Exactly 170 years ago, the United States announced the annexation of California, now the most populated and richest state, and then the territory of Mexico. This was done as part of a war with a neighbor, sometimes in the form of a hybrid and unleashed by the United States itself in the hunt for foreign lands. The analysis of those events is extremely important for the understanding and modern politics of Washington.
In July, 1846, after the start of the US-Mexican War, a US fleet arrived at the coast of California. After landing on the shore, the Americans did not find the Mexican troops, but they saw a strange flag, on which a grizzly bear was depicted. It turned out that for three weeks the power in the region (or rather, in a large part of it) belongs to the independent republic of California, friendly to the United States and fighting with Mexico for its independence.
A young explorer and captain of the US Army, John Freemont, who, at the head of 70, well-armed “cartographers”, made the transition through the Mojave Desert, raised a rebellion against the government of Mexico. The Fremont group was joined by local immigrants from the United States, as well as some Mexicans disgruntled by President Santa-Anna. Together, they managed to seize power, since the Mexican president was not up to the Californians - all the fury of the young United States fell upon him.
In the north of the United States themselves, opposition-minded citizens saw in the war against Mexico the intrigues of slave-owners who, according to the American poet James Lowell, wanted to “chop off California to slave, humiliate you, and plunder the ropes”. The opposition brazenly slandered - Fremont was not a slave owner. On the contrary, in the future he will become the star of this very opposition, the first presidential candidate of the young Republican Party and the first politician of the level that will speak out for the abolition of slavery.
But it was still ahead, but in the meantime, for decency, after consulting with revolutionary comrades, Fremont told the American command that they were tired of being free. Having never existed for less than a month, the republic, which has never been recognized, has been abolished, replaced by the state of California in the USA. Mexico only recognizes the concession of these territories in two years - after the American troops take Mexico City. As a result of the war, the United States has become a third more, and Mexico has lost half of its territory.
The dispute between Americans among themselves
In December 1823, a quarter of a century before the Mexican War, President James Monroe read out his annual message to Congress. His speech was devoted to US foreign policy, and its Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, was a former ambassador to St. Petersburg and the son of a second US president. Theses to Adams Jr. were openly whispered from the Russian consulate, the speech is full of curtsies to St. Petersburg, but the focus of attention of the state secretary was not Russia. The Spanish colonial empire collapsed before our eyes, and it was obvious that many new independent states would soon form in America. In addition, America entered into a dispute over the land of Oregon, which included not only the eponymous modern state, but also the entire northwest United States, as well as British Columbia (that is, the western part of modern Canada).
Initially, three countries claimed the territory of Oregon - Russia, Britain and Spain. Subsequently, they were joined by the United States. Spanish claims were bought by Americans. The Russians, bargaining for a profitable border for themselves, dropped out of the dispute, intending to push Britain and the young States together.
Monroe’s speech, if in brief, was reduced to the fact that the US does not claim to already existing colonies, but if a certain colony has already gained sovereignty, then the Europeans have no right to interfere in its affairs - this is an internal affair of the Americans. The same applies to the territories that are not yet inhabited, where the borders have not yet been demarcated. It was frankly read between the lines: “Only we have the right to interfere, because we have democracy here, and you are European tyrants, hands off.”
The President’s speech was called the Monroe Doctrine. By the principles laid down in it, by and large, the entire US foreign policy is still being built, although the doctrine itself was officially rated as erroneous under President Obama, and President Adams had time to regret it even during his lifetime. True, now the “zone of influence” is not the American continent, but almost the entire planet. And in Russia, what I saw in the States as a natural counterbalance to Britain in the region, only after 70 years did they realize that they had grown on their heads.
"So far from God, so close to the USA"
The fate of the United States and Mexico in the first half of the XIX century took shape in different ways, and in Mexico it was much more interesting. After the seizure of Spain by Napoleon's troops in 1808, national liberation uprisings broke out in all the colonies, sometimes very successful, but the Mexican establishment sat tight and kept the situation under control - the brave General Agustin Iturbide beat the rebels wherever he could catch up.
