Americans and the war
The famous American-Mexican war took place between 1846 and 1848 and was fought in western and southwestern parts of today’s the United States. Texas was the main cause of that confrontation; it had declared its independence from Mexico and subsequently joined the Union. This infuriated Mexicans who were all determined to get Texas back. Americans were however not ready to lose their new state; contrary, they wanted to annex a bigger part of Mexico’s northern territories. The United States had argued that Texas was a sovereign entity that could join the union if it wanted.
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The Americans were determined to keep Texas, especially because there were many families that had settled there and did not want to be part of Mexico (Beckmann, 2008). Another force behind America’s determination to fight was the southern Democrats. This group saw the expansion of United States southern landholdings as a good way to increase their power in Washington DC as well as enlarging the number of slave states (Morrison, 1995, p. 695). Some of them saw the potential victory over Mexico as the first step to taking more of Mexican-owned territories along the Pacific seaboard. This would have provided United States with a western port (Graebner 1956, p. 753), which actually happened with the acquisition of New Mexico and California later after Americans’ victory in Texas.
Mexicans and the war
Mexicans were, on their part, determined to get Texas back from the United States. Mexicans saw the annexation of Texas by the United States as an abuse to its honor; and we’re prepared to do anything to reclaim that honor (Lyles, 2001 p. 5). Country leaders were not ready for another unpatriotic move by the people of Texas, especially moves that involved breaking away and joining another country.
There were also fears that successful annexation of Texas by the United States would lead to other Northern territories following suit. Flooding of American families into Texas was a clear example that the Northern neighbor would stop at nothing to acquire significant portions of Mexican lands. This caused great concerns among Mexican leaders who saw a war confrontation with the United States as the best precautionary measure, but it was a costly affair for Mexico, which experienced a very high casualty, financial and territories losses.
Was it possible for Americans to Gain the property without fighting?
Definitely not! Mexico was not ready to sell part of its territory to the United States, despite the latter’s attempts to forgive debts owed, and offering colossal amounts of money for Mexican lands. First, Texas was already an independent region whose sovereignty had been recognized by various world powers such as France, Britain and the United States (Haynes, 1997, p. 36). This put matters relating to Texas’ annexation by the United States purely on Texans’ hands, which meant that Mexico had no claim whatsoever. But Mexico would hear none of that; its leaders translated the annexation as a brunt abuse of Mexico’s honor, which necessitated the declaration of war with America.
Peaceful negotiation had been tried by the United States when President James K. Polk sent John Slidell who the Mexican officials refused to receive (King, 1997, p. 130). It’s at this point that President Polk ordered Zachary Taylor to occupy the disputed land in Texas. Though one can argue that the United States was little aggressive in that regard, it is also claimable that Mexico would have occupied that territory anyway. Either way, the war would have taken place.
Was it possible for Mexico to control California and New Mexico?
No because the country lacked financing to administrate its large northern territories. First, Mexico was by then a young independent country that was trying to gain its financial foothold (Lowry, 2006). Besides, the country was too large for the central government in New Mexico to control. The country’s huge size and lack of finance made it possible for regions like Texans to secede, and later choose to join a wholly different country. Secondly, the degree of freedoms enjoyed by the people living in the north, that is, in proximity to the United States enjoyed more liberties compared to the counterparts that were completely governed by Mexican government (Beckmann, 2008).
Northern liberties enticed New Mexicans and Californians to loot for their region’s total independence. This made it hard for Mexican authorities to control northern territories. Rampant corruption in Mexican governance systems was forcing northerners to demand more control of their areas, such as decentralizing governance by bringing capital close to their localities.
Did the war contribute to the American Civil War?
The Mexican-American war could have caused an earlier civil war in 1850 that the congress was able to avert through negotiations and compromise between the Whigs and Southern Democrats. However, the bitterness among the unsatisfied southern Democrats became one of the minor issues that precipitated into America’s civil war. Followers of southern Democrats had continued to use slave labor but were being threatened by Mexico, which had outlawed slavery in 1829 (Nevins, 2002, p. 18).
Political leaders in Texas were infuriated, because they also saw Texas’ agricultural potential as great opportunity to increase the number of slave states, clout, and power in Washington DC (Nevins, 1995 p. 16). But they were with the 1850 Compromise that declared that newly acquired lands were slave-free areas whether they lied below or above the Missouri line, which rubbed the southern democrats in wrong ways, which cultivated the bitterness that led to the 1862 civil war. It can therefore be concluded that remnants of bitterness accruing from the Mexican-American regarding slavery status on newly acquired lands were a minute but important contributor to the American Civil War.
Military giants of American-Mexican War
Unite States Commanders
Zachary Taylor was America’s debut commander in the American-Mexican war. He had been sent by President Polk when it became clear that Mexican authorities would not receive John Slidell for discussions regarding solving the border dispute and subsequent purchase of Texas. President Polk was, however, dissatisfied with Taylor’s lack of aggressiveness and therefore sought to send Winfield Scott (Nevins, 2002, p. 200). Both Taylor and Scott were instrumental in the American victory in the south. On the western side, which involved the annexation of California and New Mexico, President Polk made use of Stephen W. Kearny who was very successful in the mission due to lack of morale, men and fighting gear in the Mexican army.
Mexican leaders in the war included: Santa Anna, Mariano Arista, and José Mariá Flores (Graebner, 1956, p. 754). Antonio López de Santa Anna was the Mexican president during the time of Taylor’s incursions, and was the one who adamantly refused to sell any territory of Northern territories to the United States. The other commander was Mariano, the initial and long-time leader of Mexican army during the war. Artist’s troop was the one sent to meet Taylor in Rio Grande during the initial attempt of war in 1846, where they made some successes at the beginning but were later to be overpowered by Taylor’s men. The third commander, José Mariá Flores, was involved in leading Mexican forces in America’s attempt to take over California and parts of New Mexico; he lost most wars without a fight due to lack of weaponry, men and morale among his forces.
Beckmann, S. (2008). Mexican & Mexican American Families. Web.
Morrison, M. A. (1995). Martin Van Buren, the Democracy, and the Partisan Politics of Texas Annexation. The Journal of Southern History, 4, 695-724.
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Graebner, N. A. (1956). Empire on the Pacific: A Study in American Continental Expansion. The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 4, 753-754.
Lyles, I. (2001). Mixed Blessing: The Role of The Texas Rangers In The Mexican War, 1846-1848. Austin: University of Texas at Austin.
Lowry, A. (2006). Enough Already About the Mexican-American War! Web.
Haynes, S. (1996). Soldiers of Misfortune: The Somervell and Mier Expeditions.Austin: University of Texas Press.
King, F. (1997). America’s Nine Greatest Presidents. Jefferson, NC :McFarland.
Nevins, J. (2002). Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the us-Mexico Boundary. New York: Routlidge.