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Seth Hill

American Civ. 1700


Chad Ostler

Where did the war between the United States and Mexico begin? What was the origin? It
seems to have been instigated and initiated by our Commander and Chief. James K. Polk was our
president at the time. In a message to congress Polk states that the Mexicans were ever the aggressors,
but he omits several key points. He forgets to explain why General Zachary Taylor was marshalling a
force so close to the Rio Grande River. Before the Texas rebellion the border only extended to the
Nueces River. Supposedly that portion that land had been annexed with the rest of Texas after their
rebellion. Mexico had a much different opinion. The Texans that that portion of land was included after
their rebellion was over. Abraham Lincoln, a junior Congressman, does not agree with Polk and the
Texans. It does seem like Lincoln completely invalidates the U.S.s claim on the territory that 4000 of
our troops were already occupying. Lincoln also blatantly disputes whether there was even a settlement
in the area. He also does not that even believe that, if there were Americans living there, they were
being governed by the United States and/ or Texas. Texas was only accepted into the Union shortly
before General Taylor and his troops showed up.
John Slidell was sent to Mexico City on a diplomatic mission. The diplomacy Slidell was sent to
Mexico to conduct wasnt about anything civil or diplomatic. He was sent to treat with Mexicans on
behalf of Polk to pay them for some of their land. The money was essentially a bribe to procure more
land and to stay out of the Americans way. Lincoln contested the notion that the land belonged to
Union in the first place. As the Mexicans saw it the land still belonged to them anyway, so the Americans
were trespassers.
Polk, in a roundabout way, says that the territory between the Rio Grande and the Nueces rivers
belongs as a part of Texas because the Texans say that it does. What Lincoln is questioning, the strip of
land where this all began, is whether the Texans where reasonable with their claim upon the land. It
seems like Polk sent the soldiers to an area where they had no right to be in the first place. It appears
like he was trying to provoke and instigate a confrontation.
John Slidells envoy was also refused an audience in Mexico City also because they were
attempting to acquire large territories out west. California included. The Mexicans already had their
hands full with Native American tribes. The Comanches and Apaches to be more specific. Native
Americans had become quite hostile with, raiding, stealing from and attacking Mexican civilians. The
Mexicans had unintentionally gone back on the trade agreement Spain had delicately put into place with
the Indians. They lacked the leadership and economic stability to uphold their end of the bargain. They
were unable to honor the deal the Spanish had brokered with all the tribes before Mexico had won its
independence in 1821. They did not even want to entertain the idea of giving up so much more
territory to the Americans. All of this was purposely omitted from Polks initial presentation to Congress
and his request for funds. That has to be part of Lincolns reasoning behind opposing Polks need for the
funding.
Lincoln further disputes as to whether the settlers were even still present when the engagement
occurred. He contended that when the Americans soldiers showed up they vacated their settlements.
Polk claimed that the land was already ours because we had revenue officers there collecting taxes.
That we already had appointed American citizens there and that we must defend them.
Two years and 13,000 American lives later we brutalized the Mexicans with our mobile canons
and acquired vast tracts of land. This also forced the inevitable Civil War by pushing the slavery issue to
the forefront. It soon became a centralized subject in our nations political scene. Americans were
forced to pay 97 million price tag Polks greed and a war that was not legal or necessary. It could be
argued that Polk was the instigator of the entire thing. Lincoln was his most vocal critic. In the end Polk
still got his way.