A historic quill and lap desk used to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo will be auctioned Sept. 7 in Nebraska. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed Feb. 2, 1848, and brought an end to the Mexican-American war.
California as we know it would not exist without it.
The treaty handed over 525,000 square miles of land to the U.S. It encompassed all of what are now the states of California, Utah and Nevada and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming. It was America's second-largest land acquisition, after the Louisiana Purchase. In exchange, the largely defeated interim government of Mexico got about $3 million in debt relief and a payment of $15 million.
The terms of the treaty were said to be largely dictated by State Department representative Nicholas Trist, operating with Gen. Winfield Scott in Mexico City. President Polk, frustrated by delays in securing a treaty, had recalled Trist, who had declined to agree to the recall. Once completed and signed, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified by the Senate, but Polk, furious, fired Trist from his State Department position.
According to Aumann Auctions, which will be offering the artifacts at auction, Trist's expenses were not reimbursed for more than two decades, driving him into financial ruin. After the war, he returned to Virginia, where he practiced law; late in life, he was made postmaster general of Alexandria.