From: Anonymous Eight
Time: 2:11:44 PM
Remote Name: 220.127.116.11
Anonymous Eight History 67 W Cutler Primary Source Questions
Q. Why did president Polk give this address? What was its purpose? How do Polk’s views, as presented in this address, compare with what the text says about the same events? A. President Polk gave this address to inform Congress of the reasons for declaring war on Mexico. Polk, in the address, makes Mexico appear to be an irrational and volatile government just waiting to attack the Republic of Texas. Polk tries to win the support of Congress by his biased recollection of events leading up to his decision for war. Polk makes it appear that his only intention was to make peace with the Mexican government. He writes, “The strong desire to establish peace with Mexico on liberal and honorable terms… would lead to permanent relations of the most friendly nature…”(page 1 Message). Polk sends an envoy, John Slidell, to Mexico to discuss and end any differences that relate to the boundary dispute between the Republic of Texas and Mexico. When Mexico does not receive Mr. Slidell, Polk sends an army to the Texan boundary. Polk tells Congress that the dispatching of the army was the last straw. He says that Mexico’s refusal of negotiations makes relations between the two countries hostile and that an army must be placed at the border to guard against an invasion. Polk tells Congress that the U.S. bent over backwards to correct any differences between the two countries. Polk writes; our envoy was on their soil, our envoy had full powers to adjust differences; our propositions for settlement were reasonable. For Mexico to deny negotiations, then relations with them must be considered hostile, and we must arm against attack. The army that Polk dispatched sent up camp on the Rio Grande River. According to Mexico, this meant that the U.S. was invading territory claimed by both sides. This prompted an attack by Mexico. When Polk received word of the attack, he sent his address to Congress for declaration of war. The text tells a different story of the same events. According to the text, when the U.S. annexed Texas and claimed the land between the Nueces and the Rio Grande Rivers, all diplomatic relations were broke off and preparation for armed conflict began. This is the reason that Mexico did not receive the envoy. The text claims that Polk sent the envoy to Mexico to claim the area in dispute, and to purchase California and New Mexico. When Mexico refused Mr. Slidell, Polk hoped for war. He hoped for war because he thought that this would force the cession of California and New Mexico to the United States. Polk in his address states that his reason for sending the envoy was to stop the injuries being committed on the persons and property of the citizens of the U.S. by the Mexican Government. The refusal of the Mexican Government to receive the envoy is what prompted the war. According to the text, Polk had secretly hoped for war. His intentions behind sending the envoy were to acquire California and New Mexico. If the Mexican Government refused to sell, then Polk believed that the U.S. would then acquire the land through war. Either way, it seems that his intention was the acquisition of land. After all, it was our manifest destiny.