The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 177
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The United States-Mexican Boundary Survey
and Whipple, were thus aligned in opposition to Bartlett's inter-
pretation of the treaty with respect to the location of the initial
point on the Rio Grande. Their argument, like that of the Mex-
icans, demanded a rigid adherence to the treaty map, but they
emphasized different aspects of the map. They pointed to the
fact that the treaty had made no reference to latitude and longi-
tude, and, in fact, had made only one specific geographical refer-
ence, that the line ran north of "the town called Paso." The
boundary must, therefore, have been deliberately drawn eight
miles north of the town rather than the town's having been placed
on the map after the line had been marked out.4" They insisted
then that latitude and longitude should be discounted and the
line placed on the earth in the same relation with the town of
El Paso as it had on the map, namely, eight miles north of the
town. This position posited an interesting dilemma in carto-
graphic perception: were the lines of longitude and latitude the
important determinants of the boundary, or was it the geograph-
ical picture drawn on them, with its own logic of relationships,
that was the most important referent? Article V of the treaty,
aside from its ambiguous reference to "the town called Paso,"
left the problem completely without a solution.
What made the initial-point controversy so significant was the
fact that both Gray and Graham believed that the area between
310 45' north latitude and 320 22' north latitude contained the
only practicable route for a railroad across the Southwest to the
Pacific.42 The security of California and its fabulous riches de-
manded more than a tortuous emigrant trail through the Rocky
Mountains as a link with the rest of the country, but another
year-round route free of ice and snow was unknown at the time.
Indeed, to many expansionists, the loss of the southwestern trail
to California endangered the whole grand design of continental
The southwestern railroad route also had another importance.
By Article XI of the treaty, the United States had assumed the
41The best exposition of their arguments is in A. B. Gray, "Report and Map,
relative to the Mexican Boundary," Senate Executive Documents, 33rd Cong., 2nd
Sess. (Serial No. 752), Document No. 55, pp. 6-12.
42Ibid., 27; see also J. D. Graham, "Report on ... Boundary Line," Senate Exec-
utive Documents, 32nd Cong., Ist Sess. (Serial No. 627), Document No. 121, p. 61.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/220/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.