Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood


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Right away its legislature petitioned the U.

El Palacio

Congress for statehood. No dice. New Mexico rejected slavery, but officials did consider allowing New Mexico to enter as a slave state to appease the South. Secession arrived too quickly to make that happen. Then came war. The next big push for statehood came in the mids. But the blame for the delay to statehood does not rest entirely on national politics. Some of the leading supporters of statehood in New Mexico were scoundrels, says the author.

Progress seemed inevitable in the territory once the railroad arrived in February Promotion of statehood by fostering modernization and economic growth became a big deal in the s. Albert J. Sympathizing with the poor underclass, Las Casas opened up a line of dialogue with the revolutionaries. This caused the Spanish elite to instigate its own counter coup and executed Las Casas.

For years afterward the regime failed to regain coherency and the mandate to administrate. These ideological struggles affected peripheral New Mexico much less than they did the national center, but it resulted in a sense of alienation with central authority. Furthermore, in a longstanding peace between the settled communities of New Mexico and the neighboring nomadic Indian tribes broke down. Just a month after swearing loyalty to the new Mexican government in , governor Melgares led a raid into Navajo country. Isolated from other settled regions and surrounded on all sides by nomadic Indian tribes, New Mexicans tended to a communal sense of imperilment and the placement of security above all other concerns.

For these reasons it is highly surprising that the transition from Spanish to Mexican rule occurred as peacefully as it did. In New Mexico the event passed with few shows of enthusiasm or partisanship. Festivals were largely a lackluster affair and held only at the behest of the revolutionary government which expressed that they should be held, "in all the form and with the magnificence that the oaths of allegiance to the Kings have previously been read".

But there was no renewed civil war and the provisional government was given the grudging support of most of society. Trade along the Santa Fe Trail was opened following Mexican independence. With this trade came a new influx of citizens from the United States.

Prior to independence, the estranjeros foreigners were not allowed to participate in receiving land grants , but now, along with the open trade, a few would become participating owners of these merceds grants. In a new constitution was drafted, that established Mexico as a federalist republic. A generally liberal minded atmosphere that had pervaded Mexico since independence led to generous grants of local autonomy and limited central power. New Mexico in particular was able to take advantage and to carve out significant privileges in this new system. Classified as a territory as opposed to a state, it had reduced representation in the national government but broad local autonomy.

Because of the advanced age of New Mexican society and its relative sophistication, it was uniquely placed to take advantage of its position as a frontier but still effecting influence in the rest of the country. One of the defining features of the Mexican period in the history of New Mexico was the attempt to instill a nationalist sentiment.

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This was a tremendous challenge considering the nature of identity in Mexico during the Spanish empire. Under the official dictates of the empire, subjects were classified in terms of ethnicity, class and position in society. Between these legal distinctions kept groups separate and movement between groups was regulated. Ethnic Europeans of course made up the upper crust of this system with Peninsulars, those born in Spain itself, comprising the true elite while Mexican born Europeans, the creoles, were ranked just below them.

At the bottom were the masses of Indians and Mestizos, who had few legal rights and protections against the abuse of their superiors. In contrast the new 'Mexican' elite attempted to create a common identity between all classes and ethnicities. Embracing an incredibly wide range of peoples and cultures, from nomadic Indians to the high society of Mexico City, this was incredibly ambitious and met with mixed success.

In New Mexico, there was already a highly structured and differentiated society at the time of independence, unique along the Mexican frontier. At the top were ethnic Europeans who then merged with a large community of Hispanics. The more Indian blood you possessed, the lower on the social scale you tended to reside until the bottom was made of settled Pueblo communities and the nomadic Indians who existed outside of the polity.


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Nationalists attempted to establish equality, if only legally, between these disparate groups. The local autonomy New Mexicans had established inhibited these endeavors and throughout the Mexican period the elite continued to maintain their privileges. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of New Mexico were able to adapt their old identity as Spanish subjects to Mexican nationals.

Instead of a purely modern liberal sense of identity, this adapted Spanish feudalism to a geographic area. The evidence of this success in nationalism can be seen in the Pueblo myth of Montezuma. This held that the original Aztec homeland lay in New Mexico, and the original king of the Aztecs was a Pueblo.

