United States historians and the causes of the Mexican War



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The outbreak of the Mexican War during President James K. Polk's administration led immediately to a domestic political controversy concerning the circumstances which led to that event, and historians of the United States still differ widely among themselves on the subject of responsibility for that conflict. Writings of contemporaries and historians alike have dealt with a variety of subjects that have been considered as underlying or immediate factors leading to the war of 1846: the annexation of Texas by the United States, the claims of American citizens against the Mexican government, the order to General Zachary Taylor to occupy the territory between the Nueces and the Rio Grande rivers, the alleged conspiracy of Southern politicians to acquire additional slave territory, Polk's designs on California, the chaotic political situation within the Mexican republic, and the American concepts of mission and manifest destiny. In many instances historians have merely echoed the arguments of contemporaries, but the passing of time has afforded new perspectives concerning the events leading to the hostilities between the United States and Mexico. This study deals with the changing interpretation of the causes of the Mexican War by historians of the United States in the one hundred and twenty years since the war began. [...]