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"We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God" Chapter 8 of A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn (1980)

Author: Howard Zinn

Zinn, Howard. “We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God, Chapter 8.” A People's History of the United States, 1980, hiaw.org/defcon1/zinntak8.html.

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Colonel Ethan Alien Hitchcock, a professional soldier, graduate of the Military Academy, commander of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, a reader of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Hegel, Spinoza, wrote in his diary:

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Fort Jesup, La., June 30, 1845. Orders came last evening by express from Washington City directing General Taylor to move without any delay to some point on the coast near the Sabine or elsewhere, and as soon as he shall hear of the acceptance by the Texas convention of the annexation resolutions of our Congress he is immediately to proceed with his whole command to the extreme western border of Texas and take up a position on the banks of or near the Rio Grande, and he is to expel any armed force of Mexicans who may cross that river. Bliss read the orders to me fast evening hastily at tattoo. I have scarcely slept a wink, thinking of the needful preparations. I am now noting at reveille by candlelight and waiting the signal for muster.. . . Violence leads to violence, and if this movement of ours does not lead to others and to bloodshed, I am much mistaken.
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Jan 21
Liliana S (Jan 21 2021 1:40PM) : I am surprised to get insight on his logic because it makes me wonder what kind of man he is, and what personality traits he portrays.
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Jan 21
Estefania H (Jan 21 2021 1:50PM) : Colonel Ethan Alien Hitchcock was in the war and had to make sure that no Mexican crosses the river to attack. He had no idea if what they are doing is right or not. He wasn't even able to sleep because of thinking that there is going to be violence soon.
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Jan 21
Dominique C (Jan 21 2021 3:09PM) : I am curious to know how he functioned with such little sleep. [Edited]
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Jan 21
Vivianne L (Jan 21 2021 5:34PM) : I agree with the part that says "Violence leads to violence." This is seen throughout history that no matter what battles always lead to destruction and death.
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Jan 21
Alejandro M (Jan 21 2021 9:12PM) : I am surprised to learn that Jefferson purchased louisiana becuase I thought that louisiana was always a part of U.S.
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Jan 21
Manuel C (Jan 21 2021 11:08PM) : The Saying "Violence leads to violence'' is correct because there is just going to be a cycle of hatred and things could only go worse from there.
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Jan 25
Emily V (Jan 25 2021 3:50PM) : I agree when he said that violence leads to violence, even though this is a war he knows he has to give the orders to attack the Mexicans.
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Jan 27
Ariana O (Jan 27 2021 12:14AM) : I agree that violence leads to violence and just will be an on going cycle.
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Jan 21
Yamile B (Jan 21 2021 1:41PM) : I agree that violence leads to violence, I assume that the US thinks that if they attack Mexico the Mexicans will have no other option but to attack back which will commence a war.
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Nicole G (Jan 22 2021 2:25AM) : It is interesting how the writer already knew the outcome of this and knew it would result in violence and people dying.
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Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:34PM) : It is crazy to see how an ideology led to the war. This shows how strong words are and the effect they have on people.
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Jan 25
Fabian L (Jan 25 2021 1:43PM) : I agree that violence leads to violence and that doesn't always have to be the solution
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 1:45PM) : I agree that "Violence leads to violence" because if you attack they're going to respond with self defense.

Hitchcock was not mistaken. Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase had doubled the territory of the United States, extending it to the Rocky Mountains. To the southwest was Mexico, which had won its independence in a revolutionary war against Spain in 1821-a large country which included Texas and what are now New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, and part of Colorado. After agitation, and aid from the United States, Texas broke off from Mexico in 1836 and declared itself the "Lone Star Republic." In 1845, the U.S. Congress brought it into the Union as a state.

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Jan 21
Vivianne L (Jan 21 2021 6:03PM) : Why was it necessary for the Americans to keep expanding land? How much has America expanded since it was first made?
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Jan 21
Manuel C (Jan 21 2021 11:10PM) : I am surprised to learn that texas was a part of Mexico but decided to go independent.
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Jan 25
Jesusita G (Jan 25 2021 1:43PM) : i found it interesting that texas was a part from mexico
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Jan 21
Yamile B (Jan 21 2021 1:49PM) : I am not surprised to learn how Texas became independent from Mexico because Mexico had no established government and had a country in the ruins.
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Jan 25
Fabian L (Jan 25 2021 1:46PM) : I was surprised to know that Texas was part of Mexico but they went independent because Mexico didn't have a government
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 1:49PM) : I am surprised to know that texas was alone state once it broke off from Mexico until the United States bought it.
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Nicole G (Jan 22 2021 2:32AM) : It is interesting how Texas was once part of Mexico, but then turned into a U.S. state and still is.
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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:36PM) : I am not surprised Texas separated because they saw themselves as Tejanos and not Mexicans

In the White House now was James Polk, a Democrat, an expansionist, who, on the night of his inauguration, confided to his Secretary of the Navy that one of his main objectives was the acquisition of California. His order to General Taylor to move troops to the Rio Grande was a challenge to the Mexicans. It was not at all clear that the Rio Grande was the southern boundary of Texas, although Texas had forced the defeated Mexican general Santa Anna to say so when he was a prisoner. The traditional border between Texas and Mexico had been the Nueces River, about 150 miles to the north, and both Mexico and the United States had recognized that as the border. However, Polk, encouraging the Texans to accept annexation, had assured them he would uphold their claims to the Rio Grande.

