Definition of Gadsden Purchase
Definition: The Gadsden Purchase refers to the acquisition of about 30,000 square miles (77,700 sq km) of land in present-day Arizona and New Mexico which was bought by the United States from Mexico for $10 million dollars. The Gadsden Purchase followed the land purchases agreed in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It was negotiated on December 30, 1853 by James Gadsden (1788-1858), the U.S. Minister to Mexico, and approved on June 8, 1854. The land bought in the Gadsden Purchase provided a viable route for a southern transcontinental railroad from El Paso, in the far west of Texas, to Los Angeles, California on the Pacific coast.
Gadsden Purchase for kids
Franklin Pierce was the 14th American President who served in office from March 4, 1853 to March 4, 1857. One of the important events during his presidency was the Gadsden Purchase.
Gadsden Purchase: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The peace Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican American War in which the United States agreed to pay Mexico $15,000,000 in return for the massive land track from Texas to California (minus the area that would be acquired by the Gadsden Purchase.)
The Gadsden Purchase: The Boundary Line
During their negotiations the American and Mexican commissioners were unable to agree on the boundary line. The United States therefore paid an additional $10 million dollars to Mexico and received the additional strip of land via the Gadsden Purchase, between the Rio Grande and the Colorado rivers which gave the United States its present southern boundary. This land agreement treaty was made in 1853 by James Gadsden for the United States, and the additional land bought from Mexico is usually referred to as the Gadsden Purchase, as shown on the Gadsden Purchase Map.
Gadsden Purchase Map
Gadsden Purchase for kids: Events leading to the Gadsden Purchase Treaty
What was the purpose of the Gadsden Treaty? The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ended the Mexican-American War but tensions were still high between the Governments of Mexico and the United States. The reasons for this were:
The US refused to pay compensation for Native American attacks which the Mexicans believed was part of the 1848 treaty
Both the United States and Mexico countries claimed the Mesilla Valley which was on the west bank of the Rio Grande running to the west side of El Paso in Texas
Americans were illegally entering Mexico in an effort to gain territory and encourage rebellion
The disputes came to a head in 1853 when Mexican officials evicted Americans from the disputed Mesilla Valley leading to claims for their lost property. Governor William Lane of New Mexico then took matters into his own hands and declared the Mesilla Valley part of the United States territory of New Mexico. President Santa Anna responded by sending soldiers from the Mexican army into the Mesilla Valley region. President Franklin Pierce sent James Gadsden, the new U.S. Minister to Mexico, to negotiate with Santa Anna, agree the terms of a treaty and diffuse the situation.
Gadsden Purchase - Map of the Southern Railroad
Gadsden Purchase for kids: The Railroad
What was the purpose of the Gadsden Treaty? The resolution of the political situation between the two countries was only half the story. The area of the Mesilla Valley was the most viable route for a southern transcontinental railroad running from El Paso to the Los Angeles in the far west. The building of the railroad would provide the means of increasing trade and profits by transporting products across the country and cutting travel time by 90%.
The southern transcontinental railroad would greatly increase the accessibility of the new acquired US lands, providing transport for settlers moving westward and those heading to stake their claim in the California Gold Rush that had exploded in 1849. The advantages were pushed by Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War to President Pierce. James Gadsden was the perfect choice as negotiator as he had once been president of the South Carolina Railroad
Gadsden Purchase for kids: James Gadsden
James Gadsden (1788-1858) had served as the president of the South Carolina Railroad company from 1840 to 1850. During this time he promoted the construction of a southern transcontinental railroad running from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. James Gadsden was appointed as the U.S. minister to Mexico in 1853.
Gadsden Purchase for kids: The Garay Project for a railroad across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec
On March 1, 1842, a Mexican concession was granted to Jose Garay for a railroad line across the 125 mile Isthmus of Tehuantepec which represented the shortest distance between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Garay 's concession was eventually sold to Peter A. Hargous of New York in 1849 and US investors in the Tehuantepec railroad company had invested in an expensive survey of the land for building a railroad route. However, the possibility of purchasing other areas of land from Mexico, opening up options for different railroad routes put their investment at risk.
Gadsden Purchase for kids: Christopher Ward Briefing
James Gadsden started negotiations with Santa Anna on September 25, 1853. He was briefed by Christopher Ward of the verbal instructions of President Pierce. It should be pointed out that Christopher Ward an agent for U.S. investors in the Garay project. Ward told Gadsden that the negotiating options given by President Pierce were:
To offer $50 million for lower California and a large portion of northern Mexico
To offer $15 million for a smaller land deal that would still provide for a southern railroad
The claims of the Garay Project were to be addressed
Gadsden Purchase for kids: The Negotiations
Santa Anna refused to sell the large portion of northern Mexico, but their negotiations agreed that:
The United States would pay $15 million for 45,000 square miles south of the New Mexico territory (that would still provide for a southern railroad)
Assume responsibility with private American claims, including those related to the Garay Project
The US Government agreed to take action to prevent American raids along the Mexican border
Mexico released U.S. responsibility for Native American attacks
Gadsden Purchase: Signing the Gadsden Purchase Treaty in 1853
The Gadsden Purchase Treaty was signed in Mexico City on December 30, 1853 by James Gadsden, the U.S. Minister to Mexico, and General Antonio de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico. The treaty included the terms and provisions agreed in the above negotiations.
Gadsden Purchase: The Revised Version in 1854
It later transpired that Christopher Ward had lied to Gadsden. President Franklin Pierce never gave Christopher Ward any instructions regarding the Garay Project because he did not believe it was ethical for US government involvement in affairs between private companies and foreign governments. How was the Gadsden Purchase acquired? The U.S. Senate ratified a revised version of the Gadsden Purchase treaty on April 25, 1854. The revised treaty was on the following terms:
The land purchased from Mexico was reduced to 29,670 square miles
The amount paid to Mexico was reduced to $10 million
Any mention of Native American attacks and private American claims were removed
President Pierce signed the treaty and James Gadsden presented the new treaty to Santa Anna, who signed it on June 8, 1854.
Gadsden Purchase for kids: Manifest Destiny
The Gadsden Purchase enabled the United States to continue its policy of Westward Expansion. This policy was believed to be ordained by the Manifest Destiny of the United States. People believed to that Godís will, combined the character of the nation, indicated divine sanction to the westward expansion of the United States. The idea of Manifest Destiny of the United States was based on the belief of cultural and racial superiority over other nations.
The Significance of the Gadsden Purchase
What was an effect of the Gadsden Purchase, and why was the Gadsden Purchase significant? It was significant because:
The Gadsden Purchase continued the westward expansion of the United States and gave the United States possession of the Mesilla Valley
The Gadsden Purchase provided the land necessary for a southern transcontinental railroad
Southern politicians approved of the Gadsden Purchase to secure their railroad route
Northern politicians objected to any more land that could become slave territory
The Gadsden Purchase resolved some of the conflicts and border disputes that remained after the Mexican-American War
The Gadsden Purchase encouraged the American's belief in their Manifest Destiny
The Gadsden Purchase established the southern border of the present-day United States
Gadsden Purchase for kids - President Franklin Pierce Video
The article on the Gadsden Purchase provides an overview of one of the Important issues of his presidential term in office. The following Franklin Pierce video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 14th American President whose presidency spanned from March 4, 1853 to March 4, 1857.