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   Chapter 5 THE MEXICAN ATTITUDE ON THE EVE OF WAR

The War With Mexico, Volume I (of 2) By Justin H. Smith Characters: 34572

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


In tracing the mutual relations of the United States and Mexico, we have often had occasion to note how each nation felt about the other and about a possible conflict; but it is very desirable now to understand as completely as possible what those feelings were at about the beginning of 1846, and this will require the consideration of many additional facts.

Already there were influential and wealthy Mexicans, particularly in the north, who wished or half-wished that the United States would subjugate their country, so that order and prosperity might come; and others reflected that at least our assistance might be desired, should Paredes undertake to set up a European monarchy. But these were selfish calculations. They seldom implied good-will. Friends we have none at the capital, Slidell reported; and our consul at the northern city of Tampico, even though but a faint loyalty to the central government prevailed in that section, wrote in September, 1845: "The most stubborn and malignant feeling seems to exist in the mind of every Mexican against the United States."[1]

WHY MEXICO DISLIKED THE UNITED STATES

The principal cause of this feeling-the supposed misconduct of our government in the settlement, revolution and successful resistance of Texas, and in the recognition and annexation of that republic-has already been explained; but other strong reasons co?perated. All understood that intense dissatisfaction existed in the northern departments. Now that our frontier had been advanced so far south, further peaceful aggression seemed easy; and it was believed that we intended to pursue the Texas method progressively, until all of Mexico should little by little become ours. "This first invasion is the threat of many more," said the official journal. It was alleged that we, fearing the competition of that country in the markets of the world, did all we could to hinder its agricultural, industrial and commercial development, and excited the revolutions that paralyzed it; and it was even believed that we incited the Indians to ravage the northern frontiers, and so create discontent against the central government. The privileged classes dreaded the influence of our democratic ideas. The clergy were afraid that Protestantism, or at least free thought, might cross the border, and that so far as Mexican territory should fall under our sway, secular education, the confiscation of their property, and the other anti-clerical plans of the Federalists, who appeared to draw their inspiration and their arguments largely from this country, might be put into force. The numerous misunderstandings and clashes with the United States that we have noted had produced an enduring resentment, and in particular our claims and our efforts to have them settled were commonly deemed artificial and unjust.[1]

Behind all these facts lay the general anti-foreign prejudice; and this, we should now observe, was in our case more than a prejudice. Even in the eyes of the intelligent El Siglo XIX, an American was "a being detestable to the nation on account of the little accord between [him and] the religion, the language, and the gentle, affable, frank, and generous character of the Mexican." Our directness of thought, speech and action, and the brusqueness of manner that naturally accompanied it appeared inconsiderate and haughty; and no doubt, in dealing with people who seemed to us deceitful, unreliable and unfriendly, our citizens often emphasized these characteristics. In habits and customs there was indeed a profound unlikeness, and below this lay a still more profound racial antagonism. Finally the politicians of all parties, fearing to be outdone in the display of patriotism, encouraged the anti-American feeling. The sharp and rancorous Tornel used every opportunity to speak against us; and Santa Anna, whose prestige was immense-it must not be forgotten-as late as 1844, both fearing the influence of our freedom and wishing his fellow-citizens to consider him essential, represented the United States as a Minotaur eager to devour them. Few were enlightened enough to correct the misconceptions regarding us; no one had the power, courage or wish to do so; and in the end, very naturally, these dominated the public mind-or, to be more precise, created and kept alive a general impression. Americans "scarcely have the look of men," it was gravely asserted.[1]

