Mexican-American War (1846-1848) was a battle between the United States and Mexico and originated from the United States’ annexation of the Republic of Texas in 1845 (Swanlund, 2018). Texas had been part of Mexico until it declared independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836 (Flomen, 2021). From 1836 to 1845, Texans waited on the federal government to annex their territory to become a state (Diaz, 2018). However, Congress could not do so, stating that Texas was a slave state and did not want to evoke Mexican authorities into war. In 1945, Congress reversed itself and voted to annex Texas (Price, 2021). Mexico saw this as a violation of its sovereignty and sent troops to retake the land. The U.S sent troops to counterattack its defense, but this quickly turned into war. In this regard, this essay looks at the Mexican-American War from the Mexican perspective. From Mexico’s point of view, Texas annexation was an invasion of its territory, and it was fighting to repossess the land. Still, the war resulted from the U.S retaining Texas and obtaining more of Mexico’s northern lands.
Mexico was huge when it obtained its independence on September 27, 1821: it stretched from Oregon to Guatemala and was equal to the size of the United States (Samora, 2019). However, most of the northern territories had low population density. For that reason, the Mexican government welcomed American settlers as a way to increase the population, and by 1834, over 30,000 Anglo-Americans lived in Texas, compared to 7,800 Mexicans (McCombie, 2021, p22). The government further enforced “Siete Leyes,” or the seven laws that created a unitary republic, to keep Texans under its control (Diaz, 2018). Many Texans, both Anglos and Mexicans, refused to obey these laws, creating a Texas rebellion against Mexico. Mexico banned further settlement because it felt it was losing control over Texas, but this soon escalated to the war of Texas Independence (1835-1836) and resulted in Texas’s victory, founding the Republic of Texas (Flomen, 2021).
Mexico’s loss of Texas was undoubtedly expansionism of the United States. The federal government acquired vast areas of Northern Mexico to expand its territories either through military attacks, negotiation, or purchase. Many Americans were devoted to seeing that trend continue by spreading Christianity or civilization across the North American continent. As such, the republic of Texas opted to become a State following its successful war of independence against Mexico. The U.S. government refrained from annexing Texas stating two reasons: (1) Texas was a slave state, and (2) Mexico would threaten war (Diaz, 2018); however, the U.S. extended diplomatic recognition to Texas. With the increased Mexico threat and the ever-increasing population, Texans would appeal to Great Britain and France if the United States would not annex. President John Tyler submitted a joint resolution to Congress as he believed it was time to annex the Republic of Texas in 1945 (Van Sang and Trang, 2021). Texas became the 28th state through a majority vote in Congress.
Mexico perceived the Texan annexation as an act of war. However, the newly elected President James K. Polk ran a democratic government that supported the Manifest Dynasty to occupy more territories or the idea that the U.S. was ordained to inhabit the whole of the North American continent (Annus, 2020). Driven by the desire for westward expansion, he declared his intentions to acquire Texas, Oregon, California, and other disputed Southern border territories. Polk began by sending John Slidell, an American diplomat, to offer Mexico a lump sum of $30 million to try and purchase Texas. Still, Mexican officials declined the offer, and Mexico declared war on the United States (Price, 2021). Frustrated and determined to acquire Texas, President Polk sent the U.S. military to Texas to launch counterattacks against Mexican troops. Annus highlights that these conflicts led to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). The Mexican forces fired first, and 16 American soldiers were killed (2020). Polk asked for a declaration of war by sending an order to Congress that noted Mexico’s invasion of U.S. territory and shed American blood.
In conclusion, the signing of the Guadalupe-Hidalgo Treaty ended the Mexican-American War. On February 2, 1848, the federal government arranged to pay $15 million for Texas, including other parts of present-day Utah, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, California, and Arizona. These saw Mexico ceding 55 percent of its territories; that is, lands through California to the Southern border of Rio Grande liver (Washington, 2021). Lucky for Mexicans, America could have decided to conquer the whole of Mexico, but, instead, the government was willing to pay for some part of it. As a result, the size of the United States doubled, and Mexicans were displaced from the new American territory (Guardino, 2022). This victory marked the first far-reaching accomplishment of U.S. military troops on foreign soil. While both countries reached an Agreement, Mexicans were still angered. For instance, the German government wished to capitalize on offering to return New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, if Mexico attacked the United States during World War 1. Indeed, the war’s outcome was a loss for Mexico and a success for the United States.
Annus, I. (2020). Visual allusions to the Mexican-American war. Acta Hispanica, 2, 629-640.
Diaz, M. A. (2018). The dead March: A history of the Mexican-American War by Peter Guardino. The Journal of the Civil War Era, 8(3), 526-528.
Flomen, M. (2021). The long war for Texas: Maroons, renegades, warriors, and alternative emancipations in the southwest borderlands, 1835–1845. The Journal of the Civil War Era, 11(1), 36-61.
Guardino, P. (2022). The constant recurrence of such atrocities: Guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency during the Mexican-American war. The Journal of the Civil War Era, 12(1), 3-27.
McCombie, D. G. (2021). The coming of the Americans. In The City of Texas. University of Texas Press.
Price, G. W. (2021). Chapter Five: James K. Polk in American History. In Origins of the War with Mexico (pp. 79-104). University of Texas Press.
Samora, J. (2019). The history of the Mexican-American people: Revised Edition. University of Notre Dame Press.
Swanlund, C. (2018). Presidential politics in the Republic of Texas. East Texas Historical Journal, 56(2), 4.
Van Sang, N., & Trang, L. (2021). Independent or Annexation: The Texas issue in the British-American relations (1836-1846). Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 10(5), 201-201.
Washington, D. M. (2021).” Wavering On the Horizon of Social Being”: The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and The Legacy of Its Racial Character in Americo Paredes’s George Washington Gomez. Policy, 2(3), 4.