American History Series: Review: What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

In the Oxford History of the United States series, Daniel Walker Howe’s What Hath God Wrought picks up where Gordon S. Wood’s Empire of Liberty left off in the War of 1812. It takes the reader from Andrew Jackson’s victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 to Zachary Taylor’s election as President of the United States in 1848. The period can aptly be described as America’s adolescence. It was also the Golden Age of the White Republic.

The telegraph, steamboat and railroad appeared and revolutionized transportation and communication across the young nation. From Alexander the Great to Benjamin Franklin, previous generations had communicated only at the speed of a galloping horse. Within a single lifetime, the ancient “tyranny of distance” was overthrown. The construction of canals and advances in printing fueled this process and led to the emergence of mass based political parties and an integrated national market economy. America would experience its first financial panic in 1819 and first depression from 1837 to 1843.

Under President James Madison and his successor President James Monroe, the Democratic-Republican Party quietly absorbed the remaining Federalists in the short lived “Era of Good Feelings,” but later split apart into “Old Republicans” and “National Republicans” in the 1824 and 1828 national elections. These divisions within the Republican Party quickly solidified into the second two party system, the Democrats and Whigs, which dominated national politics until 1856.

The Democrats became the party of national expansion, white supremacy, states’ rights, defense of slavery, cultural pluralism, agrarianism and free trade. The Whigs favored a protective tariff, internal improvements, economic diversification, a national bank, soft money, nativism and moral reform. They opposed national expansion and the extension of slavery. Throughout this period, the Whigs consistently took the more liberal position on race. For the time being though, partisanship had the salutory effect of papering over the sectional crack in the Union that emerged in the Missouri Crisis. The Senate experienced its own Golden Age with the debates of the Great Triumvirate: Clay, Webster and Calhoun.

In the Great Migration, American settlers poured across the Appalachians into the Old Northwest and Old Southwest and rapidly settled the Mississippi Valley. They became known to posterity as the “pioneers.” From 1789 to 1815, American civilization was Atlanticist and looked toward Europe. From 1815 to 1848, Americans became Continentalists and turned their gaze westward across North America. They followed the Oregon Trail in Conestoga wagons into the Pacific Northwest. The Mormons left the Midwest in an exodus and settled in the Great Salt Lake Valley. Stephen Austin and other American colonists settled in the Mexican state of Texas.

The migration of the pioneers to the frontier had a parallel in the migration of European immigrants and country folk into the cities. In 1820, there were only five cities in America with a population of more than 25,000 and only one over a 100,000. By 1850, there were 26 cities with a population over 25,000 and six with a population over 100,000. The urban percentage of the population increased from 7% to 18%. From 1815 to 1850, about five million European immigrants (Germans, Scot-Irish, Irish Catholics) settled in America. The median age was 16. Only 1 of 8 Americans was over the age of 43. The White birthrate was so high that the American population doubled every 20 years.

In spite of their growing diversity, Americans explicitly disavowed the notion that they lived in a multiracial or multicultural society. Free blacks in the Upper South (North Carolina, 1835), New England (Connecticut, 1818, Rhode Island, 1822) and the Mid-Atlantic states (Pennsylvania, 1838) lost the voting rights they had previously enjoyed. After 1819, every new state admitted to the Union with the exception of Maine would disenfranchise black voters. Missouri, Ohio, Illinois and several other states banned free blacks altogether. Blacks developed their own separate churches. In the age of “Herrenvolk democracy,” women lost the right to vote in New Jersey which was the only state that had granted them suffrage.

In 1815, Southerners didn’t have much passion for defending slavery. They usually said it was a regrettable institution that had been foisted on the South in its infancy by the British. The Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner rebellions changed that. By 1848, John C. Calhoun and others like him had come around to defending slavery as a “positive good.” Josiah Nott, a Mobile physician who wrote about racial differences, denied that negroes and Whites belonged to the same species. In the 1850s, George Fitzhugh rejected Jeffersonianism in favor of a comprehensive political theory based on slavery and hierarchy. By that time, the Enlightenment had long since faded and died in the South.

