What Was The Gadsden Purchase?

A stamp dedicated to the Gadsden Purchase. Editorial credit: spatuletail / Shutterstock.com.
A stamp dedicated to the Gadsden Purchase. Editorial credit: spatuletail / Shutterstock.com.

The Gadsden Purchase

The Gadsden Purchase is the current Southern Western New Mexico and Southern Arizona. It is a 29,670 square miles region bought by the US from Mexico. James Gadsden signed the treaty on December 30, 1853. He was the U.S ambassador to Mexico.

On April 25, 1854, the U.S senate passed the treaty with amendments then handed over to Franklin Pierce who was the 14th President of America. The Mexico general Congress and the government made final approval to the purchase on June 8, 1854. The U.S purchased the land with the aim of constructing a Southern Transcontinental railway line. Additionally, it also aimed at solving outstanding border conflicts between Mexico and the U.S. The purchase followed the signed treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo, which ended the earlier Mexico-America war of 1846-1848.

The Gadsden Purchase gave the Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s government $10million. The Mexico government was undergoing financial and political turmoil. The purchased regions included west of Rio Grande and south of the Gila River. However, the southern businesspersons saw the railway line as an opportunity to expand their trade in the Pacific Coast. Therefore, Jefferson Davis the secretary of war influenced President Franklin Pierce to purchase more territory from Northern Mexico. Later, Mexico rejected the idea of selling a larger territory.

Growth Of The Region After 1854

Army control

In 1854, the Gadsden Purchase was under the control of the U.S army. The U.S government stationed its army permanently in the area in June 1857. The raids from Apache Indians formed the major threat to the security and peace of the region. The army established Fort Buchana South of Gila at the Sonoita Creek Valley in 1856. The new peace brought by Fort Buchana encouraged Ranchers and Miners to inhabit the area.

Civil War

The American Civil war in 1861, made the Confederate States of America to establish the Confederate Territory of Arizona that included the Gadsden Purchase. The union formed Arizona Territory from the western half of the New Mexico Territory using a North to South dividing line in 1863. Later, on February 14, 1912, Arizona State was admitted into the union.

Social development

After the Gadsden Purchase, the railway line was completed in 1880s. Silver mines in southern Arizona by the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company. This Company employed learned, middle class Americans with common leadership skills and work ethics. It also employed Mexicans and Indians

Economic development

The Texas stockmen grazed their beef cattle through southern Arizona from the late 1840s to 1870. They moved their cattle to Arizona in the last third century and opened a cattle range industry. The Texans brought quality methods of ranching to the new grass of Arizona. However, they also brought problems. Texas rustlers brought poor management that led to overstocking and lawlessness.

Railway line development

The Southern Pacific Railway line first reached Yuma, Arizona in 1877 from Los Angeles. Later, in May 1881 it reached El Paso while the second transcontinental railway line was completed in December 1881. In August 1883, the Santa Fe Railway line Company also completed the Northern Arizona railway line, through Flagstaff, Winslow, Prescott, and Kingman. In addition, the Arizona Eastern Railway line passed through the remaining Gila Valley pre-Purchase border in 1899.


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