Santa Fe de Nuevo México
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2011)|
|Santa Fe of New Mexico|
|• First Spanish Governor||Juan de Oñate|
|• Last Spanish Governor||Facundo Melgares|
|• First Mexican Governor||Francisco Xavier Chávez|
|• Last Mexican Governor||Juan Bautista Vigil y Alarid|
Santa Fe de Nuevo México (English: Holy Faith of New Mexico) (shortened as Nuevo México or Nuevo Méjico, and translated as New Mexico) was a province of New Spain and later a territory of Mexico that existed from the late 16th century up through the mid-19th century. It 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. In theory it had variably defined borders extending into the present-day US states of western Texas, southern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and the Oklahoma panhandle, although actual settlements centered around Santa Fe. For all but a few years of its existence, its capital was Santa Fe.
The 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 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 urbanized Puebloan peoples. He later became the first governor of the province. Oñate hoped to turn the province into a separate viceroyalty from New Spain, but he was unsuccessful. The Spanish were expelled from the territory for 12 years following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, returning in 1692 in the "bloodless" reoccupation of Santa Fe by Diego de Vargas. The province fell under the jurisdiction of the Audiencia of Guadalajara, with oversight by the Viceroy of New Spain. In 1777, with the creation of the Commandancy General of the Provincias Internas, the province was removed from the purview of the Viceroy and placed solely on the Commandant General.
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 Texians sent an expedition, ostensibly for trade but with hopes of occupying the claimed area, but the expedition was captured by Mexican troops; 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. 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.