LIFE AND SOCIETY IN THE SOUTHWEST: 1750 – 1900
New Mexico was the oldest and most important of the northern-most provinces of the Spanish Empire in North America. Its status derived directly from its role as a buffer for the highly prosperous Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua against both European incursion and nomadic Indian attacks. This role did not change dramatically after Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. The same factors that had influenced new Mexico’s development in the 16th and 17th centuries – isolation, aridity, Indian resistance and poor transportation and communication infrastructure – continued to affect daily life in the 18th and 19th centuries. From 1750 to 1900, New Mexico remained a remote, rural, agricultural and multicultural region.