English Composition/Mexico And Borders term paper 4219

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International borders have always been centers of conflict, and the U.S.-Mexican border is no exception. With the European colonizing the New World, it was a matter of time before the powers collided. The Spanish settled what is today Mexico, while the English settled what is to day the United States. When the two colonial powers did meet

what is today the United States" Southwest, it was not England and Spain. Rather the two powers were the United States and Mexico. Both Counties had broken off from their mother countries. The conflict that erupted between the two countries where a direct result of different nation policies. The United States had a policy of westward expansion,

while Mexico had a policy of self protection. The Americans never had a written policy of expansion. What they had was the idea of "Manifest Destiny." Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States had the right to expand westward to the Pacific ocean. On the other hand, Mexico was a new country wanting to protect itself from outside

powers. Evidence of U.S. expansion is seen with the independence of

Texas from Mexico. The strongest evidence of U.S. expansion goals is

with the Mexican-American War. From the beginning, the war was

conceived as an opportunity for land expansion. Mexico feared the

United States expansion goals.

During the 16th century, the Spanish began to settle the region.

The Spanish had all ready conquered and settled Central Mexico. Now

they wanted to expand their land holdings north. The first expedition

into the region, that is today the United States Southwest, was with

Corando. Corando reported a region rich in resources, soon after

people started to settle the region. The driving force behind the

settlement was silver in the region. The Spanish settled the region

through three major corridors; central, western and eastern. The first

settlements were mainly through the central corridor. The Spanish went

thorough what is now the modern Mexican state of Chihuahua into the

U.S. state of New Mexico. Eventually the Spanish established the city

of Santa Fe in 1689. The eastern corridor was through modern day Texas

and led to the establishment of San Antonio. The eastern expansion was

caused by the French expansion into modern day Louisiana. The Spanish

crown wanted a buffer between the French in Louisiana and central

Mexico. The last corridor of expansion was in the west, through the

sea, which led to the establishment of San Diego in 1769 and Los

Angles in 1781.

The Spanish were not the only European power to colonize the new

world; French, English and the Dutch also settled North and South

America. The Spanish and the French settled what is present day

U.S.-Mexico border region. The French settled modern day U.S. midwest,

while the Spanish settled present day Mexico and U.S. southwest. As

time went on, European influence in the region diminished.. The French

sold there claims to the United States, in 1803 with the Louisiana

Purchase. Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. Once the

United States bought the Louisiana Purchase, western expansion began.

This set the stage for major conflict in the region.

The United States gained independence from England in 1775.

After 1775, the Americans started to expand west. By the time Mexico

gained independence, the United States had reached the Mexican

frontier. Mexico needed to protect its northern borders. To protect

the border region, Mexico needed to populate the area. Mexico

continued the policy started by Spain of allowing Americans to settle

Texas. The Americans had to follow Mexican law, religion and customs.

The settlement of Texas played into the United States" expansion


Eventually Mexico City closed Texas from more Americans from

entering. This angered the Americans wanting to enter and Americans

already living in Texas. Texas revolted from Mexico in 1833. Mexicans

did live in Texas, and fought for the independence of Texas. The

majority of Texans were Americans and fought for their independence.

After the war the Americans intentionally or non-intentionally forced

most Mexicans out of Texas. The ones that stayed faced racial tensions

that continue to today.

After gaining independence from Mexico, Texas wanted to join the

United States immediately. The U.S. Congress voted against Texas from

joining the Union. Congress was worried that annexation of Texas would

anger Mexico. Mexico had never officially recognized Texas as

independent. Congress was concerned that annexation would start a war

with Mexico. Mexico"s repose to American annexation was not the only

factor in deciding against annexation. If Texas was to become a state,

it would be a slave state. At the time, the United States an even

balance between slave and non-slave states. Texas entering the Union

would disrupt the balance, giving slave states an advantage in the

U.S. House and Senate. Since the United States was not ready to annex

Texas, Texas declared itself a sovereign country. In 1837 President

Andrew Jackson formally recognized Texas a country.

Texas wanted to be part of the United States. It needed the

protection of the Untied States. President Tyler could not get the 2/3

majority needed to admit Texas. Instead, he changed the law to require

only a simple majority. It was not until 1845 and two Presidents later

that Texas was annexed into the United States. Mexico protested the

admission of Texas into the United States. The United States saw

Mexico"s protest as a excuse to spend troops into Texas.

The annexation of Texas was a represented the United States

expansion goals. The United States wanted to settle in Texas, but

Mexico owned the land. That did not matter to the United States, they

settled in the region regardless. The Americans that settled the

region agreed to Mexican law and customs, but still considered

themselves Americans. After the annexation of Texas, Texas also wanted

to expand. Texas claimed that New Mexico and California were part of

Texas. The boundary with Mexico was also disputed. The United States

claimed that the Texas border was at the Rio Grande. Mexico disagreed,

Mexico stated the border was at Nueces River. The United States did

try to settle matters diplomatically. The United States sent

inexperienced diplomat John Slidell. Slidell tried to buy area known

as the U.S. Southwest. Slidell, being an inexperienced diplomat, was

rejected. Not only was he not successful in buying the land, he

aroused Mexican fears. This set the stage for the Mexican-American


The United States also had no written policy of expansion, but

the government quietly supported it. The United States has always had

troops the region, even though they held no land in the region The

United States kept ships off the coast of California. In 1842 the U.S.

commander in the region, Commodore Thomas Jones, attacked and took the

city of Monterrey in California. He falsely believed that Texas and

Mexico were at war. Once he realized his mistake he withdrew his

forces and apologized to the Mexican government for his action and

claimed that he did not act with orders from the U.S. government.

Although Jones claimed that he did not act with orders from the U.S.

government, clearly the government did not stop the practice. Another

example of the United State"s expansion goals was the Mexican-American


This is the first time America has fought a war with land

expansion as its main goal. The war started on April 25 1846 with the

attack from Mexican troops and the counter attack from General Taylor

of the U.S. Army. Taylor sent a message to President Polk that

hostilities have started. President Polk, with a pre-drafted

declaration of war, asked Congress to declare war against Mexico.

President Polk knew that Mexico would lose the war and would gain new

lands in the end.

The Mexican-American war lasted two years, and ended with the

signing of the Treaty of Guadeloupe on February 2 1848. The United

States had succeeded in winning the war. With the Treaty of Guadeloupe

the United States had succeeded in completing its Manifest Destiny.

The Treaty itself represented the United States expansion goals. The

United States wanted to settle on were the international border was to

be. Mexico wanted the border to north of the Rio Grande river, but

finally decided upon the middle of the Rio Grande river. Mexico having

been bankrupt from the war, agreed to take the 15 million as payment

for the vast land. In addition, the United States agreed to pay off

all Mexican debts owed to the United States. This amount was small in

comparison to what the United States gained in territory. The United

States took advantage of a weak country of obtained its expansion


Another example of the United States taking advantage of Mexico

is the Gasden Purchase. The Gasden Purchase was ratified in 1854 for

the selling price of 10 million. Mexico was going through rough

economical time and desperately needed the money. The United States

seeing an opportunity to build a railroad through the region brought

the land at a cheap price. The selling of the Gasden Purchase was the

down fall of President Santa Ana, and led to his replacement.

The conflicts along the border region were a direct result of U.S.

expansion policies and Mexican fear for the United States. The

Americans saw Manifest Destiny, westward expansion, as there God given

right. The United States proved often that it supported policy of

expansion. With the Mexican-American war, the United States completed

it's Manifest Destiny. The United States completed Manifest Destiny at

the cost of the Mexican government and its people.


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