In 1814, after the defeat of Napoleon, everything had to calm down, but in 1820, Madrid had its own revolution. They did not overthrow the king, but forced him to liquidate the Majorats and other remnants of the feudal system, restore the constitution of 1812 of the year, and begin to take land from the monasteries of the Mother herself - the Roman Catholic Church. The heart of the descendant of the conquistadors and the zealous Catholic could not stand such abuse, and the brave General Iturbide seized power, proclaiming the Mexican empire with himself at the head. The territory of the new state was more than decent - in the north it bordered on Oregon, in the south on Panama.
At first, Iturbide was regent, but, having thought well, he declared himself emperor Agustin I. Shortly before this, the regent promoted to the rank of young general (27 years) and the talented military man Antonio López de Santa Anna. The future monarch did it in vain, because two years later, Santa Anna, at the head of the loyal troops, came to Mexico City to overthrow the emperor. In the name of stability and inevitable national happiness, the empire was abolished, Mexico became a republic, and the former majesty was sent to Italy, albeit with a decent content for those times. Two years later, Agustin will try to return and lead a royalist insurgency, but will be captured and executed.
The epoch of coups that started after this does not make sense to describe in detail. But we note an important point - every time Santa Anna provided military support to the conspirators, managing the same people first to bring to power and then to overthrow, often twice. Proceeding from the life principle “Always to be together with the winners”, this Napoleon of the West (this nickname Santa Anna invented for himself) increased his power after each coup and in total visited the presidential chair 11 times. Mexico, on the other hand, was rapidly losing territory, and in 1824, the United States of Central America, the current Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, formed their own state.
Santa Anna was as narcissistic as there are only Latin American military. But, being an outspoken dictator, he remained a sincere liberal at heart. For example, he could not tolerate slavery, which in Mexico was banned in 1829, not without his participation. He tried, as far as possible, to take land from the Catholic Church and fight for the rights of ordinary people. But any uprising was drowned in blood without pity. In general, the figure was progressive, but stupid.
In 1835, Santa Anna launched a reform that was supposed to strengthen his power even more, but the idea led to a series of insurgencies in the regions. With most of them, Napoleon of the West, being a truly capable military man, coped without difficulty, but broke off his teeth about Texas. For Texas, there was someone to intercede.
In the USA at the same time it was noticeably duller. No one overthrew anyone, only occasionally people's deputies beat faces to each other right in Congress and were shooting in duels outside its walls.
Back in the days of the American Revolution, two vibrant political centers emerged - Massachusetts and Virginia, which now "pulled the blanket." These centers had recognized leaders - John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, whose strange friendship — enmity lasted more than half a century. Perhaps that sincere sympathy and mutual respect that irreconcilable political rivals fed each other and did not let the young States take the path of Mexico. Two founding fathers died on the same day - July 4 1826 of the year, on the 50 anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the co-authors of which were. To continue their conflict was heirs. John Quincy Adams, like his father, remained president of one term, losing 1828 re-election to a new leader of jeffersonists - General Andrew Jackson, hero of the 1812 war of the year with Britain (the British then burned the White House, although Canadians insist that they burned the White House).
If there is any one word that can describe America in the first half of the nineteenth century, this is “growth.” The population doubled every 20 years, GDP - every 15. In the North, because of the abundance of the land and the lack of workers, they actively introduced mechanical work - this approach gave less yield per acre, but more per person-hour, and in Europe, where there was always not enough land, it was impossible. The banking sector also grew rapidly, and factory craftsmen replaced the craftsmen-craftsmen. High mechanization of labor required a high level of education, and by the forties 90% (in the North - 95%) of the country's white population could read and count - in Europe such figures were reached by the end of the century, and in Russia only the Bolsheviks were able to solve this problem. The south slightly lagged behind in technical development (although, for example, in speed of laying railways, the South was only inferior to the North, being ahead of the rest of the planet), but there was its own economic driver - cotton, prices for which also doubled about once a decade. America became not only the most literate and technically advanced state of the planet, but also one of the most populated - from the western countries it was second only to Russia and France in this indicator.
