There is nothing new

Under the sun.  I know I don’t normally lead blog posts with scripture, but in this case it’s particularly applicable to the subject at hand, which is my recent historical fascination with the Mexican-American War.

It started when I was traveling, I was reading Gods and Generals, Jeff Shaara’s book about the Civil War, which had a lot of references to the Mexican-American war, as most of the soldiers were veterans of the earlier conflict.  Then I read Gone for Soldiers, by the same author which is about the Mexican-American conflict.  The alternate explanation for why I got so interested in the that war would be that I was looking for information on Walker Colts.  Either is just as likely.

I could write an entire series of posts on the Mexican-American war, the politics, the tactics, the weapons, and how it set the stage for the Civil War; for whatever reason the US-Mexico war is often overlooked in history, I remember our studies of it at the Academy consisted roughly of “in between the War of 1812 and the Civil War we invaded Mexico and pretty much beat their ass and now we have California”.  Not that I’m slighting LT Whatever-her-name-was’ teaching abilities, but for a war that was as significant as the Mexican War, it does get glossed over a lot.

What has become most fascinating to me, and is also the inspiration for the title of this blog post, is the international and US media coverage of the war in Mexico.  The war with Mexico was relatively unpopular in a lot of circles, and the administration was accused in both US and international papers as waging a “bully’s war” on Mexico, all for the sake of a land grab.  If I were to dumb the language down to modern standards and replace the word “land” with “oil” and “Mexico” with “Iraq”, it would be like reading the New York times from yesterday.  There are even letters to the editor and editorials that essentially say “we support the troops but we hate their mission”.

Of course, the other interesting aspect of the anti-war movement in the 1840s is that it was led primarily by the Whig Party, with the Democrats of the time largely in support of the war and the policy of Manifest Destiny.  Of course, 1840 was a long time before the political landscape of today, but I find it ironic that Democrats were all in favor of prosecuting the war, and the roughly political predecessors of the Republican party where opposed to the war (I know that the Republican party didn’t descend directly from the Whigs, but a good chunk of the Whig voting base formed the eventual Republican base – ed).

Just to give an idea of how nothing really changes, here’s a quote from noted anti-war activist Joshua Giddings regarding the Mexican American conflict:

In the murder of Mexicans upon their own soil, or in robbing them of their country, I can take no part either now or here-after.

Replace “Mexican” with “Iraqi” and “country” with “oil”, and it would sound like Cindy Sheehan, wouldn’t it?  Party alignments may change, but it seems that 200 years later the rhetoric is still the same.


  1. Well, the South was for the war because they hoped to add more slave states. They had already lost the House of Representatives, so their only hope was the Senate. Slavery depending on the cash crop system, and most cash-crops grew close to the equator, so the U.S. had to become less “top heavy”.

    There was even talk of purchasing/annexing Cuba and other Caribbean and South American countries.

    The supporters of Manifest Destiny were different than the slave holder’s interest, though. Manifest Destiny supporters mainly wanted unsettled territory anywhere on the continent. The slavocracy only wanted areas viable for cash crops.

    At least, that’s what I remember. I may be wrong.

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