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The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United Statesmarker that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of New Mexicomarker.

Statehood proposals

The Congressional Compromise of 1850 halted a bid for statehood under a proposed antislavery constitution.

The status of slavery during the territorial period provoked considerable debate. The granting of statehood was up to a Congress sharply divided on the slavery issue. Some (including Stephen A. Douglas) maintained that the territory could not restrict slavery, as under the earlier Missouri Compromise, while others (including Abraham Lincoln) insisted that older Mexican legal traditions, which forbade slavery, took precedence. Regardless of its official status, slavery was rare in antebellum New Mexico. Black slaves never numbered more than about a dozen.

The South refused House Republicans' proposal approved by committee on December 29, 1861 to admit New Mexico as a state immediately.
 On 24 February 1863, during the American Civil War, Congress divided the territory and created the new Arizona Territory along current boundaries between the states. The act of establishment abolished slavery in the Arizona Territory.

Territorial evolution

Gadsden Purchase 1853
New Mexico Territory 1866
Mexico ceded the region to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, except for the area of the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. This added today's southern Arizonamarker and a smaller area in today's southwestern New Mexicomarker.Texas claimed (but never controlled) the area from the Rio Grandemarker to the present New Mexico-Texasmarker border, bisecting historic New Mexico and slightly over half of today's New Mexico, until ceding it as part of the Compromise of 1850. This awarded Texas El Pasomarker and the Texas Panhandlemarker, which had been parts of the Spanish and Mexican territories of Santa Fe de Nuevo México.

The original 1850 New Mexico Territory included most of future Arizonamarker (known as Santa Ana County), a small part of Coloradomarker, and Nevadamarker south of 36° 30' N.The establishment of Colorado Territory on February 28, 1861 and of Arizona Territory on February 24, 1863 (west of the 109th meridian) left New Mexico with its present boundaries.

Civil War

As the route to Californiamarker, New Mexico and Arizona were disputed territory during the American Civil War, resulting in Gadsden settlers willingly joining the Confederate States of America. The Battle of Glorieta Passmarker gave the area primarily to the Union. Confederate Arizona Territory was the first American incarnation of Arizonamarker.

See also


  2. The Purchase treaty defines the new border as "up the middle of that river (the Rio Grande) to the point where the parallel of 31° 47' north latitude crosses the same ; thence due west one hundred miles; thence south to the parallel of 31° 20' north latitude; thence along the said parallel of 31° 20' to the 111th meridian of longitude west of Greenwich ; thence in a straight line to a point on the Colorado River twenty English miles below the junction of the Gila and Colorado rivers; thence up the middle of the said river Colorado until it intersects the present line between the United States and Mexico." The new border included a few miles of the Colorado River at the western end; the remaining land portion consisted of line segments between points, including at the Colorado River, west of Nogales at , near AZ-NM-Mexico tripoint at , the eastern corners of NM southern bootheel (Hidalgo County) at , and the west bank of Rio Grande at
  3. Department of State - Gadsden Purchase
  4. Texas Handbook Online - Compromise of 1850
  5. New York Times - The New Territory of Arizona
  6. National Park Service - The Battle of Glorieta

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