The Mexican American War was a fight for territory,
originally over Texas, and then
shortly enough it came to include the territories of New
Mexico, California, and the like. As this dwindled on, the U.S. citizens at home, strongly believing in the ideal of Manifest Destiny, carried the country
on their backs by increasing their volunteer rates and supported the war. It
was at this time when the press had an increasingly important role in public opinion, and more and more of the U.S. citizens
joined the western movement.
With breakthroughs in technology, the press
back home some 2000 miles away was able to communicate with those at the battles and produce that news in their papers. The press was responsible for gaining support of the war, keeping American morale
high, and keeping all of the citizens updated on the events of the war. The press,
of which was almost in its entirety prowar, even sent correspondents to follow the army and get information. This was made more evident when PBS stated, “The reports from the correspondents with the army often
supported U.S. involvement in the war and the idea of Manifest Destiny” (“Role of Media,”
1). This quote alone showed the intentions of the press for they were “often”
in favor of U.S. action and other ideals. Their writings would
then greatly have had a strong affect on public opinion, for the civilians had no other way finding out about the war.
Although, the press was in favor of the war, many politicians spoke out against it, trying to mould
public opinion in their favor, hence ending the war. One such politician was
Henry Clay. In his speech about the Mexican-American War, he states:
How did we unhappily get involved in this war? It was predicted as the consequence
of the annexation of Texas to the United States. If we had not Texas, we should have no war. The people were told that if that event happened,
war would ensue. They were told that the war between Texas and Mexico had not been terminated by a treaty of peace; that Mexico
still claimed Texas as a revolted province: and that, if we received Texas in our Union, we took along with her, the war existing
between her and Mexico. And the Minister of Mexico [Juan N. Almonte] formally announced to the Government at Washington, that his nation would consider the annexation of Texas to the United States as producing a state of war. But all this was denied by the partisans
of annexation. They insisted we should have no war, and even imputed to those who foretold it, sinister motives for their
groundless prediction (Clay, 1).
This quote bared dissention
for Clay used such words as “unhappily” to show his disapproval, and blaming the United States for sparking the
war, in that Mexico had forewarned the United States about the annexation of Texas.
As it was seen, although most citizens were for the war, there were also many against it. The reasoning for these viewpoints were seen when Digital History stated,
“The Mexican War was extremely controversial. Its supporters blamed Mexico for the hostilities because it had severed relations
with the United
threatened war, refused to receive an American emissary or to pay the damage claims of American citizens. In addition, Mexico had "invaded our territory and shed American blood
on American soil." Opponents denounced the war as an immoral land grab by an expansionistic power against a weak neighbor
that had been independent barely two decades.” (“The
Mexican War”(1), 1).
This quote showed the
reasoning of both the supporters and dissenters of the war. Supporters had blamed
Mexico for starting the war invading U.S. land, while dissenters
blamed the U.S. for annexing Texas for they believed Mexico deserved and would have gotten
the Texas back if it had not been for annexation.
Next, as the war waged on, U.S. citizens continued to
travel west into such territories as Texas, New Mexico, and
Alta California. They traveled by
wagon and foot across the plains on such routes as the Santa Fe Trail (Goldfield, 357).
By the thousands, they crowded into the areas and onto the land in search of land, gold, and opportunity, of which
only few were to find. Almost all of these migrants believed in the ideal of
Manifest Destiny, and the superiority of the WASP’s, or White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. They believed that the U.S. was meant to stretch from ocean to ocean, and by God-given right, they were the people
who were allowed to take control of that land by any means necessary. The ideal
of Manifest Destiny was used by U.S. citizens alike in order to justify their claims and gains in western North America (359).
this crisis, the U.S. had a small army of just a few thousand men. As
the war began between Mexico and the United
States, however, the U.S. citizens/civilians
got involved. In fact, the war was mostly carried out by civilians in one form
or another, for as Lone Star Internet stated, “Despite the objections of the abolitionists, the war received enthusiastic
support in all sections of the United States and was fought almost entirely by volunteers. The army swelled from just over 6,000 to
over 115,000” (“The Mexican War.”(2), 1). This quote proved
the point that was previously made in that the army grew to such a mass due to civilian involvement, which played an important
role in the victory of the United States.
In conclusion, the U.S. homefront
during the Mexican-American war was not a complex one, but, nonetheless, an important one.
If it had not been for the press and its newest means of communication at the time, the citizens may have given up
on the war and tried to end it. If it had not been for the volunteer soldiers,
the U.S. would surely have had a faced a greater obstacle in battle and the U.S. may
not have succeeded. It was therefore essential to the U.S. cause
that all of these occurrences happened in the fashions they did.
.Clay, Henry. “Speech on the Mexican-American War.” Verizon
Foundation 1 page. Online. Internet. Available http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=486.
Goldfield, David. The American Journey. Upper Saddle Dale: Prentice-Hall, 1998.
“Role of Media.” PBS 1 page. Online. Internet. 16 March 2006. Available http://www.pbs.org/kera/usmexicanwar/war/us_press.html
“The Mexican War.” (1) Digital
History 1 page. Online. Internet. 4 June 2006. Available http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=316.
“The Mexican War.” (2) Lone Star
Internet 1 page. Online. Internet. 2 August 2004. Available http://www.lnstar.com/mall/texasinfo/mexicow.htm.