The Mexican American war today
Today, 160 years later, many Mexicans still harbor a grudge against America for losing the war of 1846. Many Mexicans consider the southwest US stolen Mexican land, believing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was too harsh. So the real issue today is this: Even if Mexico is 100% to blame for starting the war - which they are - did the US have the right to take almost half of Mexico’s territory? The answer is ABSOLUTELY YES!! Here’s why:
Mexico was looking for an excuse to start this war because they were certain they could defeat the US. But Mexico lost every major battle. To have beaten Mexico as badly as we did, conquered most of their country including the capital city, and then told them they must accept Texas as part of the US, which it already was, and then retreated back to the US without Mexico suffering any consequences would not have been fair for us. This would have been an unforgivable disgrace to our country, the men who died and the rest who went through hell to attain victory.
Now put yourself in Mexico’s shoes. Your army has been repeatedly defeated, nearly the entire country has been conquered, and the consequences are - nothing!! Just be nice and don’t threaten Texas again! In a machismo society like Mexico, would they sit back and say ‘OK.’ Or would Mexico think we Americans are unbelievably gullible. Mexico would hold Americans in even greater contempt and disrespect for conquering their country and not making them pay a price for their warmongering. Would this teach them not to do it again? Or would they realize, very quickly, that there is no price to pay for aggression? We gave Mexico our best shot. Now they know our game plan. What could we do the next time that would be worse?
If the US could change history, what could we change so Mexico would love us today? If we only kept Texas and didn‘t take California and New Mexico, would Mexico would still hate us for keeping Texas? Absolutely yes, they would. If we gave Texas to Mexico, would they love us? No, Mexico would still be bashing America and sending in drugs and illegal aliens throughout the country. Giving Texas and the southwest US to Mexico would gain us nothing. Because Mexico’s government was so corrupt, Mexico deserved to lose Texas forever just like they lost Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica forever. Losing the southwest US was the consequences of going to war against the US.
Mexico lost additional territories!!
Most people don't know this, but Texas was NOT the first state to secede from Mexico. Because of the dysfunctional state of Mexican politics - and only 2 years after independence, five states in central America declared themselves independent from Mexico - Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Central Americans chafed at Mexican rule, and there were several battles with Mexican forces. On July 1, 1823, the United Provinces of Central America was formally established in Guatemala City. But constant infighting and wars resulted in the Union falling apart in 1838. The five provinces became independent nations. So why hasn’t Mexico made an issue out of this over the past 190 years? Is it because they are fellow Spanish, whereas the northern territories came under control of those evil Anglo Americans? Are Mexicans racist? Just wondering.
We should also keep in mind that Mexico (actually Santa Anna) DID sell the US the land that became known as the Gadsden territory in 1854 - only 6 years after the end of the Mexican American War. Mexico was broke (again) and Santa Anna needed money to pay his army to put down ongoing rebellions and maintain his extravagant lifestyle. Santa Anna agreed to sell 45,000 square miles south of the New Mexico territory $15 million. The U.S. Senate ratified a revised treaty on April 25, 1854. The new treaty reduced the land purchased to 29,670 square miles and paid Santa Anna $10 million. Santa Anna signed the revised treaty on June 8, 1854.(126) The deal was so unpopular in Mexico that Santa Anna was removed from office and banished.
Should Mexicans still harbor a grudge against the US? No. Mexicans must understand that the true villains were Santa Anna and Manuel Parades. These two men devastated Mexico. In WW2, the US destroyed Japan and Germany, yet today we are allies and friends. They recognize their previous leaders took their nations to destruction. The US and Mexico today should be friends - not adversaries.
Prior to World War I, when you attacked another country and lost, you lost land. Taking this land from Mexico does NOT make our cause unjust. It means Mexico lost. The Spanish, and later Mexicans were well aware of this practice as they took a lot of land belonging to the Indians. Let's remember, the southwest US does NOT historically belong to Mexico - it historically belongs to the Indians. The Spanish stole this land from the Indians.
