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Was The United States Justified in Going to War with Mexico

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Words: 696 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Sep 16, 2023

Words: 696|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Sep 16, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Background: Manifest Destiny and Territorial Expansion
  2. Justifications for War: American Perspective
  3. 1. Border Dispute:
    2. Protection of American Lives and Property:
    3. Manifest Destiny:
  4. Justifications for War: Mexican Perspective
  5. 1. Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity:
    2. Opposition to Slavery:
    3. Fear of American Aggression:
  6. Evaluation: Was the United States Justified?

The Mexican-American War, which took place between 1846 and 1848, marked a significant chapter in the history of the United States. It was a conflict that raised questions about the nation's motives, its expansionist goals, and the ethical considerations surrounding the war. This document-based question (DBQ) essay will explore the key factors that led to the Mexican-American War, examine the justifications presented by both sides, and ultimately evaluate whether the United States was justified in going to war with Mexico.

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Background: Manifest Destiny and Territorial Expansion

The concept of Manifest Destiny, which emerged in the 1840s, played a pivotal role in shaping American attitudes toward territorial expansion. It was the belief that it was America's destiny and duty to expand across the North American continent. The idea of Manifest Destiny fueled the desire for more land, particularly in the western regions.

Justifications for War: American Perspective

From the American perspective, several justifications were presented for going to war with Mexico:

1. Border Dispute:

One of the primary reasons cited by the United States was the border dispute between Texas and Mexico. Texas had declared its independence from Mexico in 1836 and sought annexation by the United States in 1845. The border between Texas and Mexico was a point of contention, with Texas claiming the Rio Grande as its southern boundary and Mexico asserting that the Nueces River was the true border. The United States argued that the Rio Grande was the legitimate border, leading to tensions and skirmishes along the disputed territory.

2. Protection of American Lives and Property:

Another justification put forth by the United States was the need to protect American lives and property in the disputed border region. Incidents of violence between Mexican forces and American settlers in Texas were used to argue that Mexico posed a threat to American citizens.

3. Manifest Destiny:

The doctrine of Manifest Destiny provided a broader ideological justification for territorial expansion. Many Americans believed that it was their destiny to spread democracy and civilization westward. This belief contributed to a sense of moral obligation to acquire new territories, including those held by Mexico.

Justifications for War: Mexican Perspective

On the Mexican side, there were also justifications presented for their resistance to American expansion:

1. Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity:

Mexico argued that Texas was still a part of its territory and that the annexation of Texas by the United States was a violation of Mexican sovereignty. From Mexico's perspective, they were defending their rightful territory from encroachment by a foreign power.

2. Opposition to Slavery:

Mexico's opposition to slavery was a significant factor in the conflict. Texas allowed slavery, which clashed with Mexico's policies against the institution. Mexico saw the expansion of slavery into its territory as morally objectionable and sought to prevent it.

3. Fear of American Aggression:

Mexico also had concerns about American expansionism and the potential threat it posed to Mexican interests. The annexation of Texas and the desire for additional territories raised suspicions about the United States' intentions.

Evaluation: Was the United States Justified?

Assessing the justification for the United States' actions in going to war with Mexico is a complex matter. From a historical perspective, it is evident that both sides had legitimate concerns and motivations. The border dispute was a real issue, and there were incidents of violence in the region. However, the broader context of Manifest Destiny and the desire for territorial expansion, including the acquisition of California and New Mexico, suggests that the United States had expansionist ambitions that extended beyond resolving border conflicts.

Furthermore, the Mexican perspective cannot be dismissed. Mexico had valid concerns about the annexation of Texas, the expansion of slavery, and the potential consequences of American expansionism for its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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In conclusion, while the United States presented justifications for going to war with Mexico, including the border dispute and the protection of American lives and property, the broader context of territorial expansion and Manifest Destiny raises questions about the true motivations behind the conflict. The Mexican perspective, with its emphasis on sovereignty and opposition to slavery, also highlights valid concerns on their part. Ultimately, whether the United States was justified in going to war with Mexico remains a matter of historical debate, with different perspectives offering nuanced views of this pivotal moment in American history.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Was the United States Justified in Going to War with Mexico. (2023, September 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/was-the-united-states-justified-in-going-to-war-with-mexico/
“Was the United States Justified in Going to War with Mexico.” GradesFixer, 16 Sept. 2023, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/was-the-united-states-justified-in-going-to-war-with-mexico/
Was the United States Justified in Going to War with Mexico. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/was-the-united-states-justified-in-going-to-war-with-mexico/> [Accessed 20 Jul. 2024].
Was the United States Justified in Going to War with Mexico [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Sept 16 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/was-the-united-states-justified-in-going-to-war-with-mexico/
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