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During the Mexican War at the Battle of Cerro Gordo in 1847 Soldiers of the 4th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment came upon what is today one of the unique artifacts of the museum's collection-- the artificial leg of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the general who had commanded Mexican forces at the battle for the Alamo. The Illinois Soldiers came upon General Santa Anna's abandoned carriage and found gold worth $18,000, a roast chicken lunch, and his artificial leg. They turned in the gold, ate the chicken and kept the artificial leg as a souvenir. More than 150 years later, the leg is displayed inside a re-created carriage scene.

For further information call: (217) 761-3910, fax (217) 761-3709, email us at, or write us:

Illinois State Military Museum
Department of Military Affairs
1301 N. MacArthur Blvd.,
Springfield, Illinois 62702-2399
(05-12-2013 05:26 PM)william l. richter Wrote: [ -> ]Before we all go bonkers about the evil President Polk and the cruel United States, we ought to read the introduction to North America Divided: The Mexican War, 1846-1848, by Seymour V. Connor and Odie B. Faulk. They present quite a different story that was unavailable to Lincoln and Grant and other Americans against the war.

The land below the Nueces was not accepted by anyone as the southern boundary of Texas until the US advanced below Corpus Christi and Mexico made that spurious claim. Further, both California and Texas were practically separated from Mexico on their own--the only problem being who would get them, the US or the British, or some other European power, like Spain or France. All of these other nations had already attacked Mexico during the Pastry War in 1839, to collect debts owed them by Mexico, during which Santa Ana had lost his leg successfully defending Mexico. They would do it again in 1861 during our Civil War, leaving France to rule Mexico until 1867.

The real quarrel was internal between Mexican political parties, the Centralists and the Federalists, and had been since 1821 and the final Mexican separation from Spain. It lasted until Porfirio Diaz took over Mexico City after the death of Benito Juarez, who had thrown the French occupiers out in 1867.

Mexico went to war with the US fully expecting to march on New Orleans and Mobile and win. After all they had been fighting a war with themselves since 1821 and had one of the largest veteran armies in the Western Hemisphere, regardless of their methods of command and conscription. Mexico's real problem was they their officers lacked a West Point education. But no one knew this would be a critical factor until after the war. Another advantage the US has was the "flying artillery," 6-gun batteries drawn by 6 horses per gun. These proved a critical factor in the US winning so many battles. None of these factors had proved decisive in any US war before that time. Both sides were surprised at the effectiveness of the US artillery and the US volunteers (mostly westerners and southerners who loved to fight) and the American officer corps.

What really happened was that Mexico declared war on the US before Polk got Congress to do it. But communications were so bad that no one knew this until later. Thornton's US dragoons were attacked in the disputed area after Mexico declared war in a legal attack as far as Mexico was concerned. This news reached Washington City before the Mexican declaration of war and Polk used it to sucker Congress into a defensive declaration of war that proved to be all he need to conquer Mexico and take half of her territory.

Given the political desires of certain Americans of Mexican descent (often referred to Chicanos in the Southwest today, as opposed to the rest of the media calling them Latinos or Hispanics) and their organizations, like La Raza, MECha, Lulac, to recreate the independent Spanish-speaking entity La Republica de Aztlan out of the Mexican cession of 1848, returning Santa Ana's wooden leg might mean more to the US than the above post indicates so casually. Mexicans don't call their presidents past and present los Ladrones (the Thieves) for nuttin'.

So let's call it a draw. Mexico got Santa Ana's leg bones when a couple of old soldados saved them from a mob hell-bent to throw him and all his bones out of the country one more time for his incompetent ruining of his homeland (the Texas Revolution, the Mexican War, the Gadsden Purchase), and we got his prosthesis. They got the real thing--we got the fake. History is never so simple as we Americans assume. Que viva!

Mr. Richter makes the statement in his posting that Seymour Connor and Odie Faulk, in their book “North America Divided: The Mexican War,” “present quite a different story that was ‘unavailable’ to Lincoln and Grant and other Americans against the war.” To this seemingly conclusive statement, Mr. Richter added: “The land below the Nueces was not accepted by anyone as the southern boundary of Texas until the U. S. advanced below Corpus Christi and Mexico made that spurious claim.”

Lieutenant Ulysses Grant served in the army commanded by General Zachary Taylor that was ordered by President Polk to march from Corpus Christi on the Nueces River to the Mexican settlement of Matamoras on the Rio Grande River. In the “Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant”, in the chapter entitled “Causes of the Mexican War,” Ulysses Grant in 1885 makes two important statements on the causes of the Mexican War (Vol. I, at page 55):

1. 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 had exercised jurisdiction over the territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande.

2. In taking military possession of Texas after annexation, the army of occupation, under General 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.

