The Mexican American War Jacob KEim

This was the first armed conflict involving the United States, chiefly fought on foreign soil. Through this war we won the right to buy the territory that is now New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon, Utah, and California which was negotiated in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexico received $15 million in compensation, the same as France for the Louisiana Territory.

Oregon Territory

The United States Government had been trying to buy this land since they Annexed Texas but Mexico wouldn't sell. In order to acquire this land President James K. Polk knew we would have to take it by force. After approaching Congress for a Declaration of War, they denied the motion stating that it wasn't a good enough reason. President Polk however was too deeply rooted in the manifest destiny of the United States, he would find a way to get that land.

President James K Polk

President Polk knew that he could not invade this Mexican Territory without Congress's approval, but he knew if U.S. troops were attacked Congress would have to approve in invasion. So, as Commander in Chief, he strategically placed a Cavalry battalion in between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River, which was disputed land from when Texas seceded in 1836. Texas said there land went as far South as the Rio Grande but the Mexican Government claimed the land between the Rio Grande and the Nueces was theirs.

The President's plan worked perfectly. Our soldiers were attacked which prompted an immediate response from Congress in retaliation. In less than two years the United States controlled all of Mexico. We then offered them a fair sum on money for the land we wanted and gave them back more than half of their country.

One of the most interesting parts of this war is the precedent it set for Presidents in the future. They knew that they could move the troops anywhere they please even without Congress's approval, so long as they didn't start the shooting. In fact this move from President Polk may have unknowingly been influencing the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which was Congress trying to take the power to declare war back from the President after the Tonkin-Gulf Resolution which gave the President free reign during the Vietnam War

The War Powers resolution allowed the President to move our troops anywhere they see fit however if conflict arose out of that region Congress must declare war withing 60 days or the President must pull the troops out. This was seen as a bold power grab from Congress when really they were just emphasizing their Constitutional power to declare War

U.S. Constitution

However the example set by President Polk of playing the system and knowing what you can do to get Congress's approval still influences our political system to this very day. It gives the President much more power than what the founders intended. Another long term effect from this war is the resentment from the Mexican people.

Los Provincias Perdidas

The territory lost in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is now commonly referred to as Los Provincias Perdidas, or The Lost Provinces. Many Mexican people feel like their ancestors were robbed of the valuable natural resources that were later found in California, including billions of dollars worth of gold.

Golden Gate Bridge

This has been one of the main factors of the tension between the United States and our neighbor to the South. They feel like if they had maintained the land and the resources that they may have been a world superpower instead of the U.S. It's a reasonable feeling I would say, the California gold rush was one of the largest migration periods in U.S. history. Imagine if all of that revenue had gone to Mexico instead. Undoubtedly it would have changed the global landscape of today.

However what many fail to realize is that as I said before we took total control of Mexico. We could've kept all of the land, actually it's a surprise we didn't when you consider the manifest destiny culture back then. Which was the idea that the United States must expand as much as possible until we truly are sea to shining sea. We need to remember all of history and recognize that the U.S. could have easily kept all of the land and their wouldn't even be a Mexico today.

In the end there's a lot we can learn from this war, I find the most interesting part to be the political precedent it set as well as the long term geopolitical landscape. It was a challenge to the Constitution and the President operating in moral grey areas while still technically within the Constitution's limits. And in the years leading up to the Civil War, which was the biggest Constitutional crisis in American history, it was an interesting test of our military might and our ability to adapt to the Constitution.


Created with images by robert.claypool - "United States Flag" • Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL - "Map of the United States, Territory of Oregon, west of the Rocky Mountains, exhibiting the various trading depots or forts occupied by the British Hudson Bay Company, connected with the western and northwestern fur trade" • cliff1066™ - "James Knox Polk, Eleventh President (1845-1849)" • ikewinski - "The Rio Grande by Moonlight" • seligmanwaite - "Flag at Valley Forge Visitor Center" • NakNakNak - "wartburg castle gun fortress" • Free Grunge Textures - - "Mexico Grunge Flag" • expertinfantry - "Vietnam War" • DonkeyHotey - "U.S. Constitution - Illustration" • Wilson Hui - "Golden Gate Bridge" • skeeze - "world earth planet" • geralt - "learn note sign"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.