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The history of New Mexico is a distillation of the American experience. It provides striking evidence of the truth of Walt Whitman's dictum: "Here is not merely a nation but a teeming Nation of nations." For New Mexico offers a compact illustration of the way a diver­sity of races and cultures pooled their traditions and skills to build an American state—and, in doing so, displayed im­pressive qualities of courage and resourcefulness.

New Mexico's history goes back many centuries to the time when the Pueblo Indians, confronted by drought, dis­ease and hostile tribes, developed a civilization only a little less advanced than those of the Aztec and the Maya to the south. Then the conquistadores of Spain, laboring valiantly across trackless plains, wove a new strand into the New Mexi­can fabric. Mexicans and Yankees soon made their distinctive contributions. Today New Mexico stands as an example of the ability of people of diverse backgrounds to live and work together in amity.

This volume tells the story of New Mexico's first years within the United States. These were stirring and pictur­esque times, but they were also times of uncertainty and peril. The early governors faced hard problems in establishing law, justice and a stable framework of society on a tough and un­disciplined frontier. Acting without precedent, under condi­tions that required immediate decision, they had to impro­ vise, trying to bring calm out of chaos, equity out of vigi­lantism. With the advantage of hindsight, we can discover many instances where they might have acted more wisely. Nevertheless, they deserve to have their trials and their ac­complishments preserved in the record of our nation's history.

In these formative years, New Mexico was dependent on the national government for almost total support. We can be proud that the investment of the people of the United States in New Mexico is today paying dividends to free people everywhere. The largest known deposits of uranium in the world are in New Mexico, along with important reserves of oil, copper and timber. The state is celebrated for its atomic and space research facilities. Yet the scenic grandeur on every hand forever reminds us of New Mexico's foundations in the past. Not the least of New Mexico's resources is the quiet spectacle of yesterday dwelling in harmony with tomorrow—spectacle which offers the hope of a brighter future for men and women all over the world.

-John F. Kennedy

The White House

July 1963

Publication Date



Horn & Wallace, Publishers




History | Political History | United States History

New Mexico's Troubled Years