Sunday, April 02, 2006

Mexicans & Texans, a brief history


There's nothing like flag-wavin' to get the blood boiling.

Mexican and Mexican-American students carrying Mexico's red, white and green flag outside our public school have proved that.

It's led to some suggesting the protests over immigration reform are really more about "conquest" than legislation.

If there is a conquest in our future by the brown man (and woman), I feel reasonably secure in thinking it will be via the ballot box rather than the bayonet. After all, the population of state's largest city (Houston) is something like 40 percent Hispanic, right?

But, just for fun and so that we're all working from the same set of facts, let's look back at the last conquest, which really was a conquest.

Here's how it went down.

Texas originally belong to the republic of Mexico. Mexico allowed Americans to settle in Mexico's state of Texas. It was sparsely populated.

The American colonists didn't pay much attention to Mexico's central government. They introduced slavery despite that practice being prohibited by the Mexican constitution.

Before long, when enough Americans had drifted down to Texas, the colonists formed their own government and war ensued.

On April 21, 1836, when Gen. Sam Houston and his army defeated the Mexican army at San Jacinto and captured Santa Anna, it was all over but the shouting.

Houston could have executed Santa Anna and no one would have thought the worse of him in light of what happened at The Alamo and Goliad.

Instead, Houston compelled Santa Anna to sign an armistice, withdraw his troops
and cede Texas.

Now, you could say the treaty was made under duress and wasn't fair. But if you were Santa Anna, what would you have done?

Even so, Mexico never recognized the independence of Texas. Moreover, the newly formed Republic of Texas never really exercised any control of the land between the Nueces River (down around Corpus) and the Rio Grande, and the Mexicans really didn't recognize Texas independence in those parts.

It was wild, virutally unpopulated territory where the Red Man held sway more than anyone else.

By 1845, the Republic of Texas invited the United States to annex Texas, and it did.

Gen. Zachary Taylor took military possession of the new state of Texas and was ordered to march to the Nueces River. He didn't stop there, despite the border question, which was well known to all.

The U.S. Army ended up going all the way to Mexico City, conquering Mexico.

Being a "civilized" country and all, the USA didn't take over the whole country of Mexico even though it held all the cards. Instead, a treaty was negotiated (the "Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo") with the temporary government that had been established after Santa Anna & Co. headed for the hills.

The treaty made the official southern boundary of the USA (and Texas) the Rio Grande River and gave the USA the territory that then included New Mexico and Upper California. In return, the USA paid Mexico $15 million.

To the victor go the spoils, as the saying goes, but money did exchange hands, the books say.

Still, even back in those days, the Mexican War rubbed a lot of Americans the wrong way.


Ulysses S. Grant, who served in the Mexican War before serving as president from 1869 to 1877, complained that annexationists in the USA wanted more territory than Texas could provide in the 1845 annexation, so Zachary Taylor was sent south of the Nueces River, "apparently in order to force Mexico to initiate war."

The original treaty that led to the creation of the Republic of Texas, too, was pretty shady since it was made when Santa Anna was "under duress," Grant asserted.

"...he was a prisoner of war when the treaty was made, and his life was in jeopardy,"
Grant wrote of Santa Anna in "Personal Memoirs," shortly before he died of throat cancer. (Mark Twain edited and published the book.)

Grant called the Civil War "largely the outgrowth of the Mexican War."

"Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions," he wrote. "We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times."

And, perhaps, in the immigration mess in which the USA now finds itself?

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6 comments:

Cristian said...

Great post. I'd forgotten some of that stuff since my 7th grade Texas History and college days. Is it ok if I call myself a "Texican"?

Epigmenio Gonzales said...

This big self-deprecating lie does not change history and U.S. Grant's distorted and ignorant view of history justifies it even less.

The story goes like this:

Texas originally was part of New Spain by right of discovery as was all of the Gulf Coast, Mexico and South America. Independence movements against the colonial tyranny of Spain began in Texas as early as 1810 concurrently with all of the rest of New Spain and it ended up as a relatively autonomous state in the independent Mexican Federation modeled after the US government in 1821.

A liberal Mexican government invited foreign colonization which were mostly from the growing USA in partnership with the minority of capable and willing native Hispanic residents to secure and development the wilderness of Texas into a secure and dynamic economic region and society. The government promised them full legal protection of life and property under the liberal Mexican Constitution of 1824. This the colonists proceeded to build with great success.

Continuous revolution and economic failure under a centralized Mexican dictatorship based in Mexico City and failure to capitalize on democratic principles of individual freedom and economic successes that could have spread into all of Mexico and resulted in a second great Republic on the North American continent caused the loss of Texas and eventually almost half of Mexican territory west to the Pacific.

EVen if one argues treaties were made under duress, as stated a continuously revolving economically failed Mexican government "never recognized the independence of Texas" making such a conclusion an oxymoron.

With this continuous futile situation in Mexico, and continuous attacks by the Mexican government on the citizens of Texas threatening to destroy everything they had struggled to build for the future and make the territory similar to that futile situation, Texans had no choice but to relie upon support from the USA.

Despite this, the desire for annexation by the USA was not unanimous in Texas just as the decision to join the Confederate States of American was not unanimous. It was bitterly disputed causing Governor Sam Houston to resign. Neither was the decision to break with Mexico unanimous at first.

The Republic of Texas joined the USA by treaty as a nation like no other state in the USA.

The "proof is in the pudding," "the beef," "the facts" around us.

The current almost uncontrollable flood of people born south of the border into the former colonized territories of Mexico speaks volumes in the wisdom of the Federalist colonization policies of newly independent Mexico in 1821 before dictatorship prevailed and the wisdom of the evolution of Texas as an independent Mexican State, then Nation Republic and then State of the USA.

They equally condemn the failed policies resulting from the disastrous historic actions of Mexican Centralism and blind Nationalism and continuous revolution caused by it from which the Mexican Republic suffered into the 20th century and from which it still suffers the economic and political consequences today.

The tragedy is that the entire Mexican Nation beginning in 1811 did not embrace the Texas example and let it sweep over the entire nation that would have resulted in deserved enjoyment of economic and political freedom on which it still must depend on the USA to even come close to.

Those who are ignorant of their history are doomed to endlessly repeat it.

Banjo Jones said...

Cristian, how 'bout "American"?

Epigmenio, I don't have a problem blaming Mexico for losing Texas, New Mexico and Upper California, and I don't have a problem giving Mexico its fair share of blame for its people heading norte for economic opportunity. It's a fucked up country, that's for sure!

Cristian said...

Sorry, Banjo. I forgot to use the inflection key on my computer again to denote sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

If the U.S. "stole" Texas from Mexico, which it didn't, then it also stole the original 13 colonies from England. Or somehting. But the Mexican War and the acquisition of California was a different, if related, story. Lots of Americans opposed that war, including members of Congress and the likes of Henry David Thoreau. At $15 million, the Mexican Cession was indeed a steal. Where would be w/o California?

BTW Banjo, should I patronize that online casino that's advertising on the Brazosport News? Could I strike it rich?

Banjo Jones said...

yes, by all means, try your luck at the casino. It's only money!