A Look at the Texas-Mexico Border Before Boundary Lines

This year, we are taking a look at the history of the Texas-Mexico border and what events shaped it to where it is today. Join us for this series as we explore the key moments that built the foundation for the relationship between Texas and Mexico.

For much of history, people flowed seamlessly across the space that is now known as the Texas-Mexico border. Mexico, a Spanish territory since the early 1500s, started to be settled by Anglo-Americans in 1820 when Spain opened the northeastern region later known as Coahuila and Texas to settlement. After 400 years as a Spanish territory, Mexico won its independence in 1821.

At this time, the newly independent country extended as far north as the Oregon Territory and completely encompassed modern-day California. Less than a decade after winning independence from Spain, Mexico passed the Law of April 6, 1830 in an attempt to reduce the large flood of American colonists to Texas. The passage of the Law of April 6, 1830 is seen as the impetus to the 1835-1836 Texas Revolution.

Texas-Mexico border captured by Andres Sanz

The birth of the Texas-Mexico border came in 1836 with its independence from Mexico and, later through signing of the Treaty of Velasco, which ended the Texas Revolution. Between the end of the Texas Revolution and Texas’ annexation by the United States, Texas attempted to expand its territory to the West while Mexico sought to reclaim them, resulting in a highly disputed and ill-defined border.

The US Congress voted for the annexation of the Republic of Texas in 1845, despite remaining disputes over land surrounding the border and Mexico’s continuing refusal to recognize Texas’ sovereignty. In January 1846, US Troops led by General Zachary Taylor advanced past the Nueces river–considered the border by Mexico, under the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819–to the Rio Grande, which the US considered to be the border. These disputes led to the start of the Mexican-American war, which spanned from 1846 until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in February 1848, after American forces captured the Mexican Capital in September 1847. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo required Mexico to cede 55% of its northern territories to the US, as well as relinquish all claims to Texas.

To learn more about the History of the Texas-Mexico border, go here.

This post was written by Katherine Rossmiller ’21. She is a Meadows Scholar studying Public Policy and Music with minors in American Politics and Statistical Science. She is on the Pre-Law track and is also involved with SMU’s Symphony Orchestra and the Belle Tones.

Information cited from the following sources:

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