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Line in the SandA History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border$
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Rachel St. John

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691141541

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691141541.001.0001

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A New Map for North America

A New Map for North America

Defining the Border

(p.12) Chapter One A New Map for North America
Line in the Sand

Rachel St. John

Princeton University Press

This chapter details the diplomacy and warfare that led to the determination of the location of the boundary line and the trying process through which the Joint United States and Mexican Boundary Commission attempted to survey and mark the boundary on the ground. In delimiting the border, U.S. and Mexican officials imagined that they could easily separate sovereign space. However, the process of delimiting, or drawing, the boundary line on paper, simple as it may seem, was the culmination of decades of conflict and diplomatic negotiation. The difficulties faced by the boundary commission not only impeded the commissioners' work, but also fundamentally challenged the national sovereignty under which they operated. The discrepancy between the ability of the nation-states to delimit the boundary line in the treaty and to demarcate it on the ground marked the beginning of a long history in which the border would repeatedly reveal the divide between the states' aspirations and their actual power.

Keywords:   boundary line, boundary commission, sovereign space, national sovereignty, diplomatic negotiation, warfare

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