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MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR: Justified Response to Mexican Aggression or Unscrupulous Land Grab?
In 1845, the United States annexed Texas, an action the Mexican government opposed, as it still considered Texas part of its territory. In response, President James K. Polk sent a diplomatic envoy to Mexico to mend relations and offer the Mexican government millions of dollars to purchase California and New Mexico. The Mexican government, however, rejected the envoy. Deeming this move hostile, President Polk sent troops to a section of Texas that both the United States and Mexico claimed to control. After months of mounting hostility between Mexican and American soldiers in this disputed area, Mexican troops allegedly fired on U.S. forces on April 25, 1846. President Polk called this an act of aggression and persuaded Congress to declare war on Mexico. Many supported this decision, arguing that Mexico had rejected diplomacy and attacked the United States. Others, however, argued that the United States had been the aggressor by sending troops to the hotly contested area and provoked the Mexican army to attack them in the hopes of seizing California, New Mexico, and other Mexican territory.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Was the Mexican-American War a justified response to Mexican aggression or an unscrupulous land grab? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of the Mexican-American War this month.
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