online book
Xavier Timoteo Martinez
Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California



current topic Mexican War
World War II
Chicano Movement

Historic Sites
Selected References


A History of Mexican Americans in California:

In 1846, the U.S-Mexican War erupted. Tensions between the two countries had been developing for years over the obvious U.S. goal of expanding to the Pacific coast. The United States had made several offers to purchase all or part of northern Mexico, offers that Mexico rejected. In 1842, the United States revealed that it was prepared to use force to take what money could not buy, when the commander of the Pacific squadron invaded and captured Monterey, the capital of California, and returned it with apologies.

On the other side, Mexico's antagonism toward the United States was exacerbated by annexation of Texas, a former Mexican province that had revolted in 1835. The Texas rebels had extracted a battlefield treaty from Mexico recognizing the independence of Texas, but the Mexican government had never ratified it. To Mexico, therefore, U.S. annexation of Texas was grand theft and unconscionable aggression.

The precipitating incident of the war came in April 1846, when small units of Mexican and U.S. soldiers clashed in disputed territory between the Nueces River (the Texas boundary recognized by Mexico) and the Rio Grande (the boundary claimed by Texas). The incident provided a pretext for an annexation decision already made by U.S. President James K. Polk, who ordered invasion by U.S. troops. Fighting in northeastern Mexico was followed by the landing of U.S. forces at Veracruz and an advance overland from there to Mexico City. Simultaneously, other U.S. forces occupied the province of New Mexico and then marched to California, most of which had already come under U.S. control as the result of a naval invasion and the Bear Flag Revolt.

The initial U.S. occupation of California occurred without bloodshed, but Mexican armed reaction ultimately broke out in both New Mexico and California. Mexican patriots, mainly citizen volunteers, were victorious in 1846 in battles at Los Angeles, San Pasqual, Chino Rancho, and elsewhere. But eventually they had to submit to the trained and better-armed U.S. forces. By early 1847, the United States had established control over California and the rest of northern Mexico, and proceeded to absorb this territory. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo between the United States and Mexico confirmed the land transfer.

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