Private Land Claims in the Southwest
by J.J. Bowden
The Southwest was settled with Spanish subjects emigrating northward from the interior of Mexico contemporaneous with the colonization of the Atlantic seaboard by the English. A liberal land grant policy was necessary to induce emigrants to move to the hostile and arid frontiers of New Spain. Therefore, most of the desirable land had been appropriated under grants from the Spanish and Mexican governments by 1843. The United States was presented with a formidable challenge under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and Gadsden Treaty to investigate the claims presented to it and to confirm the valid ones. This study traces the history of the United States’ effort to solve this peculiarly complicated problem and the fulfillment of its solemn treaty obligations.
The data for this thesis has been gathered from coast to coast; however, it is based primarily on the records of the Surveyor General of New Mexico and the Court of Private Land Claims, which are now archived in the Office of the Bureau of Land Management.
I am indebted to Professor Joseph W. McKnight for his generous and invaluable guidance and encouragement. Grateful acknowledgement is also due to the numerous archivist and librarians who have taken the time to answer my frequent requests for data and information. Thanks and appreciation are also extended to Miss Edith Needham for her stenographic work, and to my family for their patience and understanding.J.J. Bowden