Americans in the North and South alike had come to believe that the United States was a White Man’s Country. The logical implication was that free blacks were a blot on the American experiment. In 1817, the American Colonization Society was founded for the purpose of deporting them to Africa. 4,291 American negroes were ultimately repatriated to Liberia in West Africa. 10,000 more would emigrate there from the United States by the end of the Civil War. African colonization was endorsed by the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and Episcopalians as well as by the states of Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee, Delaware, Ohio and six other Northern states.

The Indians weren’t held in much higher esteem. After smashing the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend, Andrew Jackson forced huge territorial concessions on the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole) that led to them surrendering most of their territory in the Old Southwest. Florida was invaded and annexed to destroy a bastion of multiracial freedom that had become a haven for runaway slaves. The later Seminole Wars were fought for the same reason.

Old Hickory’s proudest accomplishment as President of the United States was the Indian Removal bill which ordered the deportation of all Indians east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory. His successor President Martin Van Buren zealously carried on Indian Removal. In the Old Northwest, a small race war was fought against the Black Hawk Indians. The Texas Revolution evolved into a race war between Anglos and Mexicans. By 1846, Florida, Oregon and Texas had fallen like ripe fruit into the American orbit. Everywhere White men could be found asserting their racial interests in a way that is virtually unknown today when San Francisco paints over murals of George Washington.

Manifest Destiny was in the air. This imperialistic sentiment culminated in the Mexican War under President James K. Polk (aka Young Hickory) which resulted in the acquisition of California and the Southwest in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. After the Mexican Cession, the Far Southwest was considered the racial patrimony of White men. In some parts of Texas, Mexicans were ethnically cleansed and a new law was passed that racialized property rights. Mestizos in New Mexico didn’t acquire full rights as American citizens until statehood was finally achieved in 1912. California didn’t recognize Mexicans as citizens until 1870 during the Reconstruction era.

Culturally speaking, Jacksonian America was a fertile period. The most popular form of entertainment was the minstrel show. Americans jumped Jim Crow and laughed at Zip Coon, a pretentious negro who liked to dress in fancy clothes and use big words he didn’t understand, a precursor in some ways to some modern day talking heads. Dime novels which glorified the American Revolution and Indian Wars were popular. The roots of country music can be traced back to the Anglo-Celtic folk songs of this era. Edgar Allan Poe and the Transcendentalists laid the foundation of American poetry and literature.

The Second Great Awakening reinvigorated American religion. By 1850, twice as many Americans were affiliated with a church as had been the case in 1815. Northern evangelicals sought to hasten the millennium by supporting a series of reform movements: abolitionism, women’s suffrage, temperance, world peace and opposition to Indian Removal. Cockfighting, dueling, and drinking became controversial as middle class mores spread. Utopian communes were founded in New Harmony, Indiana, Nashoba, Tennessee, and Oneida, New York. Joseph Smith founded the Church of Latter Day Saints.

The Radical Left hatched out of the fringes of Christianity in this period: Unitarians, Hicksite Quakers, Northern evangelicals and Protestant missionaries. Oberlin College (the first integrated co-ed university in the world) was founded in Ohio. William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass preached against slavery in The Liberator and The North Star, but the abolitionists remained mired in the swamps of third party politics. In 1848, the women’s suffrage movement kicked off with the famous Seneca Falls convention. Henry David Thoreau wrote his famous essay Civil Disobedience in his disgust with the Mexican War, Indian Removal and the expansion of slavery. Ralph Waldo Emerson found Polynesians and Africans worthy of the American melting pot. The Whig Party vigorously opposed the Mexican War and Indian Removal. Even without the Jews, America produced its own leftist radicals.

These are but a few of the topics that are given treatment in What Hath God Wrought. There are also discussions of the Bank War, Monroe Doctrine, the South Carolina Nullification Crisis, the Wilmot Proviso, California Gold Rush and much else. Although it is written from a humanist perspective, I found What Hath God Wrought to be the most comprehensive introduction to Jacksonian America available. In my next review of this period, I will explore the subject further in David S. Reynolds’ Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson.

