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Prior to 1822 What is today Mexico, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and California are all Spanish colonies.
1822 Mexican colonists, following the American revolution, rebel against Spain and win their own revolutionary war, making Mexico a free nation just like America.
1844 James Polk campaigns for the U.S. presidency, supporting expansion of U.S. territories into Mexico.
February, 1845 James Polk, on his inagauguration night, confides to his Secretary of the Navy that a principal objective of his presidency is the acquisition of California, which Mexico had been refusing to sell to the U.S. at any price.
Early 1845 The Washington Union, expressing the position of James Polk, writes: "...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...?" "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."
Early 1845 John O'Sullivan, editor of the Democratic review writes it is "Our manifest destiny to overspread the continent ...for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions."
Early 1845 James Polk promises Texas he will support moving the historical Texas/Mexico border at the Nueces river 150 miles south to the Rio Grande provided Texas agrees to join the union. "The traditional border between Texas and Mexico had been the Nueces River...and both the United States and Mexico had recognized that as the border." (Zinn, p. 148)
June 30, 1845 James Polk orders troops to march south of the traditional Texas/Mexico border into Mexican inhabited territory, causing Mexicans to flee their villages and abandon their crops in terror. "Ordering troops to the Rio Grande, into territory inhabited by Mexicans, was clearly a provocation." (Zinn, p. 148) "President Polk had incited war by sending American soldiers into what was disputed territory, historically controlled and inhabited by Mexicans." (John Schroeder , "Mr. Polk's War")
Early 1846 Colonel Hitchcock, commander of the 3rd Infantry regiment, writes in his diary: "...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....My heart is not in this business."
May 9, 1846 President Polk tells his cabinet: "...up to this time...we have heard of no open aggression by the Mexican Army."
May 10, 1846 Violence erupts between Mexican and American troops south of the Nueces River. Of course Polk claims Mexicans had fired the first shot, but in his famous "spot resolutions" congressman Abraham Lincoln repeatedly challenges president Polk to name the exact "spot" where Mexicans first attacked American troops. Polk never met the challenge.
May 11, 1846 President Polk urges congress to declare war on Mexico.
May 12, 1846 : Horace Greeley writes in the New York Tribune: "We can easily defeat the armies of Mexico, slaughter them by thousands, and pursue them perhaps to their capital; we can conquer and "annex" their territory; but what then? Who believes that a score of victories over Mexico, the "annexation" of half of her provinces, will give us more Liberty, a purer Morality, a more prosperous Industry...?
1846 Congressman Abraham Lincoln, speaking in a session of congress "...the president unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced a war with Mexico....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, un- provoking procedure; but it does not appear so to us."
after war is underway, the American press comments: February 11, 1847. The "Congressional Globe" reports: "...We must march from ocean to ocean....We must march from Texas straight to the Pacific ocean....It is the destiny of the white race, it is the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon Race." The New York Herald: "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." American Review writes of Mexicans "yielding to a superior population, insensibly oozing into her territories, changing her customs, and out-living, exterminating her weaker blood."
1846-1848 U.S. Army battles Mexico, not just enforcing the new Texas border at the Rio Grande but capturing Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and California (as well as marching as far south as Mexico City).
1848 Mexico surrenders on U.S. terms (U.S. takes over ownership of New Mexico, California, an expanded Texas, and more, for a token payment of $15 million, which leads the Whig Intelligencer to report: "We take nothing by conquest....Thank God").
(date unknown) General Ulysses S. Grant calls the Mexican War "the most unjust war ever undertaken by a stronger nation against a weaker one."
Primary Source: "We take nothing by conquest, Thank God", in A People's History Of the United States, 1492-Present, Howard Zinn, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. (This book is available on the shelf at virtually every bookstore in America. The New York Times Book Review says it "...should be required reading for a new generation of students...." )