War with Mexico 1846-1848
The Nueces River or the Rio Grande? • The battle begins with a dispute of the US Mexico boundaries. The Rio Grande or the Nueces River? March of 1946, Gen. Taylor moves troops into the Rio Grande and Mexican troops fight back killing 16 American soldiers.
US Provocation Gen. Taylor had moved his troops to Corpus Christi, Texas, just across the Nueces River, and waited further instructions to move south into Mexican territory.
President Polk’s Message • “Now… Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil…” (Zinn 1980:150) • Congress overwhelmingly approved war with Mexico on May 13, 1846 and authorized the recruitment and supplying of 50,000 troops (Acuna 2007:43)
American Opposition • Abraham Lincoln was not in Congress yet when the War began but he later would challenge Polk to point out the spot where American blood was shed. • Author Henry David Thoreau refused to pay taxes because they would go to finance the War and was imprisoned for it. Two years later he writes the essay Civil Disobedience. • General Grant said, ”We have no moral right to go into Mexico…I am bitterly opposed to this war, one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation” (Cockcroft 1998:66) • Frederick Douglas, former slave, called the War ”…disgraceful, cruel, and iniquitous…”
Manifest Destiny At Work! • The New York Herald was saying in 1847, “The universal Yankee nation can regenerate and disenthrall the people of all Mexico in a few years; and we believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country”. • The Congressional Globe on February 11, 1847 reported: “…We must March from coast to coast …We must march from Texas straight to the Pacific Ocean and be bounded only by its roaring wave… It is the destiny of the white race, it is the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race…” (Zinn 1980:152)
US Invasion Begins • Once the declaration of war was given, troops were sent to the old Spanish-Mexican settlements of Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. • In California, Mexican Governor Pio Pico puts up a fight but is quickly defeated.
Gen. Winfield Scott • Gen. Scott headed to Mexico City with 10,000 men. On the outskirts of the City, at Churubusco, a fierce battle raged for three hours. When all was done, almost 4,000 Mexican lay dead or wounded. • In the final battle for Mexico City, Anglo-American troops took Chapultepec Castle and entered the city of 200,000 people.
War Atrocities • Gen. Scott would say, “ The soldiers committed atrocities to make heaven weep and every American of Christian morals blush for his country…Murder, robbery and rape of mothers and daughters in the presence of tied up males of the families have been common all along the Rio Grande” (Campa 1979:1830). • Even the famous San Patricios (US soldiers of Irish descent) joined the Mexican side upon seeing the atrocities being made by the US troops. Some 260 US “Irish” soldiers fought along the Mexicans against the Anglo soldiers.
Los Ninos Heroes • On September 13,1847 before the occupation of Mexico City began, Los Ninos Heroes leaped to their deaths from Chapultepec Hill in Mexico City rather than surrender. These teenage cadets-Francisco Marquez, Agustin Melgar, Juan Escutia, Fernando Montes de Oca, Vicente Suarez, and Juan de la Barrera- became a symbol and image of this unrighteous war. The youngest was 13 and the oldest 20 years of age.
The Treaty of Guadalupe • Mexico in 1848 is forced to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo loosing about half its territory. • The US pays 15 million for the Mexican cession and later (1853) purchase what came to be known as the Gadsen Purchase for $10 million- another piece of territory south of the Gila River in Arizona.