White Nationalism is an attempt to recreate the lost and barely remembered world of the White Republic. It is unintelligible outside of its roots in the American Colonization Society, Indian Removal, Wilmot Proviso and the Free Soil movement. If for no other reason, White Nationalists (as well as anti-racists) should read this book to better understand their own complex origins.

About Hunter Wallace 9532 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

24 Comments

  1. Charles Dickens’ first visit to America was in 1842 and I found his account of it in American Notes to be quite interesting. One of the places he visited was Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, America’s first prison which opened in 1829. De Toqueville also visited that facility in 1831. There were still Americans alive at that time who remembered the Revolutionary War but America already had railroads, steamships, the telegraph and industrial cities. And its western boundaries already extended to California and Oregon. Not even Thomas Jefferson envisioned that kind of progress taking place for another several generations. The War between the States (which Jefferson did forsee) took this country in a different and ultimately disastrous direction.

  2. Isaiah 26:17-18 Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O Lord.

    We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.

    John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

  3. “The War between the States (which Jefferson did forsee) took this country in a different and ultimately disastrous direction.”

    It seems like the modern day Leftists, like their 19th Century forebears, are taking us in the direction of war, or at least massive civil disturbances, again.

  4. Mr. Wallace,

    This information is fascinating on the history of the United States. The racial origins, practices, and beliefs of Americans were I imagine well known in US history until deep into the 20th century when American history became more sanitized. The modern Conservatives lie and or pretend that this never happened or that America somehow was violating its own principles until lately.

    The Conservatives have to lie in order to pretend their current belief system is traditional American or else admit the current system is not only immoral but a betrayal of everything almost all Americans used to believe in. I believe as some do here that the current Republicans are in existence just to keep whitey quiet until it is too late.

    One of my grandmothers was born in the USA Southwest in the 1930’s and can vouch for the racial practices of Californians and especially Texans in decades gone by. Surprisingly, or perhaps not she bears no grudge to the anglo of the past but does have contempt for the current breed.

    • Christina,

      Those Anglos that your grandmother and I have contempt for allowed themselves to fall under (((saul alinsky’s))) rule number five: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

      As you’re aware, for the last 75 years (I.e., post-WWII) Europeans have been force fed gluttonous amounts of “White guilt ” for supposedly wrongdoing by their race.

      Are familiar with the former KGB officer Yuri Beznemov? He outlined how the communists would undermine their enemies cultures and societies. I will not insult your obvious intelligence by informing you as to who has the Marxist gene in their genome.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uFPtkey9kEk

      • November,

        I am aware that the world and the USA changed drastically after WWII. I cannot imagine how artificially induced guilt could work against any one other than anglo-saxon types—-roughly defined as northern/western European types.

        I feel no guilt in the slightest over the conquest of the brutal Aztecs. My people(Catholics) burned alive thousands? millions? of heretics and others throughout history. And that does not mean anything to me. I am not rejoicing but am only saying that Cromwell’s brutality toward the Catholic Irish means more to me for obvious reasons. We are a far harder people than anglos. How much is inherent I do not know. I think there are huge differences because of the latin/Catholic/Indian influences.

        When I go to the confessional I say—–“Bless me father for I have sinned”. I do NOT say ‘Bless me father for Mexicans or Catholics have sinned”. That would be an abomination!

        I thank you for the link and the information as always.

        Christina Romana

    • Why? Because the current ones won’t stand up for themselves and are pathetic shadows of their former selves?

      • Powell,

        Yes. Liking someone is less important than respect. I respected the anglo when he was supremely confident and aggressive. That was fearful but I understand how the world works. Does not mean I support the Anglo/American side during the Mexican American War. Nor does my grandmother but there is no way anyone can respect the current breed of white worms.

        I would rather deal with all but the most extreme white nationalists than mainstream conservative Republicans.

  5. Excellent summation, Hunter – thank you for continuing the American History Series of articles. I share them far and wide. Your distillations are perfect lengths, normie-friendly, fair, and easily digestible.

  6. HW, your book reviews are the best Cliff Notes on the web.

    I always try to find a takeaway from lessons learned in from past mistakes.

    In past is prologue, then evangelicals need to expelled or quarantined due to their propensity for working against our people’s best interests.

