The loss of Texas in 1836 under the guise of an independent republic became for the former Spanish colony an omen of US aggression. Nine years later, Texas joined the United States as another state. Now, the Americans wanted to get rich and almost empty California, virtually not controlled by the Mexican government. Attempts to buy California were unsuccessful – the southern neighbor was destitute but proud and did not want to give anything away (Guardino, 2017). Therefore, the supporter of the expansionist foreign policy, US President James Polk, began to prepare for war. The reversal of the military campaign was justified for the United States, since in case of victory, America would receive vast territories rich in minerals, however, for Mexico, the armed conflict was not warranted due to inability of waging a major military campaign.
The Mexicans gave the first battle to the Americans on May 8 in the disputed territory near Palo Alto. In this battle, all of the Mexico’s weaknesses were clearly noticeable: a lack of high-quality artillery, outdated weapons, inadequate training of recruits, enrolled mainly from Indians, and the indecision of the command (Guardino, 2017). In the fight against the US, Mexicans were hampered by internal political conflicts, instability, and a lack of money for the war. In August 1847, General Winfield Scott began a move to the Mexican capital. On September 13, American troops entered Mexico City, breaking the defenses of the city’s 20,000 defenders.
According to the Guadalupe-Hidalgo Peace Treaty of 1848, Mexico gave up considerable possessions in the north of the country: Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah – everything went to the conqueror. In exchange, the United States forgave Mexico debts and paid $ 15 million as contributions for damaging Mexican territory (Guardino, 2017). The United States entered the 19th century as a third-rate power and ended it among the first countries in the world, making a substantial political and economic leap. Colossal territorial gains through conquest or purchase are part of this process. By 1850, the United States occupied the vast North American lands between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, increasing its territory several times over half a century. The war with Mexico became one of the most successful military campaigns of the 19th century in general, providing the winner with opportunities for economic development for more than one century.
Guardino, P. (2017). The dead march: A history of the Mexican-American war. Harvard University Press.