What’s The Deal On The Mexican American War?

Scary, sad, and a big, huge sore point with our Mexican friends. Best not to bring it up

War broke out in 1846 between Mexico and the USA. There were many reasons why, but the most important were lingering Mexican resentment over the 1836 loss of Texas and the Americans’ desire for Mexico’s northwestern lands, including California and New Mexico.

When the peace treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1847,  Mexico lost about one-third of its entire territory, including nearly all of present-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Wyoming. It was a bad licking that Mexico took, and would change its destiny. It is interesting to note, the same 10 states represent 136 electoral votes, more than half the votes necessary to win a U.S. presidential election.

This is a recent ad for Vodka that opened old wounds and shows what a shriveld up little country the USA would be without the Mexican American war of 1846. The darker part is what Mexico would be today and the lighter is what the U.S. would be today. Under the resulting treaty Mexico agreed to recognize the U.S. annexation of Texas, which sorely saddened them, as many Mexicans lived there. In addition, Mexico agreed to sell California and the rest of its territory north of the Rio Grande for the bargain basement price of U.S. $15 million, plus a small payment for certain war damage claims.

It was not an easy war for either side, as conditions were terrible. Everyone suffered greatly from disease, which killed seven times more soldiers than combat. Soldiers suffered and died from a variety of diseases, including yellow fever, malaria, dysentery, measles, diarrhea, cholera and smallpox. These illnesses were treated with remedies such as leeches, brandy, mustard, opium and lead. As for those wounded in combat, primitive medical techniques often turned minor wounds into life-threatening ones.

To this day, it’s not a good idea to bring up this war in mixed company, as Mexicans are still resentful. Their biggest resentment is against their own leaders for giving up and selling out for such a small sum of money, even though they didn’t win one single battle, nor were they liable to if they had hung in there.

During this war which lasted less than two years, six different men were president of Mexico, (and the presidency changed hands nine times among them). None of them lasted longer than nine months, and some of their terms in office were measured in days. Each of these men had a political agenda, which often was directly at odds with that of their predecessors and successors. With such poor leadership on a national level, it was impossible to co-ordinate a war effort among various state militias and independent armies run by inept generals.