Last Sunday, Norman Rozeff wrote an excellent article about President Polk and the Mexican-American War, but American history blames this war solely on Polk. Rozeff correctly stated that “after a duration there at Nueces Strip (Corpus Christi), General Zachary Taylor marched his 3,500-man army to the Rio Grande where he constructed Fort Texas (later re-named Fort Brown) across the river from Matamoros.”
What actually happened during that duration has been long forgotten by American history. John Slidell, an American diplomat, was sent to Mexico City by Polk to negotiate with Mexican President Mariano Paredes. Paredes told Slidell that Texas was not for sale at any price, and was also told to tell the American president that Paredes had a 30,000-man army. By the end of the year, Paredes would be drinking fine brandy in New Orleans and ordered Slidell out of the country.
Upon hearing the news from Slidell, Polk realized that Paredes was cutting off all diplomatic relations and threatening to take Texas back by military force. And that’s when General Taylor was ordered to the Rio Grande from Corpus to defend Texas from an invading Mexican army under the command of General Mariano Arista. The Mexican-American War soon started with the Thornton Skirmish, followed soon after with the Battle of Palo Alto and the Battle of Resaca de la Palmas.
American history also states that upon learning of the battles, “Polk had the reason to commence the war on our southern neighbor,” but forgets to mention that as early as 1842, Mexico warned the United States that annexing Texas would be considered an act of war against Mexico.
As of December 1845, when Texas became the 28th state of the United States, Mexico was actually in a state of war with the United States. After considering all the facts, American history should come to the conclusion that there was enough blame for the Mexican-American War on both the American and the Mexican side.
Jack Ayoub, Harlingen