"Causes of the Mexican War"
. . . Generally the officers of the army were
indifferent whether the annexation [of Texas] was consummated or not; but
not so all of them. For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure,
and to this day regard the war [with Mexico] which resulted as one of the
most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It
was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies,
in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
Texas was originally a state belonging to the
republic of Mexico. It extended from the Sabine River on the east
to the Rio Grande on the west, and from the Gulf of Mexico on the south
and east to the territory of the United States and New Mexico -- another
Mexican state at that time -- on the north and west. An empire in
territory, it had but a very sparse population, until settled by Americans
who had received authority from Mexico to colonize. These colonists
paid very little attention to the supreme government, and introduced slavery
into the state almost from the start, though the constitution of Mexico
did not, nor does it now, sanction that institution. Soon they set
up an independent government of their own, and war existed, between Texas
and Mexico, in name from that time until 1836, when active hostilities
very nearly ceased upon the capture of Santa Anna, the Mexican President.
Before long, however, the same people -- who with permission of Mexico
had colonized Texas, and afterwards set up slavery there, and then seceded
as soon as they felt strong enough to do so -- offered themselves and the
State to the United States, and in 1845 their offer was accepted.
The occupation, separation and annexation were, from the inception of the
movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out
of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.
Even if the annexation itself could be justified,
the manner in which the subsequent war was forced upon Mexico cannot.
The fact is, annexationists wanted more territory than they could possibly
lay any claim to, as part of the new acquisition. Texas, as an independent
State, never exercised jurisdiction over the territory between the Nueces
River and the Rio Grande. Mexico never recognized the independence
of Texas, and maintained that, even if independent, the State had no claim
south of the Nueces. I am aware that a treaty, made by the Texans
with Santa Anna while he was under duress, ceded all the territory between
the Nueces and the Rio Grande; but he was a prisoner of war when the treaty
was made, and his life was in jeopardy. He knew, too, that he deserved
execution at the hands of the Texans, if they should ever capture him.
The Texans, if they had taken his life, would have only followed the example
set by Santa Anna himself a few years before, when he executed the entire
garrison of the Alamo and the villagers of Goliad.
In taking military possession of Texas after annexation,
the army of occupation, under General [Zachary] Taylor, was directed to
occupy the disputed territory. The army did not stop at the Nueces
and offer to negotiate for a settlement of the boundary question, but went
beyond, apparently in order to force Mexico to initiate war. It is
to the credit of the American nation, however, that after conquering Mexico,
and while practically holding the country in our possession, so that we
could have retained the whole of it, or made any terms we chose, we paid
a round sum for the additional territory taken; more than it was worth,
or was likely to be, to Mexico. To us it was an empire and of incalculable
value; but it might have been obtained by other means. The Southern
rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations,
like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our
punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.
SOURCE: U. S. Grant,
Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant (New York, 1885), pages 22-24.
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