Mexican American War

Topics: James K. Polk, Mexican–American War, United States Pages: 5 (2006 words) Published: March 16, 2013
Jessica Helin
Paper 2
U.S. History 1

Throughout history, conflict always arose from issues with international boarders and the U.S.-Mexican border was no exception. Both Spain and England settled different regions of the New World in hopes of gaining riches and spreading religious beliefs. While the Spanish settled what is today known as Mexico, the English settled the United States. However, when the two colonial forces finally crossed paths in 1846, it wasn't England and Spain, but Mexico and the United States, because by this time, both countries had already detached themselves from their mother countries. A great deal of conflict occurred between the two nations, especially due to a Tennessee Democrat, named James K. Polk. He wrote a, “War Message,” to Congress, convincing the U.S. to go to war with Mexico and although he provides, what seems to be, great reasoning, his intentions may not be completely authentic. According to George Perkins Marsh's, a Whig from Vermont, speech on the Mexican War, he describes how Polk deceived an entire nation into pursuing a war based on his own moral beliefs. Based on events that led up to the war, as well as excerpts taken from both of their speeches/messages, a conclusion to this dilemma will be discovered. The conflict that emerged between the two countries, following their encounter, was a direct result of their contrasting national policies. The United States policy was focused on expanding its western borders, while Mexico's policy was centered around self-protection (“The Price of Freedom”). Although the Americans didn't have any official written documentation of it's policy for westward expansion, they did however, believe in the idea of “Manifest Destiny,” which was the belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent to the Pacific Ocean (Gevinson). Evidence, that set the rhetorical tone for the largest acquisition of U.S. territory, was America's interests in acquiring California, which led to border conflicts that accompanied another issue leading to the Mexican-American War. Ultimately, the best evidence, providing justification of U.S. expansion on more than one occasion, was first seen when Texas joined the U.S. as its 28th state. In the 1820s, Texas was under strict possession of Mexico. Eventually, its immigration policies relaxed and American settlers were allowed to populate its land, but only if they followed its laws and customs. It wasn't until 1830, that the settlers in Texas began preceding Mexican control due to its new law abolishing slavery. Since most of the settlers were slave holders and didn't want to adhere to the law, they fought for their independence to become their own nation, separate from Mexico, in the Battle of San Jacinto. Ultimately, Santa Anna, the President of Mexico, was captured and held prisoner of war until he signed a peace treaty; it granted Texas's independence and created a new border at the Rio Grande (Class Notes, 2013). When Mexico continued commanding Texas, without proper jurisdiction, they applied to become part of the Union. Mexico warned the U.S. that if they annexed Texas, then America would have itself a war with the Central American nation. Despite its threats, the U.S. ignored the warnings and accepted Texas into the union anyway. Because Mexico still considered Texas part of their republic, Polk sent military forces to Rio Grande to establish it as U.S. territory and to secure its borders (Class Notes, 2013). This only enhanced Mexico's threats of attack on the U.S., over land that was rightfully theirs in the first place. Meanwhile, an expedition, led by John C. Freemont under Polk's orders, led a group of Americans to the Oregon Territory and California to claim more land (“The Price of Freedom”). Polk, consumed with trying to make the prophecy of the manifest destiny a reality, generally preferred buying land to fighting for it. Following the annexation of Texas, Polk...

Cited: Gevinson, Alan. "Why Did President Polk Want War with Mexico." 11 Mar. 2013 <>.
Harshman, Ben. "Slavery In West?" War with Mexico. Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago. 6 Mar. 2013.
Marsh, George P. "Speech on the Mexican War." House of Representatives. 10 Feb. 1848.
Polk, James K. "Polk 's War Message." Ed. James Richardson. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents. Vol. 5. New York City: Bureau of National Literature, 1986. 244-47.
"The Price of Freedom: Americans at War." Smithsonian Museum of National History. 11 Mar. 2013 <>.
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