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Jan 21
Liliana S (Jan 21 2021 1:53PM) : I wonder how the Troops will be moved to Rio Grande since it's a challenge, Will they be successful?
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Jan 21
Dominique C (Jan 21 2021 3:17PM) : I wonder what their transportation looked like and how many passed away by changing locations.
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Jan 21
Vivianne L (Jan 21 2021 5:43PM) : In my APUSH class I know that Manifest Destiny was so that the Americans would gain land. Polk was encouraging people to accept the idea of annexation to gain Rio Grande.
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Jan 21
Alejandro M (Jan 21 2021 9:15PM) : I don't understand why U.S took like a provocation actions of Meixco.
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Jan 25
Estefania H (Jan 25 2021 1:44PM) : James Polk ordered the General Taylor to force his way in to Rio Grande. Rio Grande was declared as the main border of Texas which confused Mexico a lot. Polk forced the Texans to accept annexation so he can get closer and closer to Mexico's lands.
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Jan 21
Yamile B (Jan 21 2021 3:16PM) : I think president Polk wanted to fulfill the Manifest Destiny so that the could gain a good reputation with the Americans so he sought to acquire even more land.
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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:40PM) : Manifest Destiny led to the annexation of the Mexican territories that are known as CA,NV,AZ,TX, UT, and NM.
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Ordering troops to the Rio Grande, into territory inhabited by Mexicans, was clearly a provocation. Taylor had once denounced the idea of the annexation of Texas. But now that he had his marching orders, his attitude seemed to change. His visit to the tent of his aide Hitchcock to discuss the move is described in Hitchcock's diary:

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Jan 25
Natalia N (Jan 25 2021 2:44PM) : Provocation more

Do you agree that ordering troops to the Rio Grande “was clearly a provocation”? Why, or why not?

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He seems to have lost all respect for Mexican rights and is willing to be an instrument of Mr. Polk for pushing our boundary as far west as possible. When I told him that, if he suggested a movement (which he told me he intended), Mr. Polk would seize upon it and throw the responsibility on him, he at once said he would take it, and added that if the President instructed him to use his discretion, he would ask no orders, but would go upon the Rio Grande as soon as he could get transportation. I think the General wants an additional brevet, and would strain a point to get it.
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Jan 21
Liliana S (Jan 21 2021 2:04PM) : It makes me angry to learn that he lost respect for mexican right's and I don't understand why the general would stain a point to get it. [Edited]
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Jan 21
Dominique C (Jan 21 2021 3:18PM) : I wonder why Polk was so against Mexicans.
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Jan 21
Yamile B (Jan 21 2021 4:04PM) : It could be due to greed over the land or just how Douglass had said anyone not white is a victim of the white American's cruelty of getting pushed around.
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Jan 21
Vivianne L (Jan 21 2021 5:57PM) : Why did Americans wants so much land from people? Was there any benefit of this or was it just for power?
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Jan 21
Alejandro M (Jan 21 2021 9:17PM) : I don't understand why U.S withdraw their troops if they had the advantage vs Mexico.
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Jan 21
Manuel C (Jan 21 2021 11:13PM) : could he have no respect for Mexicans because of color?
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Jan 22
Nicole G (Jan 22 2021 2:38AM) : It is sad to see that General Taylor did not care about Mexican rights and only wanted to expand probably to just have more power.
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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:42PM) : Manifest Destiny changed Taylor to believe that he was destined to lead the US in this war. This sadly goes on even during Roosevelt's presidency and the imperialized lands in the Cariibean.
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Jan 25
Fabian L (Jan 25 2021 1:49PM) : How did mr.polk lose his respect for mexicans?
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Jan 25
Estefania H (Jan 25 2021 1:51PM) : I am surprised to learn General Taylor lost all the respect for the Mexicans because he was able to annex Texas. I think that General Taylor feels like if he can annex Texas he is able to do whatever he wants.
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 6:09PM) : It makes me angry that he had no respect for the Mexicans or their rights.
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Taylor moved his troops to Corpus Christ!, Texas, just across the Nueces River, and waited further instructions. They came in February 1846-to go down the Gulf Coast to the Rio Grande. Taylor's army marched in parallel columns across the open prairie, scouts far ahead and on the flanks, a train of supplies following. Then, along a narrow road, through a belt of thick chaparral, they arrived, March 28, 1846, in cultivated fields and thatched-roof huts hurriedly abandoned by the Mexican occupants, who had fled across the river to the city of Matamoros. Taylor set up camp, began construction of a fort, and implanted his cannons facing the white houses of Matamoros, whose inhabitants stared curiously at the sight of an army on the banks of a quiet river.

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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:45PM) : The US government took advantage of Mexico's undeveloped country as they didn't have nor the leadership, government structure, or military to fight off in this war. So in the end we see that they concede to defeat and abide off the treaty that the US wrot
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 6:15PM) : You could tell Mexico didn't have the capacity to win against the U.S. from the beginning since most decided to flee instead of staying.
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Jan 22
Nicole G (Jan 22 2021 2:46AM) : The Mexicans must have been so confused to see cannons facing them after they had just fled there.
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Jan 25
Alejandro M (Jan 25 2021 1:39PM) : I'm agree with you becuase their reactions was like confusion or something like that.

The Washington Union, a newspaper expressing the position of President Polk and the Democratic party, had spoken early in 1845 on the meaning of Texas annexation:

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Jan 21
Liliana S (Jan 21 2021 2:14PM) : It amazes me learning about how the army moved upon the orders, and how Taylor led them. They had certain tactics and strategies.
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Jan 21
Yamile B (Jan 21 2021 4:39PM) : I agree, it seems like Taylor had a lot of responsibility on his hands and everything was well planned out.
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Jan 21
Dominique C (Jan 21 2021 3:22PM) : I wonder how Taylor felt having such huge responsibilities.
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Jan 21
Alejandro M (Jan 21 2021 9:21PM) : I am agree with your point becuase Taylor fulfilled his responsabilities.
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Jan 21
Alejandro M (Jan 21 2021 9:19PM) : I don't understand why residents of texas that was formerly Mexican wanted the annexation to U.S.
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Feb 1
Estefania H (Feb 01 2021 1:36PM) : Taylor has moved his troops closer and closer to Mexico while President Polk was saying his speech that they will march their way into California sense they have annexed Texas.
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Let the great measure of annexation be accomplished, and with it the questions of boundary and claims. For who can arrest the torrent that will pour onward to the West? The road to California will be open to us. Who will stay the march of our western people?
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They could have meant a peaceful march westward, except for other words, in the same newspaper: "A corps of properly organized volunteers . .. would invade, overrun, and occupy Mexico. They would enable us not only to take California, but to keep it." It was shortly after that, in the summer of 1845, that John O'Sullivan, editor of the Democratic Review, used the phrase that became famous, saying it was "Our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions." Yes, manifest destiny.

