President James K. Polk checked out war through Mexico and got California and also other lands in the West. The war"s aftermath brought forward worries of the citizenship status and also property legal rights of mexican who continued to be in the new American territories.

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Since the 1820s, Mexico had urged Americans to settle in its state that Texas. Through the 1830s, americans outnumbered aboriginal Mexicans in Texas by four to one. As soon as a brand-new Mexican constitution did away through state rights, the American inhabitants rebelled and also established one independent nation in 1836. Mexico, however, did no formally identify the Republic that Texas.

Texas claimed the boundary v Mexico to be at Rio Grande River. Mexico suggested that it to be at the Nueces River. The soil in between these rivers included thousands that square miles and a couple of hundred settlers, few of whom to be Texans.

In 1845, conference voted come annex Texas and also admit it together a state. Quickly afterward, James K. Polk took office as the new U.S. President. Polk was a Democrat and a solid advocate of nationwide expansion.

President Polk had a brief list of "great measures" the intended to accomplish. Among them was the salvation of mexico California. Gold had actually not been found there yet, yet Polk wanted California and its magnificent san Francisco Bay together the American gateway come trade with China and other eastern nations. Polk was worried that other nations, such together England or France, can take California if the United claims did no act.

Using Texas to acquire California

While Texas was ratifying its annexation to the joined States, one American navy officer supposedly tried come provoke a war v Mexico. Commodore Robert Stockton check to guide Texas public official to relocate their militia right into the discussed land in between the Nueces and also Rio Grande rivers. This move would have resulted in a military clash through Mexican troops, i m sorry would have led to war v the joined States when Texas to be officially annexed. The objective was to quickly defeat the weaker nation and demand that that hand end its California and brand-new Mexico territories. But the plan failed once the president of the Republic that Texas objected and also negotiated a peace treaty v Mexico. Historians disagree on whether President Polk was affiliated in this adventure.

In November 1845, president Polk sent out John Slidell to Mexico City in an attempt to buy California and new Mexico. Mexico, in political and also economic disarray, had failed to make payments on $4.5 million it fan the unified States. Polk authorized Slidell to forgive the debt and also pay an additional $25 million in exchange because that these mexico lands. Mexico officials, however, refuse to accomplish Slidell. Even so, military enemies of the mexico president considered Slidell"s mere presence in Mexico City an insult. They overthrew the president and also installed a new regime the favored war with the joined States.

When Slidell reported on his failed mission to president Polk beforehand in 1846, Texas had come to be the 28th U.S. State. Polk claimed that the border in between the unified States and Mexico extended to the Rio Grande. That ordered American troops come cross into the contested land as a "defensive" act.

In in march 1846, basic Zachary Taylor led American troops throughout the Nueces river all the way to the Rio Grande. Once Mexicans objected, Taylor positioned his troops across the flow from the Mexican town of Matamoras. A couple of days later, part Mexican soldiers crossed the Rio Grande and attacked Taylor"s men, death 16.

When news came of the clash with Mexican soldiers, chairman Polk announced that the unified States had been attacked. "American blood top top the American soil," he claimed in his blog post to Congress, asking for a statements of war against Mexico.

With Polk"s party in the majority, congress voted for battle after 2 days that debate. Some members of Congress believed it to be the "manifest destiny" the the United claims to occupy all the land native the Atlantic states to the Pacific Ocean. Southerners witnessed an possibility to create an ext slave states.

American forces defeated the mexican in California and new Mexico within a few months. In march 1847, general Winfield Scott got into Mexico at the harbor of Vera Cruz and also began to march inland toward Mexico City. The mexican did not victory one fight in this war, however they fought fiercely and stubbornly refuse to surrender.

The war was famous in the South and also with americans who believed in manifest destiny. But the war aroused great opposition. Congressman Abraham Lincoln introduced a "Spot Resolution," demanding that Polk present the spot where Mexicans "shed American blood on American soil." Lincoln proclaimed, "That soil was no ours; and also Congress did no annex or effort to annex it." Writer Henry David Thoreau checked out jail for refusing to salary a poll taxes in protest against the war. (He later wrote his essay "Civil Disobedience" explaining his action.)

In April 1847, amid enhancing criticism of "Polk"s War," the president sent a State Department official to Mexico to try to negotiate a peace treaty. Nicholas Trist to be an inexplicable negotiator. He not just strived to finish the war, yet even sympathized v Mexico"s grievances against Polk. Nevertheless, he to be a professional diplomat that was determined to accomplish his president"s minimum purposes of stable the border dispute and also acquiring California and new Mexico.

