Mexican War Term Paper

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Mexican War

So Far From God: The U.S. War with Mexico 1846-1848

The war between the United States and Mexico is of major significance to both of the nations' history. However, the dogmatic magnitude of the battle has been rarely known nor discussed in various history books by different authors. There are a few history books about war which focused more on the blow-by-blow description of the war, but unlike these books, "So Far From God: The U.S. War with Mexico 1846-1848" was brilliantly written by John S.D. Eisenhower, who vigilantly explored on the individuality of the characters and events that aggravated the disagreement with Mexico and led to the United States' momentous acquisition of South Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

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John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower was the son of the former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and 34th president of the United States, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was also an eminent military historian, former ambassador to Belgium, retired Brigadier General of the U.S. Army Reserves, and author of remarkably few good books. His best-known history book, the Bitter Woods (1969), is possibly the most authoritative among the many analysis made about the Battle of the Bulge during the World War II. Among the books he had written also include Strictly Personal (1974); Allies, Pearl Harbor to D-Day (1982); Intervention!: The United States Involvement in the Mexican Revolution, 1913-1917 (1993); Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott (1997); Yanks: The Epic Story of the American Army in World War I (2001); and General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence (2003).

TOPIC: Term Paper on Mexican War Assignment

So Far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico 1846-1848, is a 436-page paperback book that was published on April 2, 1989 by Random House in New York. It was republished by University of Oklahoma Press on September 2000. Eisenhower took the title of the book from the well-known remorseful remarks of Mexican President Porfirio Diaz: "Poor Mexico! So far from God, and so close to the United States."

The book covers the events that happened in the mid-nineteenth century. During that time, the United States, headed by President Polk, was at the height of expanding its territories - that is to use its colonizing power, to acquire or to take dominion over other territories. The citizens believe that the United States has a God-given right and that it was destined to expand its boundaries from the Atlantic Seaboard to the Pacific Ocean, better known as the Manifest Destiny. Although this belief has gained support from the southern Democrats, it has become a partisan issue, with the Whigs opposing it.

The author's purpose of writing the book was to enlighten the readers about the environmental influence that shaped the characters of the persons involved in the war - not just about the lives of the enlisted men who fought during the battle, but Eisenhower delved more into the power of command. This is reflected when he would question why men would follow certain leaders. Eisenhower did not deal with political history. He did not even make any judgment about the previous wars that have occurred. In any part of the book, the reader will not see that Eisenhower supports the war as an extension of Manifest Destiny nor he condemns it as a form of an act of a bandit. He simply presented the facts as they occurred. Probably, it's because this has been the center of concentration of various history books.

It was after the Mexican government gained its independence from the Spanish empire in 1821 when it inherited the provinces of Alta California, Nuevo Mexico, and Texas from Spain. Being the weaker one, considering the hardships the country had experienced from the war, it was so hard for it to preside over its northern territories due the mileage distance from its capital, Mexico City. With this, the Mexican government permitted a few hundred U.S. families to settle the area. The number of U.S. settlers vastly grew in number until it became so impossible for Mexico to govern Texas. The United States then offered a proposal to buy Texas. Although Mexico considered Texas as a rebelling province, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, then military ruler of Mexico, opposed selling any of the territory. This was the start of the raging war between the two countries. It was obviously stated above that the Unites States aimed for power, whereas, for Mexico, it was a matter of national pride.

The events mentioned in the book are very much familiar to the author. Being a military man himself, and an experienced historian, he can clearly demonstrate the happenings based on his own military background and his legacy from his own father, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. The author showed his interest in writing the book by giving much emphasis on each of the major characters - on how they have exercised their authority. Under the United States' troop were: Zachary Taylor, Winfield Scott, and Stephen W. Kearny. The commanders of Mexico were comprised of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Mariano Arista, Pedro de Ampudia, and Jose Maria Flores. Each of the characters had played interesting roles as they resembled different description of themselves.

Zachary Taylor, better known as the "Old Rough and Ready" because of his rumpled clothes and wide-brimmed straw hat, then general, was sent by President Polk to the Rio Grande to protect Texas. He won four battles in northern Mexico including along Rio Grande. It was just an enough reason for him to be voted as the 12th President of the United States, under the Whig wing. Taylor was a man of his own virtue. Although he was supported by Whig, he did not follow the platform it prepared for him. Winfield Scott, who was also known as "Old Fuss and Feathers" and the "Grand Old Man of the Army," commanded the southern of the two United States armies. He was assisted by his brevetted colonel of engineers, with Robert Lee as his chief aide in the march from Vera Cruz to Mexico City. Both Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott have different characters, and yet, they shared one essential qualities of good commander. They were both confident in themselves and in their military ruling, and they have conveyed their fervor to their men. This can be considered as one of the major strengths of the United States against Mexico.

Taylor and Scott fought the war under their Commander-in-Chief and the 11th President of the United States, James Polk. President Polk shares the same aphorism with Karl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz's (a Prussian soldier, military historian, and influential military theorist) famous line that "War is merely a continuation of politics." When the Mexican government rejected Slidell and had received word of the Thornton Affair, President Polk declared the war. Eisenhower writes, "The kindest thing that can be said about Polk's message is that he probably believed it himself." President Polk ordered to attack California and the Southwest in order to thwart any concluding peace talks. Yes, James Polk's religion was truly politics. He belonged to the Democrats and this has brought the primary dispute between him and his generals James Taylor and Winfield Scott, who both belonged to the Whigs politics - whom Polk mistrusted. Eisenhower gave an account that these two generals won the war despite their President rather than because of him.

On Mexico's side was Antonio de Padua Mar'a Severino L. pez de Santa Anna y Perez de Lebr n, a military man who fought for Mexico's liberty from Spain. Because of his great influence on both Mexican and Spanish politics, he went up the ladder of success as a general and then as president of Mexico for eleven non-consecutive occasions.

He had little regard for the welfare of his men. Santa Anna fought Taylor at the Buena Vista but he suffered desertion and later withdrew. When Mexico suffered defeats at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma despite having a geographic advantage and good number of men, Santa Anna cunningly used the tumult to gain his political career. That was seemingly Santa Anna's corrupt plan - he secretly compromised with the United States for his safe pass through their barricade and to negotiate for the peaceful conclusion of the war. He also promised to clear up the sale of New Mexico and Alta California to the United States at a reasonable price. Being a gambler and untrustworthy person himself, he broke his words and tried to fight off the United States invasion.

Eisenhower has done an outstanding work of a genius. He was able to present each significant conflict, considering the vast number of characters involved. The important incidents were given account, from the nasty bloody battles to the distressing marches across an awful landscape of the little known war. This has clearly shown that logistic issues were even present during those days as a way of life. Between the two rivals, it is obvious that the United States has been gifted supremacy… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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