In regard to an immediate conflict in arms with us, Mexico by no means felt like the dove threatened by a hawk, as people in this country have generally supposed. To be sure, the national existence was often said to be in danger, but such talk was largely for effect. Castillo asserted that Slidell had been sent in order to obtain a pretext for war; but this was in all probability a bid for Mexican and European support, since he knew that we already had grounds enough, and the council of state evidently believed we did not seek a conflict. Paredes whispered to the British minister at a banquet, "I hope your government does not mean to let us be eaten up;" but this was a plea for English assistance. As we have just said, not American arms but American settlers were the chief danger, in the opinion of Mexico. The very men who clamored that the national existence was threatened by the United States were the ones who called most loudly for war. A circular to the local authorities issued by the central government in December, 1845, invited attention to the prevailing opinion that armed resistance could prevent further usurpations like that of Texas; and another such paper, issued in November of the following year, dwelt strongly upon this point. From military force also there was danger, to be sure. Our superiority in numbers and resources was admitted. But there were many offsets to that superiority, and the Mexicans closely studied and shrewdly counted upon them.[2]

THE UNITED STATES DEEMED FEEBLE

Let us review those offsets. In the first place, while the government of the United States deemed its course honorable and considerate, in the eyes of many, if not all, Mexicans we had been abject as well as knavish, stealing her territory and then trying to buy off her anger, submitting to be gulled, flouted and lashed, and each time going back for more of the same treatment; and it seemed hardly possible that we should suddenly adopt a bold, positive, unflinching course. It was even believed that we dreaded to enter the lists. Almonte, for example, in reporting that his protest against annexation had caused a heavy fall on the stock exchange, observed, "The fears of a war with Mexico are great;" and it was notorious that his departure from the United States created almost a panic in our money market.[3]

Besides, it was assumed that party feeling would go to about the same lengths here as in Mexico, and that our differences over the slavery question and the tariff would probably make it impossible for us to conduct a war vigorously-perhaps, impossible to wage it at all. "The northern states, I again repeat to you, will not aid those of the south in case of war with Mexico," wrote Almonte while minister at Washington in June, 1844. European journals like Le Constitutionnel of Paris confirmed this opinion;[4] and the London Times remarked, It would be a war, not of the United States, but of a party that has only a bare majority, and "odious" to a "large and enlightened minority in the best States." Moreover, argued the official journal of Mexico, the injustice of the war would of itself excite American opposition.[5]

From a military as well as a political point of view this country seemed feeble. Our regular army was understood to be numerically insignificant and fully occupied with frontier and garrison duties; our artillery appeared weak in quality as well as in numbers; and our cavalry was deemed little more than a cipher. As for volunteers, our citizen-soldiers were represented in Mexico not merely as unwarlike, but as "totally unfit to operate beyond their frontiers." Indeed, as competent a judge as Captain Elliot, British minister in Texas-who knew the United States well, and in the spring of 1845 was in close touch with Mexican leaders at their capital-said that the greater their number, the greater would be the difficulty of invading Mexico. "They could not resist artillery and cavalry in a Country suited to those arms," he believed; "they are not amenable to discipline, they plunder the peasantry, they are without steadiness under reverses, they cannot march on foot." Nor did there exist in this country, added Elliot, either aptitude or adequate means for a regular military invasion.[6]

"America as an aggressive power is one of the weakest in the world ... fit for nothing but to fight Indians," declared Britannia, an important English weekly; and apparently the war of 1812, to which the Mexicans referred with peculiar satisfaction, had proved even more than this. The military operations in a war between Mexico and the United States would be "contemptible and indecisive," said the London Times. As for our navy, it was undoubtedly small; the Mexican consul at New Orleans reported that it lacked the discipline commonly attributed to it; and, however efficient it might really be, Mexico had no commerce to attack.[7]

The Mexicans, on the other hand, were deemed by many observers decidedly formidable. "There are no better troops in the world, nor better drilled and armed, than the Mexicans," asserted Calderón de la Barca, the Spanish minister at Washington; and some of the generals were thought, even by foreigners, equal to the most renowned in Europe. The Americans would be at a vast disadvantage, was Captain Elliot's opinion, "in rapidity of movement" and ability to endure "continued fatigue on the hardest food." The soldiers of the tri-color "are superior to those of the United States," declared the Mexico correspondent of the London Times flatly in 1845.[8]