    Likewise, we will have to be vigilant that the Gentile liberal agitators that that seems to sprout roots like a unwanted weeds are either cut off at the knees or expelled.

  7. Interesting article Hunter. When I first started seriously looking into White Nationalism about five years ago, I was shocked to see that it was an *American* phenomenon. I learned that the various countries of Europe were into a *distinct tribal nationalism*, e.g German nationalism in Germany, French nationalism in France, etc. White Nationalism only makes sense in a country settled by multiple groups of Euros, unified around a common language and common founding period/struggle. Your book review highlights that, in clear historical terms.

  8. On an earlier post, Spahn asked me about Lincoln’s opposition to the U. S. – Mexican War. i offered a quote from Lincoln during the time he was a Representative from Illinois, in which he confirmed and justified the twin doctrines of States’ Rights and Secession. But, I think that the war itself, as Brad has suggested, is not given its fair place in the annals of American History.

    Was it an excuse to acquire a vast expanse of territory? I don’t question that as being the ultimate, if not immediate, motive. What I do find debatable is the subject of ownership. Whose land was it? Did it belong to the Mexicans, who inherited the provinces conquered by the Spanish, but failed to sufficiently colonize it or protect them? Did it belong to the many tribes and bands of Indians who had battled each other for domination since long before any White man stepped foot on the Continent? Upon Independence in 1821, the Mexicans inherited wars with these Indian tribes from the Spanish. During the 1850’s, the government of Sonora was offering a hundred peso bounty for the scalp of an Apache male aged fourteen or older. So, obviously, these “native” peoples, absent the Anglo, were not living in harmony, and did not agree on who should govern the land, or even who should be permitted to live on it.

    From the time Mexico gained its independence from Spain until the end of the war with the United States, 1821 to 1848, the schismatic Mexican government suffered through twenty two Presidential administrations, even though their Constitution stipulated a four year term. Not only were Mexicanos in Texas, New Mexico and California feeling neglected, except for the onus of paying taxes, the great internal discord within the Mexican nation was provoking peasant uprisings in other States. For just one example, Santa Ana had to put down a rebellion in Zacatecas before he could march on the Alamo. Another uprising, called the Polkos Revolt, took place during the war with the United States, where the peasants rose up against the aristocracy. It was so named because the wealthy people of the time were in phase where Polka music had become a fad among them. This influence is still heard in Mexican music today with accordions, tubas and oompah rhythms featuring prominently.

    Here’s a fact that very few are aware of: My hometown was named for a hero of the U. S. – Mexican war. He was in overall command of the Federal forces on the frontier in Texas at the time of his death in 1849. He died while stationed at the army headquarters in San Antonio without ever seeing the little outpost that bore his name. He was carted by wagon down to Galveston and then sent up the coast to be buried near his home in New York City. His grave, located in a median at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Broadway, is marked by a twenty foot obelisk.

    The Spanish, French, British, Mexican, Indians, and even the United States and Texas, at one time or another, all laid claim to territory that they really had no tangible hold on. Although, they didn’t have cartographers, Indians were extremely defensive of their turf and would either kill trespassers, demand tribute from them, or both. And, the maps drawn by Europeans were often the products of wishful thinking and future gazing; grand plans yet to be realized. The same held true for Mexico. The land it claimed to have inherited from Spain, the Spanish had very little, or no, control over to begin with. The Mexicans were bequeathed pieces of paper with lines drawn on them. What is the old saying, “Possession is 9/10th’s of the law?” There were many parties playing a game for keeps, and there were no rules. I tend to think that the Anglos succeeded where everyone else failed, and then they began to give a lot of consideration to how they had achieved their success.

