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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921

a Ray of Light on the Gadsden Treaty

There is scarcely a topic in American history about which so
little is known as the negotiations connected with the Gadsden
Treaty. The great secrecy with which they were conducted gave
rise to a suspicion which is likely to continue until their nature
has been made public. It may be that when all is revealed the
discredit which has tended to rest upon the whole affair will prove
unfounded. At any rate, the historian's curiosity regarding the
matter is well-nigh irresistible.
It is known that there were several important questions to be
settled when Gadsden was dispatched to Mexico in the summer of
1853. By the eleventh article of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
the United States government had been made responsible for the
conduct of the Indians residing upon the borders of the two coun-
tries. This obligation had proved burdensome and the correspond-
ence regarding the subject had been somewhat irritating. Diffi-
culties regarding the survey of the boundary as laid down in the
fifth article of the same treaty had culminated in the spring of
1853 in a grave dispute regarding the southern limits of New
Mexico. The acquisition of Pacific possessions had rendered the
routes adapted to interoceanic communication very important to
the United States. One of these lay across the Isthmus of Te-
huantepec within Mexican territory, and citizens of the United
States had acquired concessions there, but the Mexican govern-
ment had nullified the grant upon which their claims were based.
This, too, gave rise to much protest and dissatisfaction. More-
over, the entire situation was complicated by the loud proclama-
tions of manifest destiny on the part of a large group of Anglo-
Americans, by the voracious appetites of the land-hungry, and by
the filibuster raids which were constantly being launched against
the Hispanic states to the south.
Gadsden's instructions embraced the boundary dispute, the ques-
tion of responsibility for the incursions of the Indians into Mexico,
and the right of way across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. With
reference to the last he was ordered not to resume negotiations,
but to await further advices. His instructions regarding the first


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 4, 2015.