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Santa-Anna’s Waterloo: The Gadsden Purchase

There’s No Telling Where the Money Went

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63.     [BORDERLANDS]. [GADSDEN PURCHASE]. MEXICO. SECRETARÍA DE HACIENDA Y CRÉDITO PÚBLICO (Manuel Olasagarre). Cuenta de la percepción, distribución e inversión de los diez millones de pesos, que produjo el tratado de la Mesilla, celebrado por el gobierno supremo de la república, con el de los Estados-Unidos de América, en 13 de diciembre de 1853. La ha formado y pública el ministro de hacienda, M. Olasagarre. Mexico: Imprenta de Ignacio Cumplido, Calle de los Rebeldes núm. 2, 1855. [1-5] 6-41, [2], folded facsimile, tables (one folded). 8vo (26.2 x 17.5 cm), contemporary red sheep over rose and brown mottled boards, spine decorated in gilt. Upper board detached, binding worn and faded, interior very fine. Secretary Manuel Olasagarre’s presentation copy, signed with his initials. Rare (six copies located by OCLC).

     First edition. Not in Palau, Sabin, and other standard sources. This account relates to the disposal of the $10,000,000 paid to Mexico by the U.S. for the Gadsden Purchase, known in Mexico as “Venta de La Mesilla,” by which the U.S. purchased a 29,670-square-mile region of southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico to construct the transcontinental railroad along the preferred southern route.

     The Gadsden Purchase was made during Santa-Anna’s final dictatorship, a particularly trying phase of Mexican history when the country was besieged by unpredictable calamities that undermined Santa-Anna’s dictatorship and the Mexican economy, including foreign wars, domestic insurrections, the threat of war breaking out in the Mesilla Valley, filibusters such as William Walker, lack of anticipated support from Europe and England, the caste war in Yucatan, a raging cholera epidemic, swarms of locusts, etc., etc. In dire economic straits that threatened his dictatorship, Santa-Anna had no choice but to take the U.S. offer of $10,000,000 (reduced from the $20,000,000 the U.S. had first offered when the Mexican economy was more stable).

     Santa-Anna’s critical financial situation forced him to ratify the revised Gadsden Treaty, taxes were raised, more paper money was printed, and payola flowed freely from the treasury in order to lessen the deep discontent of the populace. The present work attempts to make an accounting of where the money from the Gadsden Purchase went. This revelation infuriated the populace over the edge, prompting the oft-recycled dictator to choose exile rather than some less palatable alternative. See: Richard A. Johnson, “Santa-Anna’s Last Dictatorship, 1853-1855,” Vol. 41, No. 4 (April 1938), Southwestern Historical Quarterly.


Sold. Hammer: $300.00; Price Realized: $360.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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