MEXICAN CALCULATIONS OF THE CHANCES

If the military power of Mexico was rated in this way by outside observers of such competence, one can imagine how it was rated at home. The Mexicans regarded themselves as martial by instinct, and viewed their troops, inured to war by an almost unceasing course of revolutions, as remarkably good. Santa Anna once boasted that, if necessary, he would plant his flag upon the capitol at Washington; and the results of the wars with Spain and France had tended powerfully to encourage the self-confidence of his fellow-citizens. "We have numerous and veteran forces burning with a desire to gain immortal renown," said the Boletín Oficial of San Luis Potosí. "Not to speak of our approved infantry," it was argued, "our artillery is excellent, and our cavalry so superior in men and horses that it would be an injustice not to recognize the fact;" besides which "our army can be rapidly augmented." Indeed an officer of reputation told Waddy Thompson that the cavalry could break infantry squares with the lasso. In November, 1845, the Mexican minister of war solemnly predicted that his countrymen would gain the victory, even if one third less numerous than their American adversaries. To clinch this matter, the feeling of superior power, which it was known that we entertained, was regarded as an ignorant over-confidence that would ensure our defeat. In short, "We have more than enough strength to make war," cried the editors of La Voz del Pueblo; "Let us make it, then, and victory will perch upon our banners."[9]

The clash, it seemed probable, would come first in Texas, far from our centres of strength. On that field Tornel, the keenest public man in the country, insisted that Mexico could triumph over any force we could bring to bear, and Almonte offered some reasons for entertaining such an opinion. The Texan troops, he said, would exhaust their supplies before the campaign would really begin; and consequently, since there would be no way to subsist a large American force in that extensive, poor and sparsely settled region, the greater the number coming, the greater would be their sufferings. Even the cultivated districts, wrote Elliot, could support only a trifling addition, if any, to the resident population. Moreover, even should an American army be able to exist there, a few light troops placed along the frontier would keep it busy on the defensive, said Pakenham; while it was urged by Mexicans that, should our line break, their invading host would soon find itself among the opulent cities of the southern states, where perhaps it could not only exact money, but free two million slaves, obtain their grateful and enthusiastic assistance, enroll the Indians of the southwest, who detested the United States, and draw aid as well as encouragement from the abolitionists of the north. Almonte himself assured his government that the blacks, the savages and the anti-slavery extremists could be reckoned on.[10]

Possibly, of course, their line instead of ours might be the one to give way; but in that case the Americans, instead of meeting with conditions like these, would be confronted by immense distances, great deserts, furious rains, long droughts, and barren, easily defended mountains. "If the war should be protracted and carried beyond the Rio Grande," said Captain Elliot, "I believe that it would require very little skill and scarcely any exposure of the defending force to draw the invading columns well forward beyond all means of support from their own bases and depots into situations of almost inextricable difficulty;" and a correspondent of Calhoun, referring to such natural obstacles, wrote, "nothing is more certain than your statement that [the] war will have to become defensive [on our part]."[11]

Moreover it was argued, said the Mexican minister of relations in 1849, that the invaders would be unable to obtain resources of any description from the country about them, would be masters of nothing but the ground actually occupied, and would find the difficulty of maintaining themselves, at such a distance from their base, "invincible." On the other hand should invasion by sea be attempted, the Americans would have to struggle with tempestuous waters, a coast guarded by reefs and currents, lowlands protected by "a terrible and faithful ally"-as Cuevas described the yellow fever, more than one tremendous wall of mountains, and bad roads that could easily be closed; and they would find no vital point of attack within practicable reach. The United States cannot hope to conquer Mexico, was the conclusion of the London Morning Herald, commonly regarded as a ministerial organ; while the Paris Globe, reputed to be Guizot's personal voice, went farther, and predicted that undertaking to do it would be "ruinous, fatal" to us.[12]