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Jan 21
Liliana S (Jan 21 2021 2:17PM) : I am not surprised to learn that America took over California. This also connects with the concept and ideology of Manifest Destiny, we previously learned about.
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Jan 21
Vivianne L (Jan 21 2021 5:50PM) : I agree with you that it was not surprising that America took over California. As the Americans used the idea of the Manifest Destiny to gain more land.
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Jan 25
Alejandro M (Jan 25 2021 1:41PM) : I am agree with you that was not surprising that a country like America that feel superiority about the other countries.
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Jan 21
Dominique C (Jan 21 2021 3:25PM) : Why did they feel like the future had this in store for them when they had to do wrong?
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Jan 21
Yamile B (Jan 21 2021 4:46PM) : The Americans thought it was justified to do so because they were destined by God to expand the land.
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Jan 21
Manuel C (Jan 21 2021 11:16PM) : why did they use Gods name to claim land while doing horrible things?
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Jan 22
Nicole G (Jan 22 2021 2:50AM) : I wonder why they thought so strongly that it was their destiny to expand the land since they were just taking land that belonged to other people first.
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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:47PM) : Even after the annexation of these lands, the idea of Manifest Destiny is carried out even though the time period of imperialism.
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 6:18PM) : I am not surprised to learn that the U.S. felt superior to Mexico.
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Feb 1
Estefania H (Feb 01 2021 1:42PM) : President Polk gave a speak that states taking over California and it wasn't a peace march said in the newspaper. John O'Sullivan has said that it is their time to take over the continent.
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All that was needed in the spring of 1846 was a military incident to begin the war that Polk wanted. It came in April, when General Taylor's quartermaster, Colonel Cross, while riding up the Rio Grande, disappeared. His body was found eleven days later, his skull smashed by a heavy blow. It was assumed he had been killed by Mexican guerrillas crossing the river. In a solemn military ceremony visible to the Mexicans of Matamoros crowding onto the roofs of their houses across the Rio Grande, Cross was buried with a religious service and three volleys of rifle fire.

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Jan 26
Nicole G (Jan 26 2021 1:21AM) : It is surprising that one of the men was found with a smashed skull after disappearing. I wonder as to why he was killed.
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The next day (April 25), a patrol of Taylor's soldiers was surrounded and attacked by Mexicans, and wiped out: sixteen dead, others wounded, the rest captured. Taylor sent a message to the governors of Texas and Louisiana asking them to recruit live thousand volunteers; he had been authorized to do this by the White House before he left for Texas. And he sent a dispatch to Polk: "Hostilities may now be considered as commenced."

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Jan 21
Dominique C (Jan 21 2021 3:27PM) : I wonder where Taylor was when all this was happening and I wonder why nothing terrible happened to him.
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Jan 25
Yamile B (Jan 25 2021 1:42PM) : I think he is kind of suspicious, I feel like Taylor might have murdered Colonel Cross.
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 10:42PM) : I agree, that's what I was thinking ing, possibly he's involved in the catastrophe
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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:49PM) : I am surprised to learn the war first started by the Rio Grande because of the death of that man.
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 6:22PM) : I can see where the Mexican's were coming from. They were trying to defend their land and honer.
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Jan 27
Vivianne L (Jan 27 2021 12:55PM) : This is crazy because this meant the the Americans wanted the Mexicans to do the first blow. This is so that they could say they needed to fight back.
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Feb 1
Estefania H (Feb 01 2021 1:46PM) : General Taylor found one of his quartermaster's body near Rio Grande with his skull smashed in and they believed it was a Mexican that did it. The reason why is because they saw Mexicans on the the roofs of their houses across the river.
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The Mexicans had fired the first shot. But they had done what the American government wanted, according to Colonel Hitchcock, who wrote in his diary, even before those first incidents:

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I have said from the first that the United States are the aggressors. . . . We have not one particle of right to be here. ... It looks as if the government sent a small force on purpose to bring on a war, so as to have a pretext for taking California and as much of this country as it chooses, for, whatever becomes of this army, there is no doubt of a war between the United States and Mexico. . .. My heart is not in this business ... but, as a military man, I am bound to execute orders.
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Jan 21
Dominique C (Jan 21 2021 3:28PM) : U.S soldiers knew they were hurting Mexico and did not agree with it but did so because it is their duty.
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Jan 25
Yamile B (Jan 25 2021 1:46PM) : Yes, I agree we can even see how Colonel is blaming his fellow Americans as the aggressors.
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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:49PM) : The US provoked the war in order to get Mexico to initiate it for them to justify their actions.
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 6:25PM) : The U.S caused the war and even their own U.S officials knew that.
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 10:43PM) : I feel like the U.S was very forceful because they hold dominance over other Counties since they were powerful.
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Jan 26
Nicole G (Jan 26 2021 12:23AM) : I think it is interesting how the U.S. made a plan to bring war on purpose so they can try to take some of Mexico's land.
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Feb 2
Estefania H (Feb 02 2021 12:55AM) : Mexico started the war even though the United States has been craving the war. If Mexico wouldn't of fired first the United States would go had to hold their craving and they would be the ones that look bad if they were to fired first.
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And before those first clashes, Taylor had sent dispatches to Polk which led the President to note that "the probabilities are that hostilities might take place soon." On May 9, before news of any battles, Polk was suggesting to his cabinet a declaration of war, based on certain money claims against Mexico, and on Mexico's recent rejection of an American negotiator named John Slidell. Polk recorded in his diary what he said to the cabinet meeting:

