The University of Arizona

Original Pages from Historic Treaty on Display, on Loan from National Archives

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in the National Archives
Photo courtesy of the National Archives

Visitors could see facsimiles of key articles (V, VIII, IX, X, and XII) from the historic Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in addition to the "Disturnell map." The original excerpts from the treaty were on loan to Arizona State Museum from the National Archives February 2 through 28, 2011.

The Treaty of Guadalupe HidalgoOpens in a new window (named for the town near Mexico City where it was signed on February 2, 1848) is the peace treaty, largely dictated by the United States to a militarily occupied Mexico, that ended the Mexican-American War (1846–1848).

John Disturnell was a map and book publisher from New York who issued several editions of a map detailing the boundaries of North America in the 1840s.  President James Knox Polk's chief treaty negotiator, Nicholas Trist, appended the so-called Disturnell map to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, although the map's inaccuracies would prompt questions over the location of the international boundary in certain areas.

The complete, bilingual treaty is housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The featured originals on display (Articles V, VIII, IX, X, and XII) were brought to Tucson by local non-profit Amistades, Inc.Opens in a new window From the standpoint of the United States, the 1848 treaty provided 525,000 sq. miles of Mexican territory for $15 million. From the standpoint of Mexico, the treaty ceded about half of its territory.

There were approximately 80,000 Mexicans living in the ceded territory, mainly in the areas of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, making up about 20% of Mexico’s population at the time. Certain parts of the treaty protected the property rights of those who suddenly found themselves residing north of the newly established border. And, through the treaty, the United States agreed to assume about $3.25 million in debt owed to American citizens by the Mexican government.

“This is an historical document, to be sure, but it also is a living document that continues to resonate among many people today, especially those of us living in the borderlands,” says historian Michael Brescia, associate curator at Arizona State Museum.

Map of Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Land and Gadsden Purchase Land
Map from Wikipedia

It is a living document, according to Brescia, because it continues to shape people's lives in very concrete ways, particularly their relationship to natural resources such as water and grazing. And there is also an important constitutional element to the treaty that most folks don't know about. Article VI of the United States Constitution elevates all treaties to the same level as the constitution itself, that is, treaties are the supreme law of the land.  Many Hispanic and Native American communities today in Arizona and New Mexico draw upon the treaty to protect their rights to land and water. Finally, the treaty continues to shape people's perceptions of identity. The international border exists, in part, because of the treaty. Several communities in southern Arizona, for example, look back to 1848 (Guadalupe Hidalgo) and 1854 (Gadsden Purchase) and find the origins of their American citizenship.

“The articles coming to us are the most important excerpts from the larger document,” says Brescia. “Visitors to this exhibit will see Article V, for example, that established the location of the international border between Mexico and the United States, thus creating another community of American citizens, while Article VIII protects all classifications of property, including water rights."

From the Mexican perspective, the treaty reminds Mexicans of a difficult time in their history when political turmoil and economic stress promoted disunity and allowed the United States to invade and sequester half of its national territory.

This special exhibition was brought to Tucson by Amistades, Inc., a non-profit, community development and substance-abuse prevention organization serving the Latino population in Tucson and Pima County. Culture is used as a core component in all of Amistades’ activities and services. “There is an emotional and social connection to culture,” says Claudia Jasso-Stevens, community development consultant for Amistades. “Access to history, education, and cultura helps Latino youth, particularly at-risk populations, build a healthy identity and sense of cultural pride.”

And that is why, according to Ricardo M. Jasso, founder and CEO of Amistades, Inc., bringing excerpts of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to Tucson was such a relevant and worthwhile endeavor for his organization to have initiated and pursued. “Members of our community have this rare opportunity to see portions of the actual document that gave birth to the Mexican-American community in this country.It is our vision at Amistades that the treaty’s presence will serve as a catalyst for discussion and education, bring about reflection, increase curiosity, and instill a sense of patriotism.”

Similar wishes were conveyed by exhibit sponsor Commerce Bank of Arizona. Randall J. Yenerich, president & CEO, says, “We are proud to support Amistades’ efforts to bring the treaty to Tucson because the document represents an integral part of the history of our state, our community, and our shared cultural past. We thank Amistades for serving our community by bringing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to Tucson.”

Related Program

Saturday, February 12, 2011: Public Symposium
A discussion of the treaty's significance and continuing impact

More About the Symposium
Video podcasts and transcripts of the presentations

This special exhibition is brought to Tucson by

Amistades, Inc. Logo

Project Donors

Arizona Community Foundation LogoCommunity Partnership of Southern Arizona Logo
Pima County Attorney Logo

Patrocinadores de Oro

Arizona Community FoundationOpens in a new window
Commerce Bank of ArizonaOpens in a new window
Community Partnership of Southern ArizonaOpens in a new window
Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWallOpens in a new window

The invitation-only, VIP reception celebrating this exhibition is generously hosted by:

Commerce Bank of Arizona Logo

Patrocinadores de Plata

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment
Pinal Hispanic Council
Rosemont Copper
The Partnership
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson
U.S. Bank
Wells Fargo

Patrocinadores de Cobre

Arizona Youth Partnership
La Frontera
Trang Taylor Nguyen

Project Underwriters

American Family Insurance/Nizar Sukkar, Treaty Ground Transport
Chicanos Por La Causa, Treaty Article IX
Compadres, LLC, Treaty Article X
Familia Corona, Treaty Article X
Raytheon/HOLA, Graphics & Printing
Stillwell House & Garden, Corporate Breakfast
TERROS, Inc., Treaty Article IX
Honorary Committee Member Raúl M. Grijalva, Treaty Case
Ramón Vásquez y Sánchez, Original Artwork

Agradacimiento Especial

El Herradero Supermarket

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