    It seems to me that, very early on, the White man bestowed a sort of spiritual reverence upon “the Noble Red Men,” often ignoring some of the less savory aspects of their cultures. This sentimental attitude was in evidence in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Shows and it only began to grow, as in Hollywood, where the heathen Savages were slowly transformed into a race of sage Magi. The loyal Negro was a familiar character in fact and fiction since before emancipation and well into the twentieth century. But, a clear distinction between the races remained indelibly drawn until the latter half. Now, Mexicans, who were often viewed as an inoffensive and hard working people, are either viewed as the only individuals capable of pouring concrete and laying bricks and are, therefore, indispensable; which begs the question, how did all of these roads and buildings get here before they arrived in droves? Or, they are viewed as parasites who receive government benefits to which they are not entitled and who are overwhelming our system and overpopulating our cities. So, the question now is, will we retain the hard won assets that were handed down by our ancestors? Or, will we succumb to the immigrant fifth columns and be disinherited?

    • Cowtown,

      It belonged to us and it was so recognized as a legitimate part of Mexico by the civilized countries. Any troubles between Indians and Mexicans is our affair not yours, Any internal troubles are also our business not yours. It did not give you the right to unjustly seize the land.
      You anglos took over the settlements owned/settled by Mexicans as well as Indian land. Do not pretend that when you steal it is correct. Most land in various parts of the USA were until a few decades ago sparsely settled or uninhabited. So did foreigners have the right to take it from you?

      Saying you built all these things on the land you stole does not justify your theft. Money is not everything nor can it buy justice. You should just own up to it not try to justify what you did.

      You believe in might makes right well we have the power now and we are growing stronger. You can get the last word in if you want but I know your end game is already here.

      Thank you for your comment. You brought me to my senses. How about them Central Americans coming in to the USA? A beautiful sight to behold is it not?

      The land was Indian and uninhabited, then Spanish (sort of) then Mexican then American and soon——–

      I will never ever make the mistake of feeling sympathy for the anglo in America. My mistake. Oh well I am learning.

      • Christina,

        When Louis and Clark reached the Pacific coast, there was, in addition to the Spanish encroachment, Russian and Chinese fortifications. I say fortifications, because, just as Spanish missions required Presidios to protect them, the Russians and Chinese were also beset by the Indian tribes who objected to their presence. But, according to you, the “theft” of contested Indian Land by Spaniards and Mexicans is okay, just not final, complete, and ultimately peaceful, settlement by Anglos.

        I’ve often wondered what would have happened if the Chinese had been successful in colonizing the New World, instead of Europeans. In the late 1800’s, Mexico invited Chinese men to help build the railroads. The Chinese, being industrious, began to open Banks and Mercantiles, and started to intermarry with Mexican women. The Mexican men took exception to their presence and started attacking them. Pancho Villa killed 300 Chinamen at the massacre at Torreon in 1911. In the 1930’s, Mexico rounded up about 70% of the Chinese men and their mixed race families, dispossessed them, and sent them penniless across the border into the deserts of the United States.

        There are only 130 million people in Mexico. I know for a fact that Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, El Salvadorians, Colombians, and other Hispanics, do not get along with one another. So, even if all of you come here and fuck things up, you still won’t be able to cooperate with each other. Hell, even Mexicans in California are divided between Surrenos and Nortenos. All you will end up doing, if steps aren’t rapidly taken to prevent it, is transform the U. S. into the kind of place that immigrants have sought to escape from. In fact, between you and the Negroes, this transformation is already well under way.

        But, don’t think that everything will automatically fall into the hands of the Latin Kings. There is a whole new variety of colonists coming from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, where populations are much greater. Those from Asia and the Middle East are typically much better educated than those coming from Latin America. When, and if, White people are removed from positions of authority, it certainly will not be the Mexicans who occupy the chairs vacated by them. White people are the Elmer’s Glue that holds this ugly collage together. We are the ones who insist on everyone getting along. Every other ethnicity is dependent on minority entitlements and considerations. Who will feel obligated to provide these benefits once Whitey is removed from power? No one. You will inevitably end up with a bunch of former welfare recipients who will be trying to extort each other to no avail. I’m just curious, where will you attempt to flee to when this country is no longer habitable?

        • Cowtown,

          There was no peaceful conquest by the anglo. You fought and killed Indians and Mexicans for the land. Also trying to claim that white people are the only ones who can build things is ridiculous.
          And the Anglo is NOT peaceful. How many wars have you fought since the Mexican American War? You have killed millions since then and put your nose everywhere. You are Not a peaceful people.