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Jan 27
Vivianne L (Jan 27 2021 1:57PM) : Why did the Americans feel the need to take this into war? Polk seems as if he was awaiting for this war to happen for his benefits.
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I stated ... that up to this time, as we knew, we had heard of no open act of aggression by the Mexican army, but that the danger was imminent that such acts would be committed. I said that in my opinion we had ample cause of war, and that it was impossible . . . that I could remain silent much longer .. . that the country was excited and impatient on the subject.. . .
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Jan 21
Dominique C (Jan 21 2021 3:36PM) : The U.S was waiting and expecting Mexico to open acts of agression.
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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:53PM) : So like a businessman, the US tried to negotiate the purchase of the land but didn't succeed so they played dirty to get what they wanted.
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 6:27PM) : I am not surprised to learn that the U.S. didn't get their way so they decided to harm Mexico to get what they wanted at whatever cost.
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Jan 26
Nicole G (Jan 26 2021 12:28AM) : It is not surprising that there was no aggression by the Mexican army and that the U.S. was the cause of the war.
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 10:46PM) : Yes, the U.S showed aggression because they didn't get what they wanted.
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Feb 2
Estefania H (Feb 02 2021 1:07AM) : Polk was so excited that Mexico gave in and fired first. He wrote in his diary that it was a good cause to start the war he has always wanted. He states that the United States was so happy and excited to take over Mexico and get more land.
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Jan 25
Yamile B (Jan 25 2021 2:11PM) : I am surprised to see Polk admit that the Mexicans had nothing to do with any aggression because they were initially blamed to start the aggression which brought up the tension between the two.
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The country was not "excited and impatient." But the President was. When the dispatches arrived from General Taylor telling of casualties from the Mexican attack, Polk summoned the cabinet to hear the news, and they unanimously agreed he should ask for a declaration of war. Polk's message to Congress was indignant:

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Jan 22
Manuel C (Jan 22 2021 12:19AM) : so Polk lied about what he wrote in his diary
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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 2:53PM) : Yeah, I guess and he was the one who pushed congress to declare war.
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 7:29PM) : Nobody wanted war more than the President.
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Jan 27
Vivianne L (Jan 27 2021 2:00PM) : So, Polk wanted to fight against the Mexicans well knowingly that the people of the U.S. didn't like it.
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The cup of forbearance had been exhausted even before the recent information from the frontier of the Del Norte [the Rio Grande]. But now, after reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil... .

As war exists, notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself, we are called upon by every consideration of duty and patriotism to vindicate with decision the honor, the rights, and the interests of our country.

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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 1:55PM) : Polk has had a way with words as he used precise diction to trigger his audience to get the reactions he wanted.
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 10:48PM) : I agree, polk was eager to expand land he was doing anything to get people to agree with him.
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Jan 25
Yamile B (Jan 25 2021 3:31PM) : I think Polk lied just to get the war initiated already since he was so eager to expand the US.
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Jan 25
Dominique C (Jan 25 2021 5:01PM) : I agree with you, I think he was just very eager to expand and have more land.
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Jan 26
Nicole G (Jan 26 2021 12:32AM) : I think that Polk was just the main one who wanted war so he was the reason that war was declared because of his message he gave to Congress
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Feb 2
Estefania H (Feb 02 2021 1:14AM) : Polk had arranged the whole cabinet to hear the news and to let them know that Mexico has attacked the United States and passed their boundary so they have to go to war and defend the people that they lost to Mexico.
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Polk spoke of the dispatch of American troops to the Rio Grande as a necessary measure of defense. As John Schroeder says (Mr. Polk's War): "Indeed, the reverse was true; President Polk had incited war by sending American soldiers into what was disputed territory, historically controlled and inhabited by Mexicans."

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Jan 25
Yamile B (Jan 25 2021 3:46PM) : I wonder if there was another reason besides expanding the US that Polk wanted to fight against the Mexicans?
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Jan 25
Dominique C (Jan 25 2021 5:02PM) : Did Polk have anything personal against mexicans?
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 6:31PM) : Polk knew how to provoke the Mexican's he kept sending American soldiers to their territory where they lived.
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Jan 26
Nicole G (Jan 26 2021 12:37AM) : I wonder why Polk found it so necessary to send American soldiers into Mexican territory and why the war was so necessary.
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Jan 27
Vivianne L (Jan 27 2021 1:03PM) : Polk said that it was necessary to fight because they needed to play defense. Or was this really because he wanted what Mexico had?
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 10:49PM) : It makes me wonder why polk was so impulsive.
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Congress then rushed to approve the war message. Schroeder comments: "The disciplined Democratic majority in the House responded with alacrity and high-handed efficiency to Polk's May 11 war recommendations." The bundles of official documents accompanying the war message, supposed to be evidence for Polk's statement, were not examined, but were tabled immediately by the House. Debate on the bill providing volunteers and money for the war was limited to two hours, and most of this was used up reading selected portions of the tabled documents, so that barely a half-hour was left for discussion of the issues.

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Jan 25
Alondra R (Jan 25 2021 2:57PM) : Although the Whigs did not look to expand through violence they still wanted America to expand which would eventually lead to conflict as Mexico would have not sold unless pushed to a corner.
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 11:50PM) : it's like they took matter into their own hands to get what they wanted
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Jan 25
Dominique C (Jan 25 2021 6:07PM) : The goal was to expand so they seen nothing as roadblocks.
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Feb 2
Estefania H (Feb 02 2021 2:28AM) : President Polk started to convince people to go to war and send American Soldiers to war. The message of the was was evidence about Polk's statement. People didn't have time to think about what they wanted.
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The Whig party was presumably against the war in Mexico, but it was not against expansion. The Whigs wanted California, but preferred to do it without war. As Sehroeder puts it, "theirs was a commercially oriented expansionism designed to secure frontage on the Pacific without recourse to war." Also, they were not so powerfully against the military action that they would stop it by denying men and money for the operation. They did not want to risk the accusation that they were putting American soldiers in peril by depriving them of the materials necessary to fight. The result was that Whigs joined Democrats in voting overwhelmingly for the war resolution, 174 to 14. The opposition was a small group of strongly antislavery Whigs, or "a little knot of ultraists," as one Massachusetts Congressman who voted for the war measure put it.

