News Column

Guadalupe Hidalgo, 166 Years Later

February 3, 2014

Staff Reports --

Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War, after a drawing by Carl Nebel, 1851

Following the Mexican-American War, which officially ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on Feb. 2, 1848, the population of Hispanics in the U.S. stood at 80,000.

The war broke out in 1846 after what might charitably be called mutual provocation.

The U.S. claimed the Rio Grande as the southern border of Texas, which had been admitted to the Union the year before, and Mexico claimed that the Tejas border had always been the Rio Nueces -- and didn't recognize the outcome of the Texas War of Independence, anyway.

U.S. President James K. Polk sent troops to Texas under Gen. Zachary Taylor, who built a fort on the north bank of the Rio Grande opposite Matamoros and refused Mexican demands that he withdraw. Eventually, Mexican cavalry attacked a U.S. patrol operating north of the Rio Grande, giving the U.S. a provocation to declare war.

The U.S. sent troops to occupy California and New Mexico, and eventually captured Mexico City.

The U.S. ended up with almost all of what is now the American Southwest (less the Gadsden Purchase, made in 1858 to resolve border issues unresolved by the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty), agreeing to pay Mexico $15 million and assume $3.25 million owed by Mexico to U.S. citizens.

The Hispanic population in the U.S. has increased from 80,000 in the 1850 census to some 34 million today, with about 9 million in Texas, according to the Census Bureau.

Source: (c) 2014. All rights reserved.

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