The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 12, July 1908 - April, 1909 Page: 162
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Texas Historical Association Quarterly.
the southwestern boundary question, was settled "by conquest."
This is misleading. It puts forward the boundary question as the
most important subject of the diplomatic correspondence of the
period concerning the southwestern relations of the United States,
and as the cause of the Mexican war. Dr. Reeves must know him-
self how relatively little this question figures in the correspond-
ence. He admits (pp. 287, 288, 297, 298) that it was not the
Mexican attack on Thornton's dragoons after Taylor had ad-
vanced to the Rio Grande that brought Polk to his determination
in favor of war; for the message recommending the declaration
was written and ready to send to Congress before the report of the
attack reached Washington, and the news simply permitted the
revision of the argument of the message. Of course the question
remains as to whether Congress would have made the declaration
if the attack had not occurred, but there seems good reason to be-
lieve that it would have done so. Dr. Reeves, however, thinks
that Polk entered upon the presidency with the determina-
tion so to use the unsettled question of the boundary of Texas as
to tak California; and that, although this was not mentioned in
the message, it was the real reason for recommending a declara-
tion of war. With this the revivewer can not agree. Polk's dec-
laration to Bancroft made public by Schouler is by no means to
be construed as a statement of intention to acquire California
without regard to Mexican rights. How groundless is the assump-
tion of such a purpose on Polk's part is clearly to be seen from
the letters of Slidell to Buchanan, November 30, 1845, and
Buchanan to Slidell of December 17, 1845. These contain suffi-
dence that Polk was willing to accept an adjustment which should
leave California out altogether.
Neither will all readers be convinced that the condemnation
of Polk for his negotiations with Santa Anna immediately before
the outbreak, of the war and during its earlier stages is just.
Considering the state of the relations of the United States with
Mexico-the withdrawal of the Mexican minister from Washing-
ton; the warlike declarations of the Mexican government; the fail-
ure of the Slidell mission; and the fact that the claims against
Mexico, of which a considerable part had been sanctioned by ar-
bitration, must be enforced by war if at all-Polk can scarcely
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 12, July 1908 - April, 1909, periodical, 1909; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101048/m1/180/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.