All of Mexico Movement

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The All of Mexico Movement (also called All Mexico) was a political movement to expand the United States, so that it would include all of Mexico.[1] It was an expression of Manifest Destiny but it never went into effect. The United States only took the underpopulated districts in the far North of Mexico.

Background[edit]

Before James Polk took office in 1845, the United States Congress approved the annexation of Texas. Polk wished to gain control of a portion of Texas, which had declared independence from Mexico in 1836, but was still being claimed by Mexico. This paved the way for the outbreak of the Mexican–American War on April 24, 1846. With American success on the battlefield, by the summer of 1847 there were calls for the annexation of "All Mexico", particularly among Eastern Democrats, who argued that bringing Mexico into the Union was the best way to ensure future peace in the region.

Controversies[edit]

The proposal to annex all of Mexico was controversial. Idealistic advocates of manifest destiny like John L. O'Sullivan had always maintained that the laws of the United States should not be imposed on people against their will. The annexation of "All Mexico" would be a violation of this principle. The annexation of Mexico also found controversy in extending U.S. citizenship to millions of Mexicans. Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, who had approved of the annexation of Texas, was opposed to the annexation of Mexico, as well as the "mission" aspect of manifest destiny, for racial reasons. He made these views clear in a speech to Congress on January 4, 1848:

We have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race.... We are anxious to force free government on all; and I see that it has been urged ... that it is the mission of this country to spread civil and religious liberty over all the world, and especially over this continent. It is a great mistake.

This debate brought to the forefront one of the contradictions of manifest destiny: on the one hand, while identitarian ideas inherent in manifest destiny suggested that Mexicans, as non-whites, would present a threat to white racial integrity and thus were not qualified to become Americans, the "mission" component of manifest destiny suggested that Mexicans would be improved (or "regenerated", as it was then described) by bringing them into American democracy. Identitarianism was used to promote manifest destiny, but, as in the case of Calhoun and the resistance to the "All Mexico" movement, identitarianism was also used to oppose manifest destiny. Conversely, proponents of annexation of "All Mexico" regarded it as an anti-slavery measure. Many Americans were troubled by the Catholicism of Mexico, the weakness of Republicanism there, and the threat of an upsurge of Mexican nationalism.[2][3]

End of the Call[edit]

The controversy was eventually ended by the Mexican Cession, which added the territories of Alta California and Nuevo México to the United States, both more sparsely populated than the rest of Mexico. Like the All Oregon movement, the All Mexico movement quickly abated.

Historian Frederick Merk, in Manifest Destiny and Mission in American History: A Reinterpretation (1963), argued that the failure of the All Oregon and All Mexico movements indicates that manifest destiny had not been as popular as historians have traditionally portrayed it to have been. Merk wrote that, while belief in the beneficent mission of democracy was central to American history, aggressive "continentalism" was an aberration supported by only a minority of Americans, mostly Democrats, while it was opposed by Whigs and some Democrats. Thus the Democrats of Louisiana opposed annexation of Mexico,[4] while those in Mississippi supported it.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Frederick Merk, Manifest destiny and Mission in American History (1963).
  2. ^ John C. Pinheiro, "'Religion without Restriction": Anti-Catholicism, All Mexico, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo," Journal of the Early Republic (2003): 69-96. in JSTOR
  3. ^ Karl Jack Bauer (1974). The Mexican War, 1846-1848. U of Nebraska Press. p. 370. 
  4. ^ Billy H. Gilley, "'Polk's War' and the Louisiana Press." Louisiana History (1979): 5-23 in JSTOR.
  5. ^ Robert A. Brent, "Mississippi and the Mexican War." Journal of Mississippi History (1969) 31#3 pp: 202-14.