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The Treaty That Ended a War

The Mexican War began with a dispute over the United States annexation of Texas. In January 1846, President James K. Polk, a strong advocate of westward expansion, ordered Zachary Taylor to occupy disputed territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers. Mexican troops attacked Taylor's forces, and Congress approved a declaration of war on Mexico on May 13, 1846. With the capture, by General Winfield Scott, of Mexico City on September 14, 1847, the fighting subsided.

James Gadsden, U.S. Minister to Mexico, and General Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico, signed the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City on December 30, 1853. The treaty settled the dispute over the exact location of the Mexican border west of El Paso, Texas, giving the U.S. claim to approximately 29,000 square miles of land in what is now southern New Mexico and Arizona, for the price of $10,000,000.

U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis had sent Gadsden to negotiate with Santa Anna for this tract of land which many people, including Davis, believed to be strategic for the construction of the southern transcontinental railroad. Many supporters of a southern Pacific railroad route came to believe that a transcontinental route which stretched throughout the Gadsden Purchase territory would greatly advantage southern states should hostilities break out with the north.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in Mexico City on February 2, 1848, ending the Mexican War and extending the boundaries of the United States west to the Pacific Ocean. The terms of the agreement established the border between the U.S. and Mexico at the Rio Grande and the Gila River and granted the U.S. more than 525,000 square miles of former Mexican territory that includes present-day Arizona, California, western Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. This treaty, along with the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, completed the continental expansion of the United States.

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Map of Arizona

 

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Map of the reservations and Four Corners 

 

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