The United States and Mexico have enjoyed rich diplomatic, economic, and cultural relations for over two centuries. However, the two countries fought sometimes over territories, migration, trade, and even drug wars. The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 was the first armed clash that the United States fought in a foreign land. At that time, Mexico was politically divided and lacked military preparation against the US administration that focused on expanding its territories. The war left a scar on Mexicans, and they usually remember it as the US invasion. The Americans, on the other hand, refer to the war as the Mexican-American War. The variations in the referrals stem from the varying views of the clash. The Mexicans believed that they fought to protect their territory from the greedy US government, whereas Polk, the president of the US at that time, blamed the Mexicans for initiating the war by preventing the annexation of Texas.
The dispute between the US and Mexico was caused by migration. In 1830, the Mexican government restricted immigration to Texas from the US to limit the growing population of English-speaking settlers. The attempt to control the American settlers led to rebellion since the Americans had already outnumbered the resident Mexicans. Texas fought and gained its independence from Mexico by 1836. However, the Mexican government warned against annexing Texas and that it could lead to war (Tucker 2013). Nevertheless, the annexation processes were speedily initiated after James K. Polk was elected as the president of the US. Polk pushed that Texas needed to be re-annexed and the Oregon borders should be re-occupied.
Mexico argued that its refusal to allow Texas annexation was purely for security reasons. The annexation of Texas to the US would violate the 1828 border agreement, which recognized Mexico’s power over the land. Mexico failed to realize that such attempts would violate the basic principles of the international act. President Polk’s administration started to threaten the territorial security of Mexico (Greenberg, 2013). The Texas government agreed to be annexed in 1845. The Mexican administration argued that they had always wished to maintain a negotiable relationship with the US government. Approximately one month before the annexation of Texas, the Mexican administration stated that it would allow a commissioner to Texas from the US to negotiate and settle the ongoing conflict in a reasonable, peaceful, and respectable manner even though it was deeply offended by the actions of the US on Texas territory.
Nonetheless, the US government declined the Mexican proposal of peaceful negotiation and even demanded the cession of New Mexico and California. The Mexican administration was only left with two alternatives: peacefully grant the US its demands and show the world that it would always be a slave to the US or refuse to give in to such decree and resort to war (Brand 2016). Thus, in 1846, President Mariano Paredes declared that the Mexican government would resist the aggression started and sustained by the American government, which had brutally invaded its territories. The government also declared that it was obliged to protect its rights and had been left with no alternative other than fight back. The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo officially concluded the war (Griswold del Castillo, 1998). The US acquired Texas plus New Mexico, and California. The Mexican government received $15 million as compensation. Around 13,000 people died, and the US army won the victory.
Given the above decree by President Mariano Paredes, it can be concluded that Mexico did not declare war against the Americans but rather needed to protect its rights and fend off the aggressive invasion of the United States. Thus, from a Mexican perspective, the war was never due to greed or arrogance but a result of protecting its borders from US invasion. Consequently, the Mexicans would refer to the war as the “US Invasion.”
Greenberg, A. S. (2013). A wicked war: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 US invasion of Mexico. Vintage.
Griswold del Castillo, R. (1998). Manifest destiny: The Mexican-American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Southwestern Journal of Law and Trade in the Americas, 5(1), 31-44.
Brand, R. (2016). The Other Side: Fifteen Mexicans and an American. Eagle Feather, 13(2016).
Tucker, S. (2013). The encyclopedia of the Mexican-American War a political, social, and military history. 1 A – L. Santa Barbara, Calif. Abc-Clio.