The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 23, July 1919 - April, 1920

Border Troubles Along the Rio Grande, 1848-1860

BORDER TROUBLES ALONG THE RIO GRANDE, 1848-
1860
J. FRED RIPPY
During the twelve years subsequent to the Mexican War there
were present on the frontiers of Texas and Mexico many factors
which tended to create disturbances. The topography of the coun-
try, the sparsity and general character of its population, the lack
of an extradition treaty and of sufficient national authority, wild
Indians of uncertain abode, the Mexican tariff system,-all caused
friction and gave encouragement to lawlessness which not only
retarded the development of the region, but often threatened to
interrupt friendly relations between the two republics.
General Features of the Frontier Section.--By the treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo the Rio Grande .was constituted the boundary
between the United States and Mexico for a distance along the
river of more than 1300 miles. For the first 550 miles on both
sides, level plains, rolling prairies, and low hills, stretch away in
succession from the belt of alluvial soil which forms the im-
mediate border of the river. During the period under considera-
tion, a thick growth of chapparal covered the lands adjacent to
the stream almost continuously from its mouth to its junction
with the San Pedro. Throughout this entire section the river
was easily approached, and the chapparal furnished a splendid
hiding for criminals until an opportunity of crossing by boat, or
by one of the numerous fords, presented itself, whereupon a few
minutes put him across the international boundary beyond the
reach of his pursuers.
"Ascending beyond the mouth of the San Pedro, or Devil's
river, the whole character of the country changes. The bed of the
river becomes hemmed in by rocky mural banks, the tops of which
are beyond the reach of irrigation, and, from the aridity of the
climate, they can never be made subservient to the purposes of
agriculture. The course of the river from this point up to Ft.
Leaton, near Presdio del Norte, a distance of 387 miles, is almost
one continuous caion, utterly unsuited to navigation, and with a
few exceptions unsuited to settlement." The cafion is interrupted

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 23, July 1919 - April, 1920. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101075/. Accessed July 12, 2014.