Spanish Settle of the West

the

U.S.-Mexican border is no exception. With the European colonizing the New

World, it was a matter of time before the powers collided. The Spanish

settled what is today Mexico, while the English settled what is to day

the

United States. When the two colonial powers did meet what is today the

United States’ Southwest, it was not England and Spain. Rather the two

powers were the United States and Mexico. Both Counties had broken off

from

their mother countries. The conflict that erupted between the two

countries

where a direct result of different nation policies. The United States had

a

policy of westward expansion, while Mexico had a policy of self

protection.

The Americans never had a written policy of expansion. What they had was

the idea of “Manifest Destiny.” Manifest Destiny was the belief that the

United States had the right to expand westward to the Pacific ocean. On

the

other hand, Mexico was a new country wanting to protect itself from

outside

powers. Evidence of U.S. expansion is seen with the independence of Texas

from Mexico. The strongest evidence of U.S. expansion goals is with the

Mexican-American War. From the beginning, the war was conceived as an

opportunity for land expansion. Mexico feared the United States expansion

goals.

During the 16th century, the Spanish began to settle the region.

The

Spanish had all ready conquered and settled Central Mexico. Now they

wanted

to expand their land holdings north. The first expedition into the

region,

that is today the United States Southwest, was with Corando. Corando

reported a region rich in resources, soon after people started to settle

the

region. The driving force behind the settlement was silver in the region.

The Spanish settled the region through three major corridors;

central,

western and eastern. The first settlements were mainly through the

central

corridor. The Spanish went thorough what is now the modern Mexican state

of

Chihuahua into the U.S. state of New Mexico. Eventually the Spanish

established the city of Santa Fe in 1689. The eastern corridor was

through

modern day Texas and led to the establishment of San Antonio. The

eastern

expansion was caused by the French expansion into modern day Louisiana.

The

Spanish crown wanted a buffer between the French in Louisiana and central

Mexico. The last corridor of expansion was in the west, through the sea,

which led to the establishment of San Diego in 1769 and Los Angles in

1781.

The Spanish were not the only European power to colonize the new

world;

French, English and the Dutch also settled North and South America. The

Spanish and the French settled what is present day U.S.-Mexico border

region.

The French settled modern day U.S. midwest, while the Spanish settled

present day Mexico and U.S. southwest. As time went on, European

influence

in the region diminished.. The French sold there claims to the United

States, in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. Mexico gained independence

from Spain in 1821. Once the United States bought the Louisiana Purchase,

western expansion began. This set the stage for major conflict in the

region.

The United States gained independence from England in 1775. After

1775, the

Americans started to expand west. By the time Mexico gained independence,

the United States had reached the Mexican frontier. Mexico needed to

protect

its northern borders. To protect the border region, Mexico needed to

populate the area. Mexico continued the policy started by Spain of

allowing

Americans to settle Texas. The Americans had to follow Mexican law,

religion

and customs. The settlement of Texas played into the United States’

expansion plans.

Eventually Mexico City closed Texas from more Americans from

entering.

This angered the Americans wanting to enter and Americans already living

in

Texas. Texas revolted from Mexico in 1833. Mexicans did live in Texas,

and

fought for the independence of Texas. The majority of Texans were

Americans

and fought for their independence. After the war the Americans

intentionally

or non-intentionally forced most Mexicans out of Texas. The ones that

stayed

faced racial tensions that continue to today.

After gaining independence from Mexico, Texas wanted to join the

United

States immediately. The U.S. Congress voted against Texas from joining

the

Union. Congress was worried that annexation of Texas would anger Mexico.

Mexico had never officially recognized Texas as independent. Congress

was

concerned that annexation would start a war with Mexico. Mexico’s repose

to

American annexation was not the only factor in deciding against

annexation.

If Texas was to become a state, it would be a slave state. At the time,

the

United States an even balance between slave and non-slave states. Texas

entering the Union would disrupt the balance, giving slave states an

advantage in the U.S. House and Senate. Since the United States was not

ready to annex Texas, Texas declared itself a sovereign country. In 1837

President Andrew Jackson formally recognized Texas a country.

