause a later
dispute over the boundary between Purchase lands and those of the
state of Texas, known as the Country Club Dispute. Pursuant to the
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the Gadsden Treaty and subsequent
treaties, the International Boundary and Water Commission which was
established in 1889 to maintain the border, and pursuant to still
later treaties its duties expanded to allocation of river waters
between the two nations, and providing for flood control and water
sanitation. Once viewed as a model of international cooperation, in
recent decades the IBWC has been heavily criticized as an
institutional anachronism, by-passed by modern social, environmental
and political issues.
Growth of the region after 1854
The residents of the area gained full US citizenship and slowly
assimilated into American life over the next half-century. The
principal threat to the peace and security of settlers and travelers
in the area were raids by
Apache Indians. The
US Army took control of
the purchase lands in 1854 but not until 1856 were troops stationed in
the troubled region. In June 1857 it established Fort Buchanan south
of the Gila at the head of the
Sonoita Creek Valley. The fort
protected the area until it was evacuated and destroyed in July
1861. The new stability brought miners and ranchers. By the late
1850s mining camps and military posts had not only transformed the
Arizona countryside; they had also generated new trade linkages to the
state of Sonora, Mexico. Magdalena, Sonora, became a supply center for
Tubac, wheat from nearby Cucurpe fed the troops at Fort Buchanan, and
the town of Santa Cruz sustained the Mowry mines, just miles to the
In 1861, during the American Civil War, the Confederate States of
America formed the Confederate Territory of Arizona, including in the
new territory mainly areas acquired by the Gadsden Purchase. In 1863,
using a north-to-south dividing line, the Union created its own
Arizona Territory out of the western half of the
New Mexico Territory.
The new American
Arizona Territory also included most of the lands
acquired in the Gadsden Purchase. This territory would be admitted
into the Union as the State of
Arizona on February 14, 1912, the last
area of the Lower 48 States to receive statehood.
After the Gadsden Purchase, southern Arizona's social elite, including
the Estevan Ochoa, Mariano Samaniego, and Leopoldo Carillo families,
remained primarily Mexican American until the coming of the railroad
in the 1880s. When the
Sonora Exploring and Mining Company opened
silver mines in southern Arizona, it sought to employ educated,
middle-class Americans who shared a work ethic and leadership
abilities to operate the mines. A biographical analysis of some 200 of
its employees, classed as capitalists, managers, laborers, and general
service personnel, reveals that the resulting work force included
Europeans, Americans, Mexicans, and Indians. This mixture failed to
stabilize the remote area, which lacked formal social, political, and
economic organization in the years from the
Gadsden Purchase to the
From the late 1840s into the 1870s,
Texas stockmen drove their beef
cattle through southern
Arizona on the Texas–
Texans were impressed with the grazing possibilities offered by the
Gadsden Purchase country of Arizona. In the last third of the century,
they moved their herds into
Arizona and established the range cattle
industry there. The Texans contributed their proven range methods to
the new grass country of Arizona, but also brought their problems as
Texas rustlers brought lawlessness, poor management resulted in
overstocking, and carelessness introduced destructive diseases. But
these difficulties did force laws and associations in
Arizona to curb
and resolve them. The Anglo-American cattleman frontier in
an extension of the
Arizona Territory was formed in 1863 from the southern
portion of the
New Mexico Territory, Pima County and later Cochise
County—created from the easternmost portion of Pima County in
January 1881—were subject to ongoing border-related conflicts. The
area was characterized by rapidly growing boom towns, ongoing Apache
raids, smuggling and cattle rustling across the United States-Mexico
border, growing ranching operations, and the expansion of new
technologies in mining, railroading, and telecommunications.
In the 1860s conflict between the Apaches and the Americans was at its
height. Until 1886, almost constant warfare existed in the region
adjacent to the Mexican border. The illegal cattle operations kept
beef prices in the border region lower and provided cheap stock that
helped small ranchers get by. Many early Tombstone residents looked
the other way when it was "only Mexicans" being robbed.
Outlaws derisively called "The Cowboys" frequently robbed stagecoaches
and brazenly stole cattle in broad daylight, scaring off the
legitimate cowboys watching the herds. Bandits used the border
United States and
Mexico to raid across in one direction
and take sanctuary in the other. In December 1878, and again the next
year, Mexican authorities complained about the "Cowboy" outlaws who
stole Mexican beef and resold it in Arizona. The
reported that both U.S. and Mexican bandits were stealing horses from
the Santa Cruz Valley and selling them in Sonora.
Governor Frémont investigated the Mexican government's allegations
and accused them in turn of allowing outlaws to use
Sonora as a base
of operations for raiding into Arizona.
