, newly elected President Franklin Pierce
handing out offices as patronage
for the people who had helped him get
elected. Of particular concern to abolitionist
s in the North was
the appointment of Mississippi
senator Jefferson Davis
. One of the tasks Pierce assigned to Davis was the survey
of possible routes for a transcontinental railroad
It is hardly surprising that Davis's report specified a route that connected
to the South as the best route. As it turns out, this route ran
through the Mesilla Valley, which was not within the area specified by
the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo. At least, the residents of Mesilla
believed they were in Mexico. so, on the advice of Davis, Pierce appointed
James Gadsden, president of the South Carolina Railroad Company,
as his Ambassador to Mexico. Gadsden's principal task was to secure title
to this land.
Although Davis managed to get Congress to charter the Southern Pacific
railroad in 1857, Gadsden died in 1858 with no railroad built.
And then, the Civil War intervened and changed the fortunes of Jefferson
Davis and other would-be southern railroad barons. The "Big Four"
Northern railroad interests acquired the Southern Pacific railroad from
the Government in 1861.
The railroad was actually built through the Gadsden Purchase (after
evicting farmers who had settled on the railroad's original route in the
meantime) between 1878 and 1883. The second transcontinental railroad
link occurred inside the Gadsden Purchase in 1881 when the Santa Fe
railroad connected an extension from Las Cruces New Mexico
to the Southern Pacific at Deming, New Mexico.