Mexican War Paper

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The Mexican-American War
Tiara Missey
AP U.S History 5th Period
Mr. Gill
December 1, 2018
The Mexican-American War was between both the United States and Mexico. It began on April
25, 1846 and was ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848. The United States’
President James Polk played a large part first by declaring war on Mexico May 13, 1846. The war was
primarily driven by the need to expand as the result of Manifest Destiny in the minds of the Americans.
Though not all citizens agreed with it. Such as Henry David Thoreau, a writer, was so against it he wrote
“Civil Disobedience” about how he opposed the war. He also refused to pay a poll taxes to show he felt
the war was unethical and unjust1.
Around eleven years before the
war, Texas was at war with Mexico for
their independence. The Battle of
Almo, one of the early battles of the
war, occurred in December 1835. A
group of Texan volunteers took charge
over the Mexican troops at the Almo
and captured the fort. Under the lead of
George Collinsworth and Benjamin
Milam, they gained control of San
Antonio2. Though, later the Mexican
forces would take over the Almo again.
General Santa Anna took over the
fort, with thousands of troops, from the
Texan stronghold of 200 men that were command by James Bowie, William Travis and Davy Crockett.
For 13 days, the Texans at the fort held up bravely and courageously, until the Mexican troops finally
took over. Davy Crockett was a very famous frontiersman, who died while he proudly stood alone
defending the fort, which led him to fight until his death3. For the Texans, the Almo became a very
important symbol, showing the fight they were taking to gain independence from Mexico.
The last and the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution was the Battle of Jacinto. On April 21,
1836, Sam Houston and around 800 other Texans went up against Santa Anna’s Mexican forces over
10004. Sam Houston fought under Jackson in the Red Stick war and he had a very successful political
career. Soon after he became governor in 1827, he went off the grid, making friends with Indians, after
the scandal with his wife. Though, he did come back, but this time he accepted command for the Battle of
Jacinto leading them to a victory that would gain Texas’ independence from Mexico5. Santa Anna was
1
"Henry David Thoreau in Manifest Destiny & Mexican-American War." Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.shmoop.com/manifest-destiny-mexican-american-war/henry-david-thoreau.html
2
"The Almo." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/mexico/alamo.
3
Bell, Bob Boze. "How Did Davy Really Die?" True West Magazine. June 16, 2018. Accessed December
10, 2018. https://truewestmagazine.com/davy-crockett-how-did-davy-really-die/.
4
"Battle of San Jacinto." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.history.com/topics/mexico/battle-of-san-jacinto.
5
"Sam Houston." PBS. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/biographies/sam_houston.html.
taken prisoner during the battle. He reluctantly signed a peace treaty at Velasco, Texas recognizing Texas
as independent as the quid pro quo for his freedom.
After Texas gained their independence, they elected Sam Houston as their president. The “Lone
Star Republic” wanted to be annexed by the United States because they feared that the Mexican
government would recapture the. The North United States did not like the idea of adding a new slaves
state to the union, so instead of causing an uproar in America, Jackson denied annexing them. So, “the
Lone Star flag flew proudly over the Lone Star Republic for nine years6.”
After the 9 years, congress agreed to annex Texas.
Once Polk one the 1844 election he agreed to annexing
Texas. After six months, December 29, 1845, Texas entered
the United States as the 28th state, and a slave state. This
caused a more differences in America and set off the
Mexican-American War7. President Polk then carried out
the Slidell Mission by dispatching John Slidell to Mexico
City. His job was to negotiate: Mexican recognition of Rio
Grande as border between them and US, American
forgiveness of claims by US citizens against Mexican
government, purchase of New Mexico area for $5 million
and the purchase of California at any price. It never was
received though because Mexican government affairs were
in a stage of chaos8.
President Polk feared that the Mexicans would claim
control over territory in southwestern Texas because of the
6
"The Lone Star Republic." Ushistory.org. Accessed December 10, 2018.
http://www.ushistory.org/us/29a.asp.
7
"Texas Enters the Union." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/thisday-in-history/texas-enters-the-union.
8
"United States History." Douglas MacArthur. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.u-shistory.com/pages/h158.html.
