Invasions to Mexico I; Mexico - US War

The Mexico – United States war was an armed conflict between these two countries from 1846 to 1848, related to the annex in 1845 of Texas to the U.S. Mexico refused to recognize this secession and considered Texas a rebel province.

After its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico inherited the provinces of Upper California, New Mexico and Texas from Spain. Weakened and practically bankrupt after the War of Independence, the new Mexican government was unable to govern its northern territories that were located thousands of kilometers away from the capital.

Searching to control the Texas border, the Mexican government allowed a few hundred North Americans to settle here, but thousands did. English speaking inhabitants soon became the majority.

United States repeatedly attempted to purchase Texas. Mexico, governed by Emperor Agustín de Iturbide and his successor, Antonio López de Santa Anna, fervently opposed selling this land.

Meanwhile, Texas residents had become disappointed with the Mexican government. Many complained about the location of its capital, which periodically fluctuated between Saltillo and Monclova, in the State of Coahuila, 800 kilometers away. Texans wanted to build another State with its own capital, belonging to Mexico but independent from others.

Texas residents were also fighting to have the same rights as United States citizens, for example, freedom of cult; Mexico demanded colonizers declared themselves followers of the Catholic Church. They also disagreed on the lack of slaves; Mexico abolished slavery in 1829. In 1836, out of a 38,470 population total in Texas, 5,000 were slaves.

In 1845, recently elected President James K. Polk attempted to negotiate an agreement with Mexico in order to establish the border at Rio Grande and acquire California. Frustrated from Mexico’s refusal to negotiate, in January 1846 Polk ordered the army to advance to Rio Grande.

The first armed confrontation happened on April 24, 1846 at Rancho Carricitos, located in Texas north of Rio Bravo. A Mexican cavalry of 2,000 men attacked a group of 63 North Americans that had been sent to safeguard this territory in dispute; eleven US soldiers died. This area was being claimed as part of the US territory, which lead President Polk to request from Congress a declaration of war, arguing: “US Blood has been spilled on US soil”.

The United States Congress declared war on May 13, 1846. Mexico was obligated to confront the US without a prepared army or population.

This declaration of war ignited a great controversy in United States. A group of dissidents marched in Washington, calling the war against Mexico “an aggressive, unholy and unjust war” and voted against supplying soldiers and weapons. This movement’s leader, Joshua Giddings, declared: "In the murder of Mexicans upon their own soil, or in robbing them of their country, I can take no part either now or here-after. The guilt of these crimes must rest on others. I will not participate.”

Whig leader Robert Toombs of Georgia declared: “This war is a nondescript.... We charge the President with usurping the war-making power... with seizing a country... which had been for centuries, and was then in the possession of the Mexicans.... Let us put a check upon this lust of dominion. We had territory enough, Heaven knew.”

Northern abolitionists opposed the war calling it an attempt from the South to continue owning slaves. Henry David Thoreau was sent to prison for refusing to pay taxes and thus not support the war, it was in prison where he wrote his famous essay “Civil Disobedience”.

General Ulysses S. Grant was a young war officer under General Taylor during the invasion to Mexico. General Grant believed this war had brought God's punishment on the United States in the form of the Civil War. “I consider this war one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory."

It is estimated that 25,000 Mexicans died during the Mexico – United States War and 13,000 US soldiers, but only 1,700 while in combat. Ninety per cent died from disease, especially yellow fever.

The Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty was approved by the United States Senate and ratified by Mexico Congress in March 1848. This put an end to war and seized the undisputed control of Texas to the United States, establishing the border between both countries at Rio Grande. This treaty also granted United States the current States of California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming; in total, Mexico lost two thirds of its territory. Mexico received 15 million dollars for it, half the price offered by United States for this land before hostilities broke out. The United States government also acquired a 3.25 dollar debt owed by the Mexican government to US citizens. After this monumental loss, the Mexican government underwent an initiative to colonize its northern territories and thus protect itself from further loss.

Artículo Producido por el Equipo Editorial Explorando México.
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