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Jan 25
Yamile B (Jan 25 2021 3:55PM) : I like how the Whig party didn't initially want the war to happen, maybe they thought there was a better way to expand instead of using violence.
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Jan 27
Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 1:42PM) : Maybe would have conceded the land if they negotiated.
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Jan 25
Dominique C (Jan 25 2021 5:45PM) : The Whig party loved the idea of expansion but they knew war was not the way to get it.
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 6:35PM) : The only reason why Whig didn't want war was because he didn't want to hurt their American soldiers not but he still agreed with the idea of expanding their territory.
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Jan 26
Nicole G (Jan 26 2021 12:41AM) : It is interesting how the Whigs wanted expansion but did not want war and still had to go through the war anyway because that's how Polk wanted it.
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 10:53PM) : I agree with you, it makes me angry learning how polk handled things.
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Jan 27
Vivianne L (Jan 27 2021 1:06PM) : Wow, so even though the Whig party was against the war with Mexico they still allowed the expansion.
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In the Senate, there was debate, but it was limited to one day, and "the tactics of stampede were there repeated," according to historian Frederick Merk. The war measure passed, 40 to 2, Whigs joining Democrats. Throughout the war, as Sehroeder says, "the politically sensitive Whig minority could only harry the administration with a barrage of verbiage while voting for every appropriation which the military campaigns required." The newspaper of the Whigs, the National Intelligencer of Washington, took this position. John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, who originally voted with "the stubborn 14," later voted for war appropriations.

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Jan 25
Dominique C (Jan 25 2021 6:01PM) : I wonder what were the war appropriations.
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Jan 27
Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 1:46PM) : AT that time the Whig party was a small political group and did not have much representation.
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 10:54PM) : I wonder if things would have been different if the party was bigger, would the war have happened?
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Feb 2
Estefania H (Feb 02 2021 1:44AM) : Whig didn't want a war to break out, but he did want California. The thing is that he didn't want people to die for California. At the end Whigs unwillingly voted for the war and joined the Democrats. In the Senate there was a disagreement for the war.
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Abraham Lincoln of Illinois was not yet in Congress when the war began, but after his election in 1846 he had occasion to vote and speak on the war. His "spot resolutions" became famous-he challenged Polk to specify the exact spot where American blood was shed "on the American soil." But he would not try to end the war by stopping funds for men and supplies. Speaking in the House on July 27, 1848, in support of the candidacy of General Zachary Taylor for President, he said:

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Jan 25
Dominique C (Jan 25 2021 6:04PM) : I feel like Lincoln really opposed on the war but he only supported the troops due to them fighting for the U.S.
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Jan 25
Aileen Q (Jan 25 2021 6:39PM) : I agree because he did support General Taylor.
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Jan 27
Yamile B (Jan 27 2021 1:53PM) : Yeah, I agree especially since he didn't agree with President Polk.
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Jan 27
Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 1:50PM) : Abraham was an honest man that knew that what they were doing was unfair. He tried to avoid conflict but once it was done he had to stand by his country.
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 10:58PM) : Isn't it crazy how we heard so many stories about abe being an honest man, and it still applies to this?
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But, as General Taylor is, par excellence, the hero of the Mexican War, and as you Democrats say we Whigs have always opposed the war, you think it must be very awkward and embarrassing for us to go for General Taylor. The declaration that we have always opposed the war is true or false, according as one may understand the term "oppose the war." If to say "the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President" be opposing the war, then the Whigs have very generally opposed it. ... The marching an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, leaving their growing crops and other property to destruction, to you may appear a perfectly amiable, peaceful, unprovoking procedure; but it does not appear so to us. . .. But if, when the war had begun, and had become the cause of the country, the giving-of our money and our blood, in common with yours, was support of the war, then it is not true that we have always opposed the war. With few individual exceptions, you have constantly had our votes here for all the necessary supplies. ...
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Feb 2
Estefania H (Feb 02 2021 1:51AM) : Abraham Lincoln was not for the war, but he also did not stop it. He did prove his point that the United States was saying lies about not wanting to go to war and losing American lives on American soil. Lincoln exposed President Polk to all Americans.
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A handful of antislavery Congressmen voted against all war measures, seeing the Mexican campaign as a means of extending the southern slave territory. One of these was Joshua Giddings of Ohio, a fiery speaker, physically powerful, who called it "an aggressive, unholy, and unjust war." He explained his vote against supplying arms and men: "In the murder of Mexicans upon their own soil, or in robbing them of their country, I can take no part either now or hereafter. The guilt of these crimes must rest on others-I will not participate in them. . . ." Giddings pointed to the British Whigs who, during the American Revolution, announced in Parliament in 1776 that they would not vote supplies for a war to oppress Americans.

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Jan 25
Dominique C (Jan 25 2021 6:06PM) : The main purpose they wanted to expand their land was to create more slave states.
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Jan 27
Liliana S (Jan 27 2021 10:59PM) : I was surprised to learn this because it still shocks me how they did something unfair for their own benefits.
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Jan 27
Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 1:52PM) : Whigs stated that the expansion was foolish as slavery was to be expanded for the benefit of the south, Mexican citizens terrorized when there could be a more peaceful resolution.
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Jan 27
Yamile B (Jan 27 2021 1:57PM) : I'm glad to see how this Congressman saw the injustice that the Americans were committing against the Mexicans.
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After Congress acted in May of 1846, there were rallies and demonstrations for the war in New York, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, and many other places. Thousands rushed to volunteer for the army. The poet Walt Whitman wrote in the Brooklyn Eagle in the early days of the war: "Yes: Mexico must be thoroughly chastised! . . . Let our arms now be carried with a spirit which shall teach the world that, while we are not forward for a quarrel, America knows how to crush, as well as how to expand!"

