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The Mexican war of 1846 to 1848 was a result of a complicated situation. The results of the war are apparent, the United States won the war and acquired more land whereas Mexico lost. The primary cause of the war was the opposition of Mexico to the annexation of Texas by the US. The two nations were in disagreement pertaining the border of the US and Mexico. Mexico claimed the border was at Nueces River whereas the US alleged the border was at Rio Grande River. The land in question is productive farmland which explains why the US was eager to acquire them and Mexico could not lose it quickly. Although both the US and Mexico were ill-prepared for the war, Americans were at an advantage over the Mexicans. The reason is that the Mexican army lacked discipline and had faulty arms, in comparison to the US (Bloom 56). During the war, General Santa Ana asked for help from other Southern and Central American governments, alleging that the war was a threat to not only Mexico but also to the rest of Central and Southern America. He claimed that if the US won the war, it would dominate over all of them separately. The claim by General Santa Ana is false as the only interest the US had in the war was to acquire the productive Texas land.
Although the relationship between the US and other Central and Southern American countries was not precisely cordial during the second half of the 19th century, there were no serious conflicts. After 1950, the relationship between the US and Argentina, for instance, was one of mutual disinterest (Schmidt 298). The two countries interacted minimally whether for economic or any other reasons. The US and Chile also had a right, although not cordial relationship from 1850 to 1901 (Schmidt 299). The evidence implies that even after winning the Mexican war, the US did not interfere with the other countries in any given way. It makes it apparent that the fear that General Santa Ana had of the US seeking dominion over the other Southern and Central American countries invalid.
Although both countries provoked the war, the US was eager to go to war with Mexico to justify their acquisition of the Mexican territory in question. Several factors that led to the declaration of war were not adequately genuine. Notably, the Thornton affair was arguably not enough to provoke war as the region within which it had happened was being claimed by both countries. Statements made by the then president of the US, James Polk suggested that he was bent on going to war with Mexico. The statement, "American blood has been shed on American soil" is what kindled the nation against Mexico, thereby leading to the Congress declaring war. Also, the US alleged that Mexico failed to honour the Velasco treaty. The treaty was signed by General Saint Ana when his life was in danger, and it stated that Mexican troops would evacuate Texas and that the hostility between Texans and Mexico would stop. The US failed to recognize that the circumstances under which the treaties were signed were not fair. General Santa Ana was coerced into signing as he did so as a prisoner. Therefore, Mexico had reasonable grounds to reject the treaty. The US had their own agendas for the war as they wanted to acquire the land in question. In fact, the US resorted to war only after Mexico refused to settle the issue of annexation of Texas peacefully. Before declaring war, the US sent John Slidell to Mexico to attempt to patch the relationship between the two countries. His mission was to get Mexicans to recognize Rio Grande River as the boundary between the two countries and discuss the purchase of California and New Mexico. Therefore, the war for the US had only one role, which was to expand the country's territory.
Despite American policies being in favour of the war with Mexico, aggravations from the latter played a significant role in provoking the conflict between the two countries (Schroeder & Eisenhower 576). The actions of Mexican leaders pushed the US to declare war against the country. General Santa Ana, in particular, was responsible for provoking the war between the two countries. In the period before the war, General Santa Ana removed the previous liberal Mexican constitution. The action made Texans angry as their sovereignty had been taken away from them. Also, the mistreatment of American citizens by Mexicans also angered Americans making almost everyone in favour of the war. Most of them believed that Mexico deserved to be defeated. Also, the Mexicans themselves thought that the war was a consequence of the selfish desires and actions of their leaders (Schroeder & Eisenhower 576). To them, the Yankees were only being used to punish them for the mistakes of their leaders. These beliefs by Mexicans at the time depict the fact that the Mexican leaders, individually General Santa Ana played a significant role in causing the war, unlike the allegations that the US just wanted to grab Mexican land and dominate the two Americas.
