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them, protests, in the most solemn manner, against such an aggression; and he moreover declares, by express order of his Government, that, on sanction being given by the Executive of the Union to the incorporation of Texas into the United States, he will consider his mission ended, seeing that, as the Secretary of State will have learned, the Mexican Government is resolved to declare war so soon as it receives information of such an act." On November 8 Upshur replied, in a restrained and dignified way, repelling both the threats and insinuations of Almonte's letter and intimating that the policy of the United States would not be affected by them.1 To this Almonte rejoined, on the nth, suggesting that Upshur had been misled by an incorrect translation of the letter of November 3, and disclaiming any intention to impute to the authorities of the American Union unworthy views or designs as to Texas. December 1, 1843, Upshur replied, denying that he had misunderstood Almonte, and declaring that the United States regarded Texas as an independent nation and did not feel called on to consult any other nation in dealing with it.2
On the accomplishment of annexation, the threat of Almonte was carried out. The joint resolution' making the offer was approved March 1, 1845, and on March 6 he demanded his passports. March 28 the United States minister in Mexico was offi
1 Senate Docs., 28 Cong., 1 Sess., I, No. 1, pp. 38, 41. 1 Ibid., pp. 42-48.
cially notified, that rthe diplomatic intercourse between the two countries was at an end.1 The expressions of the Mexican papers indicated the most intense popular excitement in that country, and those of the government treated the war as already existing.2 Two decrees were passed by the Mexican congress and approved by President Herrera, one on June 4 and the other on June 7, providing for an increase of the available force in order to resist annexation.3 July 2 o the'' supreme government,'' or executive, recommended to the congress a declaration of war against the United States from the moment when the government should know that annexation had been effected or Texas had been invaded.
There can be little question, indeed, that impatience on both sides had gone beyond the point of safety and was threatening appeal to arms. No theory of a conspiracy is needed to explain the war with Mexico. While it was strongly opposed and condemned by a bold and outspoken minority, the votes in Congress and the utterances of the contemporaneous journals show that it was essentially a popular movement, both in Mexico and in the United States. The disagreement reached the verge of an outbreak in 1837, and the only thing that prevented a conflict then was that Congress was a bit more conservative than the president; but neither the aggressiveness of Jackson nor even that of Polk would have been so likely to end in actual fighting, had it not been well understood that they were backed by sympathetic majorities. On the Mexican side, at the critical moment, the pacific tendencies of the executive were overpowered by the angry impulse of the people.
1 Niles' Register, LXVIII., 84.
'Ibid., 135; Von Hoist, United States, III., 80, nn. 3, 4.
• Dublin y Lozano, Legislation Mexicana, V., 19-22.
May 28, 1845, General Taylor, who was in command of the troops in the southwest, was ordered, in view of the prospect of annexation, to hold himself in readiness to advance into Texas with the approval of the Texan authorities, and to defend that republic from any invasion of which he should be officially informed after Texas had consented to annexation on the terms offered. June 15 he was ordered to advance, with the western frontier of Texas for his ultimate destination. There he was to occupy a convenient point "on or near the Rio Grande," but to limit himself to the defence of the territory of Texas unless Mexico should declare war against the United States. He was subsequently directed to protect the territory up to the Rio Grande, avoiding, however, except in case of an outbreak of hostilities, any attack on posts actually held by the Mexicans, but placing at least a part of his forces west of the Nueces.1 In July, General Taylor advanced into Texas, and in August he established his camp on the west bank of the Nueces, near Corpus Christi.1 The spot which he selected could hardly be considered as "near" the Rio Grande, being, in fact, about one hundred and fifty miles therefrom. The location was chosen because of its convenience as a temporary base either for defensive or offensive operations.
* Taylor's successive orders, in House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 60, pp. 7, 79-82.
The army remained in camp near Corpus Christi several months. The information Taylor obtained here and reported to Washington indicated no threatening movement on the part of the Mexicans; but on October 4 he suggested that, if the United States government meant to insist on the Rio Grande as the boundary, it would gain an advantage by occupying points on that river. He therefore suggested an advance to Point Isabel and Laredo.2 Meanwhile had come the attempt to renew diplomatic relations between the United States and Mexico, which ended in failure.3 January 13, 1846, when it was known in Washington that Slidell would probably not be received by the Mexican government, Taylor was ordered to advance to the Rio Grande.4 »
Up to the time of this movement the Mexican government had neglected the distinction in the validity of its claims to the territory east of the Rio Grande. It strenuously asserted the right of Mexico to the whole of Texas, whatever its limits might be, and declared that annexation would be tantamount to a declaration of war. From the Mexican point of view, Taylor invaded Mexico the moment he entered Texas. But when he advanced to the Rio Grande the distinction was finally made. April 12, 1846, he was warned by Ampudia, general in command of the Mexican forces at Matamoras, to retire in twenty-four hours—not beyond the Sabine, as one might have expected from the previous attitude of the Mexican government, but beyond the Nueces.1
1 House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 60, p. 99. 1 Ibid., pp. 103-109. 'See chap, xiv., below.
* House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 60, p. 90.
A few days later occurred the first conflict. April 24 a party of dragoons sent out by Taylor was ambushed on the east side of the river by a large force of Mexicans and after a skirmish, in which a number of men were killed and wounded, was captured.2 The official report of this affair reached Washington the evening of Saturday, May 9.3 President Polk had already decided, in conformity with the judgment of all his cabinet except Bancroft, to send to Congress a message recommending a declaration of war. Now, in formulating the reasons for the declaration, he asserted that "Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil," * and with the unanimous concur
1 House Exec. Docs., 30 Cong., 1 Sess., VII., No. 60, p. 140. 'Ibid., p. 141.
•See Polk, MS. Diary, entry for May 9, 1846.