except from April 28, 1844 to November, 1845, until the end of the
Mexican period in New Mexico.
The year 1841 was marked by the attempt of Texas to get some
of the profitable overland commerce going into New Mexico, and pos-
sibly as a concealed purpose, to induce the New Mexicans to throw
off the yoke of Mexico and thus establish the Texas boundary claim to
the east bank of the Rio Grande.
On entering New Mexico the members of this Texas-Santa Fe expe-
dition were arrested, several were shot, and the others sent by Armijo
to prisons in Mexico City. They were soon released due to pressure by
the United States, Texas, and British Governments. Accounts of the
prisoners' mistreatment aroused resentment adding to the strain already
existing between the United States and Mexico.
President Polk announced war with Mexico, May 13, 1846, and
the United States immediately began planning to invade New Mexico,
Chihuahua, and California.
AMERICAN OCCUPATION—NEW MEXICO A TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES, 1846-1912
General Stephen W. Kearny, commanding the Army of the West,
entered New Mexico at Raton, reaching Las Vegas August 15, 1846,
where he absolved the people from allegiance to Mexico and proclaimed
himself governor. On August 18 General Kearny, having failed to
meet the expected resistance from General Armijo in Apache Canon,
occupied Santa Fe without a shot being fired in his bloodless conquest,
and again declared the end of the Mexican period and the beginning
of the American. The construction of Fort Marcy, the first American
military fort in New Mexico, was begun on August 23, on the high
hill northeast of Santa Fe.
On September 22 General Kearny, hastening to organize a new
government for New Mexico as a Territory of the United States, ap-
pointed officials including Charles Bent as civil governor, and Donaciano
Vigil as secretary. Bent was a pioneer with influential business and
social connections, having come to Santa Fe in 1826. He was a partner
in the firm of Bent and St, Vrain, the largest fur trading company in
On September 25 General Kearny set out for California, leaving
Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan in charge of New Mexico with orders
to march southward to assist in the conquest of Chihuahua as soon as
Colonel Sterling Price arrived to take command in New Mexico.
Meantime, however, Navaho raids were growing so bold that Colonel
Doniphan swept across the Continental Divide into the very heart of