The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951 Page: 420
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
States. Direct purchase was out of the question, for no Mexican
president could alienate national territory without seriously jeop-
ardizing his political future. Because Mexican opinion was ob-
durately opposed to the relinquishment of sovereignty over the
desired lands, Hughes judiciously decided that the project could
be carried out only on the basis of strict mutuality, without actual
loss of territory to either country. When he later forwarded to
the Mexican government a draft agreement suggesting the con-
struction of a controlled channel in the Rio Grande and recom-
mending the acceptance of the center of this channel as the
international dividing line,"2 Hughes carefully linked the Cham-
izal question with the straightening of the river channel, figuring
that the "permanency of the boundary would be sufficient guar-
antee to Mexico to ease opposition in [the] Chamizal Case."27
Neither nation denied the mutual advantages to be derived
from the rectification of the Rio Grande and from the stabiliza-
tion of the boundary line. The reciprocal benefits included the
prevention of recurrent floods throughout the El Paso-Juarez
valley and the diminution of controversial issues arising from
the changing course of the river.28 The rectification of the stream
could be accomplished by the elimination of all sharp curves and
by the construction of levees which would help carry off the
floodwaters and would prevent the inundation of the surround-
ing country.29 The United States assumed that the proposed con-
vention placing all lands north of the rectified channel under
American jurisdiction would likewise settle the Chamizal and
The Department of State repeatedly, and perhaps deliberately,
overlooked the importance Mexican public opinion had given
26Draft Convention for the Settlement and for Better Definition of the Inter-
national Boundary at Certain Points Along the Rio Grande River, May 9, 1924,
in Foreign Relations, 1925, II, 563-564. Hughes assured the Mexican government
that the straightening of the channel would result in equal exchanges of territory
of no more than 250 hectares of land or of a population in excess of 2oo persons,
but at the same time he hoped that the new boundary agreement would transfer
jurisdiction of the Chamizal to the United States.
27Hughes to Sheffield, November 8, 1924, in ibid., 566.
2SKellogg to Madden quoted in Congressional Record, 7oth Cong., 1st Sess., 2633.
29Press Releases, VIII, No. 428 (February 4, 1933), 88.
30Elwood Mead, United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclama-
tion, to the Secretary of the Interior, Hubert Work, February i, 1928, quoted in
Congressional Record, 69th Cong., 1st Sess., 2634.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951, periodical, 1951; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101133/m1/566/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.