After a cease fire had actually been arranged, Trist met v Mexican diplomats appointed by mexico President Santa Anna. The negotiators could not with agreement, and also the war resumed. Soon, basic Scott"s army occupied Mexico City, forcing the Mexican government to relocate.

President Polk decided to remind Trist come Washington. However Trist disobeyed his orders and also remained to try one more round that negotiations. These succeeded, and also a peace treaty was signed in ~ the city that Guadalupe Hidalgo top top February 2, 1848.

The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo known the border in between the state of Texas and also Mexico in ~ the Rio Grande River. The unified States additionally got California and brand-new Mexico. (The are of brand-new Mexico, later on enlarged through the Gadsden Purchase, was eventually split up into the states of new Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and parts that Colorado and also Wyoming.) The United says agreed to salary the mexican $15 million for giving up about fifty percent of their country.

Citizenship and also Land Grants

The tranquility treaty was vague about the citizenship that Mexicans remaining in California and brand-new Mexico. The treaty proclaimed that Mexicans had actually the appropriate to ended up being American citizens that would it is in "admitted in ~ the suitable time" by Congress. In the meantime, their civil liberties to liberty, property, and religion were to be "maintained and protected . . . There is no restriction."

The most troublesome difficulty resulting native the contract of Guadalupe Hidalgo involved the ownership of mexican land sponsor in California. Before the war, the Mexican government had approved more than 500 sponsor of land to California mexican (called "Californios") and even a few Americans. In most cases, the provide holders supplied their land to graze cattle for hides and beef.

The initial treaty negotiated through Nicholas Trist flatly asserted all mexican land grants "shall it is in respected as valid." however President Polk and the U.S. Senate removed this provision prior to the treaty was ratified. Only a few general references to Mexican residential or commercial property rights continued to be in the treaty.

Almost as shortly as the joined States and also Mexico ratified the peace treaty, gold was discovered in California. After a while, discouraged gold seekers began looking because that land come settle. They soon learned that the finest farm and also grazing areas were already taken through the mexico land grants, mostly held by a couple of hundred Californio families. The land-hungry immigrants began to difficulty the property rights the the Californios, who had actually not however been known as American citizens.

To settle the conflict over the California soil grants, conference passed the Land act of 1851, which developed a board of soil Commissioners. This board was come verify or refuse each California land give claim.

The land Act forced all give holders to appear before the plank of soil Commissioners and also prove with documents and testimony the validity of your claims. In various other words, the burden of proof to be on the give holders and not those that might an obstacle them. Moreover, once the commissioners made your decision, it usually was appealed to the commonwealth courts, periodically all the way to the U.S. Can be fried Court.

The plank of land Commissioners usually acted fairly and often construed that part documents, maps, or other evidence could not it is in presented because they had been lost over the years. The commissioners finished up confirming 75 percent of the grant claims, which included about 10 million acre of land. Yet the long, drawn-out verification procedure and court appeals expense a most money. Plenty of of the land-rich and also cash-poor Californios had to mortgage your land at high interest to pay their legal fees.

Other problems plagued the Californios while castle tried come prove their claims. Lawyers swindled some of them. Soil taxes, unknown in mexican California, placed the Californios further in debt. Squatters, hope the Californios" insurance claims would be rejected, moved onto your lands. The squatters fenced off homesteads, stole cattle, and also sometimes violently required the Californios out of their own homes.

By the 1860s, many of the Californios who had finally evidenced their sponsor still lost their land come the Americans as result of overwhelming fan aggravated by plunging livestock prices and drought.

In 1870, the U.S. Can be fried Court determined that Californios came to be full citizens as soon as California to be admitted together a state in 1850. Mexicans in the vast Territory of brand-new Mexico were additionally eventually admitted together American citizens.

For Discussion and Writing

Texas was linked because Americans worked out there and also eventually revolted indigenous Mexico. Had actually there no been a mexico War, carry out you think this likewise would have happened in California? Explain.Who perform you think was responsible for starting the war through Mexico in 1846? Why?Do friend think the contract of Guadalupe Hidalgo was fair? Why or why not?Many American squatters suggested that that was not fair because that a small variety of Californio families to monopolize the best agricultural lands in the state. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

For further Information


An outline of American History: Texas and also the War with Mexico by From revolution to Reconstruction.

Remember the Alamo from PBS"s American Experience.

The Alamo native the American West.