Naturally, to continue this rapid growth, land was needed, and over time, the land became scarce. Especially in the South, where everything was plowed up under tobacco and cotton plantations. Having come to power, General Jackson began to drive the Indians out of their original territories and maintain separatist sentiments in the neighboring powers. First of all in Mexico. And in full accordance with the Monroe Doctrine, written by his sworn enemy Adams. This is another feature of the intra-American dispute: the North and the South did not disdain to “steal” ideas from each other if they came to their taste.
Since 1825, in Texas (then still part of Mexico), there has been a law that has openly condoned migrants from the United States. Land was sold to them for mere pennies, allowing them to pay by installments, and, moreover, the settlers were exempted from taxes for a full ten years. The law was local, but well paid by lobbyists from a neighboring country, and what it might lead to in Mexico City was guessed only in 1830, after which any immigration from the States to the border states of Mexico was banned. But by that time, the flow of migrants was already unstoppable, and by the middle of the 30s in Texas, occupying a territory the size of two Spain, 30 lived thousands of Americans and only about 7,5 thousands of Mexicans, of whom not all were loyal to the Santa Anna regime . In California, the trends were the same, but the superiority of the Americans who had come in large numbers over the Mexicans who had arrived a little earlier was not so noticeable.
In 1835, a separatist insurgency broke out in Texas that Santa Anna, out of habit, tried to drown in blood herself. At first, this seemed to work out for him, and in the Texas self-consciousness the Battle of Alamo still holds an important place (for some similar reasons, the Russians remember the defense of the Brest Fortress), but in 1836, Napoleon West received a tough counterattack from Sam Houston - former governor of the state of Tennessee, and at that time a Texas revolutionary and commander in chief of the revolutionary army. The USA provided active, but informal support to its “revolutionaries” - here both volunteers from all over the South and weapon, bought with money by prominent planters, and sympathy in the newspapers. Jackson couldn’t go to direct military support, as Adams and the other "northern company" entrenched in Congress interfered. They called their Whigs a party project, hinting that Jackson was a tyrant, and worse than the English monarchs (we’ll specify that the Jackson party was called Democratic and still exists, and the Whigs became the basis for the Republicans).
As a result, the captured Santa Anna was taken under protection in the United States, where he had an interesting dialogue with Jackson. It was something to talk about, good — both liberals are at heart, but with frankly dictatorial manners in the case of a Mexican and a clear propensity for authoritarianism in the case of an American. It was offered to pay for the ticket to Santa-Anne’s homeland with recognition of Texas independence, since, for the time being, they could not annex Texas Jackson, but all because of the accursed Congress.
The North had its own interest in resisting active expansion to the south. In 1820, he and the South accepted the Missouri compromise on the Thomas Jefferson Louisiana Purchase. Namely - a huge but poorly populated French Louisiana was divided into "territories", which became states only after reaching the bar in 50 thousands of inhabitants, and only one free state and one slave-owning were included in the Union. However, the South still had an advantage in one state (and two votes in the Senate), but the more populated North had a majority in the House of Representatives. Texas annexation (it seemed obvious that it would be necessary to divide such a colossus into three to four states) sent a compromise to the dump stories: New lands will surely attract a lot of immigrants, and literally in a generation the South will begin to dominate, especially the Southerners did not hide their plans in this sense.
