The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987 Page: 330
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Outgoing president James K. Polk began the controversy simply by
appointing Weller commissioner to run and mark the boundary jointly
with Mexico. Polk either believed the appropriation bill then before
Congress, which provided $50,000 for the survey, gave him such au-
thority, or he desired to steal a march on the incoming Taylor admin-
istration by appointing Democrats to the commission. The Senate,
which was controlled by the Democrats, confirmed Polk's nominations,
but the Whigs, who possessed a majority in the House, tried to void the
president's action when the Senate bill came before that chamber. By
a strictly partisan vote the Whigs amended the bill so as to confine
boundary-commission appointments to the U.S. Army Corps of Topo-
graphical Engineers and to provide that no funds appropriated cur-
rently or in the future be used to pay the salaries of persons connected
to the commission whose appointments did not conform with the law.
The Senate refused to accept the amendments, and the boundary com-
mission was left with limited funds and its members without salaries.'
Despite these and other difficulties the United States commissioner,
John B. Weller, reached San Diego, California, on June 1, 1849, and
with the Mexican commissioner, Pedro Garcia Conde, organized on
July 6 the Joint Commission to define the boundary. Hampered by in-
adequate funds and by the high labor and freight costs arising from the
California gold rush, the Joint Commission still managed to establish
the southern boundary of California from the Pacific to the mouth of
the Gila River by January, 1850o. Having made arrangements for the ac-
tual marking of the line, the Joint Commission adjourned and made
preparations to reconvene at El Paso del Norte in November, 1850o.
From that point the commission would be able to work in two direc-
tions and avoid the greater expenses it had incurred while based in
The Whigs meanwhile decided that all patronage resulting from
"Mr. Polk's War" must belong to the incoming Whig administration.
2William M. Malloy (comp.), Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols, and Agreements
between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776-19o9 (2 vols.; Washington, D.C.,
1910), I, 1, 10o9-1,11; Congressional Globe, 31st Cong., Ist sess., 1850, XXI, pt. 1 :744-
3Rippy, The United States and Mexico, 1o6-107; Goetzmann, "The United States-Mexican
Boundary Survey, 1848-1853," 164-190o; Lesley, "The International Boundary Survey from
San Diego to the Gila River," i-15.
4Report of the Secretary of the Interior . .., 31st Cong., 1st sess., 1850, S. Ex. Doc. 34 (Serial
558), pt. 1: 17-32; Jos6 Salazar Ylarrequi, Datos de los trabajos astron6micos y topogrdficos, dis-
puestos en forma de diario. Practicados durante el ano de I849 y de i85o por la comisi6n de limites
mexicana en la linea que divide este repuiblica de la de los Estados Unidos (Mexico City, 1850), 8-31;
Official Journal, 1-34, The Mexican Boundary Commission Papers of John Russell Bartlett
(The John Carter Brown Library, Brown University).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987, periodical, 1986/1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/m1/396/: accessed August 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.