Mexican Cession

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Editor: Donald S. Frazier
Date: 1998
Document Type: Topic overview
Length: 380 words
Content Level: (Level 5)
Lexile Measure: 1420L

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On 2 February 1848, at the Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo, a treaty was signed ending the U.S.-Mexican War and ceding Texas and the territories of New Mexico and Alta California to the United States. The agreement, known in the United States as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, was signed by Nicholas P. Trist for the United States and José Bernardo Couto, Miguel Atristain, and Luis Gonzaga Cuevas for Mexico. By May 1848, both countries had ratified the cession, which transferred over 500,000 square miles, or close to half of Mexico's national territory, to the United States.

The Mexican Cession defined the international boundary as the Río Grande to Paso del Norte (present-day Juárez), from there westward to the Gila River, and then to the Pacific coast along the thirty-second parallel. Controversies concerning disputed territory were to be resolved by two separate commissions of both nations. What was not disputed was that the port of San Diego belonged to the United States. U.S. expansionism had cost Mexico nearly half of its territory, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah, and portions of Oklahoma, Colorado, and Wyoming. The United States paid Mexico an indemnity of $15 million and assumed more than $3 million in claims that U.S. citizens had against the Mexican government. Mexico retained Baja California and a land link to Sonora.

Articles VIII and IX of the Guadalupe treaty guaranteed to the Mexicans living in the ceded territory the protection of their property and "free exercise of their religion." Article XI committed the United States to control the Native Americans in the ceded area.

The harsh terms of the treaty led to rebellions and some pronunciamientos (barracks revolts) in Mexico. It also did not satisfy the desires of extreme expansionists in the United States, who continued filibustering expeditions into Mexico throughout the next decade. While Mexicans who remained in the areas ceded to the United States lost much of their land to fraud and outright confiscation, in general the U.S.Mexican War marked the transition of the economy of the conquered provinces from subsistence cultivation to market production. In Mexico, moral outrage stimulated national cohesion, while the spoils of war increased the national domain of the United States, creating a market that sustained economic growth throughout the nineteenth century.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|BT2333200313