The Legacy Of The Santa Fe Trail

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Spanning nearly 1,200 miles, the Santa Fe Trail was a monumental and influential trading route that spread from Franklin, Missouri, across the Great Plains to the mountainous town of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It opened up a gateway to the west for many traders who aspired to make a living by selling their goods to the previously isolated areas of the present-day American Southwest. Some of the most profound impacts that the Santa Fe Trail had on the history of New Mexico include the exposure of New Mexican’s to the goods and the economy of the United States, the trail’s strategic military location, and the conflicts that arose due to a difference in ideals and culture between the travelers of the trail and Native Americans. When William Becknell, often considered the founder of the Santa Fe trail, first traversed the Great Plains from Missouri to the town of Santa Fe in 1821, he essentially opened up a gateway to trade with Mexicans living in the northern fringes of the newly declared independent nation of Mexico. With few resources being granted to them from the Mexican government, New Mexicans living in far northern Mexico looked elsewhere for the supplies and goods needed for everyday life. The opening of the Santa Fe Trail gave them an opportunity to conveniently exchange their own goods with Americans that came from Missouri. American traders who travelled to New Mexico along the trail brought with them cloths ranging from flannel to silk and other craftsman goods such as needles, knives, axes, and more. This new onslaught of materials and production tools allowed for new lifestyle opportunities for many in New Mexico who started to make new lives for themselves. In return, New Mexicans made a profit by exchanging minerals, m... ... middle of paper ... ...ricans today. In conclusion, the Santa Fe Trail played a crucial role in the history of New Mexico because it brought commerce and trade to areas where the central Mexican government could not provide the same, allowed for the relatively easy capture of New Mexico during the Mexican American War, which led to it becoming a U.S. territory and eventually a state, and it introduced foreigners and new ways of life to Native Americans along the trail, which led to hostility and a sense of distrust. The trail also paved the way for the arrival of the railroad in New Mexico, which helped the area continue to prosper. Many of these effects still reverberate in modern New Mexico, as the state has become a center of culture and history in the southwest and, unfortunately, an area where many Native Americans are placed on reservations and are the subjects of discrimination.

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