Santa Fe de Nuevo México

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Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Kingdom of Spanish Empire & New Spain[1] (1598–1821),
Territory of the First Mexican Empire (1821–23),
Territory of the First Mexican Republic (1823–1848)
Santa Fe of New Mexico (location map scheme).svg
CapitalSanta Fe
603,345 km2 (232,953 sq mi)
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
March 2, 1836
• Mexican–American War
from April 25, 1846
• Surrender to U.S. occupation
September 1846
February 2, 1848
• New Mexico statehood
January 6, 1912
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Puebloan peoples
U.S. provisional government of New Mexico
Today part of United States
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.

Santa Fe de Nuevo México (English: Holy Faith of New Mexico; shortened as Nuevo México or Nuevo Méjico, and translated as New Mexico in English) was a Kingdom of the Spanish Empire and New Spain, and later a territory of independent Mexico.[2] The first capital was San Juan de los Caballeros (at San Gabriel de Yungue-Ouinge) from 1598 until 1610, and from 1610 onward the capital was La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís. The name "New Mexico", the capital in Santa Fe, the government building (Palace of the Governors), militia or citizen-soldiers (vecinos), and rule of law were retained when the New Mexico Territory, later the U.S. State of New Mexico, became a part of the United States.[3] The New Mexican citizenry, primarily consisting of Hispano, Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, and Comanche peoples, became citizens of the United States as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

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 (centered in the Valley of Mexico), and called the land the "Santa Fe de Nuevo México".[4][5][6]


Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east of Santa Fe: a winter sunset after a snowfall

Nuevo México was centered on the upper valley of the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte): from the crossing point of Oñate on the river south of Ciudad Juárez, it extended north, encompassing an area that included most of the present-day U.S. state of New Mexico. It had variably defined borders, and included sections of present-day U.S. states: western Texas, southern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and the Oklahoma panhandle. Actual Spanish settlements were centered at Santa Fe, and extended north to Taos pueblo and south to Albuquerque. Except for the first decade of the province's existence, its capital was in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at the ancient city of La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís (modern day Santa Fe).

Regions and municipalities[edit]

Many of these regions are now US counties and metropolitan areas.


Spanish colonial province[edit]

16th century

On July 12, 1598, Don Juan de Oñate Salazar established the New Spain colony of Santa Fe de Nuevo Méjico at the new village of San Juan de los Caballeros adjacent to the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo at the confluence of the Río Bravo (Rio Grande) and the Río Chama. The expedition had been authorized by Philip II to survey the region. Though 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, the major goal was to spread Catholicism. Other expeditions had taken place before Oñate's 1598 expedition. He was unable to find any riches, however. As governor, he mingled with the Pueblo people and was responsible for the establishment of Spanish rule in the area.

Oñate served as the first governor of the Nuevo México Province from 1598 to 1610. He hoped to make it a separate viceroyalty from New Spain in an original agreement made in 1595, but the terms failed when the Viceroy changed hands in 1596. After a two-year delay and lengthy vetting by the new viceroy, Oñate was finally allowed to cross the Rio Grande River into modern day Texas and New Mexico.

17th century

Most of the Spanish missions in Nuevo México were established during the early 17th century with varying degrees of success and failure, oftentimes building directly atop ancient pueblo ruins, and in the centers of pueblos. Some pueblos were friendly to the foreigners, but after cultural differences and the banishment of local religions, tensions against the Spanish rose significantly. After compounding misdeeds and overbearing taxes by the Spanish invaders, the indigenous communities rebelled in what is now referred to as the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. This rebellion saw the Spanish expelled from Nuevo México for a period of 12 years and the pueblo people were able to regain lost lands. They returned to battle against the Spanish who sought restoration in 1692 of the conquered holdings. The reoccupation of Santa Fe was accomplished by Diego de Vargas. The province came under the jurisdiction of the Real Audiencia of Guadalajara, with oversight by the Viceroy of New Spain at Mexico City.

