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New Mexico's first colony was founded at San Juan by Juan de Onate in 1598. It was first visited by the Spanish in the 16th century, when Spanish settlements were being destroyed by first the Apache Indians in 1676 and later the Pueblo Indians in the 1680's. Spanish control of the New Mexico territory was re-established by Diego de Vargas Zapata in 1692 and became a Mexican province in 1821. At this time trade opened with the United States along the Santa Fe Trail.
New Mexico was gained by the United States as a result of the Mexican War. This Treaty of 1848 enlarged the size of the nation by about 20 percent by allowing the United States to take possession of half a million square miles of new territory that had been previously in the possession of Mexico. This treaty signed on February 2, 1848, called The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ceded New Mexico and California to the United States for $15 million, established the Rio Grande as the border between Texas and Mexico and promised that the United States government would assume substantial claims of American citizens against Mexico.
The end of the Mexican War and the formal acquisition of New Mexico and California, as well as the approaching elections of 1848 gave new urgency to a search for politically feasible solutions to the growing crisis of the slavery conflict. After a confusing and noisy campaign Zachary Taylor was elected President and he immediately set about to engineer the admission of California and New Mexico to the Union. But fearing New Mexico would prove to be a state free of slavery due to a Mexican law that had prohibited slavery, Southerners of both parties fought against the admission of New Mexico. Finally a compromise was reached in 1850 aided by Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky. The New Mexico region was to have no explicit prohibition of slavery. Pointing out the arid climate of the New Mexico region, which made it unsuitable for cotton culture and slavery, Clay told Northerners, "You have nature itself on your side." In 1853 a dispute of the southern boundary of the cession was resolved by the Gadsden Purchase and the United States gained possession of the southernmost parts of what is today Arizona and New Mexico. The territory was occupied by Confederate troops and later by Union forces during the Civil War. It was scourged by Apache and Navaho raids until the surrender of Geronimo in 1886.
The coming of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1879 spurred the cattle boom of 1880 and new settlements sprang up throughout the territory. On April 30, 1912 New Mexico was the 47th state admitted to the Union. This 121,666 square mile territory, which is bordered on the southwest by Mexico, now houses military and nuclear research establishments as well as new industries which have aided it's economy. New Mexico's Capitol is Santa Fe, with the roadrunner as state bird and the yucca flower as state flower.