The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 122
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122 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July
North America well as the issues and personalities involved. Part One of the
series shows a U.S. administration under President James Polk caught up in the
national fever of Manifest Destiny, of an America stretching from coast to coast.
Inherent in this idealism was an element of racism, that it was only natural that
America would triumph, because it was a superior Anglo-Saxon nation.
Mexico refused to sell America part of its territory, then understandably wor-
ried that the United States would take it by force. For Mexico, the U.S. annexa-
tion of Texas as a state in 1845 was akin to a declaration of war. Borderlands
that had been under dispute since the end of the Texas Revolution became a
powder keg waiting for a match.
As series writer Rob Tranchin and director Ginny Martin point out, America
and Mexico were also two very different societies in 1846. The industrial revolu-
tion was already underway in the United States, while Mexico was still bound by
the legacy of Spanish colonialism. Mexico had also lost its sense of leadership
and direction with many changes of government, with one upheaval following
another. Mexico's greatest asset was its land, yet it was unable to colonize its bor-
derlands because the country was still bankrupt after its war of independence
from Spain. In 1846 Mexico was in no condition to fight a war.
Yet national pride and indignation are powerful things, and a showdown
along the Rio Grande quickly escalated into a full-scale war, well covered in Parts
Two and Three. Strategic mistakes by generals and leaders hampered the
Mexican cause, which the U.S. capitalized upon. By 1847 the war was all but
over. With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico lost over half its
territory in exchange for fifteen million dollars. Seventy-five thousand Mexicans
were now living in America. Families were split up, many lost their property
through illegal land grabs and were relegated to a second-class existence.
Americans like Sen. John Calhoun of South Carolina didn't want citizenship for
anyone who wasn't white, blaming the downfall of the Spanish empire in Mexico
upon giving colored races equality with the white race.
Part Four of The U.S.-Mexican War shows these problems continuing today.
There are other legacies as well. Native Americans were soon displaced from
these newly acquired territories and their lifestyles forever disrupted.
For Mexico, the empire of a New Spain was over. One positive result is that
Mexicans have had to pull together, reinvent their country and their national
identity. For the United States the conflict put America clearly on the map as an
industrial giant and world leader. Yet that image was tarnished by its shameful
aggression upon a neighbor, and as a result, the United States lost some of its
character and nobility. Today the image of the greedy, land-grabbing Yanquis
persists. But as this series stresses, rather than bring up past resentments, it is
time for Mexico and the United States to heal these old wounds and move for-
ward, as interdependent neighbors who have much to share and learn from
each other in a spirit of peace and cooperation in the twenty-first century.
The series is excellently produced with authentic reenactments, nicely lit
scenes, beautiful scenery, architecture, interiors, maps, graphics, period art, pho-
tographs, letters, and documents. Period music and vibrant sound effects are
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/150/: accessed May 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.