Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Texas-New Mexico Border: The Committee of Thirteen's Proposal

On April 13, 1850, the Senate appointed a select Committee of Thirteen to consider and report on a compromise proposal. Some three weeks later, the Committee, under the leadership of Henry Clay, was nearing completion of its task. One problem remained: the Committee could not agree on a proposed boundary between the State of Texas and the territory of New Mexico.

The boundary that the Committee ultimately recommended was based on a proposal made by Texas Senator Thomas Jefferson Rusk. Mark J. Stegmaier tells the story:
On the evening of May 6, Rusk conversed with [Georgia Senator John M.] Berrien and then wrote out various suggestions. . . . Rusk's other suggestion was the boundary should run from the Rio Grande northeastward "to the point where the 100th degree of west Longitude crosses the Red River" . . .. The process by which a majority of the committee quickly approved of Rusk's line is unknown; nonetheless, it became part of the committee's plan for a line from El Paso northward on the Rio Grande for twenty miles and from that point northeast to the intersection of the Red River and 100 degrees west longitude.

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