In his memoirs, Grant provided his observations and detailed his experiences during this military campaign in 1846.

“Corpus Christi is near the head of the bay of the same name, formed by entrance of the Nueces River into tide-water, and is on the west bank of that bay. (Id at 64)

“Gradually the ‘Army of Occupation’ assembled at Corpus Christi. . . . The men engaged in the Mexican war were brave, and the officers of the regular army, from highest to lowest, were educated in their profession. A more efficient army for its number and armament, I do not believe ever fought a battle than the one commanded by General Taylor in his first two engagements on Mexican—or Texan soil.” (Id at 67)

“We were sent to provoke a fight, but it was essential that Mexico commence it. It was very doubtful whether Congress would declare war; but if Mexico should attack our troops, the Executive could announce, ‘Whereas, war exists by the acts of, etc.,’ and prosecute the contest with vigor.

“Mexico showing no willingness to come to the Nueces to drive the invaders from her soil, it became necessary for the ‘invaders’ to approach to within a convenient distance to be struck. Accordingly, preparations were begun for moving the army to the Rio Grande, to a point near Matamoras. It was desirable to occupy a position near the largest centre of population possible to reach, without absolutely invading territory to which we set up no claim whatever.

“The distance from Corpus Christi to Matamoras is about one hundred and fifty miles. The country does not abound in fresh water, and the length of the marches had to be regulated by the distance between water supplies. . . . There was not at that time a single habitation, cultivated field, or herd of domestic animals, between Corpus Christi and Matamoras.” (Id at 68-69)

“[O]rders were issued for the advance to begin on the 8th of March [1846]. General Taylor had an army of not more than three thousand men.” (Id at 84)

“General Taylor was opposed to anything like plundering by the troops and in this instance, I doubt not, he looked upon the enemy as the aggrieved party and was not willing to injure them further than his instructions from Washington demanded. His orders to the troops enjoined scrupulous regard for the rights of all peaceable persons and payment of the highest prices for all supplies taken for the use of the army.” (Id at 85)

“About the middle of the month of March the advance of the army reached the Rio Grande and went into camp near the banks of the river, opposite the city of Matamoras and almost under the guns of a small fort at the lower end of the town. There was not at that time a single habitation from Corpus Christi until the Rio Grande was reached.The work of fortifying was commenced at once. The fort was laid out by the engineers, but the work was done by the soldiers under the supervision of their officers, the chief engineer retaining general directions. The Mexicans now became so incensed at our near approach that some of their troops crossed the river above us, and made it unsafe for small bodies of men to go far beyond the limits of camp. They captured two companies of dragoons, commanded by Captains Thornton and Hardee.” (Id. at 89)

Mr. Richter wrote of this initial military engagement in his post: “What really happened was that Mexico declared war on the U. S. before Polk got Congress to do it. But communications were so bad that no one knew this until later. Thornton’s U. S. dragoons were attacked in the disputed area after Mexico declared war in a legal attack as far as Mexico was concerned.”

Grant wrote of the military situation for General Taylor’s army at the time:

“There was no base of supplies nearer than Point Isabel, on the coast, north of the mouth of the Rio Grande and twenty-five miles away. . . . The supplies brought from Corpus Christi in wagons were running short. Work was therefore pushed with great vigor on the defences, to enable the minimum number of troops to hold the fort. All the men who could be employed, were kept at work from early dawn until darkness closed the labors of the day. With all this the fort was not completed until the supplies grew so short that further delay in obtaining more could not be thought of. By the latter of April the work was in a partially defensible condition, and the 7th infantry, Major Jacob Brown commanding, was marched in to garrison it, with some few pierces of artillery. (Id at 90-91)

“While General Taylor was away with the bulk of his army, the little garrison up the river was besieged. As we lay in our tents upon the sea-shore, the artillery at the fort on the Rio Grande could be distinctly heard. The war had begun.” (Id at 92)

Grant described the first battle between the respective armies in this manner:

“Early in the forenoon of the 8th of May as Palo Alto was approached, an army, certainly outnumbering our little force, was seen, drawn up in line of battle just in front of the timber. Their bayonets and spearheads glistened in the sunlight formidably. The force was composed largely of cavalry armed with lances. General Taylor halted his army before the head of column came in range of the artillery of the Mexicans. He then formed a line of battle, facing the enemy. . . . As I looked down that long line of about three thousand armed men, advancing towards a larger force also armed, I thought what a fearful responsibility General Taylor must feel, commanding such a host and so far away from friends.” (Id at 93-94)

“The Mexicans were armed about as we were so far as their infantry was concerned, but their artillery only fired solid shot. We had greatly the advantage in this arm.

