Santa Fe de Nuevo México

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Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (1598-1821),
Territory of the First Mexican Empire (1821–23),
Territory of the First Mexican Republic (1823-1848)


Flag Coat of arms
Flag of New Spain Flag of the Mexican Republic
Location of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico
Capital Santa Fe
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Spanish governors
 •  1598–1610 (first) Juan de Oñate
 •  1818–1822 (last) Facundo Melgares
Mexican governors
 •  July – Nov. 1822 (first) Francisco Xavier Chávez
 •  August – Sept. 1846 (last) Juan Bautista Vigil y Alarid
 •  Spanish missions in New Mexico 1598
 •  Mexican Independence 1821
 •  Texian Independenceb March 2, 1836
 •  Mexican–American War from April 25, 1846
 •  Surrender to U.S. occupation September 1846
 •  Mexican Cession February 2, 1848
 •  New Mexico statehood January 6, 1912
Today part of  United States
-  New Mexico
-  Texas
-  Colorado
-  Kansas
-  Oklahoma
a: While the Mexican territory theoretically existed until the Mexican Cession under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848, the New Mexico Territory had been annexed under U.S. military occupation in September 1846, after the surrender by Mexican interim governor Juan Bautista Vigil y Alarid to General Stephen W. Kearny.

b: The Republic of Texas claimed sparsely-populated territories that were de jure part of Santa Fe de Nuevo México and of Chihuahua, as well as territories of Coahuila y Tejas that are now part of Mexican Coahuila.

Santa Fe de Nuevo México (English: Santa Fe [Holy Faith] of New Mexico; shortened as Nuevo México or Nuevo Méjico, and translated as New Mexico) was a province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and later a territory of independent Mexico. The United States gained control of the area via the Mexican Cession.

Nuevo México is often incorrectly believed to have taken its name from the nation of Mexico. However, it was named by Spanish explorers who believed the area contained wealthy Amerindian cultures similar to those of the Aztec Empire, and called the land the "Santa Fe de Nuevo México".[1][2][3] This naming was retained for the Mexican territory and US territory, as well as the subsequent US state.


Nuevo México was centered on the upper valley of the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte), in an area that included most of the present-day U.S. state of New Mexico. It had variably defined borders, extending into the present-day U.S. states of western Texas, southern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and the Oklahoma panhandle, although actual settlements centered on Santa Fe. For all but a few years of its existence, its capital was Santa Fe.


Spanish colonial province

16th century

The Nuevo México Province was founded in 1598 by Juan de Oñate during his expedition northward from New Spain; he established a settlement near Ohkay Oweenge Pueblo. The expedition had been authorized by King Philip II. The Spanish believed that cities of gold, such as the ones of the Aztecs, whom they had previously conquered, lay to the north in the unexplored territory. Oñate was unable to find such cities, however, he embarked on the conquest of the Pueblo people and the establishment of Spanish rule in the area.

Oñate was the first governor of the Nuevo México Province from 1598 to 1610. He hoped to make it a separate viceroyalty from New Spain, but failed.

17th century

Most of the Spanish missions in Nuevo México were established during the 17th century.

After the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Spanish were expelled from Nuevo México for 12 years. They returned in 1692, after the reoccupation of Santa Fe by Diego de Vargas. The province became under the jurisdiction of the Real Audiencia of Guadalajara, with oversight by the Viceroy of New Spain.

18th century

In 1777, with the creation of the Commandancy General of the Provincias Internas, the Nuevo México Province was removed from the oversight of the Viceroy and placed solely in the jurisdiction of the Commandant General of the Provincias Internas.

Mexican territory

The province remained in Spanish control until Mexico's declaration of independence in 1821. Under the 1824 Constitution of Mexico, it became the federally administered Territory of New Mexico.

The part of the former province east of the Rio Grande was claimed by the Republic of Texas which won its independence in 1836. This claim that was disputed by Mexico. In 1841, the Texans sent the Texan Santa Fe Expedition, ostensibly for trade but with hopes of occupying the claimed area, but the expedition was captured by Mexican troops.[4]

American territory

The United States inherited the unenforced claim to the east bank with the Texas Annexation in 1845. The U.S. Army under Stephen Kearny occupied the territory in 1846 during the Mexican-American War and Mexico recognized its loss to the United States in 1848 with the Mexican Cession in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Texas continued to claim the eastern part, but never succeeded in establishing control except in El Paso. However, in the Compromise of 1850 Texas accepted $10 million in exchange for its claim to areas within and north of the present boundaries of New Mexico and the Texas panhandle.[5]

In 1849, President Zachary Taylor proposed that New Mexico immediately become a state to sidestep political conflict over slavery in the territories, but it did not become a state until January 1912.

See also


  1. Weber, David J. (1992). The Spanish Frontier in North America. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 79.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Sanchez, Joseph P. (1987). The Rio Abajo Frontier, 1540–1692: A History of Early Colonial New Mexico. Albuquerque: Museum of Albuquerque History Monograph Series. p. 51.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Stewart, George (2008) [1945]. Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States. New York: NYRB Classics. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-1-59017-273-5. There was Francisco de Ibarra, a great seeker after gold mines. In 1563 he went far to the north ... when he returned south, Ibarra boasted that he had discovered a New Mexico. Doubtless, like others, he stretched the tale, and certainly the land of which he told was well south of the one now so called. Yet men remembered the name Nuevo México, though not at first as that of the region which Coronado had once conquered.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Carroll, H. Bailey. "Texan Santa Fe Expedition". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
  5. Griffin, Roger A. "Compromise of 1850". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 7, 2012.