Should we, however, care to make the attempt, Mexico-it was pointed out-would not only fight on the defensive, and enjoy all the advantages of knowing the ground, moving on inside lines, and using fortifications, but would also be able to strike. Nothing would be paid on our claims, either principal or interest. There was considerable American property in the country; and while the means of her citizens were being spent in righteous self-defence, that property could hardly expect exemption. Above all, one "terrible weapon," as the Mexican consul at New Orleans termed it, could be wielded night and day, near and far, without expense and without risk. This was the issuance of commissions to privateers, for the "nefarious" conduct of the United States in using this weapon, said the London Times, authorized Mexico to do the same. The pursuit of slavers had been so close of late that many fine Baltimore clippers, able to outsail anything but a steamer and to go where a steamer could not, were lying idle in Cuban ports, ready to scour the Gulf and the Atlantic.[13]

No less vulnerable seemed the United States in the Pacific Ocean, where-according to the New York Herald-American property worth fifteen or twenty millions was afloat. Should letters of marque be "actively and prudently distributed on the coasts of the Pacific," wrote consul Arrangóiz to his government, "the Americans would receive a fatal blow in the captures [of whalers and merchantmen] that would immediately be made in the seas of Asia, where the naval forces of the United States are insignificant and could not promptly be increased"; and he reported in July, 1845, that owing to the prospect of hostilities the insurance companies at New Orleans were refusing to take war risks. Tornel and the other Mexican leaders counted heavily on the value of this weapon. Our own journals were full of the subject, and could find no remedy. American commerce was defenceless against such an attack, the London Times cheerfully admitted.[14]

Under these conditions it was most natural to believe that Mexico could make the war "obstinate and tedious," as the London Standard said, and therefore extremely expensive for the United States. She could "with trifling inconvenience to Herself," Pakenham told Calhoun, "impose upon this Country the necessity of employing as large a Naval and Military force as if the War was with a far more powerful enemy." Obviously a

great number of warships would be needed to blockade seven hundred leagues of coast and patrol two oceans, and the cost of soldiers could be figured thus, it was thought: During the war of independence in Mexico eighty thousand royal troops and sixty thousand insurgents were supported by that country; its population and resources had since increased; the United States would therefore have to send probably two hundred and fifty thousand men; and the American soldier was very expensive.[15]

The people of this nation were looked upon as worshippers of the dollar, and it was believed that war taxes would not be endured here long. Consequently, since the United States had no credit-said European journals-the conflict would soon have to end. "The invasion and conquest of a vast region by a state which is without an army and without credit is a novelty in the history of nations," remarked the London Times in 1845. The war losses were expected to reinforce the effect of war taxes. "War with the United States would not last long," wrote Arrangóiz, "because the [American] commerce finding itself attacked on all seas would beg for peace." When the Mexican corsairs have captured a few American ships and the Americans have thrown a few bombs into Vera Cruz, matters will be arranged, predicted Le Constitutionnel of Paris.[16]

MEXICO RECKONS ON BENEFITS

Evidently, then, Mexico was not likely to suffer disastrously, and certain benefits of great value could be anticipated. The act of crossing swords with us would fulfil a patriotic duty and vindicate the national honor. Glory and the satisfaction of injuring a perfidious and grasping enemy would more than compensate for the cost. A conflict would prevent this greedy neighbor, as the London Times argued, from imagining that Mexico dared not resist spoliation. The American settlers, whom every effort had been made for many years to keep out of the country, would be driven away, and the danger of American ideas averted. Even if the frontier could not be forced back to the Sabine, a long period of hostilities would render it impossible to practice near the border our arts of political seduction, and merely a short contest would tend to re-Mexicanize thoroughly the northern departments. Indeed the whole country would be re-Mexicanized, for the first effect of the war would be to cure disunion and baptize the nation anew in the fires of patriotism. The necessity of meeting a foreign foe would vitalize the courage of the army, which had grown somewhat lax in battling with fellow-citizens, restore discipline, and perfect the officers in their difficult but noble profession. A blockade, many believed with Almonte and Santa Anna, preventing the exportation of silver and the squandering of good money on foreign luxuries, would be "the best possible thing" for the country. Stimulated by exemption from ruinous foreign competition, the industries would at length flourish, and the boundless natural resources of the country become fountains of wealth.[17]

