The 19th century was a period of a rather tense relationship between the USA and Mexico. By 1848, Americans had forced Mexico to concede Texas and the southwestern part of the United States. The loss of fertile land and sparsely populated Mexican areas marked that period. It was the time of unparalleled geostrategic fortune for the USA. Moreover, the Mexican-American War was the most important event in the national history that helped to transform the country into a transcontinental power. The doctrine of predestination that gained wide popularity in 1845 pushed the United States to annex Texas in the same year and then start the great expansionist war in 1846. The paper seeks to examine the Mexican-American War as one of the most significant historical military conflicts as a result of which Americans seized more than a half of the Mexican territory, representing almost a third of the present territory of the United States.
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The opportunistic and helpless military, which had been governing for decades and the church that had a great economic impact refused to defend their homeland. Merchants and landowners were interested only in protecting their interests, and, therefore, they left. In the early 1820s, the Mexican government invited Americans to settle in the territory of the Mexican state Coahuila y Tejas hoping that they would agree to meet certain conditions such as the conversion to Catholicism and the prohibition of slavery (Chaichian 176). In reality, Texas was the catalyst for many important events. Settlers refused to fulfill certain requirements leading to the emergence of friction with the local authorities. In 1830, the Mexican authorities banned further immigration of Americans to Texas (McComb 36). A few years later, federal officials tried to concentrate power in the capital. These attempts had a negative impact on the regional autonomy.
In 1835, the American planters who settled in Mexican Texas rebelled with the support of the U.S. rulers. They announced the secession of Texas from Mexico and declared it an independent state in 1836 (Carson, Lapsansky-Werner, and Nash 211). Outraged residents also launched a separatist campaign against the Mexican government. The annexation of a free state of Texas by the United States in 1845 was the main reason to start the Mexican-American War.
Earlier, an attempt to regain control of the Mexican army over Texas led to the Battle of San Jacinto between the Texan detachment of 800 men under the command of Samuel Houston and the army of Santa Anna that was twice larger in size (Stephens 103). As a result of the surprise attack, the Mexican army was captured. Texans lost only six people. The Mexican president was forced to withdraw troops from Texas, but he was not going to recognize the independence of Texas, and, particularly its annexation to the United States as a state.
Despite the annexation of Texas, Americans moved further. In March 1846, the U.S. army led by General Zachary Taylor, who became the president after the war, invaded the disputed territory (Grossman 326). In January 1846, the U.S. leader ordered to occupy the disputed land on the southern border of Texas and go to the shore of the Rio Grande, where the first clash with Mexican armed forces occurred (Tucker 682). When Polk ordered American troops to cross the Mexico-United States border, the Mexican army tried to fight back, and the leader regarded their actions as a pretext for war declaring that American soldiers were attacked on U.S. soil. Using the fleet, General Winfield Scott invaded the Mexican port of Veracruz and moved to Mexico City. In response, the Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande and fired at the Fort Taylor. It was the pretext for the U.S Congress to begin the military actions.
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In February 1845, Texas was annexed to the United States, despite the fact that the Mexican government had warned in 1843 that the officials would regard the annexation of Mexico as a declaration of war (Werner 785). Mexicans stated that the southern border of Texas passed through the Nueces River while Americans claimed that the border was located near the Rio Grande. The American mission led by John Slidell went to Mexico for negotiations. John Slidell was also instructed to solve the issue of the acquisition of New Mexico and California. However, Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna refused to interact with John Slidell.
While some Americans would like to have Texas as a friendly and independent state, others were in favor of its entry into the Union. Abolitionists were also concerned as Texas remained faithful to the ideas of slavery. As soon as the slavery issue was settled under the presidency of James K. Polk, who was an ardent nationalist, the inevitable westward expansion began. As a result of the negotiations, the rest of California and the desert Southwest were annexed to the United States. The majority of the Californian population supported American officials. Americans captured the fortified position at Chapultepec, and by September 1847, the victorious American troops had occupied the Mexico’s capital (Campbell 71). The Mexican regular army was demoralized because of the late payment, and, therefore, they could not resist the American militia, which officials generously paid and supplied with the necessary equipment.
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Due to the deplorable events in the country, President Santa Anna was forced to resign. At the beginning of 1848, in a suburb of Mexico City Guadalupe, the new Mexican government signed a peace treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate in March. Under this agreement, California, New Mexico, and other border areas were ceded to the USA. Mexican officials recognized Texas as a part of the United States, and the country received $15 million as compensation for the ceded territory.
The current paper has deeply examined the Mexican-American War and the cause that forced Americans to annex Texas and begin the expansionist war in 1846. The war with the United States revealed the extent of chaos in which Mexicans lived. The generals, who had been in power for decades, were helpless and opportunistic in their views. Moreover, the church with its significant economic impact refused to participate in the defense. Merchants and landowners were interested only in protecting their interests, and, therefore, they left their homeland. The loss of a vast territory stimulated the government to start a policy of colonization of the northern regions as a means to prevent further loss.