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Following the appointment of James Gadsden to president of the South Carolina Railroad Company, his goal was to connect the Southern transcontinental railroad to the Pacific. Engineers advised Gadsden, however, that the most direct and practicable route for the Southern transcontinental railroad would be south of the United States boundary, a boundary that had been fixed by the provisions of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Meeting in Mexico City on December 30, 1853, James Gadsden, U.S. Minister to Mexico, and General Antonio López de Santa Anna, president of Mexico, signed the Gadsden Purchase. The treaty settled the dispute over the exact location of the Mexican border. Under the provisions of the Gadsden Treaty, the boundary line was moved southward in exchange for ten million dollars and included a part of New Mexico, south of the Gila River. The deal was, however, very unpopular in Mexico, leading to the unseating of Santa Anna as dictator. Gadsden was recalled as Minister to Mexico for mixing in Mexican politics and domestic affairs and did not live to see the Southern Pacific Railroad built through his purchase.
On 30 June 1854, President Franklin Pierce signed the Gadsden Purchase Treaty after it was amended and approved by the Senate of the United States.