Purpose and Argument
The purpose of this book is to examine the forces leading the U.S to the war with Mexico, the conflict itself and the results. Additional attention is paid to the race and racialization, nation building, nationalism, and the U.S quest for the western territory. The war is regarded from the racial perspective as the Mexicans are viewed as inferior. The U.S is handling the Mexicans differently from the way they handled the British during the War of Independence.
The story begins with a dramatic note of the annexation of Texas. Manuel Mier Y Teran (1829) wrote a letter to the Minister of War, which made the Mexican government limit the American immigration to Texas in 1830. Further, this caused tension and led to the establishment of Lone Star Republic. The treaties are breached, and ordinary, prominent and elite Americans react to the war through the poems, songs and novels. There are also reactions from the Mexican citizens. The discussion focuses on the Guadalupe Hidalgo and on implication of the citizens of another nation into the United States. There are also ideological and territorial implications in both republics.
Coherence of Analysis
The author begins by narrating the events of the evening of May 20, 1846. A mob is gathered in the City Hall to support the war against Mexico. The people are chanting “Dixon! Dixon!” George Washington Dixon addresses the people and assures them that he will “defend the soil”. The enthusiastic crowd responses with a song, expressing that they will attack and conquer Mexico. The phrase “The Mexicans are on our soil” is used in order to imply that Mexico is their land. The song contains racism utterances, for example, the Mexicans are referred as “scamps” and “Montezumas”. It also portrays nationalism and the urge to acquire more land. It is mentioned in the song that the U.S. has a God given mandate based on the racial superiority to expand to the Pacific Ocean.
In addition, to present the theme of American racial superiority over the non-whites like Indians, blacks and Mexicans, he uses the illustrations from different treaties. For instance, to encourage slavery, the 1787 Constitution granted full citizenship and right to own property only to the whites. In addition, the Naturalization Act of 1790 permitted only white persons to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Indians were also classified as “foreign nations.”
On the other hand, Mexico establishes order and creates coalition of the various institutions and social documents. In 1823, Mexico established the United States of Mexico and included Indians as citizens contrarily to the U.S., which passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830 to remove the Indian tribes like Cherokee and Chickasaw from their homeland. Therefore, this is significant in the context of the U.S war with Mexico as a rehearsal for how the United States would deal with the Mexicans. To enlarge its territory, the U.S. bought established treaties with other European powers. Thus, it gained Louisiana from France
The author describes the events leading to the war. For example, Spanish settlers from Texas feared that the U.S. would annex the territory and claim it as a part of Louisiana. While the U.S was looking for the western expansion, Mexico wanted to expand economic opportunities in its own territories.
The number of the Mexicans remains the same, while the Americans increase in number. In 1826, the media mobilizes the U.S. to annex Texas. The Adam’s-Onis Treaty is negated and the Americans claim Texas as a part of the U.S. Texas is important for economic development of Mexico that is ready to defend this territory from the U.S expansion. As a result, Mexican military occupy Texas in 1829.
The Course of Texas War for Independence
There is an introduction of Santa Anna, who transforms the leadership of Mexico by transforming the former states into military departments governed by the presidential appointees. As a result, there is an emergence of war in Texas. The attack of Texas leads the army to surrender. The Mexicans, however, fight back and defeat their enemy under the leadership of Santa Anna.
Mexico views Texas as a province in revolt, while the U.S recognizes it as independent state in 1837. To solve the problem, Mexico advocates for the diplomatic relations as compensation for the loss of Texas. However, after the failure of diplomatic solution, America initiates war as there is a border dispute with Mexico setting the boundary at Rio Grande and Texas.
The author also brings out the mood during and after the war. Some people are exited, while others are in a low mood. The theme of the role of media to mobilize for support is illustrated in the book. For instance, the report on the New York Morning News and the United States Democratic review reports the reaction of a U.S representative who claims that the annexation of Texas is a sign of patriotism and this creates excitement among people. However, a few congressmen, clergy, women and reformers are opposed to it.
The picture of the war and its waging are clearly illustrated. The author gives a detailed account beginning with the President Polk (1846- 1847) and the strategy used. According to it, the Rio Grande should have been taken. The Americans attack the village Buena Vista and kill the Mexican civilians. The main American quest was to capture California. The U.S takes control over the northern Mexico and captures the Mexican city. During the wage, there is a huge loss of lives and destruction of property. The Mexican army hoists the American flag in the Mexico City, and a peace treaty is signed (the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo). The treaty guarantees the Louisiana Purchase and Adams-Onis Treaty and implies that Mexicans cannot retain their citizenship status.
After the war, the Mexican Americans become foreigners in their native land. In addition, the Indians are rendered landless. Land Legislation discourages non-whites to own land, especially in California. Besides, the Mexicans are harassed because their property is stolen, their women are discriminated based on gender and race, and divorce is not allowed. On the other hand, the war unites the Mexican Americans due to the shared experiences and gives them a common identity as they prefer to refer themselves as “Mexicanos” or La Raza (the people).
Contribution to Knowledge
In the second part of the book, the author proofs that the causes and effects of the American war against Mexico were connected with slavery and its effects. The way slavery affected the political, social and cultural aspects and contributed to the tensions between the north and the south is discussed in the book.
The conflict took a racialized dimension as the term “Mexican War” implies that Mexico was the aggressor. The use of the word “Mexican” also gives it a racial meaning as well as the phrase “U.S. War with Mexico”, which promotes the nation building, race and expansion as the key causes of this conflict. In addition, it is clear that America approached the Mexicans from the racial perspective as they were viewed as inferior.
Therefore, interpretation of the conflict took a racial perception, which would lead to the future conflict as the U.S has continued to control other nations of the world. Besides, the U.S. seeks to expand its mandate of conquering the world by controlling the world market just the way it controlled and interfered with the affairs of other nations like Mexico and Chile in the 20th century.