Texas wanted to be part of the United States. It needed the

protection of

the Untied States. President Tyler could not get the 2/3 majority needed

to

admit Texas. Instead, he changed the law to require only a simple

majority.

It was not until 1845 and two Presidents later that Texas was annexed

into

the United States. Mexico protested the admission of Texas into the

United

States. The United States saw Mexico’s protest as a excuse to spend

troops

into Texas

The annexation of Texas was a represented the United States

expansion goals.

The United States wanted to settle in Texas, but Mexico owned the land.

That did not matter to the United States, they settled in the region

regardless. The Americans that settled the region agreed to Mexican law

and

customs, but still considered themselves Americans. After the annexation

of

Texas, Texas also wanted to expand. Texas claimed that New Mexico and

California were part of Texas. The boundary with Mexico was also

disputed.

The United States claimed that the Texas border was at the Rio Grande.

Mexico disagreed, Mexico stated the border was at Nueces River. The

United

States did try to settle matters diplomatically. The United States sent

inexperienced diplomat John Slidell. Slidell tried to buy area known as

the

U.S. Southwest. Slidell, being an inexperienced diplomat, was rejected.

Not

only was he not successful in buying the land, he aroused Mexican fears.

This

set the stage for the Mexican-American War.

. The United States also had no written policy of expansion, but

the

government quietly supported it. The United States has always had troops

the

region, even though they held no land in the region The United States

kept

ships off the coast of California. In 1842 the U.S. commander in the

region,

Commodore Thomas Jones, attacked and took the city of Monterrey in

California. He falsely believed that Texas and Mexico were at war. Once

he

realized his mistake he withdrew his forces and apologized to the Mexian

government for his action and claimed that he did not act with orders

from

the U.S. government.

Although Jones claimed that he did not act with orders from the

U.S.

government, clearly the government did not stop the practice. Another

example of the United State’s expansion goals was the Mexican-American

War.

This is the first time America has fought a war with land expansion as

its

main goal. The war started on April 25 1846 with the attack from Mexican

troops and the counter attack from General Taylor of the U.S. Army.

Taylor

sent a message to President Polk that hostilities have started. President

Polk, with a pre-drafted declaration of war, asked Congress to declare war

against Mexico. President Polk knew that Mexico would lose the war and

would

gain new lands in the end.

The Mexican-American war lasted two years, and ended with the

signing of the

Treaty of Guadeloupe on February 2 1848. The United States had succeeded

in

winning the war. With the Treaty of Guadeloupe the United States had

succeeded in completing its Manifest Destiny. The Treaty itself

represented

the United States expansion goals. The United States wanted to settle on

were the international border was to be. Mexico wanted the border to

north

of the Rio Grande river, but finally decided upon the middle of the Rio

Grande river. Mexico having been bankrupt from the war, agreed to take

the

15 million as payment for the vast land. In addition, the United States

agreed to pay off all Mexican debts owed to the United States. This

amount

was small in comparison to what the United States gained in territory.

The

United States took advantage of a weak country of obtained its expansion

goals.

Another example of the United States taking advantage of Mexico is

the

Gasden Purchase. The Gasden Purchase was ratified in 1854 for the selling

price of 10 million. Mexico was going through rough economical time and

desperately needed the money. The United States seeing an opportunity to

build a railroad through the region brought the land at a cheap price.

The

selling of the Gasden Purchase was the down fall of President Santa Ana,

and

led to his replacement.

The conflicts along the border region were a direct result of

U.S.

expansion policies and Mexican fear for the United States. The Americans

saw

Manifest Destiny, westward expansion, as there God given right. The

United

States proved often that it supported policy of expansion. With the

Mexican-American war, the United States completed it’s Manifest Destiny.

The

United States completed Manifest Destiny at the cost of the Mexican

government and its people.

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