The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921 Page: 5
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Question of Texan Jurisdiction in New Mexico, 1848-50 5
government could be set up; and for this reason the existing mili-
tary control was allowed to continue, with no provisions for a
change in the extent of its territorial jurisdiction.
In the establishment of a civil government for the acquisition,
the problems which had to be met were numerous. In the first
place, it was not expedient to attempt to establish a civil govern-
ment in territory which was claimed by one of the states, while
that claim was still unsettled. Moreover, while the territory east
of the Rio Grande was conceded in executive circles to rightfully
belong to Texas, the fact remained that no constituted authorities
from the government of that state were on the ground to establish
and maintain her jurisdiction. And since the Mexican population
of the region was openly hostile, there was no alternative left for
the United States army but to maintain control until either Texas
or the central government acted, or else to withdraw, and thereby
leave New Mexico in a state of anarchy and without control.7
From the standpoint of the central government, the power to or-
ganize the civil government of the territories of the United States
rested solely in Congress. In addition, the President had placed
upon the legislative branch of the government the responsibility
for settling the question between the United States and the state
of Texas. Congress, therefore, had become the potent force
which was to determine the nature of the development of the vast
southwestern area which had just been acquired, and at this par-
ticular period in the history of the United States, no question
which came before Congress was able to remain free from an en-
tanglement with the all-pervading issue of slavery extension.
This one was to be no exception, for almost as soon as it became
evident that the Mexican War would bring the accession of new
territory, the slavery question was introduced by means of the
Wilmot Proviso, attempting to prohibit the extension of slavery
to eny territory which might be acquired with the funds then being
granted to the President. The Proviso failed to pass, but it had
the effect of bringing the Southern congressmen to openly demand
definite legislation establishing the right to carry slaves into any
territory which was to be added or organized. The continual
recurrence of the sentiment of the Proviso, not only during the war,
but also after peace was established, brought a fear that it might
altimalely succeed, and consequently limit all possibility of fur-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 24, July 1920 - April, 1921, periodical, 1921; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101078/m1/11/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.