New Mexico: The Anglo Influence
The Anglo Influence
The Mexican War marked the coming of the Anglo-American culture to New Mexico. Stephen W. Kearny entered (1846) Santa Fe without opposition, and two years later the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded New Mexico to the United States. The territory, which included Arizona and other territories, was enlarged by the Gadsden Purchase (1853).
A bid for statehood with an antislavery constitution was halted by the Compromise of 1850, which settled the Texas boundary question in New Mexico's favor and organized New Mexico as a territory without restriction on slavery. In the Civil War, New Mexico was at first occupied by Confederate troops from Texas, but was taken over by Union forces early in 1862. After the war and the withdrawal of the troops, the territory was plagued by conflict with the Apache and Navajo. The surrender of Apache chief Geronimo in 1886 ended conflict in New Mexico and Arizona (which had been made a separate territory in 1863). However, there were local troubles even after that time.
Already the ranchers had taken over much of the grasslands. The coming of the Santa Fe RR in 1879 encouraged the great cattle boom of the 80s. There were typical cow towns, feuds among cattlemen as well as between cattlemen and the authorities (notably the Lincoln County War), and the activities of such outlaws as Billy the Kid. The cattlemen were unable to keep out the sheepherders and were overwhelmed by the homesteaders and squatters, who fenced in and plowed under the “sea of grass.” Land claims gave rise to bitter quarrels among the homesteaders, the ranchers, and the old Spanish families, who made claims under the original grants. Despite overgrazing and reduction of lands, ranching survived and continues to be important together with the limited but scientifically controlled irrigated and dry farming. Statehood was granted in 1912.
Sections in this article:
- Modern New Mexico
- The Anglo Influence
- Native Americans and the Spanish
- Government and Higher Education
- Facts and Figures
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