The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954 Page: 455
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Nicholas P. Trist and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 455
the land of a sovereign state without its consent, President Polk
and his administration were bound to support earlier Texas claims
to the area. The issue of the southern boundary of Texas later
prompted David Wilmot, an administration Democrat in the
House of Representatives, to maintain, "We claim the Rio Grande
as our boundary-that was the main cause of the war."'
Once the war was joined, Polk seized the opportunity to extend
the theater of operations in the hope of an early cessation of hos-
tilities. General Taylor's victories at Monterrey in September,
1846, and at Buena Vista in February, 1847, ended the important
fighting in that area, but Mexico was not prepared to conclude a
peace. The fall of the Mexican garrisons in the far west and the
successes of Winfield Scott, who used some of the battle-hardened
veterans of the Texas border clashes in the capture of Vera Cruz
and the march inland toward the Mexican capital, made the
eventual outcome of the war inevitable.
To this point no progress had been made toward peace, and a
presidential election in the United States was looming in the
distance. It was imperative from the standpoint of the adminis-
tration that the war be brought to a close, but the method by
which this was to be accomplished was not readily apparent. Polk
and James Buchanan, the secretary of state, were thus placed in
an embarrassing situation. They had been confident that the war
would be of short duration, would cement American claims to
the Rio Grande as the southern boundary of Texas, and would
add further territory to the United States. Unhappily the Mex-
icans showed no intention of co-operating in these objectives.
During the early months of 1847, however, the idea of sending a
negotiator to the headquarters of Scott's army took shape in the
minds of the President and his secretary of state. In the event
that Mexico were to indicate a desire to treat for peace, no time
would be lost.
Two determining factors lay in the background of the proposed
mission to Mexico: (1) the unpopularity of the war with large
segments of the American public, and (2) the Whig Party's sub-
stantial gains in the congressional elections of i846. Realizing
that many Americans were not in sympathy with his territorial
1Congressional Globe (Washington, 1847), 29th Cong., Ist Sess., 1214.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954, periodical, 1954; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/m1/558/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.