Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Gold

On this day, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed between the geographic states of Mexico and the United States.

It was the end of a land war.

The US wanted the rest of the west, all the way to California.

Texas, which had just become an independent republic, claimed the boundary with Mexico was at the Rio Grande River. Mexico argued that it was at the Nueces River. The land in between these rivers included thousands of square miles and a few hundred settlers, few of whom were Texans.

In 1845, Congress voted to annex Texas and admit it as a state. Shortly afterward, James K. Polk took office as the new U.S. president. Polk was a Democrat and a strong advocate of national expansion.

President Polk had a short list of "great measures" he intended to accomplish. Among them was the acquisition of Mexican California. Polk wanted California and its magnificent San Francisco Bay as the American gateway to trade with China and other Asian nations. Polk was worried that other nations, such as England or France, might take California if the United States did not act.

After Sam Houston, the President of Texas scuttled an attempt to force war by signing his own peace treaty with Mexico, President Polk sent John Slidell to Mexico City in an attempt to buy California and New Mexico. Mexico, in political and economic disarray, had failed to make payments on $4.5 million it owed the United States. Polk authorized Slidell to forgive the debt and pay another $25 million in exchange for these Mexican lands. Mexican officials, however, refused to meet Slidell. Even so, military opponents of the Mexican president considered Slidell's mere presence in Mexico City an insult. They overthrew the president and installed a new regime that favored war with the United States.

In March 1846, General Zachary Taylor led American troops across the Nueces River all the way to the Rio Grande. When Mexicans objected, Taylor positioned his troops across the river from the Mexican town of Matamoras. A few days later, some Mexican soldiers crossed the Rio Grande and attacked Taylor's men, killing 16.

When news came of the clash with Mexican soldiers, President Polk announced that the United States had been attacked. "American blood on the American soil," he said in his message to Congress, asking for a declaration of war against Mexico.

In March 1847, General Winfield Scott invaded Mexico at the port of Vera Cruz and began to march inland toward Mexico City. The Mexicans did not win one battle in this war, but they fought fiercely and stubbornly refused to surrender.

The war was popular in the South and with Americans who believed in manifest destiny. But the war aroused great opposition. Congressman Abraham Lincoln introduced a "Spot Resolution," demanding that Polk show the spot where Mexicans "shed American blood on American soil." Lincoln proclaimed, "That soil was not ours; and Congress did not annex or attempt to annex it."

Writer Henry David Thoreau went to jail for refusing to pay a poll tax in protest against the war.

Back in those days, The US was more honest.

The US didn't want oil, it just wanted land. When the Mexicans wouldn't sell, the US took it from them.

After all of this, you've got to like the first words of the Treaty:

In the name of Almighty God:

The United States of America, and the United Mexican States, animated by a sincere desire to put an end to the calamities of the war which unhappily exists between the two Republics, and to establish upon a solid basis relations of peace and friendship, which shall confer reciprocal benefits upon the citizens of both, and assure the concord, harmony and mutual confidence, wherein the two Peoples should live, as good Neighbours, have for that purpose appointed their respective Plenipotentiaries....

And the first article is nice.

There shall be firm and universal peace between the United States of America and the Mexican Republic, and between their respective Countries, territories, cities, towns and people, without exception of places or persons.

The US ended up paying 15 million dollars instead of the 30 million or so the US was offering before the War.

And now we have a firm and universal peace with our neighbor.

Oh yes, General Sutter found gold in California that same year.

Now there is some good luck.

And some good shaping.

after all,

the United States had been attacked.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you saying that gold played a part in the War too?

11:05 AM  
Blogger Urban Denizen #512 said...

I do not make a habit of speaking for Oz, but suffice it to say that land grabs are motivated by the resources of the land, not the land, itself. In this case, the parallels to the current conflict in the Middle East and the Mexican-American War are quite obvious and represent a good example as to what motivates Nation-states, regardless of era. This being said, one crucial difference exists: Polk actions were constitutionally sound in so far as he exercised his executive right to address Congress in order to be granted authority vis a vis a declaration of war. The current administration can not say the same. Constitutionally, despite the Red Herring rhetoric to the contrary, the conflict in the Middle East is UNAMERICAN.

In an antic sense, it is also somewhat obvious that there is a correlation between a monopoly of force (and those that lead, direct and promulgate said monopoly,) and resource aquisition. If you take the history of any clan, tribe, State, Nation, etc. you'll find that when an area concentrates force into a core, said core always conquers the semi-periphery and periphery, only to collapse in on itself because in concentrating force alone, there is absolutely no way to sustain the newly acquired "stuff," because the core is geared stirctly for war But this is another post altogether, and better left to the Quiglites at Georgetown. The allusion to the honesty of past policies and administrations is only ironic and altogether true when juxstaposed against the nefarious nature of recent policies and administrations. To this end, if oil was a necessary commodity to the welfare of the US economy at the time of Texas Republic, the US would have marched to Venezuela, conquering all of the available land along the way.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had never put the gold rush date and the mexican war date together like this. Is this conventional wisdom?

2:35 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:02 PM  
Blogger oZ said...

This is no where close to the conventional wisdom. However, I must say, it is one thing to connect dots, it is quite another when the dots land on top of each other.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Urban Denizen #512 said...

9:01 AM  

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