Texas annexation9. With orders from Polk, Zachary Taylor went into Texas with forces to defend the Rio
Grande border. After General Mariano Arista found out about the plan Taylor was taking fourth, he
ordered his troops to continue to siege Fort Texas and led other troops to intercept Taylor while he was on
his way back with supplies. On May 8, 1846 the two forces encountered each other at the crossroads of
Palo Alto. The Americans boldly stepped up and immediately showed their good tactics. After 3 hours of
not being able to successfully defeat the US, General Arista commanded his troops to move out and set up
a strong position at Resaca de la Palma. Zachary Taylor brought forth a victory with the “first battle” of
the war10 .
9
10
https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/zachary-taylor-fights-the-battle-of-palo-alto
"The Battle of Palo Alto." PBS. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/war/palo_alto.html.
A day later, May 9,
1846, the Battle of Resaca
de la Palma took place.
General Taylor thought he
could just use the same
tactic as the Battle of Palo
Alto, but it was extremely
slowed down based of the
terrain of the battle area. It
was difficult to even spot
targets because of the heavy
brush. Taylor became very
frustrated with how slow
the progress was happening,
so he sent Captain Charles
A. May with a squadron
from the 2nd US Dragoons
to charge the Mexican
battery. As they did that, the
4th US Infantry began
probing Arista’s left plank.
May’s troops captured Vega
and many officers, leaving
the Mexican line leaderless.
Taylor then ordered the 5th
and 8th infantry to complete
the task. The Mexicans
soon after began to retreat11.
After another victory by
Zachary Taylor, the
Mexican forces re-crossed
the Rio Grande ending the
siege of Fort Texas.
Zachary Taylor quickly was granted a promotion to major general after the two back to back
victories. Throughout his journey he gained the nickname “Old Rough and Ready” because of his
willingness to get his boots dirty alongside his soldiers. Once promoted to major general he led his men
across the Rio Grande into Mexico then capture the stronghold of Monterrey in late September. After this,
Taylor began gaining political likeness from the Whig party and doing things against Polk’s wishes. He
granted the Mexicans an eight-week armistice and marched his troops south to Buena Vista defeating a
Mexican force three times the size of his.
11
Hickman, Kennedy, and Military. "Mexican-American War: Battle of Resaca De La Palma."
Thoughtco. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-of-resaca-de-la-palma2361050.
In the midst of Taylor being told to remain in northern Mexico, Polk transferred the best of
Taylor’s troops to the army of General Winfield Scott. Scott, known as “Old Fuss and Feathers”, was
sent to attack starting at the port of Veracruz, which would continue inward to Mexico City. Veracruz was
invaded in March of 1847 and it lasted 12 days until the Mexicans finally surrendered. After completing
this victory, General Scott continued to push west to Mexico City. The Battle of Cerro Gordo was one of
the most impressive battles of Scott’s which occurred on April 18, 1847. General Scott, with 8,500 men,
went up against General Santa Anna with 12,000 Mexican troops. General Santa Anna thought that they
had the upper hand because of the position they were in, he thought that because of the terrain La Atalaya
was impassable. But after scouting the land, Captain Robert E. Lee and his men found a small path up the
lower hill, which would allow for them to attack the Mexican troops from the side. A victory that only
played out because Santa Anna left La Atalaya unprotected12. General Scott also had victories at Battle of
Contreras, the Battle of Churubusco, and the Battle of Chapultepec before the capturing of Mexico City.
Scott captured Mexico City on September 14, 1847, after 3 days of intense fighting.
General Scott did not win all those battles alone, he had the help of his lieutenants: Robert E.
