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The Mexican-American War, which took place from 1846 to 1848 between Mexico and the United States, is considered to be of great significance to the American people. The primary purpose of the war was to help America's "manifest destiny" of expanding its territory across the entire North American continent which was part of Mexico.
It is important to note that the war had a tremendous impact on the Mexicans, Native Americans, slaves, and free African Americans, especially in the newly acquired areas. It is quite evident that the war was a territorial dispute with the need to expand territories because of the United States' policy of manifest destiny. During that time, then President Polk and most of the American citizen were in need of expanding their country which could only be achieved by acquiring the North American land, not considering the inhabitant people that were already living on the same land.
On the other hand, some of those residing in the South had wanted to acquire more slave states to expand the institution of slavery. People often disregard the fact that indigenous people resided in the disputed regions by only focusing on the war between Mexico and the United States. As a result, the indigenous people living in those territories lost their homeland. In addition, the native population had to assimilate into either culture, which meant that they had to erase their traditions since neither the United States or Mexico was willing to accept them as full citizens. As a result, they were regarded as second-class citizens. This made the Mexican-American War to be considered unjust because the U.S and Mexico, especially Mexico had to endure hardships after the two-year war period. The paper will seek to examine the aftermath of the Mexican-American War and its consequences for the Mexicans, Native Americans, slaves, and free African Americans in the newly acquired areas and whether it promoted Jefferson's idea.
Just like any other war, the Mexican-American War was fundamentally about territory continental expansion. The question that might arise is what the Mexican-American War which took place in the mid-19th century meant to the Americans. Importantly, the answer to this question directly reflects the Americans character and nature of mid-century. Indeed, the Americans were trying to reach out far beyond their border which was considered as an inversion. For instance, the country was experiencing advancements in communications technologies and transportation, which were dissolving the nation's geographic resulting in cultural isolation. In addition, Americans had an interest to explore because of the expansion in commerce and transportation. Therefore, the Mexican-American War acted as a window through which America as a nation saw a strange and exotic land of the aliens. It is important to note that the war had both positive and negative effects for both countries. For instance, it was the first time America was fighting on foreign territory, which led to the occupation of Mexican's capital. The United State's economy significantly grew after the signing of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty that granted the nation almost half a million miles of the acquired territory, which further led to the discovery of silver and gold in California.
It is worth noting that the results of the Mexican-American War had varied results, especially when it can to size and the scope of the impact. Some of the consequences were regarded as huge while others were considered small. Nonetheless, all the consequences were of great significance when it came at shaping the histories of the two countries. For instance, the consequences of the war among the Mexicans, Native Americans, the slaves, and free African Americans included internal conflict over who to control slaves, territorial gains on the United State's behalf and the downfall of the Mexican government. Most indigenous communities were forced into slavery after their territories were taken by the Americans who turned them as laborers.
The first consequence of the war was the territorial gains that America achieved after the war. As earlier mentioned, Americans aimed to expand their territory and occupy some parts of Mexico. It is only after the war ended after signing of the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty that Mexico ceded New Mexico and California to the United States and further established the Rio Grande as Texas' southern border one and for all. Mexico went further to complete the secession of the land at about 15 million dollars as the final cost, but the United States further went ahead to replace 3 million dollars in claims made against Mexico. Further conflicts arose after the land exchange which had resulted in the expansion of the United State's territory into Mexico. Ultimately, those who extensively suffered as a result of this were the Mexicans, slaves; free African Americans and the Native Americans. These groups had previously owned most of the newly acquired areas, and now that the U.S. had taken the land, they were subject to the country as second-class citizens.
First, the war between Mexico and America resulted in an internal dispute of slavery in the United States of America. It is important to note that before the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty was signed, there were many arguments regarding on what would become of the territories if the U.S. acquired them. It is worth noting that slavery was a rampant trade in the United States which played a significant role in providing cheap labor on farms. One of the arguments emphasized that once the new territories were acquired, neither slavery nor any form of involuntary services will be accepted in many parts of the new territories.
This argument affirms the United State's desire to take the north as a whole, despite being occupied by the Mexicans, Native Americans, African Americans, and the slaves. The Americans were intelligent in the sense that they wanted to maintain power by balancing the north and the south. To achieve this, they had to balance between slavery and antislavery where wanted to outlaw slavery in the new territories so that they cannot lose any political influence. This can be attributed to the fact that as much as the U.S was pushing to gain more territories in the North, they had to maintain their influence by eradicating slavery in the newly acquired lands.
