Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Gadsden Purchase

The Gadsden Purchase
How many time have you pulled your auto into the rest stop located between Casa Grande and Phoenix, and not think twice about the historical significance of the place in which you were about to stretch your legs or take a leak?

I was just watching The Desert Speak's presentation of the Gadsden Purchase on AZPBS. Little did I know that if it wasn't for often-forgotten James Gadsden, Americans wouldn't be taking for granted our portion of the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

The Sonoran Desert, one of North America's largest and driest, takes its name from the Mexican state of Sonora, now located to the south of Arizona. Until 1853, however, Sonora's boundaries extended all the way to the Gila River. In this year the United States pressured Mexico's President Antonio López de Santa Anna to sell 30,000 square miles of northern Mexico to the United States for ten million dollars. Included in this sale were the villages of Tucson, Tubac, and San Xavier del Bac as well as Aravaipa Canyon and the future grounds of Camp Grant, all of which would be incorporated into the new territory of Arizona.

Finalized in 1854, the Gadsden Purchase, or Treaty, was an agreement between the United States and Mexico, in which the United States agreed to pay Mexico $10 million for a 29,670 square mile portion of Mexico that later became part of Arizona and New Mexico. At about 33 cents per acre of Sonoran (and Chihuahuan) desert and mountains, undoubtedly both Mexico and the U.S. would agree that the Gadsden Purchase was a bargain for the U.S.

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