Texas HistoryToday in Texas History: Texas Relinquishes Land in New Mexico Territory

Back when Texas was a sovereign republic, the government tried to acquire territory in what is modern day New Mexico.
November 25, 2022
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On this day 172 years ago, the state of Texas gave up portions of territory that are now part of New Mexico in an agreement signed about a decade before the Civil War.

According to the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), President Mirabeau Lamar sent troops on an expedition to seek control of Santa Fe and other portions of modern day New Mexico. Lamar was the second president of the Republic of Texas from 1838 to 1841.

Without any gunfire, the unsuccessful excursion ended with the imprisonment of Texan troops by Mexican forces.

Mexico would lose its hold on the disputed territory during the Mexican-American War. A few years after Texas became a state, the U.S. government gained control of the land in question by way of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, whereupon the Texas Legislature established the county of Santa Fe.

The TSHA notes that in January 1850, the Legislature created El Paso, Presidio, Santa Fe, and Worth counties from what would have been Santa Fe County.  However, the residents of that area did not take well to becoming Texans. The TSHA explains that part of the reason was public opposition to slavery.

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On November 25, 1850, the Republic of Texas participated in an agreement called the Compromise of 1850 that included conceding a portion of the disputed territory back to the U.S. government.

The compromise was part of a set of laws enacted by the U.S. Congress that dealt with “slavery and territorial expansion,” according to the Library of Congress.

With the Compromise of 1850, the modern western boundary of Texas was drawn as the state gave up portions of El Paso and Presidio counties. Worth and Santa Fe counties never materialized.

The Civil War began a few years later, lasting from 1861 to 1865. New Mexico did not become a state until 1912.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."