Was the Mexican American War an Exercise in American Imperialism

Essay by Muskateer06High School, 11th grade December 2004

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The Mexican-American War was the beginning of a legacy of hate between the Americans and Mexicans. During this era, America was growing commercially and industrially, leading to the need for more land to maximize the American profit. This Anglo-American necessity led to the Mexican-American War. Imperialism was indeed the corner stone for the entire Mexican-American war; Americans aimed to control the Mexican lands through direct control.

Manifest Destiny, the belief that the Americans were to expand to the Pacific Coast, was started in the 1840s. It is no secret that Polk won the election largely because of his radical expansionist views. Shortly after Polk's win, he sent a few representatives to protect the border of Texas and bargain for the land, not long after Congress passed Texas to become a state. Due to the men "protecting" the border of Texas, Mexico became angry and refused to accept Polk's compromise, offering only a partial recognition.

Polk declined, and American troops proceeded to the Rio Grande. Polk later claimed that the Mexico-American War was a last resort to Mexico's lack of cooperation and attack on the Americans, and that "American blood had been shed on American soil." This is inaccurate. At that time, the land was neither said to belong solely to the Americans, or solely to the Mexicans. Each side thought the land belonged to them. Polk had also already planned the steps to lead to the control of Texas, even before the war. If not for imperialist goals, why would Polk have already planned the steps leading up to the war, if war itself was a "last resort?" This shows the Americans illustration of imperialism by the fact that President Polk would not accept Mexico's terms for partial recognition probably because Polk had a dream of owning all the land...