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Mexican American War an Exercise in American Imperialism Essay

The Mexican-American War was the beginning of a legacy of hate between the Americans and Mexicans. During this era, America was growing commercially and industrially, leading to the need for more land to maximize the American profit. This Anglo-American necessity led to the Mexican-American War. Imperialism was indeed the corner stone for the entire Mexican-American war; Americans aimed to control the Mexican lands through direct control.

Manifest Destiny, the belief that the Americans were to expand to the Pacific Coast, was started in the 1840s. It is no secret that Polk won the election largely because of his radical expansionist views. Shortly after Polk’s win, he sent a few representatives to protect the border of Texas and bargain for the land, not long after Congress passed Texas to become a state. Due to the men “protecting” the border of Texas, Mexico became angry and refused to accept Polk’s compromise, offering only a partial recognition. Polk declined, and American troops proceeded to the Rio Grande. Polk later claimed that the Mexico-American War was a last resort to Mexico’s lack of cooperation and attack on the Americans, and that “American blood had been shed on American soil.” This is inaccurate. At that time, the land was neither said to belong solely to the Americans, or solely to the Mexicans. Each side thought the land belonged to them.

Polk had also already planned the steps to lead to the control of Texas, even before the war. If not for imperialist goals, why would Polk have already planned the steps leading up to the war, if war itself was a “last resort?” This shows the Americans illustration of imperialism by the fact that President Polk would not accept Mexico’s terms for partial recognition probably because Polk had a dream of owning all the land to the coast. In fact, during this time the Anglo-Saxons believe that the God they worshiped had given them a right to all the land on this continent, and that they were to spread their religion within those who did not believe. Abiel Abbot Livermore gave an accurate description of the Americans in his book The War With Mexico Reviewed: “more, more, give us more.” This is in regards to the Americans’ want for new land.

Numerous people had negative views on the Mexican-American War. Benjamin Lundy, William Ellery Channing, and John Quincy Adams were just a few. Eugene Barker stated that “the general cause of the revolt was to extend imperial authority…” as well as “…substitute centralized oligarchy.” Common imperialist views are that the people should exert their culture on the lands that they gain control of. Eugene Barker’s statement leads one to believe that this was exactly what President Polk was doing. In this case, it was religion that he and the Americans were enforcing. He forced the Mexicans to become Protestant if they chose to stay in their homeland.

The Mexican American War shows all the signs of imperialism. President Polk made claims that there was no other solution but war, when, in reality, there were many other solutions. Polk’s unnecessary want for the control of land, and for the United States to become the greatest power, all familiar views of imperialism, led him to war. The annexation of Texas did indeed play a large role in the Mexican-American War, and was based off of imperialist beliefs and goals.

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