Three reasons not to fight the war with Mexico, and why they were wrong 1. The idea of taking the territory from Mexico espoused by Daniel Webster, and why it was flawed. 2. The use of the word aggrandizement and how it is not entirely accurate, and how his argument needed to focus on prior US mistakes, especially with the Native American people. 3. Daniel Webster, along with other people also objected to Texas joining the Union due to its’ status as a slave state, but this was not due to slavery being evil, so much as it was a socio-economic issue for the North. . How the argument against the war was used in conjunction with the belief of “Manifest Destiny”, and how that argument is used as a racial motivation against acquiring the state of Texas. 5. Why the issue of slavery was used as propaganda against the war, and why that argument is more centered on economics, not the idea that slavery was inherently evil. 6. How all these issues relate, and how all of them taken in together gives a totally different perspective of the individuals opposed to The Annexation of Texas. Thesis Statement
The Mexican American war had many arguments espoused both for and against the Annexation of Texas. The reasons against the war are very well articulated and deserve and attention. After a thorough examination of the numerous pros and cons of the war, three of these arguments stand out in particular. These deserve further scrutiny in order to determine their validity. The issue of slavery, aggrandizement of the United States towards Mexico, and the use of manifest destiny as an ideological form of racism will be addressed in full, along with the rationalizations behind them as viewed in arguments against the war.
Three reasons against the war with Mexico, and why they are wrong The Mexican American war had numerous argument espoused both for and against the Annexation of Texas. The reasons against the war are very well articulated and deserve attention. However, after a thorough examination of the numerous reasons for and against the war, three arguments against the war stand alone, and deserve further evaluation. Two of these arguments are ones that the United States had wrestled with for many years, and represent two different cultural social and economic ideals.
The other issue is more about the reputation of the United States, and how the war might affect how other nations perceived us as a new nation. The issues that will be focused on in this paper are the issues of slavery, manifest destiny, and the perceived ruthlessness of the United States. A prominent United States senator by the name of Daniel Webster believed that the war with Mexico would cause other nations to view us as aggressive and ruthless.
In his address before congress on December 22, 1845, he uses the term “aggrandizement”, and held a belief that fighting Mexico for more territory was more an act of seeking greater power and importance at the expense of our national reputation He also saw the annexation of Texas upsetting the balance of free states and slave states, and saw the admission of Texas as a slave state as bringing unfair advantages to the north . While the issue of slavery will be addressed later in depth, it is also important to the argument of aggrandizement.
Before the war with Mexico, the United States dealt poorly with another race of people living in the America’s long before any English settlers arrived. Known to us as the Native Americans, the US forced these natives off of their own land in order to allow the new nation to grow. This was accomplished by the Trade and Intercourse Act of 1790 . This Act labeled all Indian Tribes as foreign nations, and allowed the United States to take possession of tribal lands only through treaties with the federal government. In 1830, the Indian Removal Act stripped the Indians of their homeland. 831, the Supreme Court ruled that the Indians were a “domestic dependent nations”, and as a result, the United States acquired more land allotted to them, and stripped them of their sovereignty . This is all significant because we dealt with Mexico the same way we dealt with the Indians. Mexican’s were viewed as inferior, savages, and second class citizens. Our treatment of Mexico resulted from a nationalistic pride and power rooted in the belief that as a nation we were destined to build our power through territorial expansion at any cost.
Therefore this idea espoused by Daniel Webster falls short at this time, because as a nation we already established the practice of gaining power by taking other people’s property. To say that fighting Mexico gave us an image of ruthless or aggressive in acquiring more land is redundant, because we started doing just that eighteen years prior to the war with Mexico. For Daniel Webster to now stand up on the day the U. S. voted on the annexation of Texas and say by taking over Texas we are showing the world that we are ruthless, power hungry, and aggressive is a huge understatement.