In the 1870s and 1880s there was considerable tension in the
region—between the rural residents, who were for the most part
Democrats from the agricultural South, and town residents and business
owners, who were largely Republicans from the industrial Northeast and
Midwest. The tension culminated in what has been called the Cochise
County feud, and the Earp-Clanton feud, which ended with the historic
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Wyatt Earp's Vendetta Ride.
Southern Pacific Railroad
Southern Pacific Railroad from
Los Angeles reached Yuma, Arizona,
in 1877, Tucson in March 1880, El Paso in May 1881, and thus completed
the second transcontinental railroad in December 1881. The portion
Arizona was originally largely in the
Gadsden Purchase but the
western part was later rerouted north of the
Gila River to serve the
city of Phoenix. The portion in
New Mexico runs largely through the
territory that had been disputed between
Mexico and the United States
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had gone into effect, and before
the time of the Gadsden Purchase. The Santa Fe Railroad Company also
completed a railroad across Northern Arizona, via Prescott, Winslow,
Flagstaff and Kingman in August 1883.
The remainder of the Gila Valley pre-Purchase border area was
traversed by the
Arizona Eastern Railway by 1899 and the
Railway by 1904. Excluded was a 20-mile (32 km) section
33°06′N 110°36′W / 33.1°N 110.6°W / 33.1; -110.6 in
the San Carlos
Apache Indian Reservation, from today's San Carlos Lake
Winkelman at the mouth of the San Pedro River, including the
Needle's Eye Wilderness.
The section of US Highway 60 about 20 miles (32 km) to the
northwest, between Superior and Miami via Top-of-the-World, takes an
alternate route (17.4 road miles) between the Magma
Arizona Eastern Railway railheads on each side of this gap.
This highway is well north of the Gadsden Purchase. Given the
elevations of those three places, at least a 3% grade would have been
Sunland Park (pop. 13,309 in 2000), a suburb of El Paso, Texas, in
Doña Ana County, New Mexico, is the largest community of New Mexico
in the Gadsden Purchase. Lordsburg,
New Mexico (pop. 3,379 in 2000),
the county seat of Hidalgo County, was in the disputed area before the
Gadsden Purchase, and Deming, New Mexico, the county seat of Luna
County, was north of both the Mexican and American land claims before
the Gadsden Purchase, though the proposed Bartlett–Conde compromise
of 1851 would have left it in Mexico.
The boundaries of most counties in
Arizona do not follow the northern
boundary of the Gadsden Purchase, but six counties in
Arizona do have
most of their populations within the land of the Gadsden Purchase.
Four of these also contain areas north of the Gadsden Purchase, but
these areas do have low population densities, with the exception of
northeastern Pinal County, Arizona, including the towns of Apache
Junction and Florence. Maricopa County also extends south into the
area of the Gadsden Purchase, but this area is also thinly populated.
Tucson is the largest city in the Gadsden Purchase.
The northmost point of the Gadsden Purchase, and also along the
American–Mexican border during the period of 1848–53, is at
approximately 33°23′30″N 112°23′0″W / 33.39167°N
112.38333°W / 33.39167; -112.38333 in the town of Goodyear,
Arizona, about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Phoenix.
David R. Barker
David R. Barker of the
University of Iowa
University of Iowa estimated in 2009 that the
Gadsden Purchase was likely not profitable for the United States. The
region produces little tax revenue; most mines are on Indian
reservations which receive all royalties. The federal government spent
much money during the 19th century to defend the territory from
Apaches that would not have been necessary without the purchase.
References in popular culture
The consequences the
Gadsden Purchase brought to Mexicans and Native
Americans living in the region form the background of the story in the
Conquest of Cochise
Conquest of Cochise (Columbia, 1953).
United States Post Office Department issued a postage stamp
commemorating the Gadsen Purchase on December 30, 1953.
Butterfield Overland Mail
Historic regions of the United States
United States border
Republic of Sonora
^ The Purchase treaty defines the new border as "up the middle of that
river to the point where the parallel of 31° 47' north latitude
crosses the same 31°47′0″N 106°31′41.5″W / 31.78333°N
106.528194°W / 31.78333; -106.528194; thence due west one hundred
miles; thence south to the rallel of 31° 20' north latitude; thence
along the said parallel of 31° 20' to the 111th meridian of longitude
west of Greenwich 31°20′N 111°0′W / 31.333°N
111.000°W / 31.333; -111.000; thence in a straight line to a point
Colorado River twenty English miles below the junction of the
Colorado rivers; thence up the middle of the said Colorado
river until it intersects the present line between the United States
and Mexico". The new border included a few miles of the
at the western end; the remaining land portion consisted of line
segments between points, including 32°29′38″N 114°48′47″W
/ 32.49399°N 114.813043°W / 32.49399; -114.813043 at the
Colorado River, west of Nogales at 31°19′56″N 111°04′27″W
/ 31.33214°N 111.07423°W / 31.33214; -111.07423, near
Mexico tripoint at 31°19′56″N
109°03′02″W / 31.332099°N 109.05047°W / 31.332099;
-109.05047, the eastern corners of the
New Mexico southern boot heel
(Hidalgo County) at 31°47′02″N 108°12′31″W /
31.78378°N 108.20854°W / 31.78378; -108.20854, and the west
bank of the
Rio Grande river at 31°47′02″N 106°31′43″W /
31.78377°N 106.52864°W / 31.78377; -106.52864.
