The Mexican-American War

Manifest Destiny was the belief that American expansion was destined to expand across the continent going westward. The Mexican American War was fought to defend territory that the US wanted and resulted in the Mexican Cession. The war was fought from April 25th 1846- February 2, 1842. James K. Polk was president at this time and wanted to make America great and powerful. Polk was very big into expansion and believed that he could rule over the land from sea to sea. Polk and his army fought in the Mexican American War in order to win over all the land that could make Polk’s dream of ruling from sea to sea true. In the war the US Army was fighting against the Mexican Army, led by their president Jose Joaquin Herreara. The Mexican Army and Mexico believed that Texas and the other western territories belonged to them and that the US should not be able to expand and take over the area in the west. However, the US was trying to to grow across North America and nothing was going to get in their way of doing this. Polk and the rest of the US dreamed about moving across the country, which is what manifest destiny was about; moving westward. Do to the US and Mexico not agreeing on land, the Mexican American War was declared. President James K. Polk justified the Mexican American war as a war of expansion to make American dominant.

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Before the war began, in 1836, Texas gained its independence from Mexico and established themselves as a lone state not belonging to any other nation. At first the US did not want anything to do with the state of Texas because it was supposed to be a slave state, but then in 1844 President Polk was elected as President of the United States and the term manifest destiny was created. President Polk had a dream of owning all the land from sea to sea and was going to do anything to get this land, even if it meant a war. Polk was big into expansion and found no better place but to move west on North America. One thing stood in the way of Polk’s dream of moving west and that was the Mexican Army and their President Jose Joaquin Herrera. Polk wanted Texas, California, New Mexico, and the Oregon Territory with everything in between. As Polk was planning on moving west, the word spread to the Mexicans and they started to create borders in Texas and made it clear to the US that if they wanted Texas their was going to be a war. Polk being set on his dream of wanting land from sea to sea ignored the fact of this and went along with his plans on moving west. In order for Polk to be successful, he knew that he needed to get the US to side with him. Polk justified that the land was going to help them in the future and made sure that it wasn’t because he wanted more land and power. Polk decided to send troops out led by General Zachary Taylor of the US army to the Rio Grande. When the troops arrived, the Mexican cavalry killed 12 of the US men, but this was all of Polk’s plan of ruling over all the land. Polk ended up sending many men out to fight in different battles in order for his dream to become a reality.

The Mexican Army soon began to realize that they were outnumbered, out-trained, and did not have enough weapons to attack the US, so they ended up having to retreat. Having Mexico retreat is what lead the US to many victories and is what lead them to the the 2 year long brutal war. After winning the small battles Polk ended up having the people of the US on his side, along with the support from the government, which was exactly what Polk needed to be successful. The US declared war on Mexico 2 short days after the attacks. May 13th was the beginning of the war that Polk wanted in order for his dream of expansion to come true.

When war broke out against Mexico in May 1846, the United States Army numbered a mere 8,000, but soon 60,000 volunteers joined their ranks. The US took over the Rio Grande very easily, which worried the Mexican President. Looking for help the Mexican President reached out to general, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who was going to lead the Mexican Forces into the battle of Buena Vista. After losing terribly in this battle of Buena Vista, Santa Anna took over as president and gained control of the Mexican forces. After taking control of the forces the Mexican Army still had a very hard time defending their territory as the US was gaining more and more people to help take down the Mexican Army. Polk Ended up sending 2 men out. John Fremont and Stephen Kearny were sent to control the coveted lands of California and New Mexico. Fremont secured California by 1847. Kearny easily secured New Mexico by 1846. After securing California, New Mexico and the Rio Grande, Polk was on his way to the middle of Mexico.

The US was easily dominating over the Mexican Army because of the weapons that the US Army was using. They were using high tech weapons that the Mexicans did not have. They were using up to date muskets, rifles, pistols, revolvers, and swords to fight the Mexican Army. While the Mexican Army had the same weapons, they were just old and would often tend to not work when they needed them too. These advantages that the US had, paved the way for Polk’s dream to become a reality. As all of this was going on throughout North America, the people not fighting the war were worried that Polk was making decisions that would hurt them. Many started questioning what Polk’s intentions were with the war and thought that he was just wanting the land for the power. This was true but the people of the North were also not realizing that this was going to help them grow. As the war still was going on for the land, the US was slowly starting to dominant it. More and more deaths were happening for Mexico and resulted in Santa Anna to retire. Soon after this the Mexican government collapsed. This did not stop the Mexican Army. They still were trying to fight for the land, but the US was becoming stronger and stronger that it was almost impossible for Mexico to have a chance. During this time the Mexican Army was being rebuilt. Once the Mexican Army was rebuilt and the US army made it to the middle of Mexico, Mexico was defeated leaving President Polk the ruler of all the land in the western territory. All that remained was negotiating the terms of peace. The US defeated the Mexican Army and Polk reached his goal of expansion.

The Treaty to be signed would known as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The Treaty was signed in Mexico and stated that the US had gained power over California, Texas, and the New Mexico Territory. Today that would be California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. Winning the war brought the US a lot of land from the west. 525,000 Miles of new land was now owned by the US. This Helped the growing population spread out over all the land. The new land cost $15,000,000 and they estimated the war cost around $75,000,000. The new land was good for American people who needed a fresh start or just seeking new adventures. Finally the people had the option to move west if they wanted. This lead to a lot of Pioneers to move to the west to seek out the new land and the opportunity that awaited them. The new land was good for growing crops, hunting, and agriculture. They built towns all over the new land to start up new communities. They found gold in California and other new crops. This made it easier to trade with other countries because they were closer and had new agriculture. These are just a few examples of the result of winning the Mexican American War.

Manifest Destiny was supposed to be a good thing because they were gaining land but that is not what the North thought. Abolitionists rightly feared that southerners would try to use newly acquired lands to expand slavery. Slavery was still a huge deal in the south and the North did not want that traveling up to them. The North thought more land equals more slaves. Along with all the new land, new borders were created, and new rules were instilled. Some states would allow slavery and some would not. This lead to the North and South not agreeing to the same things about slavery. Do to this many people were moving to new states, to make voting easier, whether they were for or against slavery. This ultimately lead to the famous Civil War. White supremacy was affecting the new land as well. White people believed that they were the only ones allowed to look for new land and move onto the new land. This lead the whites to brag about moving west and the others did not like this. Instead of enjoying the new land that Polk had won them, they were getting caught up in the rules and the slavery that the Mexican American War and Manifest Destiny brought them.

Manifest Destiny was born while President James K. Polk was president. Manifest Destiny was the Expansion towards the west and that is exactly what Polk Did while fighting the Mexican American War. The war itself had many good things come about it and also some bad. For the US they gained a bunch of new land, and they fought the war mainly on foreign soil, but also the uprise of slavery began to take place and a lot of people died while fighting in the war. For mexico their were a lot of tragedies. They lost all of their territory to the US, many people died while fighting and their government was destroyed resulting in a new government and a new president. Polk successfully reached his goal of obtaining the new land. Manifest Destiny reflected the concept of the Mexican American war. President James K. Polk made America Dominant by winning the land of the western territory. He dreamed of expansion and did everything he could to get what he wanted. Whether that meant sending his troops into dangerous areas, it was all part of his plan, and his plan worked. The Mexican American war was about expansion and was a crucial turning point in history and only helped America grow from there.

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The Mexican-American War. (2019, Jun 17). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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