His argument before congress in December of 1845 probably seemed laughable because in short, we were a nation of bullies hell bent to increase the nations territory and power by any means necessary, including our own reputation . The war with Mexico is also opposed by many due to the status of Texas as a slave state. Webster firmly believed that the annexation of Texas as a slave state gave the south more political clout and representation in the house of representatives. This argument is rooted in the fact that the constitution recognizes slaves in terms of total population as the law stipulated the five slaves equaled three white men.
The north at this time felt threatened by the ever burgeoning population of slaves throughout the south. The fear was that if slavery kept expanding, the south eventually would gain more control in congress, and therefore become more powerful than its northern counterparts. The issue of slavery was enough to convince some in the north not to support the war because the war is perceived as a war to expand slavery . The reality at the time of the Mexican American war is that the slave population in the south is less than 250,000. Most farms in the south were small in size, and only possessed around four slaves at one time.
Large plantations had the most slaves, however, large plantations were not the norm throughout the south . The opposition to the annexation of Texas based on its status as a slave state is foolish because the constitution guarantees the right to own slaves. Slaves were held in the same class as Mexicans and Indians. The black slaves were inferior and were no more than owned property. To oppose the war on the grounds of slavery is just as foolish as opposing the war due to our overall appearance as ruthless and aggressive nation.
If as a nation you show disdain to one race of people due to their inferiority, why then show favoritism to another group you find to be just as inferior? The issue of slavery is more a political and socio-economic issue; not so much a moral issue of right and wrong. To use broader terms in the spectrum of this argument, one may consider slavery just as much a form of aggrandizement as taking Mexico out of Texas. To say that the image of the U. S. was not tarnished due to slavery is to be in a perpetual state of denial.
The other argument used to propel the nation to war against Mexico was the powerful believe in manifest destiny. Third idea that the U. S. is somehow a superior entity, or a pure Aryan race destined to expand the Pacific Ocean, is promoted all over the U. S. starting in early 1840 . As a result of this belief, all other races are viewed as inferior, and it is America’s destiny to rid all land of inferior people’s in order to build a stronger nation. This idea is used to justify going to war with Mexico, and then accepting Texas into the union as a slave state because slaves are placed in the same category as Mexicans.
This belief placed all non-whites as inferior to “American racial superiority” , and helped endorse slavery and fuel its growth in the United States. Manifest destiny was not so much about expansion, as it was about a justification for racism. By placing everyone who was not white in the same category, and then basing racism on the need to absorb more land allows the U. S. to justify going to war with Mexico. The use of aggrandizement, slavery, and manifest destiny when placed together is actually a well constructed argument for going to war against Mexico.
The U. S. is definitely feeling nationalistic and rapidly expanding to the west coast. The enslavement of the African American people is in line with our feelings of superiority, and helps us justify our choice to annex Mexico b starting a fight. Manifest destiny is the next logical concept to be born out of our sense of nationalistic passions. However, by placing each argument by itself, and examining why the argument was used against the war helps bring about a greater understanding as to why they are flawed. As a nation, we are aggressive.
As a result, engaging Mexico in war is not going to make us appear any more aggressive than we already are at this time in our history. Secondly, slavery at this time is a constitutional right. To say we cannot allow the annexation of Texas to occur because it favors the south is not good enough reason not to go to war. The concept of manifest destiny as a reason not to go to war is flawed because manifest destiny is the one of the main reasons we went to war with Mexico. In conclusion, the arguments addressed in this paper focused on why the issues mentioned above did not make sense as a reason not to go to war ith Mexico. However, all three arguments, when used together could have been very powerful argument against the war Mexico. Bibliography Webster, Daniel. The admission of Texas, December 22, 1845. In The U. S. War with Mexico. Edited by Ernesto Chavez. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2008. Ellen DuBois and Lynn Dumenil. Through women’s eyes, an American History. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009. Chavez, Ernesto. The U. S. War with Mexico. New York: Beford/St. Martins, 2008.