The artillery was advanced a rod or two in front of the line, and opened fire. The infantry stood at order arms as spectators, watching the effect of our shots upon the enemy, and watching his shots so as to step out of their way. It could be seen that the eighteen-pounders and howitzers did a great deal of execution. On our side there was little or no loss while we occupied this position. . . . During the day several advances were made, and just at dusk it became evident that the Mexicans were falling back. We again advanced, and occupied at the close of the battle substantially the ground held by the enemy at the beginning. . . . Our causalities for the day were nine killed and forty-seven wounded. At the break of day on the 9th, the army under Taylor was ready to renew the battle; but an advance showed that the enemy had entirely left our front during the night.” (Id at 95-96)

“The battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma seemed to us engaged, as pretty important affairs; but we had only a faint conception of their magnitude until they were fought over in the North by the Press and the reports came back to us. At the same time, or about the same time, we learned that war existed between the United States and Mexico, by the acts of the latter country. On learning this fact, General Taylor transferred our camps to the south or west bank of the river, and Matamoras was occupied. We then became the ‘Army of Invasion.’” (Id at 99)

Thus, it came to pass that this small U. S. army of not more than three thousand men, with one hundred and fifty miles of desert at its back and no apparent means of military support available to it, had been sent by President Polk to provoke a war with Mexico. If General Taylor’s small army of 3,000 men had been massacred by “one of the largest veteran armies in the Western Hemisphere” (as Mr. Richter described the Mexican Army in his post), President Polk would have been called to account by Congress and the nation. But as it turned out, the previously reluctant Congress of the United States declared war upon Mexico, and President Polk’s “war of invasion” was now to begin in earnest.

Question: If a bully walks into a neighborhood bar with the intention of provoking a fight, and even though a long-time patron of the local bar throws the first punch, which party really has started the fight?

Question: As applicable between nations, which party really started the war between United States and Mexico in May, 1846?

Professor Michael Burlingame, in his book “Abraham Lincoln: A Life,” discusses Congressman Lincoln’s challenge to President Polk’s stated justification for going to war with Mexico:

“On December 22, 1847, Lincoln introduced a series of resolutions asking Polk to supply information about the commencement of the war. In his annual message earlier that month, the president had insisted that the conflict began as a result of Mexican soldiers ‘invading the territory of the State of Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our citizens on our own soil.’ In eight legalistic interrogatories, which became known as the ‘spot resolutions,’ Lincoln clearly intimated that the soil where blood was initially spilled was not American and that in the spring of 1846 Polk had dispatched troops to Mexico in order to provoke an attack. Lincoln was particularly graphic in inquiring if ‘the People of that settlement [where hostilities began], did, or did not, flee from the approach of the United States Army, leaving unprotected their homes and their growing crops, before the blood was shed.’ Polk ignored these interrogatories.” (“Abraham Lincoln: A Life,” Vol. I, page 265)

“On January 3, 1848, Lincoln provoked further Democratic criticism by voting for Representative George Ashmun’s amendment asserting that the Mexican War had been ‘unnecessarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President.’ . . . [E]arlier in the [Congressional] session, Illinois Democratic Congressman William Richardson had introduced resolutions echoing Polk’s self-serving version of history.” (Id at 266)

Congressman Lincoln addressed in the House this further Democratic criticism on January 12, 1848:

“Some if not all the gentlemen on the other side of the House who have addressed the committee within the last two days have spoken rather complainingly, if I have rightly understood them, of the vote given a week or ten days ago declaring that the war with Mexico was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President. . . . I am one of those who joined in that vote; and I did so under my best impression of the truth of the case.” (“Abraham Lincoln, In His Own Words,” Maureen Harrison and Steve Gilbert, Editors, Barnes & Noble Books, 1996, page 57.)

“The President, in his first war message of May, 1946, declares that the soil was ours on which hostilities were commenced by Mexico, and he repeats that declaration almost in the same language in each successive annual message, thus showing that he deems that point a highly essential one. In the importance of that I entirely agree with the President. To my judgment it is the very point upon which he should be justified, or condemned.” (Id at 58)

“The issue, as he presents it, is in these words: ‘But there are those who, conceding all this to be true, assume the ground that the true western boundary of Texas is the Nueces, instead of the Rio Grande; and that, therefore, in marching our army to the east bank of the latter river, we passed the Texas line and invaded the territory of Mexico.’ Now this issue is made up of two affirmatives and no negative. The main deception of it is that it assumes as true that one river or the other is necessarily the boundary; and cheats the superficial thinker entirely out of the idea that possibly the boundary is somewhere between the two, and not actually at either.” (Id at 59)

[Please note that this is the same argument that Mr. Richter makes, as quoted in the first paragraph of this post.]