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Feb 3
Estefania H (Feb 03 2021 12:46AM) : A Congressmen that was antislavery called Joshua Giddings stated that he wasn't going to support the army nor the war at all. He believes that they are just doing it to rob the Mexicans and killing them just for their land.
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Accompanying all this aggressiveness was the idea that the United States would be giving the blessings of liberty and democracy to more people. This was intermingled with ideas of racial superiority, longings for the beautiful lands of New Mexico and California, and thoughts of commercial enterprise across the Pacific.

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Jan 27
Dominique C (Jan 27 2021 2:35PM) : I feel like America wanted a better future for themselves and had a vision they were destined too but they way they got to their goals were not appropriate
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Jan 27
Yamile B (Jan 27 2021 3:04PM) : Yes, it was all very aggressive how they handled things. I can also see how they would feel more superior the more they would eventually expand.
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Jan 27
Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 2:54PM) : The US wanted to mostly show the world that they were not a weak country but rather they were independent and strong enough to expand.
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Jan 28
Liliana S (Jan 28 2021 12:01AM) : I agree, the goal of expansion was so they could feel superior and accomplished
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Speaking of California, the Illinois State Register asked: "Shall this garden of beauty be suffered to lie dormant in its wild and useless luxuriance? ... myriads of enterprising Americans would flock to its rich and inviting prairies; the hum of Anglo-American industry would be heard in its valleys; cities would rise upon its plains and sea-coast, and the resources and wealth of the nation be increased in an incalculable degree." The American Review talked of Mexicans yielding to "a superior population, insensibly oozing into her territories, changing her customs, and out-living, out-trading, exterminating her weaker blood. . . ." The New York Herald was saying, by 1847: "The universal Yankee nation can regenerate and disenthrall the people of Mexico in a few years; and we believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."

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Feb 3
Estefania H (Feb 03 2021 12:55AM) : The United States would increase when it will come to wealth because of the war.
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A letter appeared in the New York Journal of Commerce introducing God into the situation: "The supreme Ruler of the universe seems to interpose, and aid the energy of man towards benefiting mankind. His interposition ... seems to me to be identified with the success of our arms. ... That the redemption of 7,000,000 of souls from all the vices that infest the human race, is the ostensible object. . . appears manifest."

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Jan 27
Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 1:55PM) : The Illinois State Register elaborates why America pushed to expand and its because the white man was " superior" to any other race.
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Jan 28
Dominique C (Jan 28 2021 1:03PM) : I wonder why the white msn thought they were so superior.
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Feb 4
Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 1:58PM) : I wonder the same thing, maybe it's because white men owned slaves.
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Senator H. V. Johnson said:

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I believe we should be recreant to our noble mission, if we refused acquiescence in the high purposes of a wise Providence. War has its evils. In all ages it has been the minister of wholesale death and appalling desolation; but however inscrutable to us, it has also been made, by the Allwise Dispenser of events, the instrumentality of accomplishing the great end of human elevation and human happiness. ... It is in this view, that I subscribe to the doctrine of "manifest destiny."
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Jan 28
Dominique C (Jan 28 2021 1:05PM) : I feel like they seem the war as something bittersweet. They knew it was very deadly but the results were going to overcome the negativity.
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Feb 3
Estefania H (Feb 03 2021 1:41PM) : Senator H. V. Johnson said that they need to listen to the noble mission that the war was never good and it is against the noble to go to war with no reason to and just for something called "manifest destiny".
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Feb 4
Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:00PM) : They knew the outcome was going to be bad but they still wanted the moment.
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The Congressional Globe of February 11, 1847, reported:

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Mr. Giles, of Maryland-I take it for granted, that we shall gain territory, and must gain territory, before we shut the gates of the temple of Janus. .. . We must march from ocean to ocean. .. . We must march from Texas straight to the Pacific ocean, and be bounded only by its roaring wave.... It is the destiny of the white race, it is the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race. .. .
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Jan 28
Dominique C (Jan 28 2021 2:16PM) : I’m curious to know how many soldiers didn’t make it from Texas to the Pacific Ocean.
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Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 3:01PM) : It was probably a good amount of soldiers who didn't make it
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Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 2:57PM) : So yeah this is how they cleared their conscience by justifying that their destiny was to expand and it was supported byt God.
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The American Anti-Slavery Society, on the other hand, said the war was "waged solely for the detestable and horrible purpose of extending and perpetuating American slavery throughout the vast territory of Mexico." A twenty-seven-year-old Boston poet and abolitionist, James Russell Lowell, began writing satirical poems in the Boston Courier (they were later collected as the Biglow Papers). In them, a New England farmer, Hosea Biglow, spoke, in his own dialect, on the war:

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Dominique C (Jan 28 2021 1:17PM) : I agree! I believe the main concern was to win the war to expand slave states!
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Feb 4
Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:03PM) : They wanted to gain land that way they can have more slaves and control more parts of the world.
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Ez fer war, I call it murder,-

There you hev it plain an' flat;
I don't want to go no furder

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Jan 28
Dominique C (Jan 28 2021 2:24PM) : When he stated he didn’t want to go any further, was that him wanting to call a truce?
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Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 3:04PM) : It seems like it, calling a truce means no further fighting.
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Than my Testyment fer that. . . .
They may talk o' Freedom's airy

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Tell they'er pupple in the face,-
It's a grand gret cemetary

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Per the barthrights of our race;
They jest want this Californy

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So's to lug new slave-states in
To abuse ye, an' to scorn ye,

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An' to plunder ye like sin.