Second, further arguments were witnessed over the matter, especially the slave status in California and New Mexico. As a result, there were several attempts made to compromise with the issue. However, only one compromise succeeded. The one that prevailed was that of 1850 originally thought by Henry Clay consisting of four parts. The first part emphasized that California would be a free state while the second one emphasized that other western territories would vote over the institution of slavery. The third compromise insisted that the slave trade should be stopped in Washington D.C. and the last agreement ensured that the Fugitive Slave Act is enacted. Despite being a compromise, it ignited tensions between the Southerners and the Northerners for some time before the Civil War erupted after that.
Last, there was the ill consequence the war had on the Mexicans. For instance, after the nation lost almost half of its territory, it was feeling all but kindness towards its neighbors to the north. The dominant invasion of the U.S. had angered the country into their territory coupled with imperialistic ideology. As a result, they were no longer interested in dealing with the U.S. because they believed that any information the country released was misgiving. On the other hand, the Mexican-American war also led to some internal issues among the Mexicans. For instance, several uprisings were witnessed, and governments and notable rulers were overthrown one after the other which resulted in many forms of disunities. To make matters worse, the aftermath of the war also culminated in problems where most of the Mexicans felt that the U.S. continuously interfered with their government and societal affairs.
The third consequence of the Mexican-American war was directed towards the former Mexican citizens who were living in the territories that were ceded by the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty to the United States. Other groups in the newly acquired territories included the Native Americans, slaves, the free African Americans, and the Native Americans. These groups were denied citizenship as they had earlier been promised by the United States who had taken their land. For instance, when the citizens emanating from the eastern side of the United States traveled to the newly acquired territories, the Mexican people's claim on their land was ignored as the Easterners advanced into their areas without being blocked. After the signing of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty, most Mexicans tried to reclaim their lost territories through lawsuits, but they were unsuccessful because of the American's dominance. On the other hand, the slaves were also subjected to misery after the Mexican-American war since they did not have a place they could call home. Most of them after being enslaved were left stranded since the newly acquired territories did not advocate for slavery.
After the creation of Texas as a republic in 1836, the Anglo-Americans views on the institution of slavery and race predominated. Several laws were passed to reduce the rights of the free African American citizens. For instance, the minority group was prohibited from participating in elections through voting, were denied to own property and intermarrying with the whites. After the war, Texas was the first part where a significant number of Americans settled. During that time, the Mexican government canceled the existing land contracts and further banned any future emigration of people from the United States. This compelled the rebels to form a government that called for Texas independence from Mexico. It is important to note that Mexicans had previously abolished the institution of slavery and declared persons of other races equal before the law. This, however, was not taken well with the Americans to push for the annexation of Texas. After Pork was elected president, his primary goals were to settle the existing Oregon dispute and further bring California to the Union something that was opposed by the Mexicans. From this, it can be asserted that the Americans were pushing to acquire more territories towards the Mexican side which led to conflicts. The aftermath of the war can demonstrate the United State's mission and what they achieved. Its expansion into the Mexican territory resulted in the acquisition of more land, which made the United States a big territory. The recent conflicts between the Mexicans and the Americans can be attributed to the fact that the Mexicans are still bitter with the actions taken by the U.S. to enter their territory by force. Importantly, the day-to-day invasion of the U.S. into the Mexican territory fueled the growing debate over the institution of slavery. For instance, the main question raised was whether the newly acquired territories would allow the institution of slavery or not, a conflict that would eventually lead to the Civil War after that.
It is important to note that Thomas Jefferson's idea of an Empire of Liberty clearly affirms that he was indeed an expansionist. For instance, the Revolutionary war was fought because King George has forbidden the settlement in the famous Ohio Valley because of what he considered as malice the treaties he signed with Native Americans. Immediately after signing the Treaty of Paris, most Americans rushed westward, which forced Jefferson to expand their opportunities through the Louisiana Purchase. However, it is essential to understand that the Louisiana Purchase is entirely different from the Empire of Liberty. Jefferson's idea emphasized on other civil rights which implied that those with a similar view of a world that is being controlled by America had the duty to spread freedom, grant blessings of liberty to the benighted savages and to act as a shining example of democracy to the world.
