The Gadsden Purchase Drama

Today in History, December 30: 1853 –

The Gadsden Purchase. The last major expansion of continental US territory takes place when US Ambassador to Mexico James Gadsden and Mexican President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna sign a treaty giving over a large segment of what is now New Mexico and Arizona from Mexico to the US for 15 million dollars to facilitate a southern US railroad, because a more northern route was too mountainous. The story seems pretty plain. But as I researched it, I found more and more intrigue and drama to be involved.

Gadsden was an ardent slavery proponent, sent on this mission by then US Secretary of War Jefferson Davis to negotiate the agreement on behalf of President Pierce. Gadsden and Davis, of course, shared views that more slave holding states should be added to the Union.

This was a point of major contention in the Congress, which debated the treaty extensively for those very reasons. Santa Anna, having lost badly in the war for the independence of Texas (Tejas) and the Mexican-American War, had been in and out of office repeatedly. Ironically, he was willing to sell additional Mexican territory to the United States so that he could afford to fund a Mexican army to defend against…the United States.

This last purchase established the current continental boundaries of our nation. Primarily because southern business interests didn’t want to depend upon a northern railroad route to ship their goods to California, not trusting the Yankees in this pre-Civil War era.

Manifest Destiny

Today in History, December 27: 1845 –

John L. Sullivan writes in the New York Morning News of “Manifest Destiny” regarding American expansion into the Oregon Territory after the session of Texas to the United States.

“And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.”

So Much History Today

Today in History, December 2: What a busy day in US History! 1775 – The American flag is hauled aloft aboard the first US Navy ship, the USS Alfred, by her commander, Capt. John Paul Jones. 1823 – President James Monroe announces in his State of the Union address what will become known as the Monroe Doctrine…telling the European powers that America would not interfere in European conflicts (we didn’t want to anyway), and that America would police the western hemisphere…Europeans were to stay out. We couldn’t really enforce this doctrine at the time, but it was to England’s benefit…so the Royal Navy did so for us. 1845 – President James K. Polk, in his state of the Union address, announces what would become known as Manifest Destiny…the notion that the “Americans” of the Eastern American continent were pre-ordained to control the North American continent, encouraging settlement of the west.