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When did New Mexico Become a State

New Mexico is a state located in the southwest of the United States. It is the fifth largest state in the country in terms of area, but has a relatively small population of just over 2 million people. New Mexico is bordered by Mexico to the south along with the U.S. states of Texas, Arizona, Utah (corner only), Colorado and Kansas. The region has long been inhabited by Native American tribes such as the Pueblo, Navajo, Apache and Ute. The first European history of the region occurred in the 16th century. Let’s take a brief look at the history of the area and find out when it became a state.

A history of New Mexico prior to statehood
Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado led an expedition into the region between 1540-1542 in the search for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold. The first use of the term New Mexico (Nuevo México) came from fellow explorer Francisco de Ibarra in 1563. The land was claimed for Spain and by the end of the 16th century a governor had been appointed to the region. The first major settlement in the region was Santa Fe in 1608. Spanish rule continued for many years until the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence when the region became a part of Mexico. The northern portion of the state belonged to France and was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The majority of the area became part of the United States in 1848 at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War (although part had been claimed by Texas in 1836 after becoming independent from Mexico).

New Mexico Territory
In 1850 Texas gave up control of the portion east of the Rio Grande (part of the Compromise of 1850) and the New Mexico Territory was established by the U.S. government. Originally, this territory included modern-day New Mexico along with the present day state of Arizona and part of Colorado. In 1853 the United States bought a small portion of southwestern New Mexico as part of the Gadsden Purchase. Settlers in the southern portion of the territory joined the Confederate States in the Civil War and both sides claimed the region as their own.

Road to Statehood
The Santa Fe Railroad came to New Mexico in 1878 and was the catalyst for major growth in the region. Even though it brought many new people to New Mexico the population remained too small for admission to the Union. It wasn’t until January 12, 1912 that the debate was finally settled and New Mexico became the 47th state of the United States.

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