“[T]he President tells us the Congress of the United States understood the State of Texas they admitted into the Union to extend beyond the Nueces. Well, I suppose they did. I certainly so understood it. But how far beyond? That Congress did not understand it to extend clear to the Rio Grande is quite certain, by the fact of their joint resolutions for admission expressly leaving all their questions of boundary to future adjustment. And it may be added that Texas herself is proved to have had the same understanding of it that our Congress had, by the fact of the exact conformity of her new constitution to those resolutions.” (Id at 63-64)

“I propose to state my understanding of the true rule for ascertaining the boundary between Texas and Mexico. It if that wherever Texas was exercising jurisdiction was hers; and wherever Mexico was exercising jurisdiction was hers; and that whatever separated the actual exercise of jurisdiction of the one from that of the other was the true boundary between them. If, as is probably true, Texas was exercising jurisdiction along the western bank of the Nueces, and Mexico was exercising it along the eastern bank of the Rio Grande, then neither river was the boundary; but the uninhabited country between the two was.” (Id at 64-65)

“If [President Polk] can show that the soil was ours where the first blood of the war was shed – that it was not within an inhabited country, or, if within such, that the inhabitants had submitted themselves to the civil authority of Texas or of the United States, and that the same is true of the site of Fort Brown – then I am with him for his justification. In that case I shall be most happy to reverse the vote I gave the other day. . . . But if he can not or will not do this, . . . then I shall be fully convinced of what I more that suspect already – that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong; that he feels the blood of this war . . .; that originally having some strong motive – what, I will not stop now to give my opinion concerning – to involve the two countries in a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory – that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood – that serpent’s eye that charms to destroy – he plunged into it, and swept on and on till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which Mexico might subdued, he now finds himself he knows not where. . . . The war has gone on some twenty months . . . .” (Id at 66-67)
And the point of all this is. . . ?

Mark Twain said the US Grant's memoirs were well written, he did not say that they were correct. Grant was 40 years too late.

Mexico wanted a war and got one. That the US won was against all expectations, including those of the Duke of Wellington, was surprising to everyone including Mexico. It was the better gunnery of the West Point trained artillerymen that made the big difference.

Like the Native Americans of yore and the US today, Mexico had a lousy immigration policy. She settled the Goths along her borders, expecting them to keep their compatriots out. They did not.

The first mention of the Rio Grande as the border of Texas was in the 1836 Treaty of Velasco. Signed under duress? Many claimed that Sam Houston saved Santa Ana when he gave the distress sign of a Mason as a rope was being thrown over a nearby tree limb. He was glad to give Texas the Rio Grande in exchange. He also surrendered all the Mexican army in Texas--or at least he ordered it back to the Rio Grande. Lesson to the wise--do not lose a war and expect a whole lot of sympathy from the winners. Lincoln's Spot Resolution was a Whig attempt to politicize the war over slavery, a move first started by Mexico's deposed minister to the US (recently ousted by another of Mexico's constant revolutions at home) Juan Almonte. The "Spot" was irrelevant.

My one point was that both sides goaded each other into a fight. Bullying had nothing to do with it. The US was not the nation in size and power as we are in the 21st century. Mexico took us on and lost. C'est la guerre.

But do not panic! My other point was that we are cruising for our own loss of the Great Southwest back to Mexico or to the independent Spanish-speaking Republica de Aztlan. After all we are settling the Goths along our border, too. Que viva! No one seems to learn from history. Or to quote that paragon of American History, Jimmy Durante, "everybody's trying to get in on the act!"
I know next to nothing about the Mexican War and even less about Mexican history. I do know that I keep seeing the town of Matamoras mentioned a lot during the Civil War - and am interested in it because Isaac Surratt's unit went into Matamoras near the end of the war.

Someone please edumacate me on this. Also, wasn't Mrs. Quesenberry's sister somehow involved in the politics of the Maximilian during our Civil War?
The 33d Texas Partisan Ranger Cavalry, Isaac Surratt was in coy A, defended the Lower Rio Grande during the CW to keep trade over the Rio Grande to mexico and internationally open. See William Richter (with J. E. “Rick” Smith III) “Isaac in Texas--A Theoretical Look at the Other Surratt,” SURRATT COURIER , 33 (November 2008), 3-7.

Matamoros (no final "a" and it means Kill the Moors) was on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and hence off limits to US blockaders. The Rebs shipped goods up the Rio Grande to Matamoros and Bagdad (no longer there) and trans-shipped them across the river up along the Camino Real to San Antonio and on to wherever until the US taking of Vicksburg and Port Hudson restricted the supplies largely to the Trans Mississippi. See Thomas Schoonover, "Mexican-United States Relations, 1861-1867" (Ph.D. dissertation, U Minn, 1970).

