Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Term Paper

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Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

Mexican historian has labeled the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 'one of the harshest in modern history.' It was imposed on Mexico -- not fairly negotiated. -- Malcolm Ebright, 1994

The epigraph above suggests that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was like many events in American history where the United States is perceived as wielding an unfairly heavy hand in international affairs, particularly in its own hemisphere. While the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo remains fairly obscure in the annals of American history, its outcome helped fuel the Manifest Destiny of the country through its westward expansion. To determine the key facts in the matter, this paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature to identify the main parts of the treaty, who the main players were who were involved with the treaty, and what the United States stood to gain or lose by its passage. An analysis of the legal battles that were directly related to the treaty as well as their outcomes is followed by an assessment of what impact this treaty had on the country at the time. A summary of the research and salient findings are presented in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

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Main Parts of the Treaty. The treaty consisted of twenty-three articles, but Article IX was modified and Article X (see discussion below) was eliminated from the final treaty language by the U.S. Congress (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 4). A summary of the various articles of the treaty is provided in Table 1 below.

Table 1.

Summary of Articles of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.


Summary of Provisions

Article I

This article declared an end to the hostilities between Mexico and the U.S.

Article II

This article provided for oversight of the suspended hostilities.

Article III

This article eliminated any blockades, withdrawal of troops and restoration of accounts and trade patterns.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Assignment

Article IV

This article generally addressed the withdrawal of occupying U.S. troops from Mexican territories and possessions.

Article V

This article described a vague border between the two countries.

Article VI

This article concerned navigation of the Gila and potential mutual development by both governments.

Article VII

This article defined the boundaries, respective borders, and permissible trade routes for the Gila and Rio Bravo rivers.

Article VIII

This article gave Mexicans living in territories ceded to the U.S. The option of returning to Mexico or remaining where they were.

Article IX

This article provided Mexicans electing to remain in the U.S. with U.S. citizenship upon ratification of the treaty.

Article X

Stricken from U.S. amendments

Article XI

This article concerned the "savage tribes" that occupied the ceded territories and prohibited trade in stolen goods and livestock with them; also prohibited purchase of Mexicans captured by Native Americans.

Article XII

For the lands ceded and other good and valuable considerations stipulated in the contract, this article required the U.S. government to pay Mexico $15,000,000.

Article XIII

This article held Mexico harmless from any further claims whatsoever.

Article XIV

This article discharged any further obligation of Mexico from claims of U.S. citizens specifically.

Article XV

This article established a board of commissioners to oversee the payment of claims.

Article XVI

This article reserved the right of each government to deploy military forces along their borders at their discretion.

Article XVII

This article stipulated the duration of the treaty (8 years) with a provision for extensions as the parties deemed fit provided one year's notice was given for cancellations thereafter.

Article XVIII

This article provided for duty-free provisions of occupying U.S. military forces in Mexico during the pendency of the treaty.

Article XIX

This article contained trade provisions for future commerce between the countries.

Article XX

This article contained further trade provisions linked to Article III.

Article XXI

The article contained mutual assurances of peaceful resolutions of future conflicts.

Article XXII

This article provided exigencies to be followed in case of war.

Article XXIII

The concluding article stipulated time and place for approval by Mexico and the U.S.

Key Players. Although the events that resulted in the treaty included numerous colorful characters on both sides, the key players in the treaty were relatively few. For instance, in his book, Land Grants and Lawsuits in Northern New Mexico, Ebright (1994) reports that the key players in the treaty included Secretary of State James Buchanan, American General Stephen Watts Kearny and a representative for the U.S. In the negotiations, Nicholas Trist. Other key players included the Mexican commissioners appointed to negotiate on behalf of Mexico (Ebright 28), who were Luis P. Cuevas, Bernardo Couto, and Miguel Atristain (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 4). According to Ebright, "Changes in New Mexico brought about by the opening of the Santa Fe Trail paved the way for the invasion by United States forces led by General Stephen Watts Kearny in August 1846. Kearny promised the people of New Mexico that their property would be protected by the United States. However, it became a matter of international negotiation to determine what form this guarantee would take" (28).

The negotiations that resulted in the ratification of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo occurred during the fall of 1847; at that time, Trist, on behalf of the United States in the negotiations, was not truly in a position to negotiate anything. In this regard, Ebright reports that Trist.".. was truly a man caught in the middle. Trist attempted to hammer out a fair treaty in spite of the inflexible policy of his government on many issues. The exact terms of the property guarantee given by Kearny with regard to land grants were the result of protracted negotiations. In August 1847 when General Winfield Scott's army was in position to advance on Mexico City, the Mexican government appointed four commissioners to meet with Trist. Both sides had draft treaties that their respective governments had given them as bases for negotiation" (29). Although Trist's efforts at diplomacy were laudable by modern standards, the U.S. government was not in a position to negotiate much of anything away because he was under strict orders from Washington concerning what his goals were in the treaty negotiations.

What Was at Stake. There was in fact an enormous amount at stake: The acquisition of the entire state of New Mexico, Texas and the upper part of California by the United States as well as the continued prosecution of the war against Mexico were all at stake, and the outcome of the treaty negotiations would determine whether more casualties would be incurred in the process. It is unlikely that anyone at the time was uncertain about the outcome of the war, and as the epigraph above indicates, the treaty was considered one-sided by the Mexican contingent. "The war began mainly because the United States wanted to fulfill its "manifest destiny" to expand its territory across the entire continent. With the U.S. Army advancing on and finally occupying Mexico City, Secretary of State James Buchanan called the draft treaty 'a carefully considered ultimatum'" (quoted in Ebright at 29).* the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, though, ended the U.S.-Mexican War (Montoya 36) and the U.S. gained New Mexico, Texas and Upper California as well (Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 2).

Legal Battles. According to Black's Law Dictionary (1990), a treaty is "a compact made between two or more independent nations with a view to the public welfare. A treaty is not only a law but also a contract between two nations and must, if possible, be so construed as to give full force and effect to all its parts" (1502). While the "full force and effect" was in fact accomplished, the contractual nature of the treaty was clearly one-sided. In this regard, Ebright notes that, "Article 10 provided a fair standard for adjudicating land grants; unfortunately it was deleted from the treaty by the U.S. Senate prior to ratification. This caused innumerable problems in the subsequent adjudication of land grants. Without a standard by which to test the validity of a land grant, Congress and the courts were free to make their own rules, which they did, and the results were not always just" (29).

The first draft of the treaty crafted by the U.S. delegation did not contain any mention of land grant guarantees; however, Trist had been instructed to not oppose such a provision should the Mexican commissioners request one. According to Ebright, "The Mexican commissioners did request a series of articles on land grants to the effect that all grants made by Mexican authorities were valid and would be recognized as such by the United States. Trist objected to these provisions because they validated all land grants" (29). It was Trist's position that those land grants whose conditions had not been satisfied should not be honored, as well as those completed following the cut-off date of May 13, 1846, the day military action began between the U.S. And Mexico (Ebright 28). In this regard, this author adds that, "Trist suggested wording to establish a test of the validity of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.  (2007, November 26).  Retrieved October 27, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo."  26 November 2007.  Web.  27 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo."  November 26, 2007.  Accessed October 27, 2021.