Could the Gadsden Purchase be considered a political and social revolution?

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The Gadsden Purchase was negotiated in 1853 in order to provide the U.S. with a southern route for the transcontinental railroad.

If one was to attempt to argue that this territorial acquisition was revolutionary in some way, it would be a tough sell. Politically it had a few important consequences. First, it finally resolved a long-standing territorial dispute between Mexico and the U.S. that the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo failed to rectify. The relationship between Mexico and its northern neighbor was still in tatters following the war, and the purchase of this piece of land helped repair the diplomatic ties between the two nations.

Another political consequence of the purchase was renewed squabbling between pro and anti-slavery congressmen over the acquisition of territory that would ultimately be open to slavery. In this way, the Gadsden Purchase was a contributing factor to the eventual “revolution” that would finally kill slavery.

Socially the purchase allowed the construction of a southern route for the transcontinental railroad. Rail technology could certainly be called “revolutionary” since it sped up commerce, travel, communication and the growth of the southern U.S. Mining in the southern part of Arizona brought millions of dollars in raw materials to U.S. markets. The influx of miners began to shift the cultural demographics of the region, bringing European, Asian, Mexican and Native American cultures into contact. The new rail route opened the way for the cattle industry of Texas, as well as the outlaw culture of the old west.

Nonetheless, based in the information above, one could argue that the Gadsden Purchase has “revolutionary” effects.

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