Mexican War: Public Opinion


Figure 1.--Public opinion is an interesting question during the Mexican War becuse we know there were varie opinion among Americans. It is difficult to assess, however, because there were no such thing a public opinion polling. The War was presented to Americans by President Polk as a Mexican attack on American soil. The truth was more complicted. Slavery affected opinions about the War. The caualties were not popular. But the victories and in the end the pushing of American territory to Califirnia and the Pacific entralled most Americans--Manifest Destiny achieved. This painting by Richard Caton Woodville, 'War news from Mexico, was painted in 1848.

America's war historically hve been controversial with a varying part of the population opposing the wars. The only exception was World War II thanks to the Japanese. The Mexican War was no exception. Public opinion is an interesting question during the Mexican War because we know there were varied opinions among Americans. It is difficult to assess, however, because there were no such thing a public opinion polling. The War was presented to Americans by President Polk as a Mexican attack on American soil. It is true that the War began with a Mexicant attack. It is a matter of conjecture that the President was attempting to goad the Mexicans into attacking. This my be the case, but it is clear that the Mexicns showed no interes in a negotiated settlenent, It is true that the the attack took place on disputed territory. Many accounts indicate that the Texan claim to The Neuses was strong, but all the way south to the Rio Grande was less firm, but it is not unreasonable to seend troops into disputed territory. The Mexicns did the same. There is no doubt that moving an army to the mouth of the Rio Grande was provocative. But Mexico sending troops into the disputed region and failure to pursue a negotiated settlement was also provocative. Opposition to the War was initially centered on the increasilgly contentious slavery issue. Most of the opposition to the War came from the growing anti-slavery sentiment in the North. One of the outspoken critics of the War was Whig Congressman Abraham Lincoln. One history maintains that that opposition to the war grew and one of the reasons that opposition to the War grew was the very high casualty rate, mostly from disease. American soldiers experienced a higher casualty rate in the Mexican ar than in any other war America has fought. It alo seem clear that many Americans were entralled by the battle victories and completion of Americ's manifest destiny by seizing California. These were matters that still affected Americans in both the North and South. There were like many wars, unintended consequences to the Mexican War and in this case a disaterous one. The Mexican War, by under-cutting the Missouri Compromose would make Civil War virtually inevitable.







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Created: 2:21 AM 1/21/2013
Last updated: 2:21 AM 1/21/2013