The newly acquired land during the Mexican-American War did not promote Jefferson's idea; however, with the Louisiana Purchase, it was considered to be an empire of liberty because only a few people benefited from the newly acquired territories. This is evident from the fact that the acquired lands had original settlers who included the Native Americans, Mexicans, slaves, and free African Americans. All these groups were not considered, and most of them ended up being displaced and forced to acquire new citizenships by being either Mexicans or Americans but as second-class citizens. As a result, most of them had to assimilate with either culture to be considered as citizens of either country. Since the population of the United States was rapidly increasing, President Thomas Jefferson saw the need to kick off the country's westward expansion, with the Louisiana Purchase so that the Americans can have more land to settle.
Conclusively, the Mexican-American War had both negative and positive impacts on the two nations. However, most of those who suffered as a result of the war included the slaves, Mexicans, free African Americans, and the Native Americans. President Polk with the help of the American citizens saw the need to expand their country by acquiring all the land towards the north of the American continent regardless of those living in those territories. In addition, the South Americans further saw the need to acquire more slave states to strengthen the institution of slavery. Despite all these, most of those who were pursuing to acquire more land had no interest in the indigenous people at hand. Most of the indigenous people were forced to assimilate into the Mexican or American culture to become full citizens who were forced to erase their tradition. A realist would affirm that the Mexican-American War was merely a contestation in protecting their territorial integrity. It is quite evident that the United States was justified in its quest to acquire more territory because acquiring more land was the president's mission to put the nation's interest first that could help them gain more natural resources and further boost their economy. However, others have the assertion that the Mexican-American War was unjust since it deviated from the just-war principles in so many aspects. Despite several attempts by Mexico to protect its territories, the United State's push was unstoppable. As a result, the indigenous people who included the slaves, free African Americans, Native Americans, and the Mexicans themselves suffered a great deal from the war. The indigenous people were forced to assimilate into being Mexican or United State's citizens to be considered full citizens of a particular nation. Besides, both countries suffered many casualties from the war. Importantly, the Mexican-American War mainly centered on the acquisition of territories, but the consequences of the war were widespread. Therefore, the effects brought about by the war were directed to indigenous residents and individuals in both countries, which violated the just war principles.
Cogliano, Francis D. Emperor of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson's Foreign Policy. Yale University Press, 2014.
Gómez, Laura E. Manifest destinies: The making of the Mexican American race. NYU Press, 2018.
Gregory, Derek. "The everywhere war."The Geographical Journal 177, no. 3 (2011): 238-250.
Molina, Natalia. "Borders, laborers, and racialized medicalization Mexican immigration and US public health practices in the 20th century."American Journal of Public Health 101, no. 6 (2011): 1024-1031.
Shear, Sarah B., Ryan T. Knowles, Gregory J. Soden, and Antonio J. Castro. "Manifesting destiny: Re/presentations of indigenous peoples in K–12 US history standards."Theory & Research in Social Education 43, no. 1 (2015): 68-101.
Tucker, Spencer, James R. Arnold, Roberta Wiener, Paul G. Pierpaoli, Thomas W. Cutrer, and Pedro Santoni, eds. The encyclopedia of the Mexican-American War: a political, social, and military history. Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO, 2013.
Woodworth, Steven E. Manifest Destinies: America's Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War. Vintage, 2011.
 Gómez, Laura E. Manifest destinies: The making of the Mexican American race. NYU Press, 2018.
 Tucker, Spencer, James R. Arnold, Roberta Wiener, Paul G. Pierpaoli, Thomas W. Cutrer, and Pedro Santoni, eds. The encyclopedia of the Mexican-American War: a political, social, and military history. Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO, 2013.
 Gregory, Derek. "The everywhere war."The Geographical Journal 177, no. 3 (2011): 238-250.
 Shear, Sarah B., Ryan T. Knowles, Gregory J. Soden, and Antonio J. Castro. "Manifesting destiny: Re/presentations of indigenous peoples in K–12 US history standards."Theory & Research in Social Education 43, no. 1 (2015): 68-101.
 Molina, Natalia. "Borders, laborers, and racialized medicalization Mexican immigration and US public health practices in the 20th century."American Journal of Public Health 101, no. 6 (2011): 1024-1031.
 Gómez, Laura E. Manifest destinies
Gregory, Derek. "The everywhere war."
 Woodworth, Steven E. Manifest Destinies: America's Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War. Vintage, 2011.
 Cogliano, Francis D. Emperor of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson's Foreign Policy. Yale University Press, 2014.
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