Gasden Purchase, Mexican Territory


The Gasden Purchase in 1854 secured lands south of the Gila River, west of the Rio Grande and east of the Colorado for the U.S. It provided for secure passage to California along a southern route and resolved outstanding border issues following the Mexican-American War. Travel in this area is dangerous – if the dry heat and frozen nights don’t kill you, you still have to worry about Apache attacks, Mexican banditos and American rustlers and outlaws. But if you have the $200, the stagecoach is a relatively safe alternative – or at least a fast-moving target with an armed guard.

James Gasden (U.S. ambassador to Mexico) negotiated and signed the treaty with Santa Anna. Gasden is a strong slavery supporter and South Carolina native. Northerners “back east” and abolitionists generally opposed the purchase – as it creates the possibility of a southern railroad across the continent and a dramatic expansion of potential slave territory.

Major cities in 1857 include Yuma, Tuscon and Sierra Vista. Also notable are Phoenix, Las Cruses and Franklin (El Paso) which lie just outside the territory.

Pima County is home to several historically interesting locations and personalities – and should feature prominently in adventures in the Gasden Purchase.

  • Cochise – chief of the Apache – who fought the US Cavalry off and on for almost 20 years
  • Tom Jeffords – scout, indian agent, and Cochise’s only white friend
  • Lt George Bascom – cavalry commander
  • San Pedro River – the hotbed of silver mining in Arizona, though the biggest loads won’t be found until Ed Schieffelin hits the Tombstone strike in 1877
  • Apache Pass – main fortified stop along the Butterfield Overland Express
  • Fort Buchanan – U.S. Army fort near the Mexican border

Gasden Purchase, Mexican Territory

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