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Definition: Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Treaty of from Philip's Encyclopedia

(1848) Peace settlement ending the Mexican War. Mexico ceded the present US states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. The USA paid US$15 million in compensation.

Summary Article: Mexican-American War: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848
From Encyclopedia of United States - Latin American Relations
  • Keywords
  • Mexico
  • War, Revolution, and Terrorism
  • Manifest Destiny
  • Treaties

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848, in the Mexican city of Guadalupe Hidalgo, marked the end of the Mexican-American War and extended U.S. control over a large swath of Mexican territory encompassing present-day California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado, Kansas, and Wyoming. The war had been triggered two years earlier by the U.S. annexation of Texas and a dispute with Mexico about whether the Nueces River or the Rio Grande constituted the southern border between Texas and Mexico. With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the subsequent Gadsden Purchase (1853)—through which the United States acquired thirty thousand miles of land along the U.S.-Mexico border—the United States was able to consummate the ideology of Manifest Destiny, extend its population across the North American continent, and harness an incalculable amount of agricultural, mineral, and mercantile riches. It also re-territorialized a large number of Mexican and indigenous peoples who had been shaped by Spanish and Mexican institutions, culture, and laws, and who now found themselves ruled by a foreign power and under intense pressure to vacate their lands. The acquisition of so much land also intensified acrimony within the United States over how to maintain the geopolitical equilibrium between slave and free states. Thus the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was a landmark event, along with the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), and the Bleeding of Kansas (1856), on the road to the U.S. Civil War (1861–1865).

During the Mexican-American War, the U.S. military overwhelmed Mexico with relative ease, taking its northern frontier territories (California and New Mexico) and the principal cities of its interior, including Mexico City. Mexico was plagued by incessant factionalism and could not sustain an effective war effort against the United States. When President Antonio López de Santa Anna fled the country after the fall of Mexico City in September of 1847, most of the government that remained was ready for peace and reconstruction. In this climate the treaty was negotiated in January of 1848 by U.S. envoy Nicholas P. Trist and Mexican Peace Commissioners Luis G. Cuevas, Bernardo Couto, and Miguel Atristain. The negotiations were not without controversies, on both sides. Trist believed that President Polk's proposed boundary line of the Rio Grande was negotiable, a position which resulted in his dismissal as envoy. Trist refused Polk's order, and with General Taylor's backing, he continued negotiations on the ground until the final agreement was reached. On the Mexican side significant political opposition to the treaty threatened to extend the war, but moderate voices prevailed, arguing that the nation could not afford any more defeats and suffering. In the United States the treaty was first sanctioned by the Foreign Relations Committee, which reviewed it behind closed doors and then amended and ratified it by the U.S. Senate on March 10, 1848. The Mexican Senate approved the treaty after vigorous debate on May 7, 1847.

The twenty-three articles of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo may be summarized as follows: the affirmation of a “firm and universal” peace between the United States and Mexico and a commitment to sustain it (Article I and XXI); the establishment of protocols for the end of the U.S. naval blockade of Mexico and the removal of U.S. military personnel and equipment from Mexico (Articles II–IV); the acquisition of all Mexican lands north of the Rio Grande and the Gila River, straight across to the Pacific (Article V); the right of transit on the waterways of the Gulf of California and along the Rio Grande and the Gila rivers (Articles VI–VII); the fate of Mexican nationals and their property on the U.S. side of the newly drawn border (Articles VIII–X); the payment of $15 million to Mexico, the settlement of other Mexican debts owed to the United States, and the resolution of matters relating to duties collected by the United States when in control of Mexican ports (Articles XII–XV, XVI, and XIX–XX); a call for the just treatment of prisoners of war, and U.S. and Mexican persons and their property on either side of the conflict in the event of another war (XXII); a call for ratification by both governments before going into effect (XXIII).

One of the long-standing controversies surrounding the treaty relates to Articles VIII–X, which deal with citizenship and land rights. Article VIII stated that Mexicans who stayed in the United States would lose Mexican citizenship after a period of one year, even if they did not freely elect to become U.S. citizens. The subsequent article underlined that such peoples would be treated as subjects of Mexican constitutional law and as equals of U.S. citizens until they received the full status of U.S. citizenship. Article X, which called for the property owned by Mexicans on the U.S. side of the border to be protected in the strongest and most explicit terms, was stricken from the treaty by the U.S. Senate before it was ratified. This decision facilitated the expropriation of Mexican lands in the decades that followed the treaty's signing.

See also All Mexico Movement (United States); Gadsden Treaty, 1853; Mexican-American War; Mexican-American War: California, U.S. Acquisition of; Polk, James K.

  • Griswold del Castillo, Richard. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A Legacy of Conflict. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.
  • Haynes, Sam W. James K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse. New York: Longman, 1997.
  • Pletcher, David M. The Diplomacy of Annexation: Texas, Oregon and the Mexican War. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1973.
  • Vázquez, Josefina Zoraida. “The Significance in Mexican History of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.” In The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 1848: Papers of the Sesquicentennial Symposium, 1848–1998, edited by Bloom, John Porter , 81-100. Las Cruces, NM: Doña Ana County Historical Society/Yucca Tree Press, 1999.
Copyright © 2012 by CQ Press, an Imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc.

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