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New Mexico Territory

State: New Mexico Territory

Initially part of the Spanish Empire, New Mexico became part of Mexico after the collapse of the empire in that region in 1821 and then part of the United States at the conclusion of the Mexican War. Its actual borders - especially where it separated from Texas - were disputed until Congress officially established it as an American territory in 1850. At that time, it comprised most of the modern-day states of New Mexico and Arizona, along with portions of Colorado and Nevada. Its southern border was pushed further into Mexico past the Gila River in 1854 as a result of the Gadsden Purchase. The Confederacy made a concerted effort to annex or capture New Mexico during the Civil War but failed. Santa Fe was the territorial capital.

Stephen G. Hyslop, Bound for Santa Fe: The Road to New Mexico and the American Conquest, 1806-1848 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002); Mark J. Stegmaier, Texas, New Mexico, and the Compromise of 1850: Boundary Dispute & Sectional Crisis (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1996).