Tuesday, May 11, 2010
America, Mexico, And The American South West
~The first major migration of Europeans from America to the land now known as Texas came at the invitation of the Mexico herself.
~Mexicans were largely unwilling to live in the area now known as Texas, and it was hoped that some economic enterprise could be established there by filling the area with European immigrants instead. This was accomplished by offering European immigrants large land grants.
~European immigrants to northern Mexico (American South West) had to accept certain conditions:
1.) They had to convert to Catholicism.
2.) They had to conduct all official business in Spanish.
3.) They could not settle within 60 miles of what was then the American border.
~The system quickly fell apart. European immigrants who were non-Catholics refused to convert to Catholicism, few of the immigrants spoke Spanish, (let alone wrote it for official purposes), and many new European immigrants to Mexico owned slaves.
~Mexico had abolished slavery, but looked the other way when European slave owners settled there.
~These issues all led to growing conflict between the remote administration in central Mexico, and the European settlers in the Texan territories. Finally, in 1830, European settlers formed the Texan-American independence movement, claiming their rights to do so under the Mexican Constitution.
~In response to the Europeans settlers actions, the Mexican government sent General Santa Anna north with a large army of 6,000 troops. European settlers responded by founding the Republic of Texas and elected Tennessee native Sam Houston as their president.
~After his costly victory at the Alamo, (Estimates of his losses from that siege alone range from 1/4 to 1/3 of his total force.) General Santa Anna was routed at the battle of San Jacinto. Texans lost 9 soldiers, but the Mexican army lost an astounding 630.
~General Santa Anna was soon captured, along with 730 of his troops. In return for his freedom and the freedom of his troops, General Santa Anna ceded all of the Texas territory over to Same Houston's government. However, as soon as General Santa Anna was safely home, he went back on his agreement. The conflict was far from settled.
~The Republic of Texas officially requested to join the United States. Martin Van Buren, unwilling to expand slave holding lands in America stalled the bill to allow the Republic of Texas entry to the United States in the House of Representatives and the US Senate rejected the annexation treaty. Texas would remain an isolated Republic,with leaders of both major American political parties agreeing they would only consider the annexation if Mexico agreed to it.
~In an election largely regarded as a referendum on the annexation of Texas, the American people elected James Polk as president. Polk was strongly in favor of annexing Texas, and circumventing the Congressional process, offered Texas the chance to join the United States.
~ On December 29, 1845 The Republic of Texas became the State of Texas and Mexico quickly broke off all diplomatic ties to America.
~President Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to fight the war, which most Mexican and European observers thought Mexico would quickly and easily win, with some claiming the Mexican army would reach Washington D.C. in less than six weeks.
~General Taylor's army contained some notable officers who would themselves become prominent men in time. Among them were Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and William Sherman.
~After crushing Mexican General Arista's forces at Palo Alto the American forces won another one-sided victory at Resaca de la Palma. Meanwhile, President Polk negotiated to bring then-exiled Mexican leader, General Santa Anna, back to Mexico. Santa Anna promised that if Polk helped him regain power in Mexico, he would agree to a treaty favorable to the United States. However, no sooner than Santa Anna re-entered Mexico, he declared he would fight the Americans to the death.
~General Taylor's army, by then known as "gringos" because of the song they sung, "Green Grows the Lilacs", continued to crush Mexican forces on his march south.
~Simultaneous attacks and victories against Mexican soldiers in California and Texas finally forced the Mexicans to surrender.
~Despite the intentions of President Polk, and democrats, American negotiators had no intentions of taking over Mexico wholesale. Polk had ordered as much, but his head negotiator, Nicholas Trist, simply ignored the order.
~Instead of following President Polk's orders and making all of Mexico another American territory, Trist agreed to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty paid Mexico 15 million dollars for California, set the America-Mexican border at the Rio Grande River, and annexed a large swath of mostly uninhabited land that encompasses modern-day Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.