Mexican Americans: 175 years

175 Years 

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the United States Congress declaring war on Mexico , an event so significativo it created an entire group of people.

“That’s why Mexican Americans exist, because of the fact that there was this war of conquest that was driven by the notion of ‘Manifest Destiny,’ a term coined in conjunction with all of this,” said Ernesto Chavez, a history professor at the University of Texas at El Paso and author of “The U.S. War With Mexico: A Brief History with Documents.”

Manifest Destiny – not just something you learn in School: “Manifest destiny,” the idea that it was the United States’ divine right to expand to the Pacific, was coined in 1845 by John O’Sullivan in an editorial that argued for the annexation of Texas and the Oregon territory.

The U.S. government blamed its southern neighbor for the start of the war. President James K. Polk, who ran on a platform of western expansion, claimed Mexico had shed “American blood on American soil,” conveniently leaving out the fact that the land in which the soldiers killed in what became known as the Thornton Affair was Mexican at the time.

Spanish History on the Western U.S. 
The end of the war resulted in the U.S. nearly doubling in size, acquiring land that is now present-day California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

It was also a prelude to the Civil War; the expansion further heightened the slave state vs. free state debate. In fact, known racist and secessionist John C. Calhoun was opposed to the Mexican-American War precisely for this reason. (He was also against the idea of acquiring all of Mexico because that would mean more Mexicans).

“The U.S.-Mexico War opened the door for the United States to have that neo-colonial relationship with Mexico and Central America,” he said, noting that the power imbalance has given the U.S. access to cheap labor and resources ever since.

“It’s important for people to think about how they are products of history, and why this relationship between these countries exists.”

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