A third landed near Veracruz and fought its way inland. Abolitionists saw the war as an attempt by the slave states to extend slavery and enhance their power with the creation of additional slave states out of the soon-to-be-acquired Mexican lands. Would you have sided with those who opposed war with Mexico or those who supported it? However little did Mexico know, such acts were a violation of the fundamental principles of international law, and moreover United States began to threaten Mexico’s territorial security. James K. Polk for having “unnecessarily and unconstitutionally” initiated the war. Regional leaders, such as governors, often refused to send any aid at all to the central government, in some cases because they had serious problems of their own at home. Taylor was an excellent strategist: when faced with the imposingly fortified city of Monterrey, he saw its weakness right away: the fortified points of the city were too far from one another: his battle plan was to pick them off one by one. From 1846 to 1848, the United States of America and Mexico went to war. Mexico's leaders were unable to unite even in the face of a common enemy battling its way across Mexico. José Joaquín Herrera, aware in advance of Slidell’s intention of dismembering the country, refused to receive him. The Americans invaded on three fronts. Mexico also had enormous debts and no money in the treasury to pay them. The American government committed plenty of cash to the war effort. A second invasion came from the north through Texas. Polk claimed that invading Mexicans had “shed American blood on American soil,” and the congressman and future president Abraham Lincoln introduced the “Spot Resolutions” in an attempt to determine precisely where the initial conflict between U.S. and Mexican troops had occurred and whether it “was, or was not, our own soil at that time.”. Further, legislators were at odds over whether Polk had the right to unilaterally declare that a state of war existed. Mexican-American War, also called Mexican War, Spanish Guerra de 1847 or Guerra de Estados Unidos a Mexico (“War of the United States Against Mexico”), war between the United States and Mexico (April 1846–February 1848) stemming from the United States’ annexation of Texas in 1845 and from a dispute over whether Texas ended at the Nueces River (Mexican claim) or the Rio Grande (U.S. claim). Active Whig opposition not only to the legitimacy of Polk’s claim but also to the war itself continued well into the conflict. To fight Mexico, the United States had to mobilize, equip, and transport a large force, including both army and navy components. The story was similar elsewhere as impoverished peasants rebelled against their oppressors. It stemmed from the annexation of the Republic of Texas by the U.S. in 1845 and from a dispute over whether Texas ended at the Nueces River (the Mexican claim) or the Rio Grande (the U.S. claim). Commodore John D. Sloat assaulted California from the sea. Democrats, especially those in the Southwest, strongly favoured the conflict. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? General Scott attacked the capital. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The war—in which U.S. forces were consistently victorious—resulted in the United States’ acquisition of more than 500,000 square miles (1,300,000 square km) of Mexican territory extending westward from the Rio Grande to the Pacific Ocean. As long as Texas was an independent republic there was a chance that Texas would again become part of Mexico, which had a better legal claim to Texas than the United States. There were many causes of the war, but the biggest reasons were Mexico's lingering resentment over the loss of Texas and the Americans' desire for Mexico's western lands, such as California and New Mexico. An attack on American troops by Mexican soldiers in the disputed area between the two rivers on April 25, 1846. The war took the lives of at least 25,000 Mexicans and nearly 14,000 U.S. soldiers. Among the most-aggressive challenges to the legitimacy of Polk’s casus belli was that offered by future president Abraham Lincoln, then a first-term member of the House of Representatives from Illinois. This is only one example of many of Mexican military leaders putting their own interests first during the war. Mexican-American War, also called Mexican War, Spanish Guerra de 1847 or Guerra de Estados Unidos a Mexico (“War of the United States Against Mexico”), war between the United States and Mexico (April 1846–February 1848) stemming from the United States’ annexation of Texas in 1845 and from a dispute over whether Texas ended at the Nueces River (Mexican claim) or the Rio Grande (U.S. claim). The Americans confidently anticipated victory, while the Mexicans—imagining the United States was too internally divided to fight effectively and that Great Britain might intervene in favor of Mexico—also expected to win the war. General Zachary Taylor, a hero of the war, used his newfound notoriety to become the twelfth president of the U.S. Mexico ceded to the United States nearly all of the territory now included in the states of New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Texas, and western Colorado in exchange for $15 million. The entire war was fought on Mexican soil, which should have given the Mexicans an advantage. Also, the Americans first deployed the "flying artillery" in this war: relatively lightweight but deadly cannons and mortars that could be swiftly redeployed to different parts of the battlefield as needed. As the first rumblings of another great war stirred in Europe in the 1930s, Mexico and the United States seemed like unlikely allies. In the telegram, Zimmermann proposed a military alliance between Germany, Mexico, and Japan—should the United States enter the war. Once Mexico showed aggression to Texas, the United States had a right to go to war with Mexico because Texas was an independent republic and wanted to be annexed into the United States. By early 1848 it was an easy decision to make peace with the Americans: it was the easiest of the problems to solve, and the Americans were also willing to give Mexico $15 million as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. There were several reasons why they did so, but the most important ones were the U.S. annexation of Texas and the Americans' desire for California and other Mexican territories. Thousands were killed and by 1847 the major cities were under siege. With no one firmly in command, the Mexican war effort was doomed to fail. If Mexico's generals were bad, their politicians were worse. In his quickly revised war message—delivered to Congress on May 11—Polk claimed that Mexico had “invaded our territory and shed American blood on American soil.”