Q133: Name one state that borders Mexico.

a. California
b. Arizona
c. Texas
d. All of the above

Question Background Information

Like its neighbor to the north, Mexico is a federal and constitutional republic, technically the United Mexican States or United States of Mexico, and is made up of 32 states.

Mexico had achieved independence from Spain in 1821, establishing a federal republic akin to the United States and ratifying a constitution in 1824. After the Mexican government defaulted on debts incurred during the last two decades, in the 1860s the French empire under Napoleon III used collection on the debt as a pretext for invasion. His true hope was to restore a French foothold in North America, via a puppet government under the reign of Maximilian, an Austrian member of the Hapsburg dynasty.

After several years of war and the so-called “Second Mexican Empire”, Mexican rebels loyal to the government-in-exile of President Benito Juarez eventually defeated Maximilian and his Mexican allies in 1867, restoring republicanism to Mexico. Contrary to popular opinion, the holiday of Cinco de Mayo does not commemorate Mexican independence, but rather Mexican forces’ victory in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 as part of the effort to defeat the French forces during this conflict. 

Four states share a border with Mexico: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. 

Texas became an independent country after revolting from Mexico in 1836. The independent Texas became a state of the Union in 1846, which triggered the Mexican-American War. During and after that war, the United States sought to acquire the minimally populated and more remote parts of Mexico which had been more difficult for Mexico to govern from afar. With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, these lands became the states of California, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as all or parts of several other states that do not share a border with Mexico.  (A few years later, the Arizona and New Mexico territories were expanded by the Gadsden Purchase).  The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo also settled the Rio Grande as the border between Texas and Mexico.

The border between the United States and Mexico has been somewhat contentious, even after it was fixed at its current boundaries by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase. During the civil war attached to the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1920, Mexican General Pancho Villa launched a small supply raid into America, which in turn triggered a punitive expedition aimed by American forces at capturing him. A proposed plan by the German government to convince Mexico to retake the American southwest during World War I was part of America’s motivation to join the war against Germany. 

Additional Content

Discussion Prompts

As with Britain and Canada, the border between the United States and Mexico was one that brought conflict in the 19th century. Today, tensions are not as high, though there are political issues involving immigration and drug trafficking.

Prompt 1

The current border between the United States and Mexico was set by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 and the Gadsden Purchase in 1854 . As a result, there are four states that border Mexico. Name one of those states. How many others can you name?

Prompt 2

Many Americans were opposed to both the annexation of Texas and the Mexican-American War (that brought with it California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, as well as much of Nevada, Utah, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming). How would American politics or society look different today had the Whig Party, which opposed those efforts to add the present-day Southwest, had their way? Use current and past events to support your answer.