Peace and After
Palo Alto Battlefield (public domain)
War Comes To A Close
Even with U.S. troops occupying their capital city, Mexican leaders hesitated to surrender territory and negotiations dragged on for months. At last, however, on February 2, 1848, the United States and Mexico came to terms. In the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Mexico agreed to surrender all claims to Texas and accept the Rio Grande as the boundary of that state.
Mexico also agreed to sell its New Mexico and Upper California territories to the United States at a price of $15 million. The treaty effectively halved the size of Mexico and doubled the territory of the United States.
James S. Sullivan (public domain)
This territorial exchange had long-term effects on both nations. The war and treaty extended the United States to the Pacific Ocean, and provided a bounty of ports, minerals, and natural resources for a growing country. The abundance of lands also produced debates about extending slavery into the West, a dispute that would help spark a nation-defining civil war.In Mexico, the loss of battles and territories was a national trauma.
As political and military leaders challenged each other on the best way to revive their troubled country, Mexico also descended into a long period of turmoil, civil war, and foreign intervention. But the war also inspired new leaders who were determined to avoid additional humiliation for their country. The new generation eventually united Mexico, forced out foreign invaders, and established the foundations of a modern state.
Perhaps the most enduring effect of the war, however, is on U.S.-Mexican relations. While the war is recalled with passion south of the border, it is often overlooked to the north. And, although the two countries have developed strong bonds and friendly ties since 1848, these neighbors continue to struggle with distrust and misunderstandings created by the war, its effects, and the differing approaches to remembering the conflict.
Did You Know?
Joseph K. Barnes, a surgeon with the U.S. army on the Rio Grande in 1846 later became Surgeon General of the United States. He tended to Abraham Lincoln and James Garfield on the occasions when those Presidents were mortally wounded by assassins.