In addition, the northerners feared that, along with Texas and its recalcitrant population, the United States would gain Mexican passion for the Maidan and other coups. Boston poet, politician and philosopher R. U. Emerson described the excessive absorption of Mexican lands as follows: “As if a person had swallowed a dose of arsenic, fatal to his body. Mexico will poison us ”(Emerson’s Russian“ colleagues ”could formulate the same thing as“ you can take a girl out of Ukraine, but not Ukraine out of a girl, ”and the Ukrainians would burst into a speech about“ cotton souls ”who“ flooded ”the east of the country. Southerners, who, it would seem, should have had more complaints to the Mexicans, did not care about the “poison”, but the active indignation of the North made them slow down.
Vote for war, famine and epidemics
In 1844, another presidential campaign took place in the USA and several other important events took place. In particular, after long disputes, Texas was included in the Union, and a single state, since it would not have been possible to comply with the Compromise. Meanwhile, another Knox Polk native of sunny Virginia, in the meantime, was rushing into the presidency, of course, a democrat and ally of Jackson. Southerners he seduces the annexation of New Mexico and California, the northerners - the decision of the old border dispute with Canada on the principle of "All Oregon - or nothing, our conditions - or war."
Whigs tried to resist. The issue with Oregon was decided by the North itself, actively merging the colonialists there, that is, it acted along the same lines as the South in Texas, but with the difference that there were no authorities at all at that time in Oregon (the same Fremont who declared the republic in California, initially went there to clarify the boundaries and look for convenient land routes). But the expansion in the southern direction of the northerners frightened. From zagashnik even got old (and, by the way, southern - times of war 1812), the slogan about the fact that Mr. Polk offers to vote for war, famine and epidemics.
Democrats with ideology fared better. In 1845, Democrat John O'Sullivan writes the article "Annexation," which welcomes the joining of Texas and Oregon. The concept proposed in this article creatively developed the principles of the Monroe Doctrine and was given the name Manifest Destiny (in the classic Russian translation - “Explicit Plan”). Its meaning is that America itself and divine providence are destined to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Did the Lord want the US to remain the Union of 13 colonies, a narrow strip on the Atlantic coast? On the contrary, he wanted the Empire of Freedom to spread to the whole New World. This ideologem, laid out by 170 years ago, has survived to the present day, it is from it that the US’s desire to spread American-style democracy is everywhere it can reach.
So the Americans received a noble excuse for war. It remained to find a pretext. In April, 1846-th was a border clash in Texas, provoked by the Americans themselves, whose troops plunged into Mexican territory. 16 killed American soldiers and one officer. “American blood was shed on American soil,” lamented the President of the Regiment in regiment. Whigs sincerely tried to stop the war. A young, tall and clumsy Senator from Illinois was shaking the map and demanding that Mr. Polk show him the specific place where the skirmish took place. The name of that Illinois was Abraham Lincoln, but he couldn’t do anything - America entered the war, won a deafening triumph in that war and rejected almost half of its territories from Mexico.
Partially Mr. Polk fulfilled his Oregon promise, resolving the old border dispute with Canada and setting the border along the 49 parallel. No other president, either before or after the Regiment, has attached such vast territories to the Union. The planned was fulfilled - the United States now stretched from the ocean to the ocean, and their continental outlines (excluding Alaska) have hardly changed since then, although the success of Fremont in California inspired a number of followers who tried to do the same trick in Central America and Cuba. Liberty Island was to be the main diamond in the crown of the southern states. No luck: the Spaniards made it clear that they would rather see the island flooded than the surrendered Americans. Probably, over time, the United States would still be able to take possession of Cuba and other territories in Latin America, but they did not have time — the Civil War began.
For a fulfilled prophecy and an easy victory over the frankly backward Mexico, the United States had to pay an exorbitant price. South from the victory over the proud Santa Anna acquired much more of the North, and the delicate balance between the two sections became a thing of the past. This made the war between the North and the South inevitable, and the Americans lost more soldiers in that war than in any other with their participation, at the same time discarding the United States in development thirty years ago. Thus, the Predestined Fate was fulfilled, but fate ultimately scored the monstrous one.