The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 37, July 1933 - April, 1934 Page: 117
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Opening Routes Across West Texas, 1848-1850
made necessary the adoption of a definite policy of exploration.
It is the purpose of this paper to show how the federal govern-
ment's exploration policy in Texas during 1848-1850 resulted in
the opening of routes across the western portion of the state.
Ever since the days of Pike's expedition to the Southwest,
American commercial interests in Mexico had been growing. In
the twenties and thirties the Southwest Overland trade assumed
considerable proportions.' Commercial caravans ranging between
70 and 350 men with hundreds of loaded wagons annually plied a
lucrative trades between Franklin, Missouri (later Independence),
and Santa F6. Adventurous American traders also penetrated to
Chihuahua; others established commercial relations between Santa
Fe7 and the Pacific.8
The entrance of Texas into the Union and the acquisition of the
Mexican cession intensified that commercial interest. Six months
after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, some enterprising citizens
of San Antonio took steps to establish direct commercial communi-
cation with northern Mexico. They sent Colonel John C. Hays, a
Texas Ranger, to find a practicable wagon road from San Antonio
to Chihuahua9 via El Paso. The expense of the expedition was
raised by subscription in Bexar County. It was believed that the
advantages that would accrue to western Texas by opening this
Review, XII, 342-347, 356; Mabelle E. Martin, "California Emigrant
Roads through Texas," in Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XXVIII,
"In the early years the Santa F6 trade was comparatively small. By
1843 the value of the goods sent to Santa F6 was nearly a half million
dollars. Josiah Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, in Early Western
Travels (R. G. Thwaites, ed., Cleveland, 1905), II, 222.
'The profits ranged as high as 45 per cent. James J. Webb, Adven-
tures in the Santa Fp Trade, 1844-1847 (R. P. Bieber, ed., Glendale, Cali-
fornia, 1931), 28.
'Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, I, 254-255.
"Katherine Coman, Economic Beginnings of the Far West (New York,
1921), II, 87, 211-214; Cardinal Goodwin, The Trans-Mississippi West,
1808-1858 (New York, 1922), 146-147; Ellen C. Semple, American His-
tory and its Geographic Conditions (Boston, 1903), 194-198.
'In the United States-North Mexican trade, merchandise was also
brought to Chihuahua via south Mexican ports. But despite the greater
facility of importations through the seaports of Mexico and the ability
to sell cheaper by means of the southern route, United States merchants
preferred the longer land route through El Paso across the frontier
either from Missouri or Texas. Julius Froebel, Seven Years' Travel in
Central America, Northern Mexico, and the Far West of the United
States (London, 1859), 204.
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Texas State Historical Association & Barker, Eugene C. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 37, July 1933 - April, 1934, periodical, 1934; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101094/m1/131/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.