          And I never said we did not do anything wrong. I only said you anglos should own up and admit you stole the land from Mexico. Saying there were internal problems within the borders of the Mexican Empire is not your concern. Nor can that justify your theft of what is ours. Some of the land was ours and some was Indian but none was American when you stole it.

          Within the lines drawn on a map of the United States at the time you had problems with Indians and that land was taken from the Indians. Yet it would not have been Mexico’s business to invade the USA and claim we had some right to do so because you took the land from the Indians.

          In short you are saying that you can steal anything you want from Mexico because sometimes we were right with the Indians and sometimes we stole from them. You did the same and the Indians did the same to other Indians long before they knew what a Mexican or an American was. That is the way with men. Every one steals from others if they can and it is wrong no matter who does it.

          Conclusion-You believe in might makes right and now you are getting yours. I agree that the land currently and rightly belongs to the USA by conquest. That is not the issue. The issue is the anglo thinking that stealing from us is okay and justified.

          Remember most of the Texans rebelling against Mexico in 1836 were illegal aliens. Yet you glorify your Alamo nonsense.

          It does not matter if Hispanics are not all one. Anglos do not all like each other either. So? I like other latins better than I like you. Religion and language and a certain common culture helps.

          When we take over we will not allow invasion of our land. Unlike you our men have the stomach to keep what is ours. Remember the Chinese example?

          At the least we will not gladly accept invasion against us. We will not put up a stupid Statue of Liberty and say Come one Come All.

        • Cowtown,

          I am essentially fighting the same war against several of your fellow anglos. I think to save time I will respond to only one of you. That will be Denise on the Uncle Sam thread I think or the one next to it. She is one of my favorites here.

    • HW will write a book, but he is considering my suggestion that it have a pop-up fortress or castle in it, as well as lots of pictures of cartoon animals wearing straw hats, vests and bow ties. Those additions will increase the cost of printing and production.

  9. Mexico’s refusal to recognize the U.S. annexation of Texas by the outgoing Tyler Administration and its severance of relations with the U.S. following President Polk’s inauguration set in motion a chain of events that ultimately led to Mexican General Arista’s unprovoked attack on American troops stationed within the contested territory
    and the outbreak of war between the two countries in April, 1846. The General himself famously declared openly in December, 1847: “I had the pleasure of being the first to begin war”.

    Cowtown Rebel is right to point out the chronic instability of a succession of Mexican governments following independence from Spain, failing to mention how this would eventually be Mexico’s undoing leading to the loss of its northern possessions.

    Britain’s role in Mexico’s demise is rarely mentioned but of great importance in understanding the course of events. As later when Poland’s refusal to negotiate with Germany in 1939 over Danzig and the Corridor was due to promises of military assistence from Great Britain in the event of the outbreak of hostilities with Germany– promises that, by the way, never materialized to the utter destruction of Polish independence–there is reason to think that similiar behind-the-scenes encouragement was given to the Mexican government in its dispute with the United States. It is well-known that Britain backed Mexico in its opposition to the Texas annexation and with France sought to regain a foothold in the Americas despite the Monroe Doctrine. In light of this fact, it is doubtful that Mexico would have maintained such a bellicose attitude toward the United States without Great Power–think British–support. Although Mexico certainly didn’t suffer a fate similiar to Poland’s in 1939, perhaps we would be living in happier times if Mexico had decided to negotiate rather than attack.

    In light of the above, is there any wonder why the British have earned the nickname Perfidious Albion?

    I recommend for those interested in the definitive study of the origins of the U.S. War with Mexico Justin H. Smith’s THE WAR WITH MEXICO, Vol. One.

    • You stole Texas and the rest. Get used to us getting it back. In a few years we will be writing the definitive book on the Reconquest of the Southwest. Perhaps it will be by Christina Romana.

      Or maybe another book called the Last of the Anglos. Guaranteed to be non-fiction and a best seller. And we all know that is what is going to happen.

      Adios.

