The Gadsden Purchase Was Signed in Mexico City
Meeting in Mexico City on December 30, 1853,
James Gadsden, U.S. Minister to Mexico, and General Antonio
López de Santa Anna, president of Mexico, signed the Gadsden
Purchase. 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 29,600 square miles of land in what is
now southern New Mexico and Arizona, for the price of $10
U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis
influenced the president to send Gadsden to negotiate with Santa
Anna for the land. Davis valued it, as others did, as the
perfect tract for the construction of the southern
transcontinental railroad. The railroad line would connect
western territories to the east and north, greatly increasing
the accessibility of these new lands. By 1869, the "big four" of
western railroad construction--Collis P. Huntington, Leland
Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker--had pushed the
Central Pacific Railroad line eastward over the Sierra Nevada
Mountains to Utah to join with the Union Pacific, completing the
first transcontinental railroad.
After completing the
Central Pacific Railroad from California to Utah in 1869, the
big four started the Southern Pacific as a branch line into
southern California. The railroad reached the Arizona border in
1877, and in 1883 it was joined to other railroads built west
from New Orleans across Texas and New Mexico, territory that was
acquired in the Gadsden Purchase. This transcontinental system
sped up westward expansion of the U.S.
Still in operation
today as the Union Pacific Corporation, the company controls
most of the rail-based shipping in the western two-thirds of the
country. Have you ever ridden a train through the West?