Mrs Quesenberry's sister was married to Augustin Iturbide the first Emperor on Mexico in the 1820s, I think. As such she was a Centralist (or her husband was) and many of them supported the French intervention under Austrian prince Ferdinand Maximilian during our CW, although I am not sure Mrs Q's sister and her husband did.
I went online to fill in some blanks about Mrs. Quesenberry's sister, Alice, and her involvement with Mexican history. She was actually married to Iturbide II, and here are some of the details:

"Augustin Iturbide III was born to Augustin Iturbide II, son of Emperor Iturbide I, who was a Mexican diplomat in Washington DC. Augustin III was born in Mexico City to Augustin Iturbide II and Alice Green, Dona Rosa, daughter of a prominent American diplomat. His grandfather had led Mexico's independence movement and was emperor for eleven months, 1822-1823 until he was deposed. Augustin was born during the French occupation of Mexico under Emperor Maximilian I. Maximilian's regime though was not strong at all and wanted a Mexican heir due to the fact that he was Austrian and that his regime was supported only by the French Army. At age two, 1865 Maximilian convinced a reluctant Alice Green to sign her son off to Maximilian as his adopted son. Green was completely opposed to the idea and pleaded with the emperor but since the adopted papers were signed by the frantic mother nothing could be done, even by the American embassy. Maximilian's regime collapsed in 1867 and Augustin III was sent with his wife Carlotta to Havana to meet Augustin III's parents. He was then moved to his mother's family homestead until 1875 when he was entrusted to a ship captain to study in Brussels.

"His health however, tuberculosis, forced him back to America until he was again shipped to a Catholic school, Oscott, in England. While in Europe he enjoyed the rich luxuries of an exiled royal and even had an Audience with Pope Leo III. In 1884 Augustin III completed his post-graduate education at Georgetown University in linguistics. Three years later he relocated to Mexico to enter the Mexican Military Academy in Chapultepec. His ego however caused many problems for Augustin III's political future; while in Mexico he aspired to become the great military man his Grandfather had been but his remarks to a New York newspaper in 1890 on Porfirio Diaz regime caused him to be imprisoned and court-martialed. The controversy got worse before the court-martial because of a letter he wrote in Mexico condemning the Diaz regime for selling the nation to foreign powers.

"The court-martial took place on June 11th 1890, which after an hour deliberation convicted him of insubordination. He was sentenced to a year in prison and was subsequently exiled and lost his Mexican decorations and property. After his release his mother returned to Mexico to straighten out the Family's financial issues. The stress of this resulted in her death; which Augustin never recovered fully from. Augustin returned to his mother's home in Rosedale and became a Spanish and French professor at Georgetown, where he lived the life of cosmopolitan and also tried bringing back his fortune through land deals in California, which failed. His life took a turn for the better in 1915 when he married Louise Kearney, who was twenty years his younger.

"The Kearney family was a prominent Washington family that emigrated from Ireland around 1794. The family originally lived in Falls Church, Virginia until their house burned during the Civil War, which afterwards they relocated to Georgetown. The Irish Catholic Patrician married Augustina and they lived together at the Kearney Georgetown home. Augustin III would live the last ten years of his life as a modest college professor until he died penniless in 1925, from his earlier Tuberculosis illness. Louise Kearney lived the rest of her life in a small P Street Apartment and became friends with Catholic University procurator Msgr. Joseph Magner, whom she entrusted this collection to in 1957."

The family papers are in the archives of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Please note that the above history is quoted from the University's website. It is very poorly written, and I don't want y'all to think I composed it! I have a reputation to uphold...

Summary: Elizabeth Green Quesenberry's sister, Alice, married Augustin Iturbide II and had a son, #III Iturbide. He was born during the French occupation of Mexico under Maximilian. Maxmilian was Austrian and wanted a Mexican heir to succeed him, so he persuaded Alice to sign over her son for adoption. When Emperor Maximilian's empire collapsed two years later, the boy was sent with Maximilian's wife to Havana where he met his real parents. He spent sometime at his Green family's ancestral home in D.C., Rosedale (which still exists). Rosedale was in the news a great deal about a dozen years ago when a Cuban boy who had fled to America with his mother was harbored there until Attorney General Janet Reno was ordered to return him to Cuba. Anyone know what boy I'm speaking of? The object of another political game?


That boy was Elian Gonzalez
(05-27-2013 05:59 PM)william l. richter Wrote: [ -> ]And the point of all this is. . . ?

Mark Twain said the US Grant's memoirs were well written, he did not say that they were correct. Grant was 40 years too late.

Mexico wanted a war and got one. That the US won was against all expectations, including those of the Duke of Wellington, was surprising to everyone including Mexico. It was the better gunnery of the West Point trained artillerymen that made the big difference.

