What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation

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Taos | Monday, May 13, 2019

How Did the American Conquest of the Southwest Shape New Mexico’s Future? 

Brigadier General Stephen Kearny and the U.S. Army of the West at Santa Fe, New Mexico, on August 19, 1846. Courtesy of History and Government of New Mexico by John H. Vaughan (1921).

A Smithsonian/ASU "What It Means to Be American" Event 

Moderated by Moderated by Simon Romero, National Correspondent, The New York Times

Massachusetts and Virginia became American states after colonists repelled an imperial power. But the area now known as New Mexico joined the Union when it was conquered by the U.S. Army. The U.S. incorporated the land after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, but its inhabitants weren’t automatically U.S. citizens; their status became the subject of negotiations and controversies over who could remain and who would be considered American. What did this history portend for Hispanos, Native Americans, and other New Mexicans? And how did the conquest of New Mexico and its subsequent territorial status shape the state constitution and the legal, cultural, and political customs New Mexicans live under today? New Mexico Historical Review editor Durwood Ball, University of Colorado historian and Center of the American West faculty director Patricia Limerick, and Pablo Mitchell, Oberlin College historian and author of Coyote Nation, examine the enduring legacy of the state’s origin story.