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. This caused much unrest, due to the sudden lack of representation in Santa Fe for the region of Nuevo México.

Mexican territory[edit]

Map of Mexico in 1824 showing the Province of Nuevo México

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 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 New Mexican troops under New Mexico governor Manuel Armijo.[7][8]

American territory[edit]

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, a provisional government was established, 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.[9]

Presidents Zachary Taylor and Abraham Lincoln both proposed that New Mexico immediately become a state to sidestep political conflict over slavery in the territories. New Mexico did not become a state until January 1912.

Historic population[edit]

Population Statistics of Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Year Pop Spaniards/Criollo % pop Mestizo, Castizo and other castes % pop Amerindians % pop Total Population Inhabitants per Sq.League
1598 (foundation of Santa Fe de Nuevo México) 500[10] -% -% -% - -
1610 + 600 (Spaniards)[11] -% - N/A N/A N/A N/A -
1638 + 800 (Spaniards)[11] -% - - N/A N/A N/A N/A
1680 2,500 - 3,000[12] -% -% -% - -
1690 2,900 (Spaniards)[11][note 1] -% - N/A N/A N/A N/A -
1700 3,000 (Spaniards and Mestizos)[13] -% - - -% - -
1749 4,353 (Spaniards)[14] -% - - -% - -
1776 5,065 (Spaniards)[11] -% - - N/A N/A N/A N/A
(Revillagigedo census)[15]
Unknown -% 23,628 -% 10,557 -% - -
1800 25,000[16] N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
1810 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
1820 28,436[14][17] N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
1830 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
(in 1836, 150,000 people lived in Santa Fe de Nuevo México according to El Diario Oficial, of Mexico City[18])
1842 46,988[14] N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 421 Spanish were murders by Pueblo Amerindians during their revolt. After making peace with the Pueblo, Diego de Vargas took 800 people to New Mexico (including soldiers, their families and servants).


  1. ^ Reino del Nuevo México "Water Democracies on the Upper Rio Grande, 1598–1998" by José A. Rivera from USDA Forest Service Proceedings Archived 2020-08-07 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Ancestry records for the Spanish Kingdom of New Mexico and the Mexican province of New Mexico Archived 2020-08-06 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ La Herencia (in Spanish). Gran Via, Incorporated. 2005. Archived from the original on August 18, 2020. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  4. ^ Weber, David J. (1992). The Spanish Frontier in North America. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 79.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Carroll, H. Bailey. "Texan Santa Fe Expedition" Archived 2011-05-13 at the Wayback Machine. Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
  8. ^ The Spectator. F.C. Westley. 1844. p. 374. Archived from the original on August 19, 2020. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  9. ^ Griffin, Roger A. "Compromise of 1850" Archived 2012-11-19 at the Wayback Machine. Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  10. ^ Simmons, Marc, The Last Conquistador Norman: U of OK Press, 1992, pp.96, 111
  11. ^ a b c d David P. Coulson, Linda Joyce (August 2003). "United States state-level population estimates: Colonization to 1999" (PDF). USDA. p. 32.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) The data were estimated by Coulson and Joyce.
  12. ^ Antonio de Otermin (1680). "Resistance and Accommodation in New Mexico".
  13. ^ Isabel Hannigan (April 20, 2018). ""Overrun All This Country…" Two New Mexican Lives Through theNineteenth Century". p. 12.
  14. ^ a b c Fowler, Don D. (2000). A Laboratory for Anthropology. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-2036-8.
  15. ^ "New Spain (Mexico), 1790 Statistics Charts". 24 December 2013. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  16. ^ Spanish and Mexican rule. Published on Britannica.
  17. ^ Enrique Rajchenberg S., Catherine Héau-Lambert. "El desierto como representación del territorio septentrional de México" (PDF). p. 7. Retrieved 6 October 2021.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  18. ^ "National Historic Trail Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment: Old Spanish Trail". University of Minnesota. Government Publications Library. July 2001. p. 40.