Like the Native Americans of yore and the US today, Mexico had a lousy immigration policy. She settled the Goths along her borders, expecting them to keep their compatriots out. They did not.

The first mention of the Rio Grande as the border of Texas was in the 1836 Treaty of Velasco. Signed under duress? Many claimed that Sam Houston saved Santa Ana when he gave the distress sign of a Mason as a rope was being thrown over a nearby tree limb. He was glad to give Texas the Rio Grande in exchange. He also surrendered all the Mexican army in Texas--or at least he ordered it back to the Rio Grande. Lesson to the wise--do not lose a war and expect a whole lot of sympathy from the winners. Lincoln's Spot Resolution was a Whig attempt to politicize the war over slavery, a move first started by Mexico's deposed minister to the US (recently ousted by another of Mexico's constant revolutions at home) Juan Almonte. The "Spot" was irrelevant.

My one point was that both sides goaded each other into a fight. Bullying had nothing to do with it. The US was not the nation in size and power as we are in the 21st century. Mexico took us on and lost. C'est la guerre.

But do not panic! My other point was that we are cruising for our own loss of the Great Southwest back to Mexico or to the independent Spanish-speaking Republica de Aztlan. After all we are settling the Goths along our border, too. Que viva! No one seems to learn from history. Or to quote that paragon of American History, Jimmy Durante, "everybody's trying to get in on the act!"

Did Mark Twain join you and say that Grant's memoirs were incorrect?

Did someone in Mexico order President Polk to order General Taylor and his army to the Rio Grande so that Mexico would have "just cause" to invade the United States and conquer New Orleans and Mobile?

You say that Grant was 40 years too late. Too late, for what? Too late to tell the truth?

Was James Russell Lowell too late to tell the truth? The first series of Biglow Papers was published in The Boston Courier newspaper in 1846–48 and collected in book form in 1848.

Lord Charnwood in his book "Abraham Lincoln," (Garden City Publishing Co. edition, 1938, page 92) wrote of the Mexican War:

"The judgment on that war expressed at the time in the first 'Biglow Papers' has seldom been questioned since, and there seldom can have been a war so sternly condemned by soldiers--Grant amongst others--who fought in it gallantly. The facts seem to have been just as Lincoln afterwards recited them in Congress. The Rio Grande, which looks a reasonable frontier on a map, was claimed by the United States as the frontier of Texas. The territory occupied by the American settlers of Texas reached admittedly up to and beyond the River Nueces, east of the Rio Grande. But in a sparsely settled country, where water is not abundant, the actual border line, if there be any clear line, between settlement from one side and settlement from the other will not for the convenience of treaty-makers run along a river, but rather for the convenience of the settlers along the water-parting between the two rivers. So Mexico claimed both banks of the Rio Grande and Spanish settlers inhabited both sides. Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor, who was allowed no discretion in the matter, to march troops right up to the Rio Grande and occupy a position commanding the encampment of the Mexican soldiers there. The Mexican commander, thus threatened, attacked. The Mexicans had thus begun the war. Polk could thus allege his duty to prosecute it."

Mr. Richter expressed some slight concern that Santa Anna may have signed the so-called 1836 Treaty of Velasco "under duress."

Grant wrote in his Memoirs (Vol I, page 55): "I am aware that a treaty, made by the Texans with Santa Anna while 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 in jeopardy."

One of the famous lines in Shakespeare's play, "King Richard III," was: "A horse! A horse! my kingdom for a horse!"

Either King Richard III had a very small kingdom, or he had a great need for a horse!

As for whether the so-called 1836 Treaty of Velasco was signed (May 14, 1836) General Santa Anna under duress, Mr. Richter seems to admit that General Santa Anna was under great distress, as his graphic description of the general's imminent hanging depicts.

The government of President José Justo Corro in Mexico City resolved, on May 20, 1836 (6 days later), to disassociate itself from all undertakings entered into by Santa Anna while he was held captive. Mexico's position was that Santa Anna had no legal standing in the Mexican government to agree to those terms or negotiate a treaty; Santa Anna's position was that he had signed the documents under coercion as a prisoner, not as a surrendering general in accordance with the laws of war. In fact, he had no authority under the Mexican Constitution to make a treaty, and in any case, the treaty was never ratified by the Mexican government.

And Lincoln said in his January 12, 1848 speech in Congress: "The position so often taken that Santa Anna while a prisoner of war, a captive, could not bind Mexico by a treaty, I deem conclusive."