War is no doubt a great evil, argued the editors of La Voz del Pueblo, "but we recall what Polybius said, to wit: 'If many empires have been destroyed by war, by war also have many risen from nothing.'" Prussia owes her greatness to the Seven Years War, pointed out El Siglo XIX. The conquest of the Moors cost Spain a struggle of centuries, but what Spaniard would undo it? asked others. "Nations determine their history only in the most dangerous crises," urged an anonymous but able pamphlet; "and such a crisis, in which posterity will admire us, has arrived."[17]

So the matter presented itself to many when studied as an exclusively Mexican affair. But could it be regarded as exclusively Mexican? In Central and South America there were countries that naturally entertained a racial prejudice against the "Anglo-Saxon." They were fully capable of discovering the claim to monopoly suggested by the name United States of "America," by our considering none except ourselves "Americans," and by our "Monroe Doctrine"; and moreover our press clamored for the entire continent. Mexico had her eye upon them, and she counted on drawing support from that quarter.[18]

As early as 1836 Cuevas, then minister at Paris, after pointing out to his government how strongly the country was protected by nature against the United States, remarked: "Add to this the interest of the republics of the South to defend Mexico against an always threatening enemy, which with its ever monstrous greed seems a volcano ready to burst upon them." The next year a Mexican agent at Lima reported that the alleged unlawful interference of this country in Texas was the subject of general conversation and of just alarm in the Spanish-American states. In 1842 Dorsey, bearer of despatches from our legation at Mexico, stated at Savannah that Santa Anna had sent envoys to all the South American republics with this message: "Unless you enable us to resist such aggression as will be perpetrated by the United States, she will proceed to embrace in her mighty grasp the whole of the southern continent;" and Dorsey added that Colombia had already promised financial aid and two thousand men. At the close of that year, as a letter from Caracas mentioned, steps were said to have been taken toward forming a league to support Mexico against American encroachments. In 1843 Almonte made up a pamphlet of extracts from John Quincy Adams's brilliant though unfounded speech at Braintree, in which he accused our government of greed and unrighteousness in the Texas business; and this telling document was distributed in the principal cities of South America. During the following years the menace of our ambition to all of the Spanish race in this hemisphere continued to be discussed in the Mexican press. "Republics of South America," cried La Aurora de la Libertad, for example, "your existence also is in danger; prepare for the combat;" and it was easy to believe that official appeals for assistance, in the event of actual invasion, would not fall upon deaf ears.[18]

EUROPEAN AID EXPECTED

And there were still better grounds, it was reckoned, for expecting aid from abroad. In the first place, holding more or less honestly that we had trampled on the law of nations, the Mexicans persuaded themselves that every civilized country would feel an interest in their cause. The justice of our case against the United States, declared the official Diario, will be recognized at once by all governments to which "public faith and honor are not an empty name." This view was encouraged in Europe. The cause of Mexico, said the Liverpool Mail, is that of all just and honest governments. The Mexicans have good ground to complain, proclaimed the sympathetic Journal des Débats, for "they have been tricked and robbed."[19]

