The acquisition of this territory was essential for the construction of a southern transcontinental railroad, eventually built by the Southern Pacific during the early 1880’s. It is also a land rich in copper and valuable for agriculture and grazing.
The United States emerged from the Mexican War (1846-1848) with an additional one-half million square miles of territory containing excellent ports on the Pacific Ocean and tremendous mineral resources. Entrepreneurs in all sections of the nation saw the promise and viability of transcontinental railroads. It was also in the national interest to tie together the vast regions of the country. Proponents of these railroads competed to establish the eastern terminus at Chicago, St. Louis, or New Orleans.
Advocates of the southern route had an advantage during the early 1850’s in that most of the route lay in organized territories and states. It also avoided extremely rugged mountain ranges and brutal winter weather. When the surveyors mapped out the best route, however, a substantial stretch lay south of the New Mexico Territory.
In May, 1853, James
Sectionalism during the late 1850’s prevented the construction of the southern route. The honor of the first transcontinental
Devine, David. Slavery, Scandal, and Steel Rails. New York: iUniverse, 2004. Garber, Paul N. The Gadsden Treaty. Reprint. Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1959. Schmidt, Louis B. “Manifest Opportunity and the Gadsden Purchase.” Arizona and the West 3, Autumn (1961): 245-264.
Mexican trade with the United States