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Jan 28
Dominique C (Jan 28 2021 2:26PM) : I wonder if the soldiers who killed seen it as a duty or in a religious matter as sinning.
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Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 3:06PM) : I feel like it just depends on the people, everyone would have different opinions.
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Jan 27
Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 2:00PM) : Groups or unions were built to fight the war and its intentions with expanding slavery.
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The war had barely begun, the summer of 1846, when a writer, Henry David Thorean, who lived in Concord, Massachusetts, refused to pay his Massachusetts poll tax, denouncing the Mexican war. He was put in jail and spent one night there. His friends, without his consent, paid his tax, and he was released. Two years later, he gave a lecture, "Resistance to Civil Government," which was then printed as an essay, "Civil Disobedience":

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It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. .. . Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, that you may see a file of soldiers .. . marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart.
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Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 2:02PM) : Basically just because a man says that something is right because it's backed by the law of God it is not always fair.
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Feb 1
Dominique C (Feb 01 2021 1:54PM) : I was thinking this as well!
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Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:07PM) : Yes, I feel like this connects to any things because people use God to make things seem rightous.
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His friend and fellow writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, agreed, but thought it futile to protest. When Emerson visited Thoreau in jail and asked, "What are you doing in there?" it was reported that Thoreau replied, "What are you doing out there?"

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The churches, for the most part, were either outspokenly for the war or timidly silent. Generally, no one but the Congregational, Quaker, and Unitarian churches spoke clearly against the war. However, one Baptist minister, the Reverend Francis Wayland, president of Brown University, gave three sermons in the university chapel in which he said that only wars of self-defense were just, and in case of unjust war, the individual was morally obligated to resist it and lend no money to the government to support it.

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Jan 27
Alondra R (Jan 27 2021 2:03PM) : The war-affected the citizens as even Churches opposed such war as they were only for the benefit of greedy white men.
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Feb 4
Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:09PM) : I wonder how many people actually supported the war.
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Feb 1
Dominique C (Feb 01 2021 2:04PM) : I wonder what percentage of the people believed that is was an “unjust war”?
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The Reverend Theodore Parker, Unitarian minister in Boston, combined eloquent criticism of the war with contempt for the Mexican people, whom he called "a wretched people; wretched in their origin, history, and character," who must eventually give way as the Indians did. Yes, the United States should expand, he said, but not by war, rather by the power of her ideas, the pressure of her commerce, by "the steady advance of a superior race, with superior ideas and a better civilization ... by being better than Mexico, wiser, humaner, more free and manly." Parker urged active resistance to the war in 1847: "Let it be infamous for a New England man to enlist; for a New England merchant to loan his dollars, or to let his ships in aid of this wicked war; let it be infamous for a manufacturer to make a cannon, a sword, or a kernel of powder to kill our brothers...."

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Jan 28
Alondra R (Jan 28 2021 1:32PM) : Parker opposed the war but he was still racist and claimed superiority over the Mexicans. He stated that they could have taken land a smarter way than just war.
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Feb 4
Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:12PM) : Parker thought of non-violent ways to take land, which reminds me of tactics used from past pople.
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Dominique C (Feb 01 2021 2:07PM) : Although Parker didn’t like the Mexicans he felt like there could be been a better way to take land away from them.
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The racism of Parker was widespread. Congressman Delano of Ohio, an antislavery Whig, opposed the war because he was afraid of Americans mingling with an inferior people who "embrace all shades of color. ... a sad compound of Spanish, English, Indian, and negro bloods . . . and resulting, it is said, in the production of a slothful, ignorant race of beings."

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Feb 3
Dominique C (Feb 03 2021 4:34PM) : I wonder why he feared mixing with inferior people. I feel he probably feared them because he was most likely insecure with his own face.
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Feb 4
Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:14PM) : Yes, many people with this mentality still exist. It's shameful seeing people think of themselves as superior to others just because of race and color ect.
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Jan 28
Alondra R (Jan 28 2021 1:34PM) : Some opposed the war just for the fear of mixing with "inferior people" .
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Jan 28
Natalia N (Jan 28 2021 1:40PM) : Do you think these attitudes of superiority still exist? How do you know?
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Feb 1
Alondra R (Feb 01 2021 1:32PM) : There laws for marriages to happen no matter race, color, sexual orientation, religion, and etc. There is also laws of discrimination but even so, people still have the idea that white is "beautiful" and rather keep it that way.

As the war went on, opposition grew. The American Peace Society printed a newspaper, the Advocate of Peace, which published poems, speeches, petitions, sermons against the war, and eyewitness accounts of the degradation of army life and the horrors of battle. The abolitionists, speaking through William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator, denounced the war as one "of aggression, of invasion, of conquest, and rapine-marked by ruffianism, perfidy, and every other feature of national depravity ..." Considering the strenuous efforts of the nation's leaders to build patriotic support, the amount of open dissent and criticism was remarkable. Antiwar meetings took place in spite of attacks by patriotic mobs.

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As the army moved closer to Mexico City, The Liberator daringly declared its wishes for the defeat of the American forces: "Every lover of Freedom and humanity, throughout the world, must wish them [the Mexicans] the most triumphant success.. .. We only hope that, if blood has had to flow, that it has been that of the Americans, and that the next news we shall hear will be that General Scott and his army are in the hands of the Mexicans. . . , We wish him and his troops no bodily harm, but the most utter defeat and disgrace."

