How America Fought Its Wars: Military Strategy from the American Revolution to the Civil War

By Victor Brooks; Robert Hohwald | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
Zachary Taylor's War

The Northern Campaign in the
Mexican-American Conflict

The decade following the rebel victory of San Jacinto was a period of complex relationships between the republics of Texas, Mexico and the United States of America. While the Mexican government never launched a serious follow-up invasion of their breakaway province, a state of low intensity warfare simmered along the Texan-Mexican borderlands for years. The Lone Star Republic had been recognized by the United States and European powers such as Great Britain and France, but the majority of Texans leaned toward annexation to the American Union if the necessary legislation could be approved in Washington. The presidential election of 1844 presented clear cut alternatives to American voters, as Whig candidate Henry Clay generally opposed immediate annexation while Democrat James K. Polk supported a broad-based policy of expansionism that included statehood for the Lone Star territory.

At midmorning of March 4, 1845, newly elected President Polk stepped out from the lobby of the Coleman Hotel and, in a driving, cold rain, climbed into President John Tyler's open carriage for the traditional ride down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol. The new president's inauguration address was triumphant yet moderate and conciliatory toward the Whig opposition. However, the new president clearly subscribed to the idea that the annexation of Texas would be merely a rectification of the mistake that had been committed in 1819 when the United States had ceded Texas to Spain in exchange for Florida. He insisted that "annexation is a matter between Texas and the United States alone," clearly warning Europe and Mexico to refrain from what was seen as an internal issue for the American republic. The Mexican government responded to Polk's speech with a terminating of diplomatic relations and a mobilization of forces to challenge American hegemony between the Knacks and Rio Grande rivers. The new

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