^ Pierce, Franklin & Marcy, William L. (December 30, 1853).
Gadsden Purchase Treaty".
United States Department of State.
Retrieved October 10, 2008 – via The Avalon Project, Yale
^ a b c Ibarra, Ignacio (February 12, 2004). "Land sale still thorn to
Mexico: Historians say
United States imperialism behind treaty".
Arizona Daily Star. Archived from the original on May 3, 2007.
Retrieved October 4, 2007.
^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project.
"Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of
Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
^ Deeds, Susan M. (1996). "Gadsden Purchase". Encyclopedia of Latin
American History and Culture. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons. pp. 1–2.
^ Nevins (1947), p. 84.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Thomas, Ryland; Williamson, Samuel H.
(2018). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved
January 5, 2018.
United States Gross Domestic Product deflator
figures follow the Measuring Worth series.
^ Gadsden Purchase, 1853–1854 U.S. Department of State, Office of
^ Roberson (1974), pp. 163–164
^ Roberson (1974), p. 165.
^ a b Richards (2007), p. 125.
^ Kluger (2007), p. 485.
^ Roberson (1974), p. 166.
^ Richards (2007), p. 126.
^ Richards (2007), p. . 127.
^ Kluger (2007), p. 487; Roberson (1974), p. 169.
^ Roberson (1974), p. 168.
^ Kluger (2007), p. 487.
^ Kluger (2007), p. 488.
^ Roberson (1974), p. 169.
^ Kluger (2007), p. 491.
^ Griswold del Castillo, Richard (1990). The Treaty of Guadalupe
Hidalgo: A Legacy of Conflict. University of Oklahoma Press.
p. 57. ISBN 978-0806122403. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
^ Kluger (2007), pp. 491–492; Roberson (1974), p. 171.
^ a b c Kluger (2007), p. 492.
^ a b Roberson (1974), p. 182; Kluger (2007), p. 493.
^ Kluger (2007), pp. 493–494; Roberson (1974), p. 182.
^ a b Kluger (2007), p. 494.
^ Roberson (1974), p. 182.
^ Kluger (2007), pp. 494–495.
^ Nevins (1947), p. 48.
^ Roberson (1974), p. 170.
^ Mauck, Jeffrey Gordon (1991). The Gadsden Treaty: The Diplomacy of
Transcontinental Transportation (PhD dissertation). Indiana
University. DAI 1992 52(9): 3405-A. DA9205951.
^ Roberson (1974), pp. 170–171.
^ Roberson (1974), p. 172; Kluger (2007), p. 490.
^ Nichols (1969), p. 265.
^ Nichols (1969), p. 266; Kluger (2007), p. 496; Roberson
(1974), p. 183.
^ a b Kluger (2007), pp. 497–498.
^ Kluger (2007), pp. 498–499.
^ Nichols (1969), p. 325.
^ "Pacific Railroad: Southern Plan". The New York Times. April 25,
1854. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
^ Kluger (2007), pp. 502–503.
^ Potter, David N. (1977). The Impending Crisis 1848–1861. New York:
Harper Torchbooks. p. 183. ISBN 9780061319297.
^ Garber, Paul Neff (1923). The Gadsden Treaty (Thesis). Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania.
^ Roberson (1974), p. 180.
^ Kluger (2007), p. 504.
^ McCarthy, Robert J. (May 12, 2011). "Adaptive Treaty Interpretation,
and the International Boundary and Water Commission". Water Law
Review. SSRN 1839903 .
^ Goldstein, Marcy Gail (1977). Americanization and Mexicanization:
The Mexican Elite and Anglo-Americans in the
Gadsden Purchase Lands,
1853–1880 (PhD dissertation). Case Western Reserve University.
DAI 1977 38(3): 1572-1573-A.
^ Sacks, Ben (1965). "The Origins of Fort Buchanan: Myth and Fact".
Arizona and the West. Vol. 7 no. 3. pp. 207–226.
^ Sheridan, Thomas E. (1984). "Peacock in the Parlor: Frontier
Tucson's Mexican Elite". Journal of
Arizona History. Vol. 25
no. 3. pp. 245–264. ISSN 0021-9053.