Covered with so noble a sentiment as devotion to the cause of justice, more practical considerations could be expected to exert their full influence. In Mexico as well as in the United States, the monarchies of Europe were believed to view with jealousy the success of our republican institutions. Our policy of "America for the Americans," which the British minister, Ward, had turned against Poinsett at Mexico, was contrary to the interest of every commercial nation beyond the Atlantic. The United States, exclaimed Le Correspondant of Paris, assumes to exclude Europe from the affairs of that continent-as if Europe had not had rights and possessions there before the United States began to be! as if the United States did not owe its existence to Europe! as if the ocean could change the law of nations; and leading journals in London expressed similar indignation.[20]

As the whole world understood, great Britain had not yet forgiven us for becoming independent, and viewed with great repugnance our extensions of territory, our commercial development and our control over raw cotton; and it was obvious that she would be glad to stop our growth. Sooner or later, warned the British press, the course of this monster will have to be checked. Guizot, the premier of France, regarded the United States as a "young Colossus," and earnestly desired to apply in this hemisphere the principle of the balance of power. Polk was by no means popular at the Tuilleries, and the Journal des Débats, commonly regarded as the mouthpiece of the government, courteously described his Message of December, 1845, as bellicose, passionate, full of vain and ludicrous bravado, arrogant, detestably hypocritical, brutally selfish and brutally dishonest.[21]

The plan to annex Texas had greatly disturbed these two governments, and they had not only exerted to the utmost against it their diplomatic strength, both separately and in concert, but, as Mexico knew, had been disposed to take up arms in that cause. Aided by circumstances, the courage and skill of the United States had completely foiled them, but they could not be supposed to view the result with satisfaction; and there was good reason to believe that they contemplated a possible further extension of this country, not only with alarm, but with a strong desire to prevent it. Said the London Morning Herald in March, 1845: Mexico will turn to good account the support of her powerful protectors and their intense repugnance to the annexation of Texas; and the London Times predicted that our greed in the Texas affair would be punished.[22]

Gifted at vaticination, the Times predicted also that our next aim would be the mines of Mexico, and asked the nations of Europe how they would like to find their monetary circulation "dependent on the caprice of the President of the United States." In September, 1845, it printed the assertion of its Mexican correspondent, that England must interfere or be prepared to see not only those mines but also California in American hands. There is a general feeling, announced the London Standard, that only the interposition of England and France can check the United States. The United States will absorb Mexico unless foreign powers avert this, preached the London Journal of Commerce. "The conquest of Mexico would create perils for the political balance of the world," said the Journal des Débats; and hence "the immense aggrandizements" contemplated by the United States "could not take place without giving umbrage to several nations." Europe would certainly forbid a conquest of Mexico, threatened Le Constitutionnel. The Mexicans were fully capable of seeing all this for themselves. The Monitor Constitutional, for example, gave currency to the idea that certain powers would prevent the invasion of their country. Indeed they could see even more. "Enlightened nations of Europe," exclaimed La Aurora de la Libertad, "a people consumed with ambition and covetousness is already taking up arms to conquer the American continent, lay down the law to your interests and possessions, and some day disturb your peace at home."[23]

Another source of possible trouble for the United States abroad was the idea that any territory obtained from Mexico would be given up to slavery. This point came out strongly in the Journal des Débats, for example. Considerably more serious was the danger that in coping with Mexican privateers we should offend other nations. In this way, so the British minister warned our secretary of state, the Americans were likely to become involved in "complications of the gravest character"; and it was believed by the Mexicans that a blockade of their coast, in addition to being extremely difficult, was almost or quite certain to have that effect.[24]

To these points they added characteristically that fear of their power, as well as antipathy to us, might lead foreign nations to espouse their side; and all the supporters of the monarchical plans now entertained by the government and the upper classes, felt that if carried out these would pave the way for European assistance. In fact the British minister himself believed that such a change of regime would guarantee Mexico against the United States, and it is reasonable to suppose that in talking with her public men he disclosed this conviction. Being a jealous nation, thoroughly given up to politics, and not industrial or commercial, Mexico could not fail to exaggerate the probable effect of all these influences upon England and France, and to underestimate the factors that were tending to keep them at peace with us.[25]