This creates a symbolic, and completely artificial, connection between the Mexican center and an isolated frontier society. The federalist and liberal atmosphere that pervaded Mexican thought since independence fell apart in the mids. Across the political spectrum there was the perception that the previous system had failed and needed readjustment. This led to the dissolution of the constitution and the drafting of a new one based on centralist lines.

As Mexico drifted farther and farther toward despotism, the national project began to fail and the nation fell into a crisis. Along the frontier, formerly autonomous societies reacted aggressively to a newly assertive central government.

. Forty Seventh Star New Mexicos Struggle For Statehood

The most independent province, Texas, declared its independence in , triggering the sequence of events that led directly to Mexico's collapse. The Revolt of in New Mexico itself overthrew and executed the centrally appointed governor and demanded increased regional authority. This revolt was defeated within New Mexican society itself by Manuel Armijo.

This was motivated not by nationalist sentiment but by the class antagonism within New Mexican society. When central rule was reestablished, it was done so on Armijo's lines he became governor and he ruled the province with even greater autonomy than any other time during the Mexican period. As the situation within central Mexico fell further and further into confusion, New Mexico began to draw closer economically to the United States.

This was epitomized in the growth in traffic and prominence of the Santa Fe Trail as a means of communication and trade. Merchants making their way over the Great Plains would stop in Santa Fe , where they would meet with their counterparts from Los Angeles and Mexico City. The result was that as central Mexico fell into turmoil, New Mexico grew economically and shifted into the orbit of the United States.

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In the governorship of Armijo was interrupted when the regime of Santa Anna replaced him as governor with political outsider Mariano Martinez. In the growing threat of war with the United States, the national center sought to bring the frontier under tight control as it is there that any war would be fought. To prevent revolution, Martinez was swiftly removed and Armijo reinstated, but any confidence the central government still enjoyed was completely destroyed. The following year rumors arrived in New Mexico that the Mexican government was planning on selling the territory to the United States.

There was so little trust in the central government by this point that instead of investigating these rumors which were completely false leading members of New Mexican society drafted a threat of secession to the government. It was not until invading American troops reached New Mexico in August that they learned of war with the United States. The Republic of Texas seceded from Mexico in and claimed but never controlled territory as far south and west as the Rio Grande.

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While most of the northwestern territory was then the Comancheria , it would have included Santa Fe and divided New Mexico. The wagon train, supplied for a journey of about half the actual distance between Austin and Santa Fe, followed the wrong river, back-tracked, and arrived in New Mexico to find the Mexican governor restored and hostile.

Surrendering peaceably upon a pledge to be allowed to return the way they came, the Texians found themselves bound at gunpoint and their execution put to a vote of the garrison. By one vote, they were spared and marched south to Chihuahua and then Mexico City.

History of New Mexico

Kearny marched down the Santa Fe Trail and entered Santa Fe without opposition to establish a joint civil and military government. He then divided his forces into four commands: one, under Colonel Sterling Price , appointed military governor, was to occupy and maintain order in New Mexico with his approximately men; a second group under Colonel Alexander William Doniphan , with a little over men was ordered to capture El Paso , in the state of Chihuahua , Mexico and then join up with General Wool ; [34] the third, of about dragoons mounted on mules, Kearny led under his command to California.

The Mormon Battalion , mostly marching on foot under Lt. Philip St. George Cooke , was directed to follow Kearny with wagons to establish a new southern route to California. When Kearny encountered Kit Carson , traveling East and bearing messages that California had already been subdued, he sent nearly of his dragoons back to New Mexico.

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Fremont and another men under Commodore Robert Stockton of the U. Navy and Marines had taken control of the approximately 7, Californios from San Diego to Sacramento. New Mexico territory, which then included present-day Arizona, was under undisputed United States control, but the exact boundary with Texas was uncertain.

Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood
Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood
Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood
Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood
Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood
Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood
Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood
Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood
Forty-Seventh Star: New Mexicos Struggle for Statehood

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