The Gadsden Purchase was a land purchase that took place between the government of USA and the government of Mexico. The government of USA paid $10 million and in return, it acquired the area which spanned over the modern-day states of Arizona and New Mexico. In total, this purchase added 30,000 square miles of land to the total size of the United States of America.
In 1846, a war began between USA and Mexico, called the Mexican-American war. The war primarily started over the issue of Texas. Texas was first a part of Mexico but then gained its independence. Mexico continued to claim that Texas was still its Territory.
When Texas became part of the USA it created predictable tensions between Mexico and USA. These tensions finally erupted into war in 1846. The war continued until 1848 during which time, the armies of USA were able to take control of many areas of Mexico and even reached the capital of Mexico City.
Mexico was forced to agree to a peace. The peace treaty signed by both sides in 1848 was called the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. USA paid $15 million to Mexico for the lands of Texas and California which were already under U.S. control. In this treaty, Mexico also agreed to give up a portion of the land which was finalized in the Gadsden Purchase, in return for a payment of $10 million.
On the American side, the Gadsden Purchase was negotiated by the U.S. Minister to Mexico, James Gadsden. So the purchase was later named after him. Gadsden successfully negotiated the purchase on December 30, 1853. The details were then sent to both governments who then had to ratify the purchase. After ratification from both sides, the purchase was finalized on June 8, 1854 and the new land finally became a part of USA.
The area that USA acquired through the Gadsden Purchase was very significant. It connected the western edge of the state of Texas with California which was located along the Pacific coast on the extreme west of USA. This made it possible to create a direct railroad route from Texas to California, making it very easy for people to travel between the two states and to do trade. It cut down the traveling time by 90% and connected California, on the far edge of USA, to the rest of the country.
The Gadsden Purchase was welcome by the southern railroad companies as well as the businessmen and tradesmen in the area. It also finally resolved the boundary disputes between Mexico and USA, finally establishing the permanent southern border of USA. The politicians in the northern states weren’t happy with the purchase. This was because slavery was not outlawed in the southern states, as it was in the northern states, and so as the size of the southern states increased, so did the area in which slavery was practiced.