I agree with the opinions of Lincoln and Grant on the subject.
And I disagree with your and so we have it
(05-27-2013 11:05 PM)Hess1865 Wrote: [ -> ]That boy was Elian Gonzalez

You get an A+ on today's history quiz, Mr. Hess. If you can summarize in 500 words or less the argument about the Mexican War that is occurring on this thread, you will get an A+ for the rest of the year! What an interesting give-and-take.
If you Google "cause of the Mexican American War" one of the top answers is from the Univ. of Michigan:
1.The Mexican American War was mainly driven by the idea of “Manifest Destiny”; the belief that the U.S had a God-given right to occupy and civilize the whole continent. As increasingly large number of Americans migrated towards the west in search of land, the fact that most of those areas already had people living in them was ignored. Instead, an attitude and belief that democratic English-speaking America would do a better job of running the lands than the Native Americans or Spanish-speaking Catholic Mexicans prevailed. President Polk shared and led the vision of Manifest Destiny, and did offer to buy much of the southwest land from Mexico. However the Mexican government refused the offer, and an unyeilding desire to populate those southwestern lands caused tensions to continue to rise. (3)

2.The second major cause of the Mexican American War actually started off with the Texas War of Independence and the subsequent inclusion of that area into the United States. During the 1830s, Mexico needed settlers in the under populated northern parts of the country and therefore allowed U.S. citizens to come and live in the Texas area as long as they took an oath of allegiance to Mexico and coverted to Catholicism. Thousands of Americans accepted the invitation and migrated to the Mexican province of Texas. However, not long after, many of the new “Texicans” or “Texians” were not satisfied with the way the Mexican government tried to run the province. So in 1835, the Texas Revolution began as both Mexicans and Americans living in Texas fought for independence from the Mexican government. Sam Houston led the "Texians" in battle against Mexican President Santa Anna and his troops. A final victory resulted in the capture of Santa Anna, who was forced to sign the Treaty of Velasco, granting Texas its independence.

Prior to becoming interested in the Lincoln assassination I was first (at a much younger age) fascinated by the story of the Alamo. After reading more and more i came to view the incident as less a noble and glorius event and more a civil uprising in the annexation of the lands of a sovereign nation. The Alamo was the precursor to more plans for landgrabbing. There were many in this country that felt the time was right to annex not just Northern Mexico but Cuba, all of the Carribean and everything else south (read the new book on the Knights of the Golden Circle). The Knights (more than once) sent companies of armed men to the border with Texas waiting for a signal from our government to head south and stake claims to expand their slave holding areas. There were those in Washington that felt with the Mexican government in dissaray we should help ourselves before the French or English made a bid. The only thing in the way of our Manifest Destiny (which some have liberally interpreted as "if you are not white and speak English, get out of our way"), was a little thing called the Constitution. We could get around that if our peoples were attached or our land invaded. From here it becomes murky with both sides claiming instigation, invasion, attack and defense of their lands (the Thornton Affair). On April 25th 1846 Captain Seth Thornton led a patrol into the contested area and met Mexican Cavalry. Whether this is what our government wanted of not is the contentious argument. Regardless it was the spark that lit the fuse.
I've found the posts by David L. and Rsmyth very illuminating.

Also, it tended to be Southerners who were interested in annexing more land, south of the U.S. border, whether it was Mexico or Cuba or even Central America. These supporters were quite vocal about their wish to spread the benefits of their slave society to the rest of the Americas. They sponsored numerous campaigns to get something started south of the border - chiefly Cuba and Central America, from what I can recall - and they anointed a particular individual, popularly known as the "Grey-Eyed Man of Destiny," to lead these efforts, which were called filibustering. (I had no idea until I read about this that the filibuster originally had a meaning other than a tactic of obstruction used by U.S. senators against legislation up for consideration in the Senate!)

Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson provides an excellent overview of all of the filibustering that went on in the antebellum era at the behest of the Slave Power. Incidentally, the U.S. first got its meddlesome reputation with Latin Americans because of filibustering; the U.S. citizens who engaged in filibustering were known as "gringoes."
To me, the drive by Americans of all interests to fulfill our Manifest Destiny encompassed a great deal more than just warring with Mexico and the extension of slavery. Here is a nice synopsis from

Manifest Destiny

Library of Congress
In the 1850s trains were leaving Washington for the West twice daily.
Expansion westward seemed perfectly natural to many Americans in the mid-nineteenth century. Like the Massachusetts Puritans who hoped to build a "city upon a hill, "courageous pioneers believed that America had a divine obligation to stretch the boundaries of their noble republic to the Pacific Ocean. Independence had been won in the Revolution and reaffirmed in the War of 1812. The spirit of nationalism that swept the nation in the next two decades demanded more territory. The "every man is equal" mentality of the Jacksonian Era fueled this optimism. Now, with territory up to the Mississippi River claimed and settled and the Louisiana Purchase explored, Americans headed west in droves. Newspaper editor JOHN O'SULLIVAN coined the term "MANIFEST DESTINY" in 1845 to describe the essence of this mindset.

