U.S. History Honors
The Mexican-American War DBQ
“Was the United States justified in going to war with Mexico?” This is a trigger phrase similar to watching two siblings fighting over who gets to play the Xbox. “It’s MY Xbox.” “But you ruin the whole game.” In this case, Mexico owns the land of dispute and the US is eager to take it. In my opinion, the US should not have gone to war with Mexico for these reasons: the US provoked the war; gaining Texas was another way to spread slavery; and the annexation of Texas would make America a bigger threat, scaring Mexico along with other countries. The “US Invasion” was just part of the US’s plan to gain land in the early 1800s, once again because of the same excuse, Manifest Destiny. Mexico’s idea of convincing American settlers to move in to even out the contrasting social population of rich and poor backfired… and right after winning their independence from Spain: a Mexican horror story!
“…[T]he troops commanded by General Zachary Taylor arrived at the Rio Grande… (Doc. C)” From Mexican perspectives, the border between Mexico and the United States was the Nueces River. When the Americans crossed over to the Rio Grande, which was below the Nueces River, Mexico burst into flames. This means that the US initiated the war, forcing the Mexicans to the last straw until they had to finally start defending themselves. “Polk saw Mexico’s treatment of [the envoys] as an opportunity [to go to war]. He felt America’s honor had been challenged. When word arrived… that Mexican soldiers had fired upon Americans on the ‘Texas side’ of the Rio Grande, President Polk had a reason for going to war (BE).” I think this is full of baloney because previously, the quote implies that the US had a reason for going to war, so why would Mexico attack first? This unlikely event intimates a few element changes of the history of the war.
“A current of emigration soon followed from the United States. Slaveholders crossed the Sabine (river between Louisiana and Texas) with their slaves, in defiance of the Mexican ordinance of freedom. (Doc. D)” This quote makes the US seem very ironic since the US was “the land of opportunity and freedom” that many people of ethnic groups rushed to yet many slaves did not have opportunity nor freedom. In Mexico, slavery was illegal, so in a way, Mexico was even more free than the US. The Mexican-American War was just another product of Manifest Destiny, an excuse from “God” to gain land from the Atlantic to the Pacific to spread “democracy” which eventually turned into an excuse for spreading slavery. If the Americans took over Texas (which happened anyway), the territory would be back to square one: slavery. Considering the fact that Texas was still theirs, Mexico tried to prevent the slavery opposition from being obsolete.
“The combination of American troops at the Rio Grande and the attempt to buy a large part of their country angered the Mexican government. [Polk’s envoys] were asked to leave Mexico City (BE).” How casually the author mentioned that the envoys were asked to leave may hint that the US doesn’t want to admit to looking like a bad guy. This also illustrates that Polk was ambitious to gain this land and maybe even pushy when the offer was bluntly rejected. The quote: “Imbecile and distracted, Mexico never can exert any real governmental authority over such a country… (Doc. A)” shows how highly the US thought of itself. They shouldn’t be so quick to rise conflict, the US and Mexico being young countries alike. Having Texas secede wasn’t so terrible in Mexican eyes, but having Texas secede to join the US was a major problem. Mexico was content if Texas was its own country since Texas alone wasn’t much of a threat; however, the annexation of Texas to the US would mean more land, meaning more power. Every other country would rather have the US care for itself and be uninvolved in matters outside of their business. This is the way people thought about England, which means the US eventually became what the Founding Fathers feared. Furthermore, “America’s wars have often been controversial [with small approval rates] (BE).” The idea I’m getting is that although in many wars citizens opposed going to war, the government doesn’t listen and goes to war anyway, which isn’t being very representative like the way it is defined. So who are the US to say that Mexico can’t govern themselves properly?
All in all, I support the Mexicans’ viewpoint on the war. The US deliberately had shots fired at Mexico to own Texas and California. The United States clearly had no business in trying to take over land that originally belonged to the Mexicans. The US’s pushiness, impatience, want for more slaves, and rising reign of terror connected to their were not valid reasons to go to war with Mexico. Even though I am American, I have to say that at the time, the US was being a bit snotty for wanting to take over as much as they possibly could. The war is shameful to our history, acknowledging the fact that the US always seemed so glorified and perfect when really, we have committed some of our own sins and went back on our words of equality and justice for everyone.
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