Another concern by General Santa Ana was the spread of slavery if the US won the war. Mexico has already passed laws that prohibited slavery in its territory, and General Santa Ana argued that if the US won the war, they would permit slavery beyond the South of US where it was being practised then. After the winning of the Mexican war, the US did not extend slavery beyond the states where it was legal. Most of those who were in favour of the annexation of Mexico were slave owners of the Southwest (Fuller 36). However, these slaveholders were more interested in the Manifest Destiny than the question of slavery. The Manifest Destiny meant more land for America. Besides, it became apparent during the war that Mexicans and the rest of the free states were against slavery thereby slavery would not be permissible in the lands acquired from Mexico. Slavery was a minor concern for both the pro-slavery and anti-slavery Americans. Furthermore, most of the territories in question was not favourable for agriculture thereby slavery would not be beneficial to those lands (Fuller 36). The signing of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was proof that although part of Americans, mainly the anti-slavery category wanted the annexation of the entire Mexico territory, such a thing was not admissible by the US.
At the time of the Mexican-American war, most Americans believed in Manifest Destiny. It was the belief that it was the destiny of American settlers to expand their territories in their entire North of the continent and enlighten the rest of the primitive communities (Schroeder & Eisenhower 36). The results of the Mexican war was that the US expanded its borders to contain larger parts of which initially belonged to Mexico as colonies rather than states. The move depicted the growing imperialism of the US at the time. However, the Manifest Destiny was only concerned with the expansion of the US to occupy the Pacific Coast and regions such as New Mexico, California, Guam, Philippine Islands, and Puerto Rico. The US had no intentions of colonizing or expanding to other countries in Central and Northern America. Their sole interest was the acquisition of the productive land and sound ports on the Pacific for commercial purposes chiefly. After the war and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the US did not seek to extend its borders further. The outcome of the war depicts with clarity that dominating over the rest of the Southern and Central American countries was not among the priorities of the US.
The detrimental effects of the Mexican-American war affected only Mexico. The war resulted in the humiliation of the country as the US troops took possession of the country's capital. It was a belittling experience for Mexican to witness foreign forces taking control of their government (Bloom 76). Besides, there were very many casualties of war, especially from Mexico. Other than Mexico, no other country suffered humiliation as a result of the US winning the war. The implications of the war were felt by Mexico mainly because the war had mostly taken place on their soil.
In summary, the Mexican-American war was had implications on Mexico only, and the claim by General Santa that if the US won the war, it would dominate over the rest of Southern and Central America was false. Although the relationship between the US and other Southern and Central America countries was not exactly cordial after the war, the nation did not dominate over any of the nations. In the war, the US had only the aim of expanding their territories into the lands that were initially a part of Mexico and had no interest in colonizing the rest of the continent. Also, the evidence that actions by the Mexican dictator General Santa Ana provoked the declaration of war by America implies that gaining dominion from winning the war was not America's objective. It can, therefore, be inferred that the war between Mexico and America had implications only for the two countries.
The Mexican-American war affected the two countries in several ways. Both the countries lost people during the war. The US lost about 16,800 people to the war from diseases and injuries and spent about 75 million dollars. Mexico suffered more than physical effects. The citizens experienced the humiliation of having their capital and a significant part of their country under foreign troops. They developed hatred toward the US, notably the Yankees. The war fever also promoted stereotypes against Mexicans by propagating information that the Mexicans had mistreated Americans. These stereotypes made many Americans hate Mexicans even several years after the war had ended. The loss of several miles of land by Mexico affected their economic growth significantly. The US, on the other hand, made critical economic gains from the war. The discovery of gold in California enriched the country significantly. The war also set the stage for the civil war by opening up the slavery issue. Today, the effects of the war are still evident especially for the Mexicans who still experience the impact of their loss. Also, the hostility between the two countries although subtle is still present.
Bloom, John P. "Tennery, Thomas D. (1819-1891), soldier." American National Biography Online, 2000.
Fuller, John D. "The Slavery Question and the Movement to Acquire Mexico, 1846-1848." The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, vol. 21, no. 1, 1934, p. 31.
Schmidt, Arthur. "United States-Latin American Relations, 1850-1903 (review)." The Americas, vol. 57, no. 2, 2000, pp. 298-299.
Schroeder, John H., and John S. Eisenhower. "So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846-1848." Journal of the Early Republic, vol. 9, no. 4, 1989, p. 576.
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