A symbol of Manifest Destiny, the figure "Columbia" moves across the land in advance of settlers, replacing darkness with light and ignorance with civilization. [This is a caption for an 1872 painting that would not copy.]

The religious fervor spawned by the Second Great Awakening created another incentive for the drive west. Indeed, many settlers believed that God himself blessed the growth of the American nation. The Native Americans were considered heathens. By Christianizing the tribes, American missionaries believed they could save souls and they became among the first to cross the Mississippi River.

Economic motives were paramount for others. The fur trade had been dominated by European trading companies since colonial times. German immigrant John Jacob Astor was one of the first American entrepreneurs to challenge the Europeans. He became a millionaire in the process. The desire for more land brought aspiring homesteaders to the frontier. When gold was discovered in California in 1848, the number of migrants increased even more.

At the heart of manifest destiny was the pervasive belief in American cultural and racial superiority. Native Americans had long been perceived as inferior, and efforts to "civilize" them had been widespread since the days of John Smith and MILES STANDISH. The Hispanics who ruled Texas and the lucrative ports of California were also seen as "backward."

[Two maps belong here, but would not copy.]

In 1840, the entire southwestern corner of the United States was controlled by foreign powers (shown in orange), and the territorial dispute over the Oregon Territory (light green) had not been settled. By 1850 the U.S. had control of lands from the Atlantic to the Pacific, covering almost all of today's continental United States.
Expanding the boundaries of the United States was in many ways a cultural war as well. The desire of southerners to find more lands suitable for cotton cultivation would eventually spread slavery to these regions. North of the Mason-Dixon line, many citizens were deeply concerned about adding any more slave states. Manifest destiny touched on issues of religion, money, race, patriotism, and morality. These clashed in the 1840s as a truly great drama of regional conflict began to unfold.

Copyright ©2008-2013, owned by the Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia
I would like to add my opinion.

We in Texas are proud of the Alamo and the freedom fighters that died for Texas independence. Unfortunately, the story is a lie.

About 1830 the Mexican government wanted to populate its northern territories. They invited foreigners to move into their northern territories if they would swear allegiance to Mexico. Many Americans took up their offer and moved to the northern territories. Many of these Americans brought their slaves with them. Slavery offended the Mexican conscience and Mexico ordered the slave holders to release their slaves. The slave holders refused to release their slaves and sought annexation by a slavery allowing country--the U.S.

The U.S. was considering annexing northern Mexico, when Mexico not wanting war gave the land north of Corpus Christi (North of the Nueces river) to the Americans. Then the U.S. annexed the entire land north of the Rio Grande (Brownsville). The U.S. took the land between Corpus Christi and Brownsville like a thief in the night.

President Polk sent General Taylor and his soldiers to occupy this area of disputed land to let Mexico know that the land between Brownsville and Corpus Christi now belonged to the U.S. Mexican troops tried to expel the Americans and several Americans were killed. President Polk said that American blood was shed on American soil and that a state of war now existed between Mexico and the U.S. The Mexican American war had begun.

That brings us back to the Alamo. The men and boys that died at the Alamo, died so that the slave owners could keep their slaves.
To argue that treaties between states that define borders that have been accepted for over 165 years are less legitimate than the boundary demanded by the losing side in multiple wars can lead to no end of mischief.

Of course the terms imposed by Texas in the War of Independence and the United States in the Mexican War relating to the Southern borders of Texas were coercive. That is typical in situations in which states wage war against each other and one side loses. The Mexican government's reaction to the peace imposed by Sam Houston in 1836 was not just disagreement over which river was the boundary of Texas but rejection of the very idea of an independent Texas republic. Mexican armies subsequently invaded the Republic of Texas on multiple occasions and twice seized San Antonio.

It is interesting that the Mexican government only offered to recognize Texan independence provided that Texas not become part of the United States but this offer was made too late to affect the annexation of Texas. As a sweetener Mexico even offered to submit the southern boundary dispute to arbitration by Britain and France.

In the last century perhaps the most famous coercive peace was the Treaty of Versailles where a defeated Germany accepted among other things loss of territory to an independent Poland. Of course the Germans could have refused to accept the treaty but to do would have resulted in the resumption of World War I which the Allies by the disarmament of the German armed forces via the 1918 Armistice clauses made any German military resistance hopeless.

Now we know what happened when the Germans feeling as aggrieved as the most fiery Mexican patriot sought to overturn the loss of territory they thought was rightfully theirs. The Poles and the majority of inhabitants of the Mexican cession might disagree with nationalisms not their own.
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