September 17th, 1848
Many a things have changed since I last wrote for the great Baltimore Sun 12 years ago. Just three years ago Texas went from an independent republic to an official united state. I can remember it as if it was just yesterday. It was February of 1845, I was in full support of the expansion and annexation. I was unclear exact motivations and inspirations for the annexation. What I feared personally was the constant attacks from the bordering Mexicans. But there were rumors of a much different motives. I had heard from other reporters that the influence of Britain through trade and other ways scared the southern states. Particularly slave owning ones, as the British influence may have sparked a movement to abolish slavery (4). In hindsight I reckon this could’ve been true, whats really important is that we were admitted to the union of the United States.
I met with President James K. Polk, who at the time had won his presidential campaign but had not yet taken office, over the joint resolution and his opinion of it. Polk was very forward thinking, he told me of his extreme support of the annexation of Texas. He also told me of his wishes to pursue expansion into Oregon, some farming land northwest of Texas (5). I was thrilled to see his excitement for this new union, and also to see that his principles lined up with the new direction of the country. On February 28, 1845, four days before Polk took office, Congress passed the joint resolution and Texas became the 28th state to join the union of the United States.
This joint resolution, was more official than the declaration of the Republic of Texas’ independence and therefore sparked frustration with Mexico. Neighboring Mexico was under the impression that they would one day win back the land the good men of Texas had earned and when they discovered that Texas was admitted to the Union of the United States tension grew between the United States and Mexico. A year after my interview with President Polk he asked me to do a follow up to make the current relations and pressures with Mexico known by the public. I hadn’t been to the Capitol for years, it has many buildings I don’t know of and have only seen in pictures. When I arrived at the White House I was greeted by officers who escorted me to the press room. President Polk asked me if there were many changes in Texas due to the joining of the Union. Honestly, I had not noticed many difference at all. I felt safer, more United States immigrants moved into Texas as well. The president told me he ordered General Taylor and his forces to the Rio Grande, which, is where the Mexicans claims to belong to them. The U.S. proclaimed the border to be Rio Grande, as stated in the 1836 Treaty of Velasco. But shockingly, Mexico denied the validity of the treaties and would not cooperate. At this point Mexico believed that all of Texas was within its borders. They even demanded that General Taylor withdraw from Nueces, he, of course, ignored this demand. Along with Taylor, other patrol groups had been sent north of the Río Grande to monitor borders (5).
A man bursted through the door, and interrupted the interview while handing a note to the President. The President opened it quickly and carelessly, he read it over several times. His face did not give much away. I knew it was important but the Presidents didn’t express chaos, but a very calm and collected complexion, even a little sorrowful. He looked up and told me the news. A group of 70 men, lead by Captain Seth Thornton, sent to monitor north of the Río Grande, had been attacked by Mexican troops. 16 were killed, and others fled.
The President was rushed to Capital building before I could even project a question. I read later that when there he met with congress and had in fact found this attack proved to be a constitutional cause for war. In the past two years the war has occurred. Polk’s plan throughout this war was to sieze the land the United States tried to purchase and force Mexico to accept there loss through a peace treaty (2). Antonio López de Santa Anna lied to United States officials saying he as former president of Mexico would work to develop purchases for the United States of Mexican land. When he returned to Mexico he took back Presidency and continued fighting the United States’ invasions, rather than negotiating deals for the land (5).
Many battles took place of those two years, but one of the most famous was the Battle of Buena Vista. It was won by General Taylor, who’s 5,000 men defeated Santa Anna’s 16,000. This victory deemed General Taylor a national hero. General Taylor was then relieved of duty in Polk’s new and different approach to this war. In March 1847, Polk sent General Winfield Scott to Veracruz, south Mexico, via ship. From there General Scott lead an army of 12,000 men through Mexican cities and eventually to Mexico where the war had finally ended(1).
- “Major Battles of the U.S.-Mexican War.” American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=AMHC0116&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 23, 2013).
- “U.S.-Mexican War.” In Thomas M. Leonard, ed. Encyclopedia of Latin America: Search for National Identity, vol. 3. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp? ItemID=WE53&iPin=ELAIII0399&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 18, 2013).
- Hastedt, Glenn. “U.S.-Mexican War.” Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAFP267&SingleRecord=True (accessed November 23, 2013)
- “A Continental War.” Readex. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. <http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX-K12&p_theme=ahnp_k12&p_nbid=W5CQ55SJMTM4NDc5NTcxNi4yMDY3ODY6MToxMzo1MC4yMDIuMzQuMTEw&p_action=timelinetopic&d_topic=Mexican%20War&d_era=Prelude%20to%20Civil%20War>.
- “The Annexation of Texas.” Readex. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://infoweb.newsbank.com/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX-K12&p_theme=ahnp_k12&p_nbid=N64L58NMMTM4NTE5ODE2NC40NDI1NjY6MTo2Om9yZWdvbg&p_action=timelinetopic&d_topic=Annexation%20of%20Texas&d_era=Prelude%20to%20Civil%20War>.