Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012
On Feb. 2, 1848, U.S. and Mexican officials sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, officially ending the Mexican-American War in favor of the United States. The treaty forces Mexico to cede 55 percent of its territory to its neighbor adding 525,000 square miles to United States, which now make up the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, as well as parts of parts of Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. In exchange, the United States agrees to pay $15 million for the land and to cover the Mexican government’s debts owed to private American citizens. The treaty also guarantees the protection of the property and civil rights of Mexican nationals living within the new border and establishes the Texas-Mexico border at the Rio Grande, the original conflict that sparked the war. Although the war is ultimately a success for the United States, President James Polk is strongly criticized for its high cost in terms of dollars and lives, both by the public and by future President Abraham Lincoln.
Today, the American Southwest’s history and heritage as a part of Mexico continues to define the region. The area is home to the highest concentration of Hispanics in the nation, with much of the border region being 40 to 50 percent Hispanic. The Hispanic population in the United States overall continues to grow at an impressive rate. The 2010 census reports the Hispanic population in the country grew from 35.3 million in 2000 to 50.5 million in 2010. This Hispanic population growth accounts for more than half of the total population increase between 2000 and 2010 (27.3 million). Hispanics now make up 16 percent of the total population of America.