. The Mexican War, instigated over a border dispute between the U.S. and Mexico, culminated with huge territorial gains for the United States. Indeed, from the outset, Whigs in both the Senate and the House challenged the veracity of Polk’s assertion that the initial conflict between U.S. and Mexican forces had taken place in U.S. territory. “The late 1930s was a time of increasing tensions between Mexico and the United States on the diplomatic front, largely tied to the nationalization of oil,” says Moni… Ultimately, the House did not act on Lincoln’s resolutions, and Polk remained steadfast in his claim that the conflict was a just war. Most of the opposition came from the northern states. Politicians, Generals and other would-be leaders fought for power, making alliances and stabbing one another in the back. James K. Polk found a rationale to justify an attempt to take that land by force when U.S. and Mexican troops skirmished north of the Rio Grande on April 25, 1846. And, Mexico would … But why did the U.S. win? American cannon crews had roughly double the effective range of their Mexican counterparts and their deadly, accurate fire made the difference in several battles, most notably the Battle of Palo Alto. The Presidency of Mexico changed hands several times during the Mexican-American War. In January 1847 the by-then Whig-controlled House voted 85 to 81 to censure Polk for having “unnecessarily and unconstitutionally” initiated war with Mexico. Why did they win so decisively? General Santa Anna and General Gabriel Victoria hated one another so badly that at the Battle of Contreras, Victoria purposely left a hole in Santa Anna's defenses, hoping the Americans would exploit it and make Santa Anna look bad: Santa Anna returned the favor by not coming to Victoria's aid when the Americans attacked his position. On February 2, 1848, the United States and Mexico signed a peace treaty. obtain a full knowledge of all the facts which go to establish whether the particular spot of soil on which the blood of our citizens was so shed was, or was not, our own soil at that time. Mexican Pres. By late 1847, the Americans had captured Mexico City, which made the Mexicans agree to a peace treaty which ceded all of the lands the U.S. had wanted. The United States and Mexico went to war in May 1846. One abolitionist who agreed with that interpretation was author Henry David Thoreau, who was incarcerated in July 1846 when he refused to pay six years’ worth of back poll taxes because he felt the U.S. government’s prosecution of the war with Mexico was immoral. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. The Philippine Fight for Independence. The Mexican-American War reopened the slavery-extension issue, which divided the North and South and which had been largely dormant since the Missouri Compromise. In 1938, Mexico’s reformist president, Lázaro Cárdenas, nationalized the country’s oil industry, which angered powerful U.S. oil companies. The issue that brought the conflict to open war was which river should be the border between Texas and Mexico. Time and again, these men proved the value of their education and skill. The worst was in the Yucatán, where indigenous communities which had been repressed for centuries took up arms in the knowledge that the Mexican army was hundreds of miles away. Most Whigs, however, viewed the war as conscienceless land grabbing, and the Whig-controlled House voted 85 to 81 to censure Democratic Pres. When Polk learned of the snub, he ordered troops under Gen. Zachary Taylor to occupy the disputed area between the Nueces and the Rio Grande (January 1846). Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Proclamation by President James Polk printed in a leaflet declaring the United States to be at war with Mexico, printed in 1846. Why did the United States declare war on Mexico? ...The Mexican - American War was a war between the United States and Mexico which lasted from April 1846 to February 1848. Gold was found in California only days before the United States obtained it through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Yet, today, it … Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. At the outbreak, the U.S. had only a small amount of troops in the Philippines compared to Aquinaldo’s 40,000 fighters. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. General Winfield Scott himself said that he would not have won the war without the men from West Point under his command. The fighting Edit. The Mexicans, on the other hand, were totally broke during the entire war. He sent one army under Stephen Kearny to capture New Mexico and then march on to California. Mexico severed relations with the United States in March 1845, shortly after the U.S. annexation of Texas. It was the first large-scale success of a United States military force on foreign soil. This advance in artillery strategy greatly helped the American war effort. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. Mexico agreed to give up California and New Mexico. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... How the Border Between the United States and Mexico Was Established. The armies sent to Mexico were relatively small, peaking at about 8,500 soldiers. Democrats, especially those in the Southwest, strongly favoured the Mexican-American War. Premonitions of the Mexican-American War can actually be found in the lame duck days of President Tyler's administration. It was primarily over the territory of Texas. Ammunition was often in short supply: the Battle of Churubusco might have resulted in a Mexican victory, had ammunition arrived for the defenders in time. Yet not only did the Americans win the war, they also won every major engagement. The concept of Manifest Destiny held that the United States had the providential right to expand to the Pacific Ocean. The soldiers had good guns and uniforms, enough food, high-quality artillery and horses and just about everything else they needed. Mexican-American War - Mexican-American War - Invasion and war: When war broke out, former Mexican president and general Antonio López de Santa Anna (the vanquisher of the Texan forces at the Alamo in 1836) contacted Polk. On May 9, 1846, Polk began to prepare a war message to Congress, justifying hostilities on the grounds of Mexican refusal to pay U.S. claims and refusal to negotiate with Slidell. Concurrently, the administration-controlled newspaper, the Washington Union, stated that resistance by Mexico would result in an invasion and occupation by U.S. troops.When Mexico refused to sell, Polk began to prepare a declaration of war, but before its completion he learned that Mexican forces had killed or wounded 16 U.S. soldiers in the disputed territory. The Mexican-American War was the first armed U.S. conflict to be fought mostly in another country. 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