The Mexican War Essay Research Paper The

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The Mexican War Essay, Research Paper The Mexican War: Imperialism or Manifest Destiny Liana R. Prieto (Fall 1995) In the 1840s American pioneers were settling further west than they previously had. Congressman J.E. Belser of Alabama, when speaking of our westward expansion, said, “They might as well try to stop Niagara.” ( Nevin, 19 ). The country was in agreement with this statement when, in 1844, it elected James K. Polk to the White House. Lieutenant Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock wrote an eerily prophetic entry in his journal soon after Polk’s election. He wrote that Polk’s presidency would be “a step towards the annexation of Texas first and then, in due time, the separation of the Union” ( DeVoto, 169 ). While campaigning, Polk had promised to follow the

call of Manifest Destiny to wherever it may lead him, including into foreign territory. When Polk took office he was facing the possibility of two wars. We were jointly occupying the large area of Oregon with Great Britain. We wanted control of the whole of Oregon to the 54? 40′ parallel line. Neither nation was willing to compromise. At that time, Mexico controlled what is today the western United States. We desired this land for ourselves. There was also the dispute over Texas. Texas considered itself an independent republic and wanted to be annexed by the United States, but Mexico had never recognized its sovereignty. If we annexed a part of ‘their’ nation, they threatened a war. By not compromising, Polk was deliberately provoking two nations into war because he thought

we wouldn’t have to fight either one in the end. Eventually we agreed to make the 49th parallel the dividing line between British and American Oregon. The threat of war with Great Britain had been dissolved, but we were still unable, or perhaps unwilling, to peacefully resolve the Mexican conflict. I will prove that the Mexican War was not an example of Manifest Destiny but a result of our nation’s hunger for an empire. Most of the actions of the Mexican War were initiated and completed between 1846 and 1847, but the origins of it can be traced back much further. An infamous event in this fight was the seizure of the Alamo. In 1836, Texans were fighting for their independence from Mexico. The Mexican Army led by General Santa Anna attempted to seize the Alamo, a fort being

held by 150 Americans. They valiantly held their ground for a few weeks. The 3,000 Mexicans finally broke the defenses of the Alamo. They took no prisoners. The bodies of the men were piled outside the fort and set afire. When the prospect of war with Mexico arose, “Remember the Alamo!” was again a popular chant. Our annexation of Texas on December 29, 1845 was enough for the Mexican government to sever all diplomatic ties with Washington. We annexed not only the land of Texas, but its problems also. Between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande was an uninhabited piece of land that both Mexico and Texas claimed. Fighting over this area was the final excuse we needed to declare war on Mexico May 13, 1846. Many questions are raised by our declaration of war. Why were we able to

compromise with England, but not with Mexico? I feel the U.S. refused to compromise with Mexico because we didn’t consider them equals. Was Oregon any less a part of our Manifest Destiny than Texas or California? No. It was simply that, in the eyes of Americans, the Mexicans were not deserving of the territory they controlled. Another reason is that we recognized Great Britain, our motherland, as a very real threat to our nation’s security and stability. On the other hand, we thought a war with Mexico could be easily won. I believe the U.S. demonstrated, in its willingness to fight Mexico but not G.B., that it wished to build an empire. The motivation for the war was greed and nothing more. Even as troops were marching west and south, Polk was secretly trying to negotiate a