The Mexican War has been an issue of contention ever since the war was formally declared. As a result of James K. Polk getting the go ahead from Congress and then authorizing American troops to begin attacking the much weaker force just for the self betterment of America, the war earned itself the nickname “The most unjust war”. However, there were certain actions the United States government did implement before authorizing an entire war. Polk did send John Slidell with an offer to Mexico to purchase California, New Mexico, and Texas for a total of 27 million dollars (Doc 3). The Mexicans were in grave need of the money yet, they still entirely rejected the offer leaving Polk no other choice but to declare war. There were many factors that led to the Mexican War; nevertheless, it would be considered biased if we were not to address all the issues pertaining to, before, and after the war.
One of the major reasons why Polk was destined to the annexation of California as well as Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas was because of his strong tenet in manifest destiny (Doc 1). During his presidential campaign Polk made a promise to the people of America that he would attempt to the best of his abilities to gain the land beyond the Rocky Mountains. Furthermore, he referred to the annexation of Oregon as “clear and unquestionable” assuaging the nerves of the people (Doc 4). Unlike other presidents, James K. Polk was keen to staying faithful to his promises and he worked around the clock to carry them out. As a result, when one of Polk’s promises seemed to be having an issue with becoming true, his poise and appearance would suffer because he became aggressive and combative. Due to his nature Polk was eager and ardent towards getting that land from Mexico.
However, it was proving to be difficult with Mexico turning down the offer which Polk delivered. This was the last straw with Polk and as a result he grew restless and began writing his letter to Congress requesting the approval for the declaration of war against Mexico. While he was in the midst of writing his letter, he got word that his men were attacked on American soil near the Rio Grande River. This attack became known as the Thorton Affair. Polk simply added the newfound information about the Thorton Affair to his letter and submitted it. The request was considered and passed. Therefore, war against Mexico had been declared. Considering all these reasons it begins to imply that the war with Mexico was justifiable.
The most significant reason that makes the Mexican War to be considered unjust is the fact of how we declared a war against a country that is clearly inferior to us. The inferiority of the Mexicans was well known amongst the United States government; yet, we continued to pursue our goal of manifest destiny even if it meant having to pummel a country that was obviously going to be defeated. There were many battles that took place during the war and almost in each and every single one the Americans reigned over the Mexicans. For example, the first major battle at Palo Alto became a negative premonition to the Mexicans because of how superior we were to them (Doc 6). The fact of how the American press found it humorous to humiliate and demean the Mexicans in an effort to be comedic proves the point of how we were familiar with the idea of this war being a straightforward and painless victory. Furthermore, the Americans were so fond of the idea that even our generals began admitting to how the war was unethical. For example, one of America’s greatest generals and commanding officers, Ulysses S. Grant, spoke this after the war was declared, “This is the most unjust war”. America knew very well that by proceeding with war against the Mexicans would surely lead to the defeat of the Mexicans. However, we still persisted on acquiring the land disregarding the adversities we were creating for the Mexicans which truly makes this war unjustifiable.
All in all, the Americans waging war against the Mexicans had many contributing factors that ultimately led up to the defeat of the Mexicans. On one hand the war could be perceived as being “justifiable” as a result of James K. Polk offering money for the land coupled with his firm and intense tenet in manifest destiny. However, on the other hand the Mexican War could be viewed as being “unjustifiable” by how inferior the opposing force was in comparison to the American force; yet, we still perpetrated our attacks on the Mexicans and there was no mercy. The entire debate of the Mexican War about whether the war being justifiable or unjustifiable; seems to be at a point of ambivalence because of the proportionate amount of arguments from each side resulting in a never ending discussion.
Courtney from Study Moose