The Texas-New Mexico boundary dispute of 1848-1850



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Historians have written extensively about the Great Compromise, but surprisingly only the most superficial, if any, attention has been given to that provision covering the boundary dispute between New Mexico and Texas. Although most writers have treated it as of minor importance, no part of the Compromise was more bitterly debated in Congress during 1849-1850 than that of the Texas boundary. What has been written often contains misstatements of fact which has left the impression that the movement to settle the boundary dispute was animated solely by a desire to extend slavery. Too often President Polk is depicted as guilty of the most base designs for his role as champion of the Texas claim. The boundary problem has its roots in the early efforts of Texans to gain independence and expand their boundary at the expense of Mexico. In December, 1836, the Republic claimed the Rio Grande from source to mouth as its boundary thus placing much of what is now the state of New Mexico inside Texas. The Mexican government accepted neither the independence of Texas nor its boundary claim, an attitude which finally led to war with the United States. [...]