Texas transformation of 1836

Mexican War

Reader"s Companion come American History: The mexican War

Texas change and Annexation

Manifest Destiny

Digital History: Hypertext History

Manifest Destiny

Texas Revolution

Texas inquiry in American Politics

Mexican War

The face of Battle

War Fever and Antiwar Protests


War"s Significance

U.S.-Mexican war From PBS.

Key occasions in the Mexican-American war A time line.

The Mexican-American battle From the history Guy.

Enough blame to walk Around: causes of the Mexican-American war An AP history file by man Heys.

The mexican War and Hispanic soil Dispossessions by Ingolf Vogeler.

Spartacus Educational

Texas Revolution

Manifest Destiny

Mexican War

California gold Rush

The Mexican battle From Lone Star Internet.

Invasión Yanqui: The Mexican war By the Texas Council because that the Humanities resource Center.

The mexico War—a 1911 Explanation indigenous a U.S. Textbook of the era.

The mexican War and also After extracted from American armed forces History.

U.S.-Mexican battle By the progeny of Mexican battle Veterans.

Freedom: A history of US: Manifest Destiny

Primary resource Documents

Texas declaration of Independence, in march 2, 1836

The addition of Texas joint Resolution of conference March 1, 1845

Message of president Polk, might 11, 1846

Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago, February 2, 1848

Treaty the Guadalupe Hildago

Mexican-American Diplomacy: 1848-1861 documents from the Avalon Project.


Map that the mexican War

Interactive Maps (require Shockwave)

Territorial development of the united States: 1783-1853

War through Mexico

Mexican Cession

Expansion of the United claims Map showing growth year through year native 1650 to 1907.

Biographies of Polk

Internet windy Library: James Knox Polk

The White House: James K. Polk

North Carolina historic Sites: James K. Polk Memorial

Polk ancestral Home: A Biography

New publication of Knowledge: Polk, James Knox

Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia: Polk, James K.

Encyclopedia Americana: Polk, James Knox

America the Beautiful: James Knox Polk

Spartacus Educational: James Polk

AmericanPresident.org: James Knox Polk

American Experience: James Knox Polk

New Perspectives top top the West: James Knox Polk

The Californios

The Californios 1821 come 1848 A time line.

The decline of the Californios: The instance of mountain Diego, 1846-1856 article by Charles Hughes, mountain Diego historic Society.

San Diego"s Mexican and also Chicano history By Richard Griswold del Castillo and also Isidro Ortiz, san Diego State University, and also Rosalinda Gonzalez, Southwestern College.

Mexican ascendancy An essay native the Marin history Museum.

California"s Untold Stories: yellow Rush! native the Oakland Museum that California.

How walk Californio"s obtain land sponsor after Mexico won its independence?

Where and when to be the very first rancho created in the Santa Barbara area? The short history of the Ortega rancho. Native the Santa Barbara Independent.

From Digital History: mexican American Voices:

Consequences of mexico Independence

Manifest Destiny

The mexico War

Public floor Commission

Land lose in California

Lecture notes of Joel Michaelsen, UCSB

Spanish come in California

Spanish settlement Patterns

Mexican Rancho Period

Gold Rush

Life in California in the 1850s

Exhibit the Los Rancheros Story of the ranchos in Tehama County, California. Indigenous the Tehama county Museum.

Disputed Range: Ranching a mexican Land provide Under U.S. Rule, 1844-1880 thing from the book From Rancho to Reservoir: background and Archaeology the the Los Vaqueros Watershed, California. PDF file.

California gold Rush

The Gold sirloin From PBS.

The California Gold rush From California environmental Resources testimonial System.

Yahoo Directory: California gold Rush


The contract of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A tradition of Conflict through Richard Griswold Del Castillo.

The decline of the Californios, A Social background of the Spanish-Speaking Californians, 1846-1890 By Leonard Pitt.

A C T i V i T Y

The dispute Over California land Grants

What to be the fairest means to clear up the conflict over California floor grants?

A. Type five groups. Four groups should each argue among the following positions on the inquiry above.

Automatically identify all mexico land grants together valid.Establish a board of floor Commissioners to require all land-grant holders to prove your claims.Require anyone daunting the validity that a land approve to prove their instance in court.Declare every land grants dominated territory and also open them come homesteading.

B. The fifth group should act as members of Congress who will hear to the arguments of each group and also question the presenters.

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C. After ~ all four groups have actually presented your positions, the members of conference will fulfill to discuss and decide the fairest way to resolve the dispute over California soil grants together the other 4 groups observe.