Lee, George B. McClellan, P.G.T Beauregard, and Ulysses S. Grant. 78 of Scotts men would fight for
the Union in the Civil War and 57 would fight for the Confederate forces. They made up 135 of General
Scott’s men that would become generals. Ulysses S. Grant would later become a fearless soldier
commanding almost the entire US army, he would make, a fellow companion he once fought with in the
American Mexican war, Robert E. Lee surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia 1865 in the Civil
War13.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed
February 2, 1848 and ended the Mexican- American
war. America added an additional 525,000 square miles
to its territory. The United States received land that
makes up present day: Arizona, California, Colorado,
Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Mexico
finally gave up claims of Texas and recognized Rio
Grande as America’s Southern Boundary, known as the
Mexican Cession14. From the beginning the idea of
Manifest Destiny caused problems. Manifest Destiny
was the idea that the United States was destined by God
to expand across all North America. When the Texas Annexation took place, soon after was the MexicanAmerican war. When the Mexican cession took place, it caused brutal mistreatment and displacement of
12
Sandoval, Mariana. "StMU History Media." StMU History Media - Featuring Historical Research,
Writing, and Media at St. Mary's University. December 20, 2016. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.stmuhistorymedia.org/the-great-military-career-of-old-fuss-and-feathers-winfield-scott/.
13
14
h"Ulysses S. Grant." PBS. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/biographies/ulysses_grant.html.
"Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.history.com/topics/mexican-american-war/treaty-of-guadalupe-hidalgo.
Native Americans and fueled the growing debate over slave sates which would eventually lead to the
American Civil War15.
Around the same time the Treaty of Guadalupe
was signed, the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill
happened. In 1849, men across the US borrowed
money and mortgaged their property to travel to
California. The ‘49ers, as they were called, caused gold
mining towns to spring up all over the region. The area
grew to be very lawless with gambling, prostitution and
violence. California quickly was added to the Union as
the 31st state with a constitution preventing slavery.
This caused chaos between the people in congress who
were for slavery and the abolitionist. The Compromise of 1850, proposed by Henry Clay, allowed
California to enter as a free state while Utah and New Mexico could decide for themselves16. This
compromise increased sectionalism and strengthens the two completely opposite opinions about slavery
which would ultimately lead to the splitting of the union then to the Civil War.
15
"Manifest Destiny." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/manifest-destiny.
16
History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/westwardexpansion/gold-rush-of-1849
References
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https://www.history.com/topics/mexico/battle-of-san-jacinto.
Bell, Bob Boze. "How Did Davy Really Die?" True West Magazine. June 16, 2018. Accessed December
10, 2018. https://truewestmagazine.com/davy-crockett-how-did-davy-really-die/.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Antonio López De Santa Anna." Encyclopædia Britannica.
June 17, 2018. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Antonio-Lopezde-Santa-Anna.
"Davy Crockett." HistoryNet. Accessed December 10, 2018. http://www.historynet.com/davy-crockett.
Hickman, Kennedy, and Military. "Mexican-American War: Battle of Resaca De La Palma." Thoughtco.
Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.thoughtco.com/battle-of-resaca-de-la-palma-2361050.
"James K. Polk." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/uspresidents/james-polk.
"Manifest Destiny." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/manifest-destiny.
Minster, Christopher. "How Did Jim Bowie Become a Famous Texas Hero?" Thoughtco. Accessed
December 10, 2018. https://www.thoughtco.com/biography-of-jim-bowie-2136241.
"Sam Houston." PBS. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/biographies/sam_houston.html.
Sandoval, Mariana. "StMU History Media." StMU History Media - Featuring Historical Research,
Writing, and Media at St. Mary's University. December 20, 2016. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.stmuhistorymedia.org/the-great-military-career-of-old-fuss-and-feathers-winfield-scott/.
"Scott Captures Mexico City." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/thisday-in-history/scott-captures-mexico-city.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Manifest Destiny & Mexican-American War." Shmoop. November 11, 2008.
Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.shmoop.com/manifest-destiny-mexican-american-war/.
"Texas Enters the Union." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/this-dayin-history/texas-enters-the-union.
"The Almo." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/mexico/alamo.
"The Battle of Palo Alto." PBS. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/war/palo_alto.html.
"The Lone Star Republic." Ushistory.org. Accessed December 10, 2018.
http://www.ushistory.org/us/29a.asp.
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https://www.history.com/topics/mexican-american-war/treaty-of-guadalupe-hidalgo.
"Ulysses S. Grant." PBS. Accessed December 10, 2018.
https://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/biographies/ulysses_grant.html.
"United States History." Douglas MacArthur. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.u-shistory.com/pages/h158.html.
"Zachary Taylor." History.com. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.history.com/topics/uspresidents/zachary-taylor.
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