  10. The War” – From a Mexican Viewpoint

    When asked about the Mexican American War; most Americans would probably give a lost and questioning reaction. However for Mexicans, they would probably remember this war passionately; “It is a scar for them.”(35)

    Most American historians would call this war as “The Mexican-American War”, while Mexicans would refer it as “The U.S Invasion”. The difference in referral is based on the different perceptions of the conflict. While President Polk blamed the Mexicans for causing the war because the Mexican governments left the United States with no other choice for defending its national security and interest; the Mexicans did not see this way.

    To understand the Mexicans viewpoint of the war, it is important to first understand the problem of annexation of Texas. The annexation of Texas to the United States was unacceptable for both legal and security reasons from Mexico’s point of view. Mexico stated that the annexation of Texas to the United States was a violation of the 1828 boarder treaty, which had acknowledged Mexico’s sovereignty over that territory.(36)

    However little did Mexico know, such acts were a violation of the fundamental principles of international law, and moreover United States began to threaten Mexico’s territorial security. On July 4, 1845, the Texas government has agreed to the annexation.

    The Mexican government had always wanted to maintain in a negotiable manner with the United States. As stated by the Mexican government to the United States one month before the annexation of Texas, “…although the Mexican nation was gravely offended by the United States due to its action in Texas – belonging to Mexico – the government was willing to receive a commissioner who would arrive in this capital from the Unite States possessing full faculties to settle the current dispute in a peaceful, reasonable and respectable way.”(37)

    However not only did the United States conform to close to none negotiations, they also demand for the cession of the territories of New Mexico and California. The Mexican government had two choices: they could give in and reestablish friendly relations to the United States, proving to the world that Mexico would always be a “slave” to the United States or the Mexican government would not surrender to such degradation and resort to war.

    Therefore, on July 6, 1846, President Mariano Paredes passed the Congressional decree that sustained such principles in the following terms:
    Article 1 – The government, in the natural defense of the nation, will repel the aggression initiated and sustained by the United States of America against the Republic of Mexico, having invaded and committed hostilities in a number of the departments making up Mexican territory.

    Article 3 – The government will communicate to friendly nations and to the entire republic the justifiable causes which obliged it to defend its rights, left with no other choice but to repel force with force, in response to the violent aggression committed by the United States.(38)

    Analyzing the above decrees, it could be seen that Mexico never declared a war against the United States but rather the need to defend the country’s territorial integrity and fending off United State’s invasion. Therefore, in a Mexican view point, the war was not a result of greed or arrogance but a consequence to defend Mexico’s territory from U.S invasion. And thus, the Mexicans would call this war as “The U.S War against Mexico”.

    Further tidbits:

    Nonetheless, annexation procedures were quickly initiated after the 1844 election of Polk, who campaigned that Texas should be “re-annexed” and that the Oregon Territory should be “re-occupied.” Polk also had his eyes on California, New Mexico and the rest of what is today the U.S. Southwest. When his offer to purchase those lands was rejected, he instigated a fight by moving troops into a disputed zone between the Rio Grande and Nueces River that both countries had previously recognized as part of the Mexican state of Coahuila.

  11. The hopelessly corrupt and disorganized Mexican government (some things never seem to change) refused to recognize the desire of the independent republic of Texas to join the United States which according to international was a right granted to all independent states. And when the U.S. sought to reach a negotiated settlement over the disputed territory with Mexico, Mexico decided to attack U.S. troops. Just as it is unlikely that Britain would have gone to war against Germany over Danzig in 1939 without promise of U.S. aid, it is unlikely that the hopelessly corrupt Mexican government would have elected to initiate war against superior U.S. forces in 1846 over a strip of territory largely uninhabited by Mexicans without British, and possibly French, backing. After all, why couldn’t it have been settled peacably as was the earlier New Brunswick-Maine land dispute to the mutual satisfaction of both parties?

    • Ries,

      The Texans revolted against lawful authority. They belonged to Mexico. The land where the skirmish occurred was Mexican. You cannot use a border skirmish to steal California, Arizona, and New Mexico from us. There is something called proportional response even by today’s standards.

      And we are getting it back. So act tough on the internet. It means nothing. In the real world we are stomping you.

      The Southwest is ours. And that is a fact. And you are not going to get mercy from us. Enjoy.

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