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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

This Day in History February 2, 1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Ends the Mexican-American War

Cover of the Exchange Copy and Seal of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848
National Archives and Records Administration
On February 2, 1848, in the village of Guadupe Hidalgo, Mexico, the Mexican-American War officially ended. What began as border dispute between Mexico and the United States along the Rio Grande resulted in historic territorial gains and losses.

Thomas Gamaliel Bradford, North America [Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty Line Shown in Red], 1846
For America, the war was propelled by a belief in Manifest Destiny—America’s right to spread its white, Protestant civilization across the continent.

John Gast, American Progress, 1872
Museum of the American West, Autry National Center
John Gast’s 1872 painting, American Progress, depicts the parade of pioneer types and the vision of civilization’s triumphant march across the continent. In his allegorical representation of Manifest Destiny, the female personification of the United States, Columbia, leads settlers westward.
From 1846 to 1848, U.S. and Mexican troops fought in Texas, New Mexico, California, Northern, Central and Eastern Mexico, and Mexico City. Mexican forces succumbed to the Americans in Mexico City in September 1847.

E.B. & E. C. Kellogg, Attack on Chapultepec, 1847–48
Library of Congress
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established the Rio Grande as the U.S.-Mexican border. The United States acquired 525,000 square miles of Mexican territory including present-day California, Utah, Nevada, most of New Mexico and Arizona, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming, paying more than $15 for the territories and citizens’ claims against the Mexican government.

Kballen, Map of the Mexican Cession, 2008
Creative Commons
This map illustrates the Mexican Cession, the territories Mexico ceded to the
United States, minus Texan claims.
Mexico lost almost one-half of its national territory.

Peralta Hacienda Historical Park, Mexico’s National Territoris, Pre-1836 to 1848
By the terms of the treaty, former Mexican citizens and Native Americans were promised U.S. citizenship, but were denied the right until the 1930s. Mexican Americans also expected to keep their lands, or ranchos. As U.S. settlers rushed into the new territories, property rights disputes erupted, particularly in California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Sketch map or Diseño of the Scott Tract of Rancho San Rafael (eastern Burbank, CA), c. 1857–1871
Published in Derek Hayes, Historical Atlas of California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007)
In California, a little over a week before the treaty was signed, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma. The timing of the treaty and the discovery of gold ushered in significant changes to the geological, demographic, economic, and political landscapes. The territory began a period of transition from Mexican to American rule, culminating in statehood in 1850.

Shelly Kale
Publications and Strategic Projects Manager

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and related resources at the U.S. Library of Congress, 
Norman E. Tutorow, ed. The Mexican-American War: An Annotated Bibliography ( Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981.

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