Magoffin was a successful American merchant in Coahuila and Chihuahua in the 1830s. He had married into a prominent northern Mexican family, providing him with important connections to powerful people in the region. In the early 1840s he relocated his business to Missouri and continued to capitalize on the Santa Fe Trade. Due to his personal ties to Governor Manuel Armijo, President Polk asked Magoffin to help Kearny’s Army of the West take control of New Mexico without firing a shot if possible.
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