Not acquiring these lands (Texas, N Mexico and California) would have been devastating to the US and the free world. The US would be weaker military, economically and with a smaller population. In fact, the US might not have been powerful enough to have won WWII or the Cold War. Since Mexico mostly sat out the Cold War and World War II, this land would not have been any help in saving the free world.
The southwest US was vital in making the US a powerful nation. The US can’t be replaced as the defender of the free world. Mexico could NEVER have filled our shoes. They were too big.
So was it Manifest Destiny for the US to acquire these lands, so the US could save democracy in the world a century later???
What if Mexico had kept the northern territories?
Most Mexicans believe that if they had kept ownership of the land north of the Rio Grande - Texas, California and New Mexico, these areas would be economically prosperous like they are now. This is wishful - even delusional thinking. These areas became prosperous because they belong to the US, not Mexico. Had these lands stayed under the control of Mexico, they would not have helped Mexico prosper. This part of Mexico would be as dysfunctional as the rest of Mexico. All that would change is that constant revolutions, widespread poverty, a disastrous economic system, bad health care, poor education, political turmoil and murderous drug cartels would be in a country twice as large as it is now. Even more illegal immigrants from Mexico would be coming into our considerably smaller country for jobs.
Mexico really didn’t know what to do with all this land. Not content with having seized most Caribbean Islands, Central America and South America (except for Brazil), Spain also wanted a huge piece of North America. The fact is, the Spanish didn’t have enough people to populate all this land. Over 99% of the Mexican population lived on land south of the Rio Grande and less than 1% lived north of the Rio Grande. The government had to manipulate people to move into these areas. As mentioned earlier, in the rush to claim land in the New World, if you didn’t have people to settle the land you claimed, your claims were open to challenge. Mexico had virtually no immigration and no hopes of attracting immigrants, which is why they invited Americans to settle Texas in the first place.
It is important to remember that prior to World War I, when you attacked another country and lost, the consequences were losing land. In this case, Mexico lost the southwest U.S.
Although the US wanted to buy this land, desiring to buy something does not prove that you intend to steal it. The US had every reason to believe Mexico would sell this land as they were on the verge of bankruptcy with a staggering national debt, had scarcely any citizens on the land and in fact had very little control over the area. Had Mexico not started a war with the US, Mexico wouldn’t have lost the southwest US, or if they did, there could be no denying that the US stole it.
And there is additional proof that the US wasn’t out to merely steal land from other countries. During Polk’s presidency, there was a dispute with England over the Oregon territory. Some Americans wanted all of the territory - “54 40 or fight” was the slogan. But Polk and England settled the dispute by making the boundary at the 49th parallel. The US thus gave up claims to about half the Oregon Territory - a huge amount of land.
Where do we go from here?
Mexicans who come to the US have two choices.
1) The first choice is for Mexicans who come to the US to embrace America, her history and traditions. The attitude of immigrants from Mexico should be the same as immigrants from any other country - you’re proud of your ancestry but your loyalty is now totally to America. America is your native country. No other country has accomplished what the US has - which is why you are here. No longer are you a Mexican American, you are an American. You should feel proud waving the American flag and celebrating July 4th.
2) The second choice is for Mexicans to come to the US as invaders, who want the southwest US to become essentially a Mexican state within the US or else become part of Mexico. As their agenda advances, at some point there will no longer be compromise, rather confrontation. At that point, the American people will advance against the enemy.
The US and Mexico will NEVER have a good relationship until Mexico stops holding a grudge for a situation they created. Mexican Americans who live in America and proclaim loyalty to Mexico will NEVER be accepted or respected.
And it’s time to end the pity party for Mexico. They don’t deserve any pity. They dug their own grave.
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R6 updated on 15Nov2016.
R7 updated on 20Feb2017
Mexico in 1821.
Mexico in 1824 after loss of 5 southern states.