An Analysis of the Effect of the Mexican War on the Mexican Americans

The American-Mexico War, also commonly called the Mexican War, was the first war involving the United States in its quest to acquire more land under its territory. Before this point, the country acquired its territory through treaties and purchases . However, with the US determination to acquire more land and Mexico’s resentment, there was a possibility of war over the claim of ownership of the Nueces Strip in southern Texas, an area between the Rio Grande Rivers and Nueces. This paper seeks to examine the process and circumstances that led to the war, the war’s impact on the Mexican-Americans, and the post-war events that followed.
The Manifest Destiny as the Contributor to the Expansionism
America’s wild expansionism in the north can be coined in two words ‘Manifest Destiny”. The phrase was coined to mean that America could expand to any part of North America, given it is the superpower God was destined to be . The proponents of Manifest Destiny believed that all other countries were superior and meant to obey the American demands . More specifically, the expansionists frequently expressed the notion that it was God’s wish for America to acquire new territory, specifically starting with the invasion of some of its neighbors, more precisely, Mexico. However, not all Americans supported the idea, and not all expansionist proponents supported it. Some of the idea’s supporters publicly expressed its benefits, but some had also rebuked it. For instance, the Wig Party, one of the major parties that existed at the time, believed that the country had the right to be a superpower as God intended. Still, the party held that the existing administration had to do it correctly without oppressing the weaker nations with weak economic foundations. They believed that America had a duty to utilize its global power to foster international property and that forceful acquisitions and conquest could hurt the American image and global reputation, even leading to its downfall.
Manifest Destiny in Action: Loss of Land Ownership and Forceful Land Possession
In the year preceding 1848, what most inhabitants saw in California was a well-watered territory, which gave the territory’s inhabitants great agricultural land. However, other inhabitants and natives saw the land as too far to access for any potential market and agricultural production. America, as a country, especially the James Polk administration, valued land. The California land, for instance, could give them an easy way to access the sea and other Asian countries. Mexico did not know the value the land could have if the United States acquired it until it was on the verge of being forcefully acquired. The territory also contained a great source and included where the famous California Gold Rush happened . The event occurred when Marshall James found it, which later drew people from all over the US and the world to scramble for the gold. Other resources later found in the area included deposits of lead, copper, silver, and other precious minerals. The eminent war could facilitate the acquisition significantly, resulting in the loss of Mexican resources. In addition, the US could facilitate the acquisition of land, which was a scheme by then US president Polk to take advantage of surrounding nations with weak economic and political strengths to despise and take forcefully land from them, what the United States called manifest destiny. All the Americans did not support this idea because of its oppressive nature.
The Rio Grande/Texas Discriminations
Rampant discrimination and segregation happened in Rio Grande, a small location within South Texas. Before the War between Mexico and the United States Natives, the Spanish and settlers interacted with each other without boundaries and outside interference from different ethnicities. However, the entry of the Anglos into the area and the introduction of new farming methods brought significant change to the location. They posed a major threat to the peace of the region . The period before the shift from ranching to commercial farming significantly impacted the area regarding racial interactions across the Texas-Mexico border. This is because many Tejanos, Native Mexicans, and Spanish used the territory for cattle rearing and subsistence farming. When many of the settlers of non-Hispanic descent started arriving, most of the land use methods changed to new ones depending on the users. At the end of the Mexican War, another number of Anglo settlers arrived at the Rio Grande . This was when most of the conflict between the Anglos and the inhabitants started, changing how people interacted. This group of comers, primarily farmers, wanted to participate in farming to utilize the newly introduced farming methods in the Rio Grande. They also wanted to enjoy the town’s locations, which were extensively connected to other cities by rail. The installation of large irrigation projects caused some of the original landowners to relocate from there. As the region further transformed into commercial agriculture, most ethnic Mexicans worked as laborers on the farms. One researcher, Arnoldo De Leon, found that most Mexican Americans found themselves working under cheap paying jobs as late as the 20th century .
Anglo Mobs Against Ethnic Mexicans
Before the signing of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which brought about an end to the Mexican war, the Anglo mob violence against ethnic Mexicans had already begun . Also, the treaty even though the treaty granted immunities and privileges of citizenship, they confronted discrimination and violations of their fundamental, civil, and property rights . The discrimination and segregation had intensity during the period after the 1851s and headed to the 1870s. One of the significant lynching mobs was in the California gold fields. In one incident in the period headed to the end of the 1850s, mobs composed of working-class male adults involved in the transportation business in Texas attacked people from the origin for competing with the business people in businesses. The gangs also executed several people of Mexican origin, executing them within public places, roadsides, and in remote locations. Cities like Goliad, located near San Antonio, were also hotspots of gangs and violence. European and other migrants who had lived in such towns for many years recounted later that the Anglo gangs executed individuals of Mexican origin, stole, and sold their goods, sold them to strangers, and disappeared off the roads. Researchers estimate that approximately seventy people were killed in the same styles in the same period . Texan mobs also targeted Anglos for other crimes. Specifically, as the interracial conflict grew, mobs escalated their attacks on whites affiliated with the Republican Party and those that supported abolitionism, and whites associated with property crimes and murder.
In California, between 1850 and 1860, approximately half of the 215 people who died at the hands of mobs and lynchers were of Hispanic origin, primarily from Mexico or Chile. In contrast, the natives consisted of approximately 15 percent of lynching victims in the same period. By compelling land cession from Natives by treaty, the settlers outnumbered the natives in the coastal northwest in the period between 1480 and 1850 . In contrast, the borderlands of South Texas, New Mexico, and southern California experienced a distinct pattern where the white Americans were fewer and shared power with Tejanos, Hispanic New Mexicans, and Californians. The groups implemented draconian approaches and practices meant to instill criminal justice and collective violence that conflicted with the Native’s and Hispanics’ legal practices. In this extreme borderline, the groups were at liberty to engage in extralegal activities, which ultimately contributed to the high number of killings experienced.
Role of Public Opinions in the Lynches and Mob Violence
Public opinion played a vital role in the lynching scenarios experienced in the United States in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Mexican public officials, for instance, public, created narratives that gave a perception that lynching, and mob violence were United States phenomena . The official’s opinion could then be embraced in the cases, significantly escalating the situation. For instance, the attempted lynching of a Mexican army officer accused of inhumanely raping and murdering a young woman in 1938 in Tijuana city significantly escalated the situation of lynching within the two countries, amplified by public opinion. In addition, in another case reported in the United States, the press received local publicity and press alike, with many recommending the attempted lynching despite the Mexican authorities’ presentations of lynching as most common in the United States . Researchers have attributed that to the Mexican authority’s role in enhancing public opinion to get the public to operate in given ways. Relating the Mexico mob violence has one legitimized by the action of omission or commission.
In a nutshell, the Mexican-American war is one that shaped how the American and Mexican nations and governments interact and relate to today. It was an era marred with violence, distrust, discrimination, and racial injustices. Through ratifying the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the two countries agreed to end Mexico, ceding some of its territories to the US. However, even after the postwar era, many challenges remain that pose division among the people, especially the Mexican Americans living in California and Texas.


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