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Jan 28
Natalia N (Jan 28 2021 2:42PM) : Wow. This is a bold message.
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Feb 1
Fabian L (Feb 01 2021 3:03PM) : I agree it is very bold.
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Feb 3
Dominique C (Feb 03 2021 5:38PM) : I agree with both of you.
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Feb 4
Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 3:15PM) : I agree with all of you!
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Frederick Douglass, former slave, extraordinary speaker and writer, wrote in his Rochester newspaper the North Star, January 21, 1848, of "the present disgraceful, cruel, and iniquitous war with our sister republic. Mexico seems a doomed victim to Anglo Saxon cupidity and love of dominion." Douglass was scornful of the unwillingness of opponents of the war to take real action (even the abolitionists kept paying their taxes):

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Jan 28
Alondra R (Jan 28 2021 1:36PM) : Those who opposed the war wished for eh defeat of the Americans however it never went past that Frederick says that they still paid their taxes
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Dominique C (Feb 03 2021 4:45PM) : I wonder how it would’ve went if they didn’t pay their taxes.
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Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:16PM) : They were probably more striked on them back then than now because money was a big deal.
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The determination of our slaveholding President to prosecute the war, and the probability of his success in wringing from the people men and money to carry it on, is made evident, rather than doubtful, by the puny opposition arrayed against him. No politician of any considerable distinction or eminence seems willing to hazard his popularity with his party ... by an open and unqualified disapprobation of the war. None seem willing to take their stand for peace at all risks; and all seem willing that the war should be carried on, in some form or other.
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Dominique C (Feb 03 2021 4:58PM) : I am curious to know what we’re some of the risks.
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Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:17PM) : Im thinking maybe the war in general was seen as a risk.
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Where was popular opinion? It is hard to say. After the first rush, enlistments began to dwindle. The 1846 elections showed much anti-Polk sentiment, but who could tell how much of this was due to the war? In Massachusetts, Congressman Robert Winthrop, who had voted for the war, was elected overwhelmingly against an antiwar Whig, Schroeder concludes that although Folk's popularity fell, "general enthusiasm for the Mexican War remained high." But this is a guess. There were no surveys of public opinion at that time. As for voting, a majority of the people did not vote at all-and how did these nonvoters feel about the war?

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Dominique C (Feb 03 2021 6:52PM) : Did the non-voters make a difference by not voting?
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Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 3:19PM) : I would think so yes because not everyones vote is being counted.
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Jan 28
Alondra R (Jan 28 2021 2:40PM) : Polk was criticized as he was one who looked to benefit greatly from the war. He couldn't be publically shamed as there was no form of surveys or ways to oppose him.

Historians of the Mexican war have talked easily about "the people" and "public opinion"-like Justin H. Smith, whose two-volume work The War with Mexico has long been a standard account: "Of course, too, all the pressure of warlike sentiment among our people ... had to be recognized, more or less, for such is the nature of popular government."

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Smith's evidence, however, is not from "the people" but from the newspapers, claiming to be the voice of the people. The New York Herald wrote in August 1845: "The multitude cry aloud for war." And the New York Journal of Commerce, half-playfully, half-seriously, wrote: "Let us go to war. The world has become stale and insipid, the ships ought to be all captured, and the cities battered down, and the world burned up, so that we can start again. There would be fun in that. Some interest,-something to talk about." The New York Morning News said "young and ardent spirits that throng the cities . . . want but a direction to their restless energies, and their attention is already fixed on Mexico."

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Jan 28
Alondra R (Jan 28 2021 1:42PM) : The land that was taken from Mexico was already wanted by the United States so if it wasn't war it would have been through another way .
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Feb 1
Fabian L (Feb 01 2021 1:52PM) : I agree with you because the U.S. planned on taking Mexicos territory so it was gonna be theirs no matter what.. [Edited]
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Feb 4
Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:20PM) : This connects to manifest destiny ideology they were going to get it one way or another.
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Dominique C (Feb 03 2021 5:54PM) : I feel like Smith was being very sarcastic
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Were the newspapers reporting a feeling in the public, or creating a feeling in the public? Those reporting this feeling, like Justin Smith, themselves express strong views about the need for war. Smith (who dedicates his book to Henry Cabot Lodge, one of the ultraexpansionists of American history) makes a long list of Mexican sins against the United States, and ends by saying: "It rested with our government, therefore, as the agent of national dignity and interests, to apply a remedy." He comments on Folk's call for war. "In truth no other course would have been patriotic or even rational."

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Jan 28
Natalia N (Jan 28 2021 2:48PM) : Good Question more

This is a good question in general. What do you think how this plays out today?

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Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 3:22PM) : Everyone believes the media now a days, they create people's or the public's feelings upon a certain topic and it's like a chain or the domino effect. [Edited]
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Dominique C (Feb 03 2021 6:58PM) : The U.S was destined to get Mexico's land one way or another. They held onto grudges of what they thought were sins against the U.S
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It is impossible to know the extent of popular support of the war. But there is evidence that many organized workingmen opposed the war. Earlier, when the annexation of Texas was being considered, working-men meeting in New England protested the annexation. A newspaper in Manchester, New Hampshire, wrote:

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We have heretofore held our peace in regard to the annexation of Texas, for the purpose of seeing whether our Nation would attempt so base an action. We call it base, because it would be giving men that live upon the blood of others, an opportunity of dipping their hand still deeper in the sin of slavery. ... Have we not slaves enough now?
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Jan 28
Alondra R (Jan 28 2021 1:45PM) : Workers opposed the war as they saw that the slaveholders sought to expand but the war did not benefit the working class people in cities.
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Dominique C (Feb 03 2021 5:59PM) : I wonder if they only opposed the war due to not benefiting from it.
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Liliana S (Feb 04 2021 2:24PM) : Yes, and also because they opposed slavery.
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There were demonstrations of Irish workers in New York, Boston, and Lowell against the annexation of Texas, Philip Foner reports. In May, when the war against Mexico began, New York workingmen called a meeting to oppose the war, and many Irish workers came. The meeting called the war a plot by slaveowners and asked for the withdrawal of American troops from disputed territory. That year, a convention of the New England Workingmen's Association condemned the war and announced they would "not take up arms to sustain the Southern slaveholder in robbing one-fifth of our countrymen of their labor."

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