Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: Was the US just beating up on a weaker nation?
Answer: Mexico did not feel inferior to the US at all and was extremely confident they could defeat the US. Many Mexicans believed their army was nearly invincible. The Spanish Minister in Washington, Calderon de la Barca, said “There are no better troops in the world, nor better drilled and armed, than the Mexicans.”(68) The Mexican correspondent to the London Times stated in 1845 that Mexican soldiers “are superior to those of the United States.”(68) The Boletin Official of San Luis Potosi stated: “We have numerous and veteran forces burning with a desire to gain immortal renown.”(68) “Not to speak of our approved infantry, our artillery is excellent, and our cavalry so superior in men and horses that it would be an injustice not to recognize the fact.”(68) An editorial in La Voz del Pueblo said, “We have more than enough strength to make war.” “Let us make it, then, and victory will perch upon our banners.”(69) Juan Almonte, a military man, assured his government that it was “certain” that Mexico would defeat the US.(123)
The US never believed victory over Mexico was a sure thing, which was one of the reasons it took so long to allow Texas to join the union and why we bent over backwards to peaceably resolve all the issues. Our military was very small and concerned primarily with battling the Indians. In conventional warfare against an established army, the US was considered to be outclassed.
The only reason the US has been viewed as “beating up” on a weaker nation is because we won so decisively. Had the war gone badly for the US and had we suffered huge casualties, this view would not be credible. The truth is that in most every battle, the difference between victory and defeat for the US was VERY small. With a mistake here and there, America could easily have lost the war.
There was also a attitude of arrogance and superiority towards Americans. General Mejia, commander at Matamoros, said General Taylor seemed “more contemptible than the lowest of Mexican tailors.”(124) Mejia declared US troops ...”cannot withstand the bayonet charge of our foot, nor a cavalry charge with the lance.”(125) Americans were demonized by nearly every politician in Mexico. Trying to outdo the other with never ending hate speech against us, John Slidell wrote in September, 1845, “The most stubborn and malignant feeling seems to exist in the mind of every Mexican against the United States.”(59) The fact remains that Mexico instigated the war and believed they could defeat the US. California and New Mexico were not attacked until after Mexico started the war. In war, the winner dictates terms to the loser.
Question: Was the US responsible for the poor relations we had with Mexico even before the Texas revolution?
Answer: Mexico was a country with few statesman and relations with the US deteriorated almost from the day Mexico became independent from Spain. Although Mexico envisioned a prosperous future similar to the US, Mexico degenerated into political strife, violence, instability and economic mismanagement. While America was founded by men of intellectual brilliance, Mexico was not. Mexico over time developed an attitude of hostility rooted in jealously against the US. As the years went by, Mexican politicians unfairly blamed the US for more and more of their problems - problems they created with their own incompetence.
Question: Was it right for the US to demand compensation for damages done to American citizens considering Mexico was such a poor, unstable country?
Answer: Mexico had, and has, tremendous natural resources. History shows that most nations are poor because of a corrupt government, corrupt economic system and uneducated citizens. Mexico had only herself to blame for her dire economic circumstances - then and now.
In addition, the prosperity of the US and the impoverishment of Mexico has no bearing on the rights of citizens to collect from a government that refuses to conform to a proper code of conduct for the nations of the world. The civilized world agrees that one’s debts are to be paid. The incompetence and excessive spending of Mexico’s rulers was no excuse to not pay their just bills against foreign citizens that have been abused and taken advantage of.
History shows that the US was more patient with Mexico then it should have been - to the point that Mexico viewed our patience as weakness. Britain and France had used force, or the threat of it, to induce the Mexican government to pay claims on behalf of their citizens. In October, 1829, the US approached Mexico for compensation for their crimes against our citizens. Mexico responded with insults and refused to cooperate. In June, 1836 - 7 years later - our ambassador reported that our grievances continued to be treated with “cold neglect.” In January of 1843 - 14 years later - Mexico agreed to make payments starting the following April. After making 3 payments, Mexico broke her word for about the thousandths time and stopped making payments.
Question: What was the integrity and character of Santa Anna?
Answer: Santa Anna was a man of no integrity or character and was the epitome of arrogance. As a politician and leader of Mexico 11 different times, he was concerned with doing whatever it took to stay in power and spent so much money holding lavish fiestas in honor of himself that Mexico was constantly teetering on bankruptcy. As a military leader, he was a very poor strategist and was a mass murderer of Texan soldiers and Mexican civilians. Yet such was his charisma that he was always able to charm his way back into the good graces of most Mexicans - or at least the ones that counted. Santa Anna’s huge ego served him well in the macho society of Mexico.
He served in the Royalist Army under Spain fighting rebels and keeping the Indians in line. When he saw the rebellion growing stronger, he promptly switched sides. Switching sides would become a trademark for Santa Anna. In 1838, he lost part of a leg battling the French and later had it mounted on a monument and demanded that it be worshiped. He declared himself to be the " Napoleon of the West.” His busts and statues were to be found throughout Mexico .
General Santa Anna, in the memoirs of his old age, wrote a brief and untruthful account of the battle of San Jacinto, an alibi blaming General Filisola for the defeat. He said he had ordered Filisola to join him by forced marches, for the attack on Houston's army, and was waiting for the reinforcements when he found Houston camped on the San Jacinto. The truth is that Mexico lost the battle because Santa Anna didn’t post guards and most of his army - including Santa Anna himself - was sleeping and caught by surprise.
Santa Anna finally did himself in in 1853 after he was once again appointed President. He promptly declared himself dictator for life and demanded he be addressed “Most Serene Highness.” Continuing his habit of extravagant feasts honoring himself, the national treasury was so depleted he sold millions of acres to the US in what became known in as the Gadsden Purchase. Mexicans united against Santa Anna, drove him into exile and he never again ruled Mexico.
Question: What was the character and integrity of Texan and US leaders during the two wars?
Answer: Leaders of the Texas Revolution and the 1846 war were men of great integrity. Unlike the massacres and corruption of Santa Anna, Texan leaders committed no massacres and put great effort into treating Mexican civilians and captured Mexican soldiers with respect.
During the Texas war, a Mexican force under General Cos surrendered to the Texans at Bexar and were allowed to return to Mexico if they would pledge not to again takes up arms against Texas. Cos didn’t keep his word. He commanded troops attacking the Alamo. Later, Cos was captured a second time, along with Santa Anna when the Mexicans were defeated by Sam Houston at San Jacinto River. Again, Cos and surviving Mexican troops were allowed to return home to Mexico.
In the US offensive into Mexico by Scott and Taylor, the US Army always paid for supplies purchased from local Mexicans.
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R6 updated on 15Nov2016.
R7 updated on 20Feb2017