^ North, Diane (1984). "'A Real Class of People' in Arizona: a
Biographical Analysis of the
Sonora Exploring and Mining Company,
Arizona and the West. Vol. 26 no. 3.
pp. 261–274. ISSN 0004-1408.
^ Wilson, James A. (1967). "West
Texas Influence on the Early Cattle
Industry of Arizona". Southwestern Historical Quarterly. Vol. 71
no. 1. pp. 26–36. ISSN 0038-478X.
^ "History of Old Tombstone". Discover Arizona. Retrieved February 7,
^ "Tombstones O.K. Corral 2". The Old West History Net. Archived from
the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
^ Ball, Larry D. (Autumn 1973). "Pioneer Lawman: Crawley P. Dake and
Law Enforcement on the Southwestern Frontier". The Journal of Arizona
History. Vol. 14 no. 3.
Arizona Historical Society.
pp. 243–256. JSTOR 41695121.
^ Devine, David (2004). Slavery, Scandal, and Steel Rails: The 1854
Gadsden Purchase and the Building of the Second Transcontinental
New Mexico Twenty-Five Years Later. New
^ "Second Transcontinental Line brings competition". Railswest.com.
Retrieved May 28, 2011.
^ Pearsall, Marc (2002). Railroads of
Arizona (PDF) (Map). Scale not
Arizona Railway Museum. Retrieved August 1,
^ DeskMap Systems (2005).
Arizona Eastern Railway (PDF) (Map). Scale
not given. Austin, TX: DeskMapSystems. Archived from the original
(PDF) on June 3, 2006. Retrieved August 1, 2008.
^ "Researcher's analysis shows buying Alaska no sweet deal for
American taxpayers" (Press release). University of Iowa. 2009-11-06.
^ "Gasden Purchase". U.S. Stamp Gallery. Retrieved October 9,
Kluger, Richard (2007). Seizing Destiny: How America Grew From Sea to
Shining Sea. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Nevins, Allan (1947). Ordeal of the Union: A House Dividing
1852–1857. SBN 684-10424-5.
Nichols, Roy Franklin (1969). Franklin Pierce: Young Hickory of the
Granite Hills (2nd ed.). SBN 8122-7044-4.
Richards, Leonard L. (2007). The
Gold Rush and the Coming
of the Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Roberson, Jere W. (April 1974). "The South and the Pacific Railroad,
1845–1855". The Western Historical Quarterly. Vol. 5
no. 2. pp. 163–186. JSTOR 967035.
Terrazas, Marcela (2001). "The Regional Conflict, the Contractors, and
the Construction Projects of a Road to the Pacific at the End of the
Mexico and the United States". Journal of Popular Culture.
Vol. 35 no. 2. pp. 161–169.
ISSN 0022-3840. stresses railroad speculation and
Truett, Samuel (2004). "The Ghosts of Frontiers Past: Making and
Unmaking Space in the Borderlands". Journal of the Southwest.
Vol. 46 no. 2. pp. 309+ – via Questia.
Vázquez, Josefina Z. & Meyer, Lorenzo (1985). The United States
US Geological Survey USGS Public Lands Survey Map including survey
township (6 mile) lines.
Map of proposed
Arizona Territory. From explorations by A. B. Gray
& others, to accompany memoir by Lieut. Mowry U.S. Army, Delegate
elect. with some proposed railroad routes Medium-sized JPG Zoom
National Park Service Map including route of the Southern Pacific
railroad finally built in the 1880s.
Gadsden Purchase, 1853–1854, Office of the Historian, US Department
3-cent commemorative stamp showing small version of northeast boundary
of Purchase—i.e. claiming more territory for US pre-Purchase.
"Gadsden Purchase, The". New International Encyclopedia.
Map of North America at the time of the
Gadsden Purchase at
Territorial expansion of the United States
Thirteen Colonies (1776)
Treaty of Paris (1783)
Louisiana Purchase (1803)
Red River Cession (1818)
Adams–Onís Treaty (1819)
Texas Annexation (1845)
Oregon Treaty (1846)
Mexican Cession (1848)
Gadsden Purchase (1853)
Guano Islands Act
Guano Islands Act (1856)
Alaska Purchase (1867)
Annexation of Hawaii (1898)
Treaty of Paris (1898)
Tripartite Convention (1899)
Treaty of Cession of Tutuila
Treaty of Cession of Tutuila (1900)
Treaty of Cession of Manuʻa (1904)
Treaty of the Danish West Indies
Treaty of the Danish West Indies (1917)
Concept: Manifest destiny
Coordinates: 32°07′54″N 110°33′13″W / 32.1318°N