Mexican War Essay, Research Paper
International borders have always been centers of conflict, and the U.S.-Mexican border is no exception. With Europe colonizing the New World, it was a matter of time before the powers collided. The Spanish settled what is today Mexico, while the English settled what is today the United States. When the two colonial powers did meet, it was not England and Spain, it was the United States and Mexico. By now both Counties had succeeded from their mother countries. The conflict that erupted between the two countries was a direct result of different national policies. The United States had a policy of westward expansion, while Mexico had a policy of self-protection. The Americans technically had no written policy of expansion. What they did have was the idea of ?Manifest Destiny.? Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States had the right to expand westward to the Pacific Ocean. Evidence of U.S. expansion is seen with the independence of Texas from Mexico. The strongest evidence of U.S. expansion goals came with the Mexican-American War. From the beginning, the war was conceived as an opportunity for land expansion. Mexico feared the United States expansion goals.
The United States gained independence from England in 1775. After then, the Americans started to expand west. By the time Mexico gained independence, the United States had reached the Mexican frontier. Mexico wanted to protect its northern borders. In order to protect the border region, Mexico needed to populate the area. So, Mexico continued the policy started by Spain of allowing Americans to settle Texas. Just one drawback, the Americans had to follow Mexican law, religion and customs. The settlement of Texas played into the United States? expansion plans.
Eventually Mexico City closed Texas to the immigrating Americans. This angered the Americans wanting to enter and Americans already living in Texas. Texas revolted from Mexico in 1833. In that year, Mexicans did live in Texas, and fought for the independence of Texas. The majority of the Texans were Americans who fought for their independence. When the battle was over, the Americans intentionally or non-intentionally forced most Mexicans out of Texas. The ones that stayed faced racial tensions that continue to today.
After gaining independence from Mexico, Texas wanted to join the United States immediately. The U.S. Congress voted against Texas from joining the Union. Congress was worried that annexation of Texas would anger Mexico. Mexico had never officially recognized Texas? independence. Congress was concerned that annexation would start a war with Mexico. The possibility of war was not the only deciding factor, if Texas were to become a state, it would be a slave state. At the time, the United States an even balance between slave and non-slave states. Texas entering the Union would disrupt the balance, giving slave states an advantage in the U.S. House and Senate. Since the United States was not ready to annex Texas, Texas declared itself a sovereign country and in 1837 President Andrew Jackson formally recognized Texas a country.
Texas wanted to be part of the United States. It needed the protection of the Untied States. President Tyler could not get the 2/3 majority needed to admit Texas. Instead, Tyler changed the law to require only a simple majority. It was not until 1845 and two Presidents later that Texas was annexed into the United States. Mexico protested the admission of Texas. The United States saw Mexico?s protest as an excuse to send troops into Texas.
The annexation of Texas was a major player in the United States expansion goals. The United States wanted to settle in Texas, but Mexico supposedly owned the land. That did not matter to the United States, they settled in the region regardless. The Americans, who settled the region, agreed to Mexican law and customs, but still considered themselves Americans. After the annexation of Texas, Texas also wanted to expand. Texas claimed that New Mexico and California were part of Texas. The boundary with Mexico was also disputed. The United States claimed that the Texas border was at the Rio Grande. Mexico disagreed, Mexico stated the border was at Nueces River. The United States did try to settle matters diplomatically by sending inexperienced diplomat John Slidell. Slidell tried to buy area known as the U.S. Southwest. Slidell?s idea was rejected. Not only was he not successful in buying the land, he aroused Mexican fears. This set the stage for the Mexican-American War.
As you know the United States also had no written policy of expansion, but the government did quietly support it. The United States has always had troops the region, even though they held no land in the region. The United States kept ships off the coast of California. In 1842 the U.S. commander in the region, Commodore Thomas Jones, attacked and took the city of Monterrey in California. He falsely believed that Texas and Mexico were at war. Once he realized his mistake he withdrew his forces and apologized to the Mexian government for his action and claimed that he did not act with orders from the U.S. government.
Although Jones claimed that he did not act with orders from the U.S. Government, again the government did not stop the practice. This is the first time America has fought a war with land expansion as its main goal. The war started on April 25 1846 with the attack from Mexican troops and the counter attack from General Taylor of the U.S. Army. Taylor sent a message to President Polk that hostilities had started. President Polk, with a pre-drafted declaration of war, asked Congress to declare war against Mexico. President Polk knew that Mexico would lose the war and would gain new lands in the end.
The Mexican-American war lasted two years, and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadeloupe on February 2, 1848. The United States did win the war. With the Treaty of Guadeloupe the United States had succeeded in completing its idea of Manifest Destiny. The Treaty itself represented the United States expansion goals. The United States wanted to settle were the international border was to be. Mexico wanted the border north of the Rio Grande River, but finally decided upon the middle. Mexico having been bankrupt from the war, agreed to take 15 million as payment for the vast land. In addition, the United States agreed to pay off all Mexican debts owed to the United States. This amount was small in comparison to what the United States gained in territory. The United States took advantage of a weak country to obtain its expansion goals.