WAR DESIRED BY MEXICO

The strongest basis of hope for effective aid from abroad was, however, none of these considerations, but our dispute with England over Oregon. In January, 1846, Bankhead and Slidell agreed that Mexico's policy toward the United States would depend mainly or wholly upon the outcome of that issue, and to the Mexican eye the outcome was already clear. Each country had rejected the proposition of the other, and Polk's Message of December 2, 1845, committed him afresh to an extreme position. The course of England tended to confirm the natural inference. Her perfectly excusable intention was to hold the Mexicans ready to co?perate with her, should war become her programme, while restraining them from engaging us alone. Bankhead replied with an encouraging vagueness to Mexican hints that British assistance was desired, and Lord Aberdeen talked with the Mexican agent at London of a possible alliance against us. Indeed that agent reported that he believed Aberdeen would like to see Mexico fight the United States and win.[26]

For superficial, touch-and-go people here was enough to build upon, and the long entertained hopes of British aid struck root anew. January 14, 1846, our minister Slidell stated that the idea of an approaching conflict over the Oregon question was assiduously nursed, and seventeen days later the correspondent of the London Times reported, that it had become a general conviction. Aberdeen's possible alliance seemed therefore like a certainty, and he himself admitted to our minister at London that Mexico had counted upon a war over Oregon. With France, as we know, Mexico did not stand on the best of terms at this juncture; but in addition to the other reasons for looking to her, Guizot and Louis Philippe were strongly pro-English, and in fact, so Bankhead reported, Paredes hoped for assistance from that country also.[27]

From high to low, as we have learned, the Mexicans were inveterate gamblers, passionately fond of calculating probabilities and accepting chances, and a situation like this appealed most fascinatingly to their instincts and their habits. But in the eyes of many-indeed most, it is likely-the outlook seemed more than promising. Vain and superficial, they did not realize their weaknesses. "We could not be in a better state for war," the Diario announced in March, 1845. If any one thought of the empty treasury, he assured himself that patriotism and the boundless natural wealth of the country would afford resources. Enthusiasm would supply everything, it was believed. Equally unable were the Mexicans to perceive the frailty of their hopes for European aid. With few exceptions they saw through a veil, darkly. Even Almonte, a military man and better acquainted with the United States than any other prominent citizen, assured his government that in such a conflict the triumph of Mexico would be "certain."[28]

Here and there one doubted. Some drew back. But the nation as a whole-if Mexico really was a nation-felt convinced that pride and passion could safely be indulged. We shall dictate our own terms, thought many. At any rate, argued others, our honor will be vindicated by a brilliant stroke beyond the Rio Grande; European intervention will then occur; the United States will have to pay a round sum for Texas; and we shall obtain a fixed boundary, guaranteed by the leading powers of Europe, that will serve as an everlasting dike against American aggression. The press clamored for war; the government was deeply committed to that policy; and the great majority of those who counted for anything, panting feverishly, though with occasional shivers, to fight the United States, were passionately determined that no amicable and fair adjustment of the pending difficulties should be made.[28]

"For us [Mexicans]," Roa Bárcena admitted, "the war was a fact after Shannon's declarations of October, 1844, and the fact was confirmed by the admission of Texas to the North-American Union." "Since the usurpation of Texas no arrangement, no friendly settlement has been possible," said La Reforma. Besides, a faith in eventual triumph, strong enough to survive a series of disasters, burned in the heart of the nation. The Mexican correspondent of the Prussian minister at Washington-regarded by our secretary of war as entirely trustworthy-reported that the people were bent upon war. But for the procrastination and vanity of Mexico, no conflict would have occurred, said J. F. Ramírez, who stood high among the best public men of that country. "The idea of peace was not popular," states one Mexican historian; the nation was responsible for the war, confess others. Mexico desired it, admitted